Saturday, December 29, 2007

Back at it! Return to Patchoullli ...

So I have spent the day in the shop working on the newest version of the HP Patchoulli dress, in a paisley/floral stretch velvet. The velvet is in a black with a burgundy paisley and floral pattern that has the pile removed. The waist panel is done in a matching burgundy rayon knit as will be the neckbands I am putting on.

I have the skirt done with the waist panel and hem ruffles in. Instead of using the full length of the ruffle and gathering the double fullness in, I only put on one panel for a slight flirty effect on the bottom. But I think it is too long now. Also, I see the hem ruffle and I get a "Prairie Skirt" feeling. Not my style ... to be honest, I think that is why the linen version sits in the Closet more often than it should. Too many ruffles (neckline, hemline and sleeve hemline) for me. I go for a more of a cleaner look.

So, the conundrum now is, do I cut the skirt back and then re-sew the hemline treatment or just remove it completely and hem the skirt plain. I am leaning towards the latter, to be honest. I still have the second halves of the ruffle that I thought I would use on a skirt made from the rayon knit. Maybe to add some hemline interest I can do something with the rayon ... I do have a lot of it!

The bodice I have modified to be a cross over V neck with a contrast neck band in an homage to the Cosmo Dress. Rather than the underbust gathering, I am going to dart out the excess. I have to play with the fit a bit on Mindy first, though. I am not sure if I have the wrap just right yet. If it doesn't work out, I have a back up plan ... when I cut the neckband, I also cut it out in the velvet, so I can make a reworked bodice out of the solid rayon and use the velvet for the banding. Then I can recut the bodice with whatever changes are needed. If things go well, I want to wear this to church tomorrow, so cross your fingers sweeties!

BTW, in between coat sessions, I am going to be starting a pair of Claire Schaeffer pants using the couture directions. AND I am going to line them as well. So, watch this space for more on that in the future. That will be my first big project of the year. Then I will tackle those Marfy's I ordered in the fall!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Blast from the Past ...

I know I usually post about sewing and the family, but tonight ... a pitch for a movie. Yup, a family movie (that has about 2 mins of sewing, does that count now?). The Pilot and I just took the kids to see Alvin and the Chipmunks. We laughed and giggled all the way through and the Pilot and I were singing "The Witchdoctor" in the parking lot as we walked to the car. Kids thought we were nuts, especially when we began to argue over whether or not the chorus ends in "Bing Bang Walla Walla Bing Bang" or (his version) "Bing Bing Walla Walla Bing Bang". So, he thinks I am on searching for the right words ... I am resisting the urge! I told him I am not worried about who is right ... but I am dying to know!

Go see the movie! For those of you who like me, grew up with the 'munks, learned the song by heart every Christmas, go for the fun of being a kid again. And sing the Witch doctor in the parking lot and be proud!

Holiday Cheers

Yesterday I managed to leave work early to go to the School to see Hamster Boy in the annual Christmas talent show. My children go to a Catholic school, so this event happened the day after the second Advent Mass and is a wonderful show of talent from all the kids involved. For the past two years Hamster Boy has been trying out for the show with other kids and not getting in. This year, his whole class managed to get something on the stage, be it a dance routine, a song or a skit. I heard girls singing songs, by themselves or in duets, violin and piano solos, a classical guitar, a flute and skits that had me giggling till late last night. There were kindergarten children stealing the show as they sang about Santa. There were the senior class members making us all cry as they sang the Live Aid song "Do they Know It's Christmas", ending with them all adding a can of food to a pile in front of the stage. What a wonderful way to end their Advent project of collecting food for the local food bank!

There was much off key and many missed notes, but each one made it more special. Christmas songs are never more Christmas-y then when sung by a child. IT is that innocence and that joy of the whole season that infuses their whole being. IT is their gift to us, like the drummer boy of old gave to that other Child, whose birthday we all are looking forward to. They sing and dance with their whole heart. IT was one of the nicest concerts I have ever been to. Minimal staging, lots of laughter and the students in the audience sang along with their on stage classmates when they needed help. We all smiled at the toddlers in the audience who danced on the floor next to the stage where their elder sister was performing, silently stealing the show, getting lots of applause at the end.

If you have the chance to see a children's concert, may you enjoy it as much as I did yesterday. Let it take you back to the time when you didn't worry about budget and presents, about taking time off work, about all that holiday stress. When Christmas was all about a Child. One whose birthday brought us so much more than we can ever give back. So, when trying to figure out when you can bake that pie for Christmas dinner, why not bake a birthday cake instead. After all, 'tis the season!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mumsews returns ...

I just wanted to say thanks to Texas for the latest snowstorm! It is great! Over a foot and a half of new snow for a guaranteed white Christmas … we made it to Mass this morning and then spent the afternoon baking cookies (I mixed them, Brian rolled and cut and I took them out of the oven). I sense a new traditional way of making cookies in the Newman household! Especially since this one recipe is the one I hate making as it is a pain to roll and cut. But it is a Newman cookie, so it is a must. As soon as I get some ground almonds, I will make the cookies from my side of the family ... yummy almond crescents!

