Sunday, April 30, 2006

Its a skirts, skirts, skirts weekend!

As I stated before, I have recently purchased so much fabric that I was having issues on where to start sewing. There are just piles of it laying around my sewing area. At first I thought I would tag it all and put it away, but that would take up precious sewing time. Then I thought, I would just start working on something and leave the clean-up until later, but there is so much fabric in the room singing that I can't think straight. So the next best solution is just to move the offending fabrics for now to another space and get to work on what remains.

Well it is interesting moving fabric because you always see something differently than when you first stacked it up. I had no idea regarding what I was going to sew this weekend, just that I am going to sew. As I moved fabric around I realized that I have purchased many small pieces of fabrics to use to make skirts. I have several great TNT skirt patterns and I have all of the necessary notions to get these made ~ so skirts it is! The weather is perfect now for wearing them. I have several great twinsets that will work with the pieces selected so that I don't have to make entire outfits. I can just sew skirts. I got a fantastic pair of new shoes from the shoe sale at Lord & Taylor's yesterday that will look great with the pieces I have selected so I have compelling reasons to start there!

Here are the fabrics that are demanding to become garments:

~ green/white poly knit that has a 70's retro feel

~ floral linen print that was recently purchased in San Francisco. Wow, this one is not even making it to the fabric closet!

~ daisy print polyester fabric purchased from Vogue Fabrics

~ pink floral stretch cotton fabric also purchased from Vogue Fabrics

and these last two are a toss up and will be worked on depending on how much time I have left:

~ yellow/white seersucker given to me by a friend

~ blue/white floral cotton print purchased from eQuilter last year that will have blue piping around the hem of the skirt.

Well there is my list and I am off to sew! I will, of course, report back when I am finished!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ten of Life's Sewing Pleasures

A few days ago, I read someone's list of their top 10 pleasures of life. The list consisted of many simple pleasures that give meaning to our lives. But since I am always thinking in terms of sewing and just recently fulfilled one of my sewing dreams, I amended the list to be "Ten of Life's Sewing Pleasures!"

And mine are:

10. Reading about someone's sewing success and getting inspired to sew!

9. SewingWorld and Patternreview - reading, chatting, experiencing the sewing community

8. Sharing sewing techniques with my daughter.

7. The hum of my sewing machine when I am in the middle of a sewing project.

6. The swish of my scissors cutting through a new piece of fabric.

5. The calm I feel as I submerge myself in a new sewing project.

4. Finishing garments on my sewing list!

3. Perfecting a new technique

2. Finding a wonderfully glorious new piece of fabric to add to my collection.

And one:
Wearing a new garment that fits well, makes me feel beautiful and knowing that I made it with my own two hands!

Now I know that there are some of you out there who are as obsessed with sewing as I am. So do you have a list of sewing pleasures? Have you taken the time to think about what gives you sewing pleasure? If not, why don't you spend some time today and make your own list to cherish! Take some time to appreciate your talent and what makes you special!!!! And then, enjoy your sewing journeys today ~ okay!

Have a glorious sewing day!!!! *smile*

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

SWAP Voting

This is the week of voting for the SWAP that is being featured by Julie of Timmel Fabrics on Sewing World. If you are a registered member of Sewing World, you are allowed to cast a vote for one of the 23 participants.

So take a look at all of the participants offerings here:

And here are Julie's instructions for voting:

Please read the voting guidelines posted on the SWAP topic before casting your vote.

Then choose your favourite three, in order of preference, and email the names to me at

Put SWAP vote in the subject line, then list your three choices, nothing else please.

Sign the email with your proper name.

Voting can begin now and will continue through to April 28.

The voting will be closed midnight April 28.

Read the rules for voting and cast a vote!

There is a tremendous amount of talent displayed by these wonderful women with a wide range of patterns and fabrics used! 23 women submitted 25 SWAPs! Yes, two women sewed 22 pieces, each! I am one of the 23 but I am not trolling for votes. I am encouraging you to participate in our sewing community and to support a fellow sewing sister!!!!

So Vote! And support our sewing community!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ode to San Francisco

Have you seen the commercial on TV where the father is catching fireflies with his son. Then the next shot is the father putting his son to bed and crossing catching fireflies off a list of things to do with his son....well that's how I feel about fabric shopping in San Francisco! It is something that I have wanted to do for quite some time but family and other things have always come first! Last month I learned that I needed to go to Newport Beach, CA for business and I found the perfect opportunity to visit my friend Lynn in San Francisco!

