Thursday, June 29, 2006
Questions and Answers
"May I ask HOW do you get all this done? I know you have a family and a job (from reading previous posts). Do you have a real sewing room? How do you balance family and work so as to have time to sew? Sigh. I am so envious. I get soo caught up in what I "don't" have that I haven't been able to sew a stitch in months."
I have had a few others ask about my productivity and I thought since I had nothing to report on the sewing front that I might as well talk about why I sew, how I sew, what drives me to sew, etc.
How do I get all this done?
I pretty much schedule my weekends so that I have time to sew. Not that I have time every weekend but at least two weekends a month have to be dedicated to sewing. Now, I know you are wondering about errands and when do I get them done!? Most of my errands (food shopping, cleaners, meat market, etc.) are all done after work. I am already out and it just seems so much easier to accomplish it all then than to take precious time on Saturdays to do it. If I must do an errand on Saturday, I try to do it really early in the morning so that it doesn't take major amounts of time from my day.
I am a huge list maker. Lists take care of a lot of things and keep me organized and orderly. Also, most of my children are self sufficient. I no longer need to carpool or keep them entertained. They are pretty good about doing that themselves! *smile*
And finally slave labor - okay seriously, my kids have certain chores that they must perform either weekly or daily. It helps considerably with keeping our home clean and it means that I don't do all of the household chores myself.
Do I have a real sewing room?
Not an entire room but a dedicated sewing space. My cutting table is always up. My iron and ironing board are always up and one switch flips on my sewing machine and serger. So it is easy to sit down and sew. Do I think it is necessary to have a dedicated space - no, but it is harder to spend quality time sewing if you have to put everything together before you can sew and then take everything down after you are finished. I have learned to have some dedicated sewing space wherever I live. I realized early on that it is important to my sense of well-being to have that space! So I guess you have to decide how important sewing is to you. And if it is really important than you need to carve an area out of your living space that will allow you to feed your creative spirit. When we moved to this new home, what was most important to me besides a place to sew, was that I had my own fabric closet. We converted one of the largest closets in the house so that I could use it to hold my fabric collection. That was very important to me and it is reflected in my home!
How do you balance work and family so that you have time to sew?
When my children were younger, I definitely didn't sew as much as I do now. It took much more of my time to care for my family, participate in family activities and I also worked full-time. I have more time now because I have older children and more flexibility in my life. Also, I have finally accrued enough vacation time (read that as worked at my job long enough!) that I have enough time to plan vacations as well as take days off just to sew, if I want.
And I am very, very organized. Again those lists! I also have a two hour commute to work and home again. I don't always use my two hours to sleep! Almost every afternoon on the way home, I am either reading a novel or something sewing related. Sometimes I just daydream about what I want to make while I am coming home. But my life is geared around my sewing.
I need to say something here about how I regard sewing as an artform and that it is my outlet for creative expression. Some people write, some cook, some paint, some garden...I sew! I am truly obsessed! And the ability to take a piece of fabric and see a completed garment from the fabric, then construct the garment that I saw in my head, speaks volumes about who I am and what truly makes me happy! There is also that continual learning thing...there always seems to be another technique to learn, another type of fabric to use, something new to master that also drives me. Never mind the thrill I get from marrying fabric and pattern together...
My kids tell a joke, that if the house were on fire, that I would be yelling to everyone to get out but running towards my sewing machines to save them first! I think it illustrates my priorities pretty well and how my family views my priorities! *smile*
I get so caught up in what I don't have and haven't been able to sew a stitch!
I think Nike said it best..."Just do it!" If you read the sewing boards and see what other women own and buy, it can be disheartening. If you read sewing reviews and see the pictures of what other people make, it can make you distrust your talent. How do I know this? I have felt all of these things at various times since I discovered other sewers on the internet. But and this is an important but, purchase the best piece of fabric you can afford wherever you can get it from...thrift store, local Joann's or Hancock's, local fabric store, internet etc. and construct the best outfit that you can. Read everything that you can about sewing. I had a Pastor once tell me that if I loved sewing so much why didn't I own books about it. Why didn't I subscribe to magazines about it? You don't have to buy every book - borrow them from the library, take only the magazine subscriptions that teach you something! But do it. Just do it!