The kids just came in from shovelling out their snow fort (again) and trying to outrun the neighbour’s snowblower as he kindly helped Brian with the massive snowplow drift. Their bottomless stomachs want food, but Brian and I are still full from last night's dinner party. We hosted a friend from Brian's work. They brought their 3 kids as well, so we had a house full of fun! Nothing that 2 beer can chickens on the BBQ can't fill up, though! Good thing, now we have some leftovers for supper tonight ... I see chicken salad on my plate.

I have been away too long. Was it really 19 Oct that I last posted? WOW, I knew it had been a bit, but not that long! Thanks to the "mother hens" (you know who you all are!) for your kind thoughts and worries. It is nice to know that others think of me as much as I do of them! Where have a I been? Well, most of October was spent adjusting to working for the first time in 14 years. Trying to balance kids, home, husband (re-learning how to live with him after a year away)and Scouts. Then, the past 4 weeks I have been out 2 nights a week at the gym not working, but working out) with a trainer. Love the way it has made me feel and especially like the half-inch I lost on the waistline (it was all core work!), but hated the number of nights away. After the holidays, the trainer's schedule changes, so I will have sessions in the morning instead. The true value of working at a gym!

I haven't been sewing much of late. After having Brian gone all last year, going downstairs while he is home just doesn't feel right. We have a year to make up for, you know? It is hard to explain, but most nights I just want to be in the same room with him. We weren't even like that as newly weds, but it is kind of neat to feel like that after almost 20 years together! But ... tonight, mumsews returns! I was daydreaming vice singing today at Mass and saw a new version of the HP Patchoulli dress ….sort of a morph into the Cosmo dress in a stretch velvet floral print I have aging. That will be my holiday dress. Susanna needs a new dress as well. I love stretch velvet, it is so easy to sew up! Then I will finish Brian’s shirt and a new top for Iain. As much as I love my job, I miss having the weeks before Christmas to be holed up in the workshop sewing for the holiday gifts.

I did manage to get a jumper done for work, though. I will try to take a photo of that one soon. A long term plan is to have a mini sew along with dear friend MB. We are both going to do a Claire Schaeffer pant sew along. I have read so many things about the CS patterns and the couture options, that I want to dive in and try it. I have some cashmere coming from Ressy that are pencilled in for pants. If they are not the right weight, then it will be a jacket and I will try using the wool flannel also sitting nicely in the stash. So, I hope to end this year sewing and start the new year the same way. I have to get used to shorter spurts of sewing as opposed to the longer stretches I used to have.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Coat is Dead - Long Live Which Coat?

I had to bid a fond farewell to my almost 20 year old Gore Tex raincoat this week. It had a major rip beside the pocket stitching that I can't fix. It is in a spot that can't be patched and is jagged and can't be sealed. So, goodbye raincoat! You have served me well! The Pilot, being the kind one that he is, offered me his GoreTex instead. You see, he has weight-lifted his back and shoulders out of his as it no longer fits. Nice intention, but it is still huge on me. I may have worn it when I was 200+ pounds pregnant, but I am no longer in need of that much space in outerwear, if you know what I mean!

So, I am now contemplating new outerwear. What do I need, really? While I would like to think I can find something that will take me from work to play, I hardly think that I can find a nice enough style for work (business casual with Dress UP Fridays) that will also survive weekend outings with the little Beavers on hikes, or playing with Monkey Girl and Hamster Boy in the yard. So, I think I need 2 different coats. One for work and Mass, the other for play. I can still get the same Gore Tex jacket, but to be honest, I think I want something different. For the other coat, I would love to have something wool. By the prices I see, I am considering making one instead. Even with Darrell's prices, I'd still be ahead.

I know what you're thinking. I have 2 coats in progress right now. One is a wool boucle fleece in a duffle style that would be perfect for the playcoat. If I layer underneath it, I'd be toasty warm for when things get frostier. So, I will finish that off as I really like that fabric! The other coat, the HP Cherry Blossom, I am going to give as a gift to a friend who fits it better than I. For me to wear it, I would have to totally cut it down and redo it, after doing a new muslin to determine the best fit. I could probably just re-start with a new muslin and cut new fabric faster. I like the overall style of the Cherry Blossom coat, but the sleeves are not practical for the Northern weather. So, I may take that nice silk wool blend in the stash and make that into the CB as a light jacket for work.

But what about when I need something a bit warmer but not down? Well, in my Marfy catalogue, I fell in love with this pattern for a jacket. It is stylish and I think it could be easily lengthened for the style I want. The only concern I have is whether or not a coating fabric would suit. The pattern has arrived, but I am going to think on it while I finish the duffle coat and hem the Cherry Blossom coat for my friend's birthday in November.

The only other coat I've really fallen in love with is this other Marfy, reviewed over on PR by Marjenann. I love the lines of this one as well. This is one that I could see me wearing to work! So, now all I have to do is to make up my mind, order the pattern and then give Darrell a budget! Realistically, though, I think I will stick with the ones I have. And I will most likely go out and get that Gore Tex again as it is more sensible for wet days or for snow play with good underlayers. Only in a different colour this time... maybe a nice red this time! Now, where did I put that WOF issue with the duffle in it ...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Playing Catch Up ...