Believe me it was a long week at work waiting to get to the fun part of the trip but finally I was at the Oakland Airport where I was met by Lynn and we started our San Francisco Fabric Odyessy. First, let me tell you if you think I did any sight seeing other than fabric stores forgetaboutit! It wasn't happening! My dream was to fabric shop and fabric shop only!

Lynn made a wonderful shopping schedule that was easy to follow and restful after working in Newport Beach for over 12 hours a day for 3.5 days ~ not including the evenings for long, long dinners with staff and clients! So we started in Berkley and visited Poppy Fabrics, Stone Mountain and Daughter & Lacis on Friday afternoon.

At Poppy I bought a beautiful coral silk burnout and a printed linen ~ because linens were on sale for 30% off. At Stonemountain and Daughter, I mostly purchased from their half price store upstairs (50% off the price on the bolt) but Lynn had a 25% off everything coupon that they both let us use! Very nice of them, yes! I got a brown/blk/gold chenille that was a home dec fabric backed with a fusible interfacing, a lavender/dk. purple silk tweed, a floral linen print with the 25% off and one yard of a tartan plaid that looks just like the plaids Michael Kors is using in his fall 2006 line!

Next up was Lacis, Lynn was so sure that I wouldn't purchase anything here! Boy, did I fool her! First, we toured the museum in the back. They are having an exhibit that features women's clothing from the 1850s through 1920's. The interesting thing about the exhibit is that alot of the clothing is displayed inside out so that you can see the construction of the garment...way kewl! It was also interesting to see how they handled the fact that they rarely laundered their garments by adding cotton underarm shields and the attachments to the hems to handle dust. Well I did buy something there ~ some vintage mother of pearl buttons and some mesh beads that I will use as buttons!

**Saturday, April 22nd**

We got a late start on Saturday and Britex was suppose to be our first stop, but we snoop shopped the designer floor at Neiman Marcus, first. I was so thrilled to go inside and look up at the beautiful architecture. As a fashion merchandising major in college, retail stores and their layouts was discussed at length! Even though I have seen pictures of the interior, it was truly kewl to see it with my own eyes!

At Britex, Lynn said that I got this really big smile on my face when we walked inside! I have always wanted to go to Britex and it is an absolutely beautiful store. Hard wood display cases, fabric laid out like jewels, just awe inspiring. But I have to tell you, we were on the first floor looking at these beautiful silks on a table, and I found a silk print that is presently selling on Fabric Mart's site in the silk blowout section for $5.99 per yard. Britex is selling it for $24.99 per yard! If you ever get the chance to go to Britex, you should go just for the experience! It is that awesome! I felt the same way there that I felt the first time I walked into the Rockville G Street store and saw the rows and rows of wool crepe in every color and weight!

At Britex Lynn purchased a beautiful piece of linen and some notions. I bought buttons. I found a better amber glass button for the "Cashmere Dreams" Jacket than the ones I already owned and I bought some rayon trim. Okay, I will 'fess up I bought 36 yards of a beautiful amber rayon trim - but it was only $5 for the entire piece so I couldn't leave it! Plus, this definitely counts since I shared 10 yards with Lynn!

Next stop was Satin Moon ~ this is a store full of gorgeous fabrics. I didn't purchase anything here probably because a lot of what I saw in the silks, embroidered silks and sheers, I see everyday in the garment district in NY. But the store is wonderfully laid out and had some great sewn garments displayed. And Lynn picked up some beautiful 100% cotton lawn and batiste remnants. She is really into heirloom sewing!

The final stop was Fabrix and this is where I bought the most stuff. Serger thread for 99 cents meant that I bought 15 cones in 5 colors. Look, that's one of those buys that when you see it you should buy it! *smile* And maybe, I should have thought a little harder about it because it is pretty interesting packing 15 cones of serger thread to transport back across the country!!!!

I also bought 5 yards of an autumn colored mesh because it was only 99 cents and it was stunning! A blue crocheted knit, a dark sand polyester knit, a blue print stretch woven that had these wonderful blue and green water color florals and a couple of yards of a black and orange torn denim for my daughter. The interesting thing about Fabrix is not just the inexpensive prices ~ nothing in the store was over $3.69 per yard but also the way they measure fabric. Yardsticks, what are those! They do the an arm is a yard measurement. But don't worry, they are very generous with the cut so I am sure that I ended up with much larger cuts than what I asked for! It was a very satisfying fabric shopping experience and I can now cross that off my list of things that I have always wanted to do!