Even if its only 15 minutes every other evening - Just do it!
Finally, I would like to pose these questions to those who read this blog...Why is sewing so important to you? If you could no longer sew, would it affect how you thought of yourself and who you were? And what special things do you do to carve time out of your busy life so that you can just sew!?
Monday, June 26, 2006
Recharging my sewing batteries
You can tell my batteries need recharging when even fabric emails don't bring a spark to the creative sewing spirit in me. Yeap, it's time to find a good book and curl up and read. Or watch some of the movies that Netflix has been so conveniently leaving in my mailbox...something, anything to just let my sewing mojo rest.
And maybe in a few days, when I am fully rested and recharged I will pick up where I left off ~ creating caviar dreams and champagne wishes in my clothing. *smile* And sharing them all with you!
So here is my question of the day? How do you recharge your sewing batteries? Do you have a tried and true method ~ wanna share? Or do you even realize that your sewing batteries are low and need a recharge? Has life totally encompassed you and shut down your sewing voice? Hey, I'm interested! Why don't you let me know how you handle recharging your sewing batteries!
Friday, June 23, 2006
I am heartbroken...
Instead she has on a pretty sleeveless, short, black dress that I bought for her 8th grade graduation (didn't know she still had it, let alone was able to wear it!) and a polyester long scarf with rhinestones along both sides that I made into a shrug. Again something that she wore in 8th grade, this time to the 8th grade dinner dance. Both pieces are accented with some nice jewelry (out of my collection, of course) a black grosgrain ribbon in her hair and a nice pair of black pumps (the only ones I have managed to get her to buy in 2 years) and she was happy and off to the party.
That's the end result ~ here is the saga....
First, when I called Fabric Mart (www.fabricmartfabrics.com) bright and early on Monday morning, they were very accommodating about sending me 5 yards of the midnight navy sandwashed silk:
Why is it that when I am eagerly anticipating a box of fabric and there is no one home to receive it, that Mr. UPS man shows up early. But when everyone is home waiting on the fabric, it shows up at 6:30 pm!!! Well, I was already peeved and the DD was making noises. I was not happy. I decide to take Friday off and work on the outfit in my leisure so that my DD would have a stunning outfit ~ the party didn't start until 8:00 pm! Wrong!
My manager called me at 6:14 a.m., never a good sign. So I only had the morning to work on the outfit because I had to be in the office by 12:30 pm. The DD that likes to sew was so gracious. She helped me any way she could ~ serging seams, looking for trim, ironing pieces. I had a halter and flowing pants (not quite palazzo's because she didn't want them that big!!!) finished by 10:30 am without shortcuts!
I get the outfit constructed after much complaining by said DD, and the look on her face broke my heart...it was tooo plain! Now both her sister and I had tried to explain that she needed to add trim to the halter top to make it sing! She didn't get it. It is so hard to make a non-sewer "see" how a completed outfit will look. They are so use to someone else making the decisions and then choosing what they like best from everything that is available. So there is now a beautiful stonewashed silk midnight blue halter and pants laying in the middle of the floor in her bedroom as she waltzed out the door in store bought clothes.
I am heartbroken.....
Thursday, June 22, 2006
A Girl at Her Sewing Machine
(after a painting by Edward Hopper)
It must be warm in the room, walls the color of over-steeped tea,the sun high,
coating the yellow brick exterior of the apartment building,angling in on
the girl, stripped down to camisole and petticoat, sewing.
She's a busty girl,
soft, no doubt perspiring, slippery under her breasts, moisturetrapped on the back
of her neck under all that chestnut hair.