To those who were in doubt, I am still alive! Truth be told, I have been spectacularly busy and have not had the time nor energy to sit and type much that had nothing to do with work, Scouting, Fall Camp or Scout Leader training in the past month. September is always crazy in this household and this year was exasperated by my new job. Mega mental adjustments on my part.

So, to summarize my month in reverse order:

Today was Apple Day. To those who are Scouters or Scout parents in Canada, you know what that means! I spent the morning with Monkey Girl selling apples (for a donation of your choice) for Scouts Canada. It is a national campaign that is really cute to watch. Who can say no to a 5-7 year old child in a uniform holding up a shiny red apple? This afternoon, the Pilot did the groceries for me and just took the kids to the library to allow me some quiet time. He is so thoughtful ...

Wednesday was the 19/15th anniversary of the Pilot and I. Why a dual number? Because we actually dated (non-stop) for 4 years prior to getting married. I can't help but count that. The Pilot, however, prefers to separate the two events (even though the first date was only a couple of weeks away from the actual wedding date) and only count the wedding anniversary. This year, it struck me that I have been with the same man for almost half of my life. And I am still amazed that he is mine. I am thankful everyday for his presence in my life. He is truly my soul mate and demonstrates that to me every day.

Last weekend was Thanksgiving up here in Canada, so, thanks to a training day for the schools, we had a 4 day weekend. OK, the kids had a 4 day, the Pilot and I had to work and only got a 3 day. But it was wonderfully restful. The weather was great and just chilly enough to make the oven's heat comfortable. We even had a fire at night in the fireplace. We all just relaxed ... no day trips or museum runs, no family (that was and is the only downside to living far from both families). We spent some wonderful time together and ate lots of turkey and trimmings!

The week before that was the annual Fall Camp for our Scout group. All age groups participated and for the first time, the Pilot was able to join us. The hardest part of that for me was realizing that the rest of us had a routine wrt Camp, but he didn't know what to do, so he was a bit lost and I was a bit miffed that he wasn't where he was supposed to be ... I mean, come on, after all these years together, shouldn't he be able to anticipate? LOL! It made for some initial tense moments, but in true fashion, we made it through and had a great family weekend! The two weeks before were spent planning the events and organizing the families.

The day after Labour Day saw me start my new job. It has been a roller coaster of a learning curve! When I was in the military, I had a pay clerk, a finance clerk, a supply technician and an administrative clerk all doing the job that I am now solely responsible for. I have had to learn a new software package and comply with daily deadlines from home office and learn the lingo at the same time. The first two weeks were extremely challenging and was almost overwhelming at times. This is my first real job after my military days (which were over 14 years ago). The Pilot was so supportive when I came home almost in tears after a couple of really trying days when I wasn't sure I was able to make it much longer. He grinned and hugged me clsoe and then said "I've been waiting a long time to give back to you what you've many times said to me" at which point he then gave me the pep talk that I have given him over our many years. He then sent me many little e-mails to work over the next few days with positive messages. Better than a bouquet of flowers any day!

Sewing wise, I have decided to go with the company shirts as the yellow seems to agree with me (this according to many in the office). So, that means I can focus on a working wardrobe of trousers, skirts and maybe even an overdress or two. By that I mean a tailored jumper. No the old fashioned jumper favoured by the younger set, but a wrap style overdress that will be very professional looking in the black pinstripe I have set aside for it. I will make a pair of trousers out of the same fabric, probably one of the HP patterns I have. I have not decided upon which one yet. As te temps in the gym are kept cool for those working out, I need something to go on top of the shirts. So, I see a vest or a sweater coming from the Sophia knit I have left in the stash. I have more coming from Ressy, so that will make a nice cardigan as well. I may even have enough for a knit overdress as well or another tailored pant. I splurged and put my name down for some of the cashmere that she is offering. I have to make myself something from that ... whether it will be a pant or a jacket I am not sure. I will have to compare to the hand of the stash coming courtesy of the EFQ. So, for the foreseeable future, my sewing life will be basic black (except for the obligatory Halloween costume for Monkey Girl). I don't mind as I am mixing up the fabrics and patterns so that I don't get tired of it too soon. I have to get my evening sewing time back ... that is the one downside of the Pilot being home. I tend to not go downstairs when he is around. After not having him home for that year, I miss being with him!

So, while I am not posting much, I am around and am doing some sewing. I just don't have the time to post about it. OR post back issue photos for that matter ...

See you around!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Skirt Challenge

Well, you've seen my entry into the skirt challenge at Darrell's. He has finally sent me pics of his entry. The one that had us all gasping with surprise and awe. With the exception of his co-worker, Denise, we all just saw a beautiful blue silk A-line skirt. Simple design and we didn't see any original elements. We all started to tease him mercilessly until he quietly said "I made the fabric". We all were silenced. We had all taken for granted that the beautiful glass beaded and bias pintucked fabric was one that he carried by the bolt. After all, we have all seen similar fabric before. Then Denise said that he had painstakingly pintucked the yardage on both bias angles to get a diamond effect and Then he cut and stitched the fabric into the skirt. Then he added the beads. Each one stitched on individually.

