Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Why, when something cool happens, do I never remember that I have a camera in my bag? Riddle me that one, dear readers.

Monday night, I was fortunate enough to have cocktails with Melissa (and her new husband James), who are in the States, and at that point in Philadelphia, on their honeymoon. We met near my office and talked for an easy 2 hours before they went off to dinner and I went home for mine.

As our kind are known to do, I admired her Vogue 8576 dress and Patrones jacket, and Melissa remarked on my BWOF September turtleneck. It's so nice to be among my own kind. James more than held up his end of the conversation - the man can talk shirting fabric with the best of us. Melissa showed me a few of the professional photos from their wedding; make sure you check out her blog when they're posted because they are fabulous.

In other happy news, I'm an almost-auntie! The baby for whom I sewed all that ridiculous pinkness was born last Thursday, more than 2 weeks ahead of the doctor's due date, a week ahead of Dad's best estimate, and right on time as far as Mom was concerned. I'm hoping to meet her this weekend.

There's some sewing being done, but it's more craft show stuff. I'm trying to knock a bunch of it out before vacation, which is coming up shortly. A hint of our vacation destination is attached. Where in the world am I off to?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baby Project Complete

It didn't take long to finish the bonnet to go with the baby dress. The bonnet was very easy. It's also lined with white cotton batiste, and trimmed with more stash lace.

As far as the photo is concerned, that's a very unwilling and somewhat mortified Annie. It should have been Max - he has a bigger head - but he needs wrangling and my cat wrangler was upstairs at the time.

Here's the full review for the dress on PR.

Other than that, I've been doing some more craft show sewing - I went for coffee the other day with a friend and ran into the woman who runs the organization which holds the craft show. She saw me doing handwork on the baby dress and invited me to participate in the show. I said that I had last year, but it was nice to know for certain that I was going to be this year as well, since I've gotten so much stuff finished.

Back to work tomorrow. I had 2 days off, and they were definitely not enough.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cutest thing ever?

It has come to my attention that is probably a very good thing that I never had children, particularly a little girl.

I would spend so much time making things like this that I'd probably forget to feed her.

My friends' baby is due around the 10th of October. I missed finishing this before the shower deadline - then again, I missed the shower because I couldn't get there - but I'll still be done before she arrives, unless she's a very early girl.

When I found out they were having a girl, I told them I wanted the privilege of making her very first Easter dress. After receiving the ladybug dress a few months ago, they cleared this with both grandmothers and I was given the go-ahead to make something in a 6 month size.

I've had this fabric since the day after their wedding in November, 2007. The next day was a Saturday, and also a PR Weekend in NY. I bought this candy-pink embroidered velvet at Metro Textiles thinking that sooner or later two of my favorite people would be bound to have a little girl. It only took 3 years - not bad, considering the age of some of my stash.

The dress is an older BWOF pattern (it started out as a christening gown, which I shortened and changed up a bit). The bonnet yet-to-be is from the same issue, as are the shoes that I'm still debating to go with it.

Making stuff for little people is both easy and complicated - easy because everything is so small and can be done with scraps and remnants, and hard because they're . . . well, delicate, and every seam has to be encased, and the petticoat has to be between the dress and the cotton lining so it doesn't scratch. I don't think this hard about my own clothes, and I've definitely made dresses for myself that have taken less time.

And I have to say I would never fold and stitch rayon seam binding on the edges of petticoat net for something I intended to wear.

I had today off from work but ended up running downtown for an hour because somehow in all my accumulation of notions, I didn't have any ribbon the right color, and I had no snaps at all. I got this sea-green ribbon in two widths, one for the dress and the other for the bonnet ties. Clear plastic snaps so as not to clash with the pink velvet. And the little rosebud appliques for the neck, the sleeves, the bonnet and anyplace else I can think of to stick them.

The dad knows that something pink and ruffly is coming their way; he doesn't know precisely what. The only thing this dress will require is a pair of ruffle-butt panties, and I think I'll let the parents provide those. I've had enough with sewing on lace already.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Free Patterns Alert

For those who haven't read Connie's blog lately or who, like me, who just need a not-so-gentle reminder, the Russian site, Lekala Patterns, is offering free downloads of ALL their patterns for the entire month of September.