She doesn't notice,though; you can see
she's intent on her seam.
She doesn't slump over the machine
but bends from the hip,her body as attuned as her hands. Her feet, though not shown
in the painting,are bound to be pudgy, are probably bare, pumping the treadle
ka-chunk ka-chunk ka-chunk
but that's unconscious. Her point of concentration is the needle,
its chick chick chick chick chick, necessity to keep the material
in perfect position,position.
What is she making? The fabric looks heavy and yet
whipped cream, or cumulus clouds; certain girls, while large, move
with grace (when nobody's
there) but in public, conceal, or try to conceal, their bodies
beneath long clothes.
They favor long hair, feeling it wimples and veils embarrassment.
Yes, I know this girl.
Only in her room, only when unseen, can she relax at all, peel off
a hot blouse,a brown skirt, like the one heaped on her bed in the background,
take pleasure in
a good hairbrush, the bottle of scent on the dresser, the picture
of her own choosing
on the wall.
Whatever she's making--let's go ahead and say it's
a dress for herself--she is not, as you might think,
dreaming of a party, a dance,or a wedding.
No, she's deciding to
flat-fell that seam--time-consuming, but worth it--stronger, better-looking.
I'm sure she knows by now not to expect much attention from boys.
She's what? twenty? eighteen?
She will, in time, use many words to describe herself,
not all of them bad;
a mass of cloth, and a cast-iron machine,
and make a beautiful shape.
Edward Hopper, Girl at Sewing Machine (c. 1921)
Oil on canvas, 19 inches x 18 inches. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
A Brief Interruption
The Miami Heat!!!!
Congratulations to the NBA Finals MVP ~ Dwyane Wade
Much love to:
and most especially to Alonzo ('Zo") Mourning!!!!!
You deserve it and you are Simply The Best!
Monday, June 19, 2006
The "Wearability" Factor
I would like to add another element to this mix. "The Wearability Factor" What do I mean by this ~ well, when you are working on a garment, you try it on for fit. You make adjustments for things that don't work and somewhere in the sewing process you see if you have successful married pattern and fabric. The wearability factor kicks in only after you have completely sewn your garment, pressed it, tried it on and taken your pics in it. Then the garment has to live through your day. This is when I make the final determination about whether a garment is workable in my wardrobe or not.
See standing still or walking around the house, you can have the best fit and best looking pieces possible but what happens when you are walking to the car, bus or train? How does the skirt, dress or pants feel after you have sat in them for several hours? Does the skirt or dress ride or bunch in strange places? Is the top too short when you bend over? "The Wearability Factor!"
My Coldwater Creek Knockoff Jacket failed The Wearability Test today. Maybe it was because I did not add any type of closure. Maybe it's because I forgot to put a bag on it and see how it would look walking around with my 5 pound "everything I need in the world to commute and go to work bag" on my shoulder. Maybe it was that I forgot that there is a breeze early in the morning as I walk to the bus! My jacket failed!
Now, why did it fail? Well it definitely needs some type of closure on the fronts. And that is something I can easily fix. And when I make a second version, I will shorten the shoulder seams some. They hang over just a tad and it was annoying today. I hate having to tug on my clothes when I am wearing them. So even though this outfit looks great on a hanger and for a picture, it does not pass the all day wear test and will need some minor adjustments.
Here's what I mean:
Close but no cigar! The next one will have some alterations made to it so that it will pass, "The Wearability Factor!"
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Yesterday at Coldwater Creek I found this:
This jacket is described on Coldwater Creek's site as: "Lady-in-lace jacket" for $99.00. Irresistibly pretty mixed-yarn jacket, frosted in rows of crochet and Battenberg lace. Cotton, rayon and nylon. Unlined. Dry clean. Imported.