Look and drool ... and appreciate the skill and the patience this man had for his craft.
This is the full view on a mannequin in his shop (He designed and made the top and the net shrug she is also wearing).

This is a closer view of the skirt front:

Here is a detail shot of the pin tucks and the beads:

We are trying to badger him into submitting this into Threads, either for the Reader's Closet column or to write an article on how he did it. He is resisting. Help us convince him otherwise! Comment so that I can copy them all and take them in on our next get together!

What is the new challenge for our little group? We had to bring in 3 lengths of fabrics, all had to be 60" wide and a natural fabric and a half yard long. We also had to follow this guideline: One had to be a print, one a solid and one could be anything. We then a Yankee exchange (after some German cheesecake, that is!) and picked/stole one fabric piece from each of the 3 piles. I brought in 2 pieces of linen and some silk chiffon. I ended up with my baby blue linen (I had originally picked a piece of royal blue raw silk, but it was snatched from me!), a piece of purple silk with yellow ribbon embroidery and a black polka dot on white cotton. The finished garment must have all fabrics visible, no other fabric may be added except for linings and interfacing. No other rules. I will post shots of what I have tomorrow. Till then, start thinking for me! I need inspiration ... feel free to send me pattern shots for ideas!


I started my job this week. Yup, offered the job on Wednesday and started on Monday. Gotta like that! I have been training all week on the computer system with the are trainer. Lovely lady! I have a choice, apparently, wrt work attire. According to the "Manual" I have to wear the company shirt (LS or SS) or the company Cool Max Polo Shirt (LS or SS) with black non-denim, non cargo style pants or skirts with black shoes. OR, according to my manager and the trainer, I can wear office attire. I figure that if I get one each of the yellow shirts, I can make the polos from the silkweight PD (thank you Ressy!) in the stash and just wear a name tag to show I am staff. That leaves me with the need for black pants and shoes. That way, I have "official wear" for those occasions where it is a must (training and conferences) and can wear my own office wear the rest of the time.

So, knowing that the only black shoes in the Closet are strappy slingbacks (suitable for parties and dancing - should the Pilot ever acquire a right foot to go along with one of his 2 left feet LOL!), I needed to go shoe shopping! Stop clapping with glee, Phyllis! I know you wish you were here to help! I went to Payless first as I wanted a quick pair to get me through to the arrival of the first paycheck. What did I see in the front of the store? The sweetest little patent Mary Jane's with the cutest kitten heel. Perfect for the office and for the weak ankle. I fell in love instantly ... especially when I saw them in the red! Oh la la! Almost walked right out of the store with them then and there. Glad I didn't as I had not yet discovered that black shoe rule. So, I went home and finished my second pair of the HP Everyday Pants, this time in a lightweight brown wool crepe. Tomorrow being the Pilot's payday, I will go and get those black shoes.

So, about my pants. I finished the brown wool crepe HP Everyday pants last night. They look divine! Feel divine too … I wore them to work today and had a blast. Super comfy and stylish! After work, I thought I would go back to Payless and get those Mary Janes (in black) for work. Little voice in the back of head says: “Go to Winners and look for black pants; take MB’s advice” (buy some servicable pants OFTR for now and sew better ones on the weekends). So, deciding to listen to little voice, I drive past Payless and waved to the shoes in the window (Sorry Phyllis, the little voice was louder than your shouts of encouragement!) and parked at Winners. I went in and headed for the pant section, knowing that the likelihood of finding a pair of black pants was minimal. True enough, there were no pants in the pant aisle that fit, let alone were black! So, I wandered. I found a new section called "Collections". That little voice found an obnoxious twin who screamed "EXPENSIVE ... don't go there!". The little voice said very quietly "go look". So, being somewhat perverse and not liking obnoxious anything, I did.

I found a pair of wool knit pants in black with the neatest lines to them! Aside from being luscious to touch, they were a sewn on (as opposed to the Betzina method) fly front with a semi faced waist. Semi faced, you ask? What is that? Well, it was faced from CF and CB to the points at which you would put belt loops (I call it mid point of the side front/back). In between, it was a partial band. The other neat thing was that the fly shield had a cut on tab extension for a button. The fly was closed with a zip to the waist edge and held closed by a pant hook and eye. The eye was placed right at the seamline of the fly extension. Very classy, gives a wonderful smooth front and is oh so comfortable. How do I know? Cause I tried them on and them pants FIT! Oh yeah, baby! I need to drop the crotch a hair and fold the hemline up enough to make some cuffs, but other than that, they are on me for work tomorrow! And even better, for the quality and cut of the pant and the wool, I think that the price was worth it. I'll post detailed shots later so that you can see what I am talking about. I might be able to knock these off using some of the Sophia knits in the stash!