However, the downloads are only available in 42 or 44, but still, that's a load of free patterns, even if you have to fiddle with the sizing a bit. They claim their sizes are equivalent to BWOF sizing, so since I'm generally a 38 (knit) or 40 (woven) in BWOF, I don't think tinkering with some of these will be too much of a stretch.

And there are some interesting patterns for download. Quite a few dresses caught my eye, a few blouses, some skirts . . . the pants were remarkably unexciting, but that's probably okay because BWOF has the best fit for me anyhow, and if it's not broken, I really shouldn't attempt fixing it.

The pattern PDFs download quickly (even on my clunky computer) and most - though not all - have instructions written in English.

I've already downloaded about 10 patterns.

Have at it, ladies, September will be over before you know it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Serious Ruffles

Finally, I can post pictures of this one and call it done!

It's actually been done for a while, but there were several reasons it didn't get worn and photographed. First off, it was just so hideously hot that I couldn't imagine wearing it and feeling all wilted before I even got to work. Okay, so I still could have photographed and posted about it, but I really didn't think it was a job for Mario and the white wall in the living room.

So here is where I offer thanks to my staff photographer, Andrea. She knows she'll the same from me.

There are more details (and some extra photos) in the patternreviews, so if you're interested, here's the skirt and the jacket.

As far as the skirt is concerned, I covered its origins in a post called Once Upon a Time - once upon a time I made a skirt, loved it, outgrew it and gave it away. Rather than regretting its loss, I decided that, since my skills and ability to fit are better now than they were when I made the skirt, I should just make a new, better skirt.

One that fit.

So I did. The skirt is my basic pencil skirt pattern, which started out life as a BWOF skirt and has been tweaked a few times to make me happy. The not-exactly-ruffled edging is lifted from BWOF 7/10 #125. By not-exactly-ruffled, I mean that those aren't ruffles. They're circles, cut, pinked and folded, and then sewn on. The bottom row was pinned and sewn on by machine, but I didn't like the look of the machine stitches, so for the second row, where the points would be visible, I sewed them all on by hand.

All together, that's 81 circles. Plus 6 more on the jacket pockets, if you're keeping track.

I love how it looks. I love ruffles, but I don't necessarily like how I look in them; I just don't strike me as frilly. Done in a non-frilly fabric, they suit me just fine.

The jacket - can you call it a jacket when it doesn't have sleeves? - is McCall 5859, a pattern I've liked since I saw Kisha's version last year. When I tried hers on, I even liked the sleeves, though I thought maybe they weren't quite me. But I cut them out and sewed them on anyway, and then, of course, I changed my mind, and off they came.

Which meant that I couldn't sew the lining in the way I wanted to, because the shoulder seams were already sewn, so I ended up attaching the lining at the armholes and hem by hand.

When I cut out the jacket, I cut all the pattern pieces, because I knew there wouldn't be any fabric left over if I decided later I wanted to add pockets, and of course, like removing the sleeves, I didn't decide I wanted to add the pockets until after the lining was sewn in. So the pockets got sewn on very, very carefully by hand.

In other words, there ended up being one hell of a lot of hand sewing in this outfit, considering that the bulk of it was machine-sewn.

But my mother always told me I had the patience of a snake when it came to getting what I wanted, and apparently I really wanted this outfit done, and done a certain way.

Another nice thing about the jacket is the collar. It's two piece, but not your normal collar and lapel. First off, the lapel is a separate piece, and the collar is separate from the lape. If you look at the jacket closeup you can see that the collar lays on top of the lapel instead of being sewn into it, like a normal evil Burda collar. I think it adds something to it, though I might change the size or shape next time I do it.

The body of this jacket is definitely getting filed away for further use. I'm pretty happy with the overall fit, the peplum is more flattering on me than I thought it would be - maybe becuase it covers any natural peplum I may have? - and I think once I draft a sleeve that doesn't make me want to scream, I'd be willing to make this up in a completely different fabric.

I hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend, with lots of sewing getting accomplished. I've been a domestic goddess of a different sort for most of the weekend - repairing my concrete front steps, clearing out the garden, doing a lot of cleaning - but I can hear the siren song of the sewing machine, calling me . . .

Sunday, September 5, 2010

August: Month End Review

August was a pretty productive month - a couple of labor-intensive projects, like the finally finished and photographed gray pinstriped suit (full blog post coming soon).

The total for the month was 7 projects: pinstriped skirt, pinstriped jacket, McCall 6171 denim jacket muslin, BWOF 9/10 #121 turtleneck, white KwikSew tank for under the pinstriped suit and something else that I'm trying to remember. The post-it on the computer monitor says "7 projects," so I'm assuming there were 7.

As important, if not more so, was the great New York bonding event of August 28, 2010 - it started out as a meetup and turned into something way more fun. It's always so inspiring to get together with other fabric-obsessed women and compare projects (fairly easy since we're usually wearing something new and noteworthy to the event).

Besides the companionship, some really good fabrics followed me home, one of which was already put to good use in the BWOF 9/10 turtleneck. (And actually there's another turtleneck ready to join the fall wardrobe, made from a PR Weekend fabric, another one in solid black cut out and ready to sew).

I also picked up some trim in NY that has gotten me thinking about Butterick 5147 again. I lost interest in the sheath dress sewalong when the pinstriped skirt struck me, but the trim made me think about the fabric, which made me think about the dress. Not sure if I'm ready to work on it yet, but it's rising to the top of the pile.

What I'm really starting to think about are fall clothes. More on that later.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Personal best

Fabric, $20,

Burda Magazine subscription, $80.

Finishing a September pattern in August with fabric purchased on August 28th? Priceless.

I tried to post the patternreview last night, but the 3 month long Wardrobe Contest was ending, and it was just taking too long. Plus, I have to admit . . . I have dialup, and it doesn't deal well sometimes.

There. I said it. I have dialup. I also don't have a laptop, a phone that does anything more than make phone calls, or a serger.

It's okay, you can call me low-tech. I've been called a luddite by the really creative.

Here's the review:

Pattern Description: This turtleneck pullover with extra-long slim sleeves looks great with trousers/pants and skirts as well as underneath dresses. We suggest you sew up this simple style in several colors.

Wow, I actually agree with every word in that little blurb. That's a first.

Pattern Sizing: I used my standard BWOF size 38. I tend to make their patterns in 38 in knits and 40 in wovens. This fit true to size.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except theirs were in solid white and black. Where's the fun in that?

Were the instructions easy to follow? Surprisingly, I looked at them and they made sense. How often does BWOF do that? Of course, they still have you sew the shoulder and side seams, then ease in the sleeve. Why? What's wrong with setting sleeves in flat in knits? Which is what I did, and it worked. I mainly looked to see how they handled the turtleneck, which was to tell you to fold it on the fold line, pin it and then turn it back outwards so that the seam allowances can be sewn together so the collar doesn't roll. It makes sense when you think about it.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It's a great basic, and I thought what I wanted to do with it was make a few solid color tops for use under dresses and jackets in my very cold office. But then the fabric took over and it became something slightly different.

Fabric Used: Rayon/lycra blend from Metro Textiles, purchased during the PR NYC Shopping Day on 8/28/10. Wow, a late August fabric purchase and a September BWOF pattern, done by August 31st. This might be a personal best.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Nothing substantive. I would note that the sleeves are REALLY long on this one, longer than I would have expected given their description. I cut some excess off at the wrists and re-tapered them. I also took a little off the sleeve cap because I wanted to set it in flat instead of ease-stitching it, which always strikes me as pointless in a knit.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I'll definitely make this again - maybe next time in those practical solids I had planned to use. I like the fact that this gives the illusion of a turtleneck without actually being snug around my neck, which I find very uncomfortable, or having a seam at that point. This is actually more of a modified funnel-neck or mock-turtleneck, and I think it's more flattering than a classic turtleneck.

Conclusion: BWOF does two things well, really on-trend interesting pieces, and great basics. This would definitely go in the great basic category. I can see myself using this pattern over and over.