The reason it caught my eye was that a package of fabric had just arrived from Timmel Fabrics. I don't purchase often from Julie, not because she doesn't have great wares but more because I have an instant gratification thing - big time! I know it's not like every piece that I order arrives and gets made up right away. Some pieces go into the "Fabric Collection" and never see the light of day until years later but I think these pieces were bought for a purpose so I was anxiously awaiting them. That and the fact that you never know how that customs thing is going to work....
I immediately threw the fabric into the washer and dryer and went in search of a pattern to make this jacket work. Now, you would think that in the vast collection of patterns that I have that I would have found one right away ~ but nooooooo! And do you know why, because this is a little boxy jacket and everything the pattern companies have been showing lately is for little fitted jackets, longer fitted jackets, cardigans, etc. And of course, as a consumer who must support her industry, I have purchased several (like way more than one!!!) patterns of this design.
I really didn't want to have to go into the closet into "Ye Olde Pattern Stash" to find a pattern from the 80's that would make this jacket. I mean c'mon its suppose to be a cute, little easy pattern and I wasn't up for an "Adventure in Pattern Stashing." So what's a girl to do? Find a current one and adapt it! Well the one I found wasn't really current - Vogue issued it in 1999 and it is not currently in their online catalogue. So here is a peek at it.
It is a Vogue Wardrobe pattern, number 2285. I bought alot of patterns like this back in the day, because of the number of garment pieces that were included in the pattern. What attracted me to this pattern for this project is that it has the same neckline, an open front without closures and a back seam already in the pattern. Also, miracle upon miracles I bought this pattern then in a size 20, 22, 24 ~ big girl sizes!
Simple and I mean simple pattern changes followed. Fold the pattern up to the petiteable line and use that line as the hemline. Trace a copy of the front pattern piece and since I know longer own a french curve (the downside to a teenager who sews!) use a saucer to get the beautiful rounded curve on the jacket fronts top and bottom! Love that tip! Got it from watching an old Shirley Adams, Sewing Connection, sewing show. As an aside if Shirley is teaching at a Sewing Expo near you, do take her classes. You will so thoroughly enjoy it! Okay, informercial over back to our regularly scheduled sewing.....*smile*
I didn't add facings to the jacket. The one on CWC doesn't appear to have any ~ the one downside to viewing something online. Then I was on the hunt for a trim that would give my jacket the same appearance as the CWC one. I just want to put a plug in here for stashing sewing notions, trims and patterns! If I did not have a trim stash, this project would have stalled. I would have had to wait until Monday to go back into NYC and prowl around the garment district to find a trim ~ 'cause there ain't no finding no decent trim in the wilds of Central Jersey! However, I did find the perfect little crochet trim in a beigy color that works with my fabric. So as of last night, I have a cardigan (still trying to decide if I want just one loop and little clear button at the neckline), a tank top and the idea for the skirt to finish the outfit.
Preview of new pieces:
The skirt will be a simple, straight skirt from this amazing Anna Sui print recently purchased from Emmaonesock!
Well I am off to sew and finish up this latest outfit! Pics of me in all three pieces will be posted later! I need to finish this skirt and the matching tank for the black rayon/lycra cardigan I started last weekend! Whooeee! New clothes to wear to work this week!
Friday, June 16, 2006
Follow Up to An Open Letter
To everyone who has posted such wonderful messages of support and understanding, thank you so much and I truly appreciate each and every message I received both here and in my personal email!
However, the folder at Patternreview does still exist and since the way their system works, that folders are viable for at least 30 days if there is no activity, anyone will be able to find and read that ignorance for weeks to come. And also since it is the internet and everything is archived with a little effort you will be able to find it forever.
I am not going to ask Deepika to remove it. I truly believe that several people have shown their "true colors" there and the world should see that! I am also amazed that there hasn't been one comment "for the other side" posted here. So does that mean my open letter didn't reach them or that they only had the guts to say something on Patternreview when they were among "friends"?
I have decided to leave my open letter on my blog because as many people have written me (either here or at my personal email) this is a sewing related issue and since my blog is dedicated to all things sewing, I guess this is just the dirty, underside of the sewing world.