As I admired the look of these pants, I thought, I wonder how the brown wools made it today? Do they still look OK in the back after a day at the desk or are they all droopy? So, I took the black pants off (reluctantly, BTW, they are SO COMFY!) and put the browns back on; wondering, what are the chances that this one pair of size 14's will still be there tomorrow when I can spend the Pilot's pay. Then I turned and looked at the backside of the brown pants. And didn't see any wrinkles, so that is the good news. The bad news is that I could see flashes of my creme coloured undies! ACK! I must have snipped a thread when I clipped the crotch seam last night and it had given way. SERIOUSLY given way. My inner debate as to whether to wait a day was silenced. The reason for the little voice's constant advice to day was clear. I needed an emergency buy! After all, in about 15 minutes, I would be walking across an elementary school playground where my little gap would be at eye level for about 30 kindergarten students! And they are not known for their subtlety, are they? Out came the credit card and I changed the pants in the corner of the parking lot with the seat all the way back and down. Only then did I venture out to get Monkey Girl!

The moral of the story? Listen to that quiet but persistent little voice when you shop. You never know what you may be leaving behind you ... So, you'll have to wait for a shot of the brown pants until I fix that crotch seam!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Phoenix Rising ...

How appropriate is this considering I am starting a new job, the kids are both in school full time and the Pilot is in a new job as well?

You Are a Phoenix

Driven and ambitious, you tend to acquire material success easily.

You have grand schemes - both for your own life and for changing the whole world.

You are a great leader, and you have no problem taking the reigns.

However, you aren't all business. You also have great talents for performing and visual arts.

C'mon ... curious minds want to know!

Friday, September 07, 2007

When Goodbye Hurts

I have been happily talking about the fact that my youngest is now in school full days. She comes home excited and full of smiles and happiness and tells me how much she loves her class and her teacher. She was all excited, anticipating her big brother walking her to school and me picking her up. "I'm a big girl!" she would proudly state. So, a bit unsure, I let her go with her brother. He is silently proud of the fact that he is allowed to do this. She would play with him until some of her friends showed up and then she would leave him and the other "big kids" to go with her own classmates. Then, when I show up to walk her home, I am sent away as she wants Hamster Boy to do it. So, I slowly walk away and they both catch up fairly quickly.

Yesterday that changed. She called me to come and get her. She wasn't feeling well. She was in tears. I brought her home and we cuddled on the sofa for an hour and then she was fine and went back to school for the rest of the day without a problem. This morning, she was uncertain about who should walk her to school, so I suggested that I come along with them. Hamster Boy went along ahead and the two of us made it to school. She wanted to be with me the whole time, right up to when her class started to line up to go in. Halfway up the steps, she turned and was crying that her belly ached again. She wanted to come home. "I like grade 1 but I don't want to go" she cried. I walked her to her classroom and then the teacher gave me that allknowing look. Assurances were given and I know she will be fine. But every parent who has to remove their child from their arms and give them over to another's care when they don't want to be there knows how heartbreaking it is. Goodbye hurts.

Two years of kindergarten wasn't a problem for her. She had her days when the Pilot was away where she needed her Mommy. I know that this will pass. But goodbye hurts. I left hearing her tears and knew I had to keep going. Goodbye hurts. I know that the teacher will call me later today, probably at recess telling me that she is now OK. But my child is hurting inside and it hurts me, too. She is growing up and doesn't like it very much.

I am really blessed that the job I found enables me to see her to school and then to pick her up after. No babysitters. That was the one condition I made for job hunting. I turned down a couple of offers due to the hours. I am glad I did. Goodbye hurts even more when there is a babysitter at the end of the day and not Mommy.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Empty Nesting ... sort of

It all started with Brian announcing that he was going to take the day off so that he could take the kids to school. He wants to make up for missing most of last year and this year Monkey Girl started grade 1. Yup, full days of school ... no more half days for us! I now have my days to myself (thus the job hunting!) So, on Tuesday, we walked the kids to school (OK, we walked behind them as they ran ahead!). Then after we were further abandoned to friends from school, we walked home, hand in hand. We then made a pot of coffee and sat in the quiet and drank. Then we planned. We finished our coffee and then put our plan in to action: Home Depot here we come!

We walked around the kitchen area finalizing our choices and then we browbeat the clerk into talking to us. She then told us we needed an appointment to sit and get a ballpark estimate. Looking around, and spying her appointment book, I saw that there was nothing on it. I waited. She said “you need an appointment”. I sat silently. She then looked at me and said “I can fit you in this afternoon?” Then I smiled and said Fine! See you at 1:45! We then started walking around.

In the proceeding 90 minutes, we managed to redesign our bathroom vanity and pick our new shower stall, toilet and sinks. We priced MDF for a new sewing table configuration (that I have to now design), designed a kitchen island and priced a new deck. Then we sped to the local chip truck and got 2 hotdogs and some wonderfully sinful fries. Gulped them down and made it back to Home Depot. I fell in love with Corian counter tops but not the price tag. So, it looks like it will be laminate. I now have to compare what I found at HD with Ikea and then price them both out in detail.