The most amazing thing about the fabric shopping was that in almost every store we shopped, I saw at least one but most times two or more pieces that I had recently seen on a fabric internet site and considerably cheaper! If you don't have an independent fabric store near you to support, please realize that you are getting absolutely fantastic deals from both Fabric Mart and Fashion Fabrics Club.

I have to thank Lynn again for helping to make one of my dreams come true! I am sure that to some of you it seems like a minor thing but everyone has something in their life that they have always wanted to do or see. As I get closer to 50 and my children get older, I want to do and see the things on my list! This was a wonderfully, awesome experience and I am soooo glad that I had the opportunity to do it! These pieces of fabric will be treasured as they are cut and sewn or just as they stand watch in my fabric collection...and who knows maybe one day when I am a very old lady I will cut a piece and remember the wonderful weekend that I spent in San Francisco with a very dear friend!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I'm Back!

Just a short note to say that I am back! Had a wonderful time in San Francisco visiting all the fabric shops ~ even stopped by the beach to take some photos ~ but only after the fabric shopping was done! *smile*

Hopefully tomorrow, I can get the pictures downloaded and write up my trip: "An Ode to San Francisco!"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cut Anxiety

I don't know what it is....but I haven't done one thing to my "Spring Fever" coat! I mean pass assembling all of the pieces and mentally reviewing the sewing steps in my head ~ I have done nothing! What is wrong with me? I know that I want to have this coat on my body when the car service picks me up on Monday morning (early Monday morning) to take me to the airport! So why haven't I started this project?

Besides being a natural procrastinator and working better under pressure, I think I have cut anxiety! Not the anxiety that if I cut into this piece of wonderful fabric that I will ruin it, but the kind of anxiety where you are just anxious about taking that next step. See I can see the finished garment in my head. I have read the instructions again even though I have made this particular jacket twice before. I have even mentally gone through the sewing steps in my head so I have a good idea of how I want to construct the jacket. But there is this sense of needing to take a deep breathe before I start that is stopping me in my tracks!

I have left work on time both Monday and Tuesday evenings so that I would get home in a timely fashion and could start working on the jacket. Monday I got home and finished a novel I was reading. Last night I got home and watched television. Both evenings I looked at the fabric. I touched the fabric. I rearranged the fabric and then I went and did something else. Something that wasn't producing a garment!!!!

As I was coming to work this morning, I realized that this isn't the first time that this has happened to me. And my mind knows that I have a full day and a half to work on this garment and finish it before I need to wear it. So I am going to take a deep breathe. I am going to do some other things that I need to do to prepare for the trip. And I am going to believe that as always I will come through with a quality, wearable garment in the end.

So, do you experience a form of cut anxiety? If so, how do you shake it? Or does it stop your sewing in its tracks?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sewing Updates

Thank you all so much for voting for my spring fever coat! The winner is:

This is the picture with the elements that I will use for the coat. I have decided to use the green suede for button plackets on the front of the jacket, the edge of the hood and the bands at the sleeve hems. I also found some glass lime green Czech buttons in my stash that will work great with the fabrics. If I have time, I might make a skirt with the left over fabric ~ if I have time! Also I have plenty of lime green pieces that would work with the jacket if I wanted to coordinate.

I also did some work yesterday on the "Cashmere Dreams" jacket ~ got all of the fitting issues done on the front and back pieces of the jacket. The sleeves fit through the biceps and I decided on a thread to use on the top stitching.

Here is a sample of the topstitching choices for the jacket and skirt:

The first line of topstitching uses a matching thread and the bottom line of stitching uses a slightly darker shade of brown thread. I am going to use the darker thread color to give the garments some distinction. I am not going to put this outfit away. Since most of the fitting challenges have been completed I am going to finish this outfit after I work on my "Spring Fever" coat and that will be my last early fall/early spring outfit. I am moving onto spring summer sewing!

I checked my spring/summer sewing list and I am not really off-track. I have even completed two items that were on my list so I feel a little better about my sewing plan. I was a little concerned that I was veering far afield since my last two projects appear no where on my list! I have updated my list to include the "Spring Fever" coat and a dress from the tea dyed fabric. The only problem is that my life gets very busy after this weekend so I don't know how much sewing I will get accomplished!