One final thing ~ Susan, I hope you don't mind but I have used your words as the quote beneath my signature on all the sewing boards. They rang so true in my spirit and will let people know what I stand for. Thank you for saying it so brilliantly!
And now back to sewing...
*Just a note ~ the date on this post says Friday, June 16th but I actually wrote this post this morning, Sunday, June 18th!
Thursday, June 15, 2006
An Open Letter
I was truly offended by 90% of the content written in that folder. It was embarrassing and distasteful that when I flipped into a folder on a sewing site and ran into a group of people who under the guise of expressing their right to say and write anything as it is guaranteed in the First Amendment, would disparage and generally show their ignorance about race relations in America.
As a black woman living in America for the last 47 years, as the daughter of a woman who traveled by bus for miles to attend a segregated high school because the school nearest her home was attended by whites only, as the granddaughter of sharecropper grandparents who drank at water fountains marked for colored only, and as a black woman who can't trace her heritage further than a plantation in South Carolina....I am totally and absolutely offended by well-meaning white/Caucasian/European people who can't understand how racism has affected black peoples lives in America!
I am tired of being told to get over it! I am tired of being told to lighten up! I am tired of people who through the magic of a computer and the internet can enlighten all of us with their ignorance! And if I have to read one more folder on a sewing site full of tanning information, I will just loose it! Most of you don't want to be black in America just have the golden sheen of a not so dark black person!
Most of you think no further than the cul de sac, country road, exclusive neighborhood or luxury high rise building that you live in! Oops, did that sound stereotypical ~ ohmygosh than you must have felt for just one second the horror/disgust/annoyance that I felt when I read that folder. See this is the thing, if a race of people or a section of that people feel betrayed, enraged, horrified by the use of a word or words then don't use them! It doesn't matter if you don't understand! Show some respect for the other person's feelings! Or is that point that only your feelings matter!
What happened to the golden rules - "do until others as you wish to have done to you," and "until you have walked a mile in a person's shoes, you won't understand their situation." Words hurt. Words wound. Words can even kill a person. Do you really want to be responsible for that? Or, in your self-righteousness, do you not "see" this!
I will probably delete this post since my blog is really dedicated to all things sewing! But I needed to respond to this in a manner that wouldn't cause a flaming war on what is suppose to be a sewing site! And because I stand by my words and my feelings ~ I will not switch any of the settings on my blog. I personally know that people can be mean and hurtful! Hey, the first time I was called nigger I was just an innocent six year old standing on the corner with my mother waiting for a bus in a northern state!
And Gigi, Ann and Karla ~ thank you for trying to bring a little decency to a small corner of the world!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
I'm soooo proud!
My second DD is the only one to follow in my footsteps and sew. She looked up about two years ago and realized that I always had something new to wear. And then she realized that there was a treasure trove of patterns, fabrics and trims here to make anything her little heart desired. No more begging to go to the mall! No more begging for a top that I knew was overpriced because I could make it so much cheaper! But especially no more looking like all of her friends....and then she discovered my Burda WOF magazines. The girl was hooked.
I say all of this to share her latest project....the dress she wore to her yearbook signing dinner:
This is Simplicity 5112 and do you recognize the fabric? I had forgotten that I bought a piece for her also. It finally saw the light of day in this dress! Nice work, huh!
The back view...
And with a short jean jacket...the fashion pose!
I am just soooooo proud!!!!!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
What's Black & White All Over
I actually watched it for a few weeks before pouncing on it. But as the numbers of remaining yardage on the piece started to get smaller and smaller, I thought maybe I should really own some of this! So for $4.35 per yard ~ I bought 2 yards. It arrived really quickly and then it started to invade my brain! I couldn't just wash and dry it and put it away. It demanded to be something and to be something NOW!