It was so much fun to just wander and dream and plan ideas like that. We pulled out a 4x8 sheet of MDF to see if it was enough for an L shaped work surface. Seeing as it was only $25 for the whole sheet, I figure I can get a real nice work surface with holes for the cords and a power bar mount … Oh my! Now I just have to figure out dimensions and drawers and such. That way, I can bring the kitchen table I am currently using as a sewing table into the empty eating area of the kitchen for the kids to eat on and do homework on. It will also become the basis of my kitchen island … Brian and I came to an agreement as to what we like in a master bath wrt cabinetry. I want some drawers for my stuff and he wants shelves for towels and cleaners and such. We discussed the rather unique way our plumbing is and how to accommodate it in the cabinets. Everything but colour …

We made it home in time to do a bit of web surfing and then pick the kids up. There, we were told to leave by Susanna who was expecting her older brother to pick her up so we retreated and left her to Iain. Then they both joined us for the walk home with lots of talking happening!

How is that for a day? The first day without kids and we spent it in Home Depot! We could have spent it at home, being romantic, but instead we snoop shopped together and had so much fun! We were like kids in a toy store before Christmas! Couples that dream together, stay together!

Working wardrobes

Well, I am now employed! I sign my contract on Monday and start training on the local systems the same day. I am taking over as the Club Administrator for a branch of local private gym. Yes, the same one I interviewed for in the spring. Same position, too.

So, now I need a working wardrobe for a casual work environment. I see more HP Everyday pants and maybe even some of the Razor Sharp pants in the wools I have in the stash. I see some crisp shirts and lots of tops (lucky for me I have a bunch of Ressy's rayon knits stashed in fall colours!) and some more casual style jackets. Think Sportive Suit and the Lacy Wrap cardigan as well ... then there are the Marfy's I am looking at as well (more on those another day ... now that I know which job I have, I will have to adjust my purchase plans!)

Then, there are the shoes ... Phyllis dear, you must come up north for a weekend to help me shoe shop once I get everything done! Really! Come on up ...

Monday, September 03, 2007


I have just uploaded photos of the HP skirt and the capris. I am about to go and post the reviews, but here is a sneak peak of the results of my efforts! First the skirt. This is a late night pic of the skirt, so sorry for bad posture and tops that are not tucked in all the way ...

Now the capri conversion. These I am most proud of. The darts look a little stressed, but that is due to the fit process when I needed to let out the s.s.. I actually can pinch an inch at the s.s. now. These were worn last night to a BBQ, so there is some wear wrinkles, but otherwise I love the fit! I just have to do some real minor tweaks still, I think (I could use some more ease at the hip area judging by what I see). For some reason, the front looks off kilter, that is because I didn't straighten them before I took the photo.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reviews & ramblings

It came to me that I have not been posting many reviews lately despite some actual sewing on my part. So, after supper, I spent an hour or so drafting reviews of my last few HP projects. The reviews for the Chilled Out Sweatsuit pants (that still need some tweaking), the (Sort of) Sportive Skirt and the Every Day Pant/Capri makeover are all in draft form awaiting photos (and in the case of the capris, hems and waistband facings). The capris, BTW are TDF! I am amazed at the way the back lies and the adjustments were so minimal. I just wish I had a photo to show you but Hamster Boy took my rechargable batteries for his NERF dart gun's "laser" site for battles with his friends (and for those hallway ambushes he pulls on his father each night at bedtime!). I think I better buy some new ones tomorrow morning so that I have my own supply again!

I am fighting a mean viral throat infection right now so sewing is in short bouts as I stop to take meds and drink huge amounts of fluids to keep the rawness at bay. Tomorrow is going to be a heavy sewing day. The capris will be finished and then the lining will be started for my friend's dress. I should be able to get that done by supper as the fitting is finished in the muslin already. I need to throw together a top for the Pilot's office BBQ on Sunday to go with the capris. Do I maintain my HP obsession and go with the Princess Top or the Great White Shirt or do I go in another direction altogether? That remains to be seen according to time available, I think! I would like to go get a few things for the kids for school tomorrow aft as well. They go back on Tuesday ...

I have applications out for 3 positions that interest me and suit my desires for schedules and pay. Today's job interview went well. It was actually a call back for a position I didn't get last spring but now have the opportunity to try for again. They were willing to check to see if they could match the pay of one other job I applied for, so that is a good sign. I'll know Tuesday afternoon.

If I get this position, I may have to rethink all my sewing projects wrt jackets. The dress is business casual, so making a bunch of tailored jackets may be overkill. I am OK with my pant plan, but may have to reconsider the jackets. I'll still do the Kensington Jacket to go with the skirt, but I am now on the look out for other options along the line of the Sportive Skirt Suit jacket. I have this Peggy Sagers' pattern on hand that I could dress down with the right fabric ... maybe alter it for a zip instead of that ribbon. There were a couple of nice Marfy's in the latest catalogue that I like. But that is another post altogether! That requires batteries to show the photos of my wishlist!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Marvelous Marfy Minute ...

On Friday night, I went onto the Marfy site and ordered the catalogue. I paid for the faster shipping as the price was not that much different. The amazing thing is that I got an e-mail the same night saying it was being shipped. According to the UPS site, it is in the city and is en route to my house as I type. WOW! That was fast ... now I can't wait until the doorbell rings and I have it in my greedy little hands!