Well, I am off to get in a few hours of sewing this afternoon! Thanks again for all of your comments, suggestions and encouragements!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I have spring fever!

See after making the new fabric and getting more spring/summer fabric in the mail (Thank Youuuu Fabric Mart and!) I want to make spring stuff. Not the wool/cashmere stuff that I have cut out. I am worried that the temps are climbing and these pieces just won't be comfortable to wear now. So what is a girl to do?

I was surfing Sewing Workshop's new site and saw pictures of the Soho Coat.

Photo courtesy of The Sewing Workshop

Boy, do I want to make a version of that coat! I am going to Newport Beach, CA in two weeks for work and I need a great light coat for the evenings and the trip there and back. I am also going to San Francisco to spend the weekend with a friend and fabric shop but more (okay, probably much more) about that later!

Anyway, I was trying to figure out if I ordered the pattern if it would get to me in time to make it up. I wasn't quite sure. So mentally I started to shuffle through my catalogue of TNT patterns. And I thought of this OOP Butterick one:

I know that it doesn't look exactly like the Soho Coat but it has a hood, I have made it before so the adjustments would be minimal and I could enhance the pattern.

Here is the original version made from some red fabric from where else - Fabric Mart!

I would line the new version, add some side seam pockets and maybe an inner pocket and add a front placket for buttons. I thought of using one of these two fabrics to make this inspired version.

Choice No. 1:

I think this is a wool/rayon blend that I got from Emmaonesock last year to make a spring coat with and this might make a pretty funky loose coat. What do you think?

This is the Choice No. 2:

This is a medium weight cotton stretch that I purchased from - two years ago????

Okay so which one do you like? Comments would truly be appreciated! Thoughts, suggestions on how to make it look "inspired by" the Sewing Workshop pattern would also be appreciated. You have until Sunday to vote on your favorite. And then I will work on making the coat from the fabric that receives the most votes!

And until I get a consensus, I guess I will go back to working on the beige wool/cashmere pieces!

So...........On your mark, get!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fabric Manipulation

I have admitted just about everywhere publicly that I stalk Fabric Mart...I even have a post about it here! A few days ago, I posted a fabric that I purchased from them a white/red floral linen blend.

This fabric really struck a cord because I had recently seen this ad in several of the fashion magazines:

I liked the fabric more than the style of the garments and I wanted the fabric. So I decided to tea dye the fabric.

I have tea dyed once before ~ a 100% cotton knit fabric which I made into a cardigan with very good results. So I didn't expect to have any difficulties dyeing this piece. What I love about tea dyeing is that its a gentle way to manipulate fabric. It softens the background or original color of the fabric ~ giving it a sort of antiquey look.

To tea dye, I use a big rubbermaid bin full of scalding hot water and about 30 packets of Lipton tea and leave the bin to reside in my bathtub for at least 24 hours.

I swirl the teabags around and get the mixture as dark as I can before I submerge the fabric. To make sure that the tea dyes or stains the fabric equally, you should stir the water frequently. This is to avoid different sections of the fabric rising to the top of the tea mixture and not getting as much exposure to the stain as the submerged areas will. When I tea dyed a piece of fabric the first time, I did it over the weekend so that I had plenty of time to constantly stir the dye mixture. This time I was a little over anxious to get results so I stirred it several times before going to bed but the next day I basically left it alone. Well I did have to go to work to make money to buy more fabric.... So there are sections of my fabric where the stain is lighter and then there are some blotchy stains. At first I thought I would need to redo this process but after drying and pressing the fabric, I think these imperfections give the fabric character.

Do I know what I am going to make with this fabric? No...... Am I satisfied with the manipulation of the fabric?! A very hearty yes! Sometimes I just have a need to make a fabric more my own! And this process definitely fulfilled my need.

Here is a picture of the dyed and pressed finished piece:

Just a little different from the original!