The fabric finally decided that it wanted to be a t-shirt but I didn't want to use the same old Burda t-shirt pattern that I have been using over and over again. I had Butterick 6084 which has a v and u-neckline something totally different from my other t-shirt...and I was in the mood for a little patternwork so I went with that pattern. But somewhere in waiting for the opportunity to sew and using sewing daydreaming as a way to get through the more boring aspects of my life, I came up with the idea that I should make the top, a straight elastic waist skirt from the toile knit and a cardigan from the black rayon/lycra knit (pictured above) that I just happened to pick up from Paron's Half-Price Annex Store. *wink, wink* On the cardigan I would add pieces of the toile as the front/neck band and around the hem on the sleeves. So what had originally been a simple t-shirt had morphed into a little project.
Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful and I was set to sew. However, somewhere in the cutting process I realized that I would have to choose. A matching t-shirt and skirt or a t-shirt and coordinating cardigan. Mmmmmmmm....well I have several black linen bottom pieces and more black linen in the fabric collection so I went for the coordinating cardigan and top.
Here is what I actually ended up with....
I have to admit that this look is a departure for me. I always wear a sweater or a jacket over my top. I just think it makes me look slimmer. But I am trying something new....or maybe not?! *smile* No seriously, I am trying to get away from the baggy look is slimmer on a plus size figure. I am trying to embrace my beautiful bodacious body and flow with it! So this is the look I wore to work today with some cute little kitten heel black sandals and a big bow on the back of my ponytail. I even got a compliment or two! *smile*
As for the other piece it has become the Burda TNT cardigan and it does have some of the toile print for the neckline and sleeve hems. But since there was enough black fabric leftover I think I am going to make a cami out of it and wear those two pieces together. Especially since the t-shirt seems to be working okay on its own.
So let me know what you think...is the t-shirt working okay on its own? Or do I need to add a sweater over it? And none of you plus size, bodacious body haters need comment! *snicker, snicker* I love my fat cells!!!!
Saturday, June 10, 2006
I guess the thing that I wonder about the most is how many garments do these stats actually represent? Does anyone else think this when they see them or am I alone in the sewing universe on this point?! Or do the stats just represent the fact that we are a consumer driven creative sect? I mean I know that I do my part to help keep the economy going by purchasing piece after piece that touches some part of me and trips my creative gene. But really is there a physical, touchable thing that these statistics measure?
So I guess I will continue to be fascinated and wonder about those statistics....
Sunday, June 04, 2006
One Hit Wonder
So I thought the reason that I had not remade Butterick 6199 - the black/creme circle print pleated skirt dress - was because the dress pattern is so distinctive. It seemed to me that no matter what fabric I used or embellishment added the dress' details are so distinguishable that anyone would recognize that I had made two or more of them.
Well that was not the reason at all! The reason it was a "One Hit Wonder" is that the pleating on the skirt of this dress is a pain in the butt to make! Not a little pain but a great big hemorrhoid. Not often do I want to chuck a project in the middle ~ especially when it has the potential to be an extraordinary garment ~ but several times during the pressing of the pleats, I almost cried uncle. Maybe it was the poor markings on the pattern piece, or the limited amount of instruction on the pattern sheet (which I actually consulted!) or maybe it was even operator error but whatever it was, it made pleating the skirt bottom a horror!
The only reason I kept going is because of the dress' potential. The bodice was hanging up with some amazing buttons pinned to it and it was gorgeous. The touch of black rattail piping and the buttons that continue the circles of the fabric were taunting me to see this project through to the end. And I succumbed to the taunting of the work I had already completed.
However, I will bury this pattern back into the darkness of my pattern boxes and this time I will mark the pattern's folder with a notation, "to never make this pattern again!" There are easier versions of this pattern that I can make to achieve the same effect. I know because they currently reside in my pattern stash! *smile*
So what would you do in this situation? Do you dump the pattern or do you press on to the finish line? Opinions are definitely welcomed!!!!