Now, back to those fast capris ... I added a cut on front fly as side zips tend not to lie flat on my curves. I have a job interview on Thursday morning (after coffee with the girls, of course!), so I want to get these done for then. I am thinking a fast wrap front/twist top to coord with it. Somebody posted a RTW one over at PR a week or so ago. I can't find the link right now, but if I get the top done, I'm sure I'll find it for my review. Basically the top is a faux wrap with a side twist to it. The twist is about midway between CF and the s.s. and is below the bustline, around waist level. As my belly is not for public consumption, I will be making a full wrap under. I am going to start with the Jalie wrap top as it has a nice cut line for the under panel already. I am going to use that as a seamline vice a cut line.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hemming along ...

I haven't been posting much this week as I have been spending my mornings doing back to school shopping with the kids, getting what we call PP&S (pens, paper and stuff) and then overheating poolside as I watch them in their swimming lessons. Last week I read and missed the action, so this week, I took the Challenge skirt and am (sit down for this, it is a shocker) hand hemming the skirt. I also hand stitched in the ditch the waist facing. I will machine stitch that later on. Those two circles flounces take forever to do. I have one more day of classes left. I want to get it done tomorrow so that I can have it ready to wear on a moment's notice.

A dear friend of mine from University days has a wedding to attend on the long weekend. I am working on her dress right now. We have settled on the shorter length and the sleeve is still in limbo. The longer sleeve doesn't suit her and would be impractical seeing as her 18 month old would only swing on it. The cap sleeve I think is too short on her. She is fairly even in her measurements (almost a rectangle), but has a very broad upper back and a wide ribcage. I think that if I shorten the longer sleeve it can be quite flirty and still be stylish. We are trying to decide on whether or not she gets the front tie or not. I am thinking no, she is hopeful for a yes. We'll see what the mirror says. The muslin is cut and will be put together tonight.

The other project I have on the table is a pair of pants. Yup, another one! I am a sucker for punishment. I am determined to get through all the pant patterns I have at least once. This pair is the HP Plain and Simple Everyday Pant. I threw together a trial pair in some mystery fabric from my Mother's stash. I cut a 16 and took a 1/2" deep dart tuck from CB to nothing at the s.s. and then added that 1" back to the top of the pant. The back drape is beautiful with 3/8" s.s. and 5/8" CB/CF! It needs some minor reshaping at the hip curve and most likely the darts will disappear in the front. It is still a bit short in crotch depth, but I figure that I can add that in easy enough. I have something buried in my construction files about that in HP patterns. I'll look later.

I broke the moratorium on shopping today to spend my birthday $ from the DMIL. I had hoped to find some nice mmidweight fabric for a pair of casual capris from the above pattern, but other than wrinkle prone linen, I was out of luck. So, I picked up some nice wools instead! I found a beautiful wool/rayon flannel in a navy (perfect for a skirt to match to a black and navy tweed destined for a jacket already in the stash), a wool/silk boucle type in a deep purple that will be prefect for a fall jacket if the cashmere one from last year doesn't work out with new tinkering this year. I also picked up some nice brown wool/rayon as well for the HP pants. I also picked up some heavier cotton for a few shirts for the Pilot and I and some nice navy twill with border embroidery for Monkey Girl for school. I see a jumper and a skirt for her and then with the plain, maybe some pants.

I now have the makings of a very nice work wardrobe. I will have the green wool 3 piece suit (skirt, pants & jacket), the navy skirt and jacket and then there is the (I almost forgot!) black wool pinstripe in the stash that will be an as of yet to be determined dress/suit? Have to think about that ... I have a couple of nice dress and jacket patterns from Vogue in the stash that will do. Then there will be all the shirts/ blouses and tops I need to do as well! Now all I have to do is get a job! LOL!

Oh I almost forgot ... I took the plunge and ordered the Marfy catalogue tonight. I was drooling over Maria's copy at Darrell's the other night. She is going to put in an order soon that I was going to tag along with, but I think I will wait until mine comes in so that I can take my time choosing! There was an amazing jacket in there that I fell in love with that would be amazing with in that purple wool/silk!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Kismet for the Needle

It must be going around today. I just finished reading Ann's post over at Gorgeous Things' blog about chance meetings that may turn into something good. I spent the weekend on the sofa nursing a mild case of stomach flu and forced myself to go to the gym this morning for a light workout. While packing up my gear, I was watching a fellow member evaluating a workout top that was on sale in the gym. The inner Seamstress said "if I was to sew that she would need a smaller size with an FBA, and those spaghetti straps are not recommended". I watched her as she shortened the straps to make it fit better. She gave a big sigh and turned to me and asked "You wouldn't happen to sew would you?". The look on her face when I said yes was almost comical. She didn't expect a yes. She asked what I thought about the fit and I had to be honest and say, "you need another size" and then explain why. After a few moments, she is asking for my card and my price list(which I of course carry with me to the gym (NOT!)). Wednesday we'll meet again after our workout and away we go!

So, I may have another client here ... kismet. Who have you met today?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Challenge complete ... Almost

Last night I managed to get the skirt to the point of only needing hemming and the zipper put into the CB seam. The zip goes up into the waistband, so that had to go on last night. As I am using an invisible zip, I left the CB seam open in order to be able to put it in on the flat. Much easier, IMO. The contrast flounce and waistband looks really sharp. I am really glad that I went with the contrast there.