So before you ask, here is the tea dyeing recipe:

1. Fill a large container with very hot water.

2. Add tea bags - regular old tea bags work best.

3. Swirl the tea bags in the water to get the darkest color possible.

4. Remove the tea bags and then add the fabric.

5. Leave for at least 24 hours, stirring the mixture frequently.

6. Remove fabric from water; rinse the fabric in cold water.

7. Wring the fabric as dry as possible. Place in dryer to set the dye/stain.

8. Press the fabric when you remove it from the dryer.

A new piece of fabric is now yours! You should try this. It is a great way to change an undesireable piece of fabric into something new!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Techniques Turn Me On

As I was pressing down a hem on a dress, I was thrilled by the technique that I had used to hem the dress. I didn't use the standard fold up a certain amount, press and hem technique. I used a Cynthia Guffy hemming technique on this garment that gave it a couture finish. - defines couture as:
1. The business of designing, making, and selling highly fashionable, usually custom-made clothing for women.

2. high fashion designing and dressmaking

and dressmaking as the craft of making dresses.

That is how I feel about the CG hem technique. It is a custom-made technique that sets my garments apart from regular run of the mill RTW. And it is the sum of different techniques that I use that make sewing so much fun.

We all know that you can purchase a pattern, some fabric, the notions and follow the pattern instructions and turn out a wearable garment, most times. But what makes sewing fun, challenging and fulfilling for me is the techniques used while making the garment. It is the techniques that "up the ante" on the finished garment. It is the techniques that differentiate my custom made piece from a RTW piece ~ sometimes even a designer RTW piece.

Its things like hong kong finishes instead of a serger or zigzag finish. Or adding a rayon hem tape to the bottom of the hem to clean finish it and give it a better appearance. It is adding fusible interfacing to the zipper seam to prevent the zipper from rippling after its inserted. Underlining in the best fabric available, interfacing (testing to make sure that the interfacing provides the hand that you want in the finished garment!) Techniques! Techniques that give you a wonderfully well crafted garment when its finished.

Yeah, techniques turn me on. And I am always searching for and trying to learn a new one that will take my sewing to its next level! So how about you? What techniques really float your boat? What techniques can't you do without? Or has your sewing progressed to the point where you understand the need for more advanced techniques than the pattern instructions provide?

Do sewing techniques turn you on?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

No Sewing Today

Ah, spring is definitely in the air! How do I know this? No sewing today! My sewing definitely goes in spurts. I sew constantly, almost every weekend and most 3-day weekends during the winter....from December to March. I take a break when spring first arrives, and then fit sewing into the busy spring/summer weekend activities. By August, I am again devoting quality time to sewing - it must be that back to school thing. And during the fall, I sew some, I do some things with my family.

So at the first hint of spring, this indoors girl definitely wants to be outside in the warm breeze. But do I go outside today.....nooo! My children all have plans and so I am home alone. What do I do? Read a book. A trashy beach read by Jackie Collins, "Lovers & Players." That was actually a pretty fun read ~ well for trashy books, anyway! *lol*

But since sewing is never far from my mind, I have spent quality time with my computer reading all the sewing sites; sewingworld, patternreview, and now artisans square. I have even read quite a few of my fellow bloggers sites. And I have a few random sewing musings....

Have you noticed the trend to count the amount of fabric purchased and the amount sewn? I have noticed this at the bottom of quite a few posts on patternreview and in some blogs. It is very interesting because it makes you wonder how much sewing the yardage represents. Or am I the only one who thinks this? When these stats first started appearing, I thought that I would add them to my blog but being computer challenged and wanting to spend my available time sewing, I decided instead to keep a list in my sewing journal of the pieces I made this year. I think I understand the reason for the stats but I just want to know how many wearable garments I have completed. How about all of you? Are you keeping stats? And if so, what stats are you keeping and why are they important to you?

I have to admit that I have also been in a real fabric acquiring mood. At first I thought that I should be ashamed or slow my buying down. But lately I have realized that I have ideas pouring out of my brain, left and right. Some are inspired by fabric, some by photos in magazines and some by seeing pictures of completed garments. So for me to stop purchasing fabric at this point would almost negate my creative flow. And while the creative juices are moving I guess I will just go with it. Its not like my kids are starving or the lights are out or anything. And I am keeping the UPS men employed!

I am also having ideas of manipulating fabric. Every once in a while I go through a stage where I want to duplicate, replicate or make my own fabric. I have a piece coming from Fabric Mart that I am more interested in tea-dyeing than I think I am in making something from it. I mean I do have an idea for it but the thought of tea-dyeing it really has me going.

Here is the piece:

So those are my fabric musings for today. I hope that if you got to sew today that you enjoyed the journey!


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