The contrast tweed is really nice to work with, but is a looser weave than I thought it was. Hindsight says that maybe I should have interfaced it in the waistband. When I make the jacket, I will have to interface the body and stabilize ... a perfect opportunity to open up my Palmer Pletsch Jackets for Real People book and use it, start to finish! I plan on making the matching jacket from the HP Sportive Suit in a brown Ottoman that I have in the stash, maybe with some accents from the tweed. For a dressier look I will go for the now OOP HP pattern, the Moneypenny Kensington Jacket. It is a tailored jacket with soft shaping that will be perfect for this tweed. Once those are complete, I will actually have the basis for a SWAP capsule, I think. I will have a pair of pants (already in the Closet, made in the same green wool as the skirt), 2 jackets and the skirt. If I make another pair of pants and maybe half a dozen tops, then I am done, if I have the concept right.

For fun last night, I pinned out the back of the Chilled Out Sweatsuit pants. I pinned out a horizontal dart of about 3/4" above the crotch curve and them pesky wrinkles went away. I may baste it in and take a pic to make sure I am right. I'll add the note to my review for next time. The next pair of pants will be another HP pattern. I have the Razor Sharp Pant that could be up next, I think. I have a nice narrow wale brown cord in a tweed pattern that will be great for those ... or maybe another pair of HP Skinny Jeans.

The next up in line will be a dual track project. School starts soon and Hamster Boy needs/wants jeans. Good thing is the weather will still be warm and he can wear his shorts for at least another few weeks. So, I have 2 lengths of stretch denim in the stash, one goes for jeans, the other for his jean jacket. That will be my evenings. Days will be this dress. A dear friend has a wedding to attend in the fall and needs a dress. She is a Registered Massage Therapist and we have worked out a swap of skills. Gotta love a full body massage ...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Last minute changes

I did some re-thinking of the skirt last night in bed. I realized that I really liked those pleats I added to the CB panels and did not want to shorten them by adding a yoke and facings. So, I decided to go back to the original idea of bias side panels. I think that this will add some nice shaping to the sides, and be anchored nicely by the flounces. So, I laid out, cut and hand basted (on the table) the bias panels together and then pinned them to Mindy for overnight hanging. I cut them with an extra 1" s.a. and then basted on 5/8", so I should have enough room for this to work out. I hope ... this is one of my first independant forays into the bias. In my basting, I used long stitches and broke the thread every couple of inches. That was a tip I picked up from the Roberta Carr book.

One thing I was not sure of, is when to attach the flounces. I am assuming that since the hem would be done after hanging, then anything stitched to the hem (like a flounce) would also be done after. Was I right? We'll see tomorrow ...

The other change I made was to increase the depth of the flounce. I added an extra 2" to it. Yardage restrictions gave me the opportunity to use the wool tweed that coords with the solid green for the flounce. I also used it for the waist bands. Should the bias panels not work out, I may just use the tweed for the side panels (on grain) and have the CF/CB panels and waist as the solid green and the rest in the tweed. I have options. Either way, this will be a nice touch for the jacket when it is made up. It will show them as a pair, while still leaving the skirt to stand on it's own.

So, the sides of the skirt are hanging and the flounces are stitched together (using French seams) and awaiting tomorrow's race to the finish. I may lose Wed afternoon to mini golf with the kids, so I have to get at it tomorrow as soon as I get back from the gym.

I must say that I like how easy this skirt is to work with so far, even with all the changes I made to it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pleating Pleasures

Well, I have done it! I took a wild chance at the CB pleated panel and, with some effort, it worked. To make the panel piece, I taped the existing kick pleat panel to the CB panel and extended it up to the waist. This is when I started having some teeth gnashing. The pleats weren't lying right, but that was because I has gotten to this point without a plan. There was no fixed idea of how many pleats or how deep or the spacing ... nothing! So, what did I do? I stitched it onto the skirt anyway, thinking that I could figure it out when I could see it on Mindy. Didn't work. At all.

Next step? Take the panel off of Mindy and work the pleats on the ironing board. After a few attempts at a variety of widths, nothing seemed to work. I couldn't seem to get the pleats straight all the way down ... so I grabbed my metal yard stick and used that as a straight edge. Then I had a light bulb moment ... there is a line in the middle of the yardstick. All the way down ... Next attempt, I used the yard stick as a spacer and used the mid line as the depth marker. Easy! Perfect sizing of the pleats to get the back panel down to the correct size. I stitched the pleats flat for about 9" from the waist and then stitched the panels to the skirt and tried it on. MWA! I almost kissed my reflection! I need a smidge more room around the hips (surprise, surprise there!), but that is doable. Tomorrow I draft the facings from the pattern and then refine the width of the flounce. Then I can cut the skirt out tomorrow night as well. I am living this project!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Skirt Challenge - Stage 2

Well, the muslin is put together. The circular flounce came out nicely although I still have to fine tune the inside measurement of the circle a bit better. I like the way it looks right now (a 4" flounce) which means I have to make it longer to allow for the needed narrow hem. The problem right now is the pleated CB panel. I had envisioned a panel that was pleated from waist to hem, stitched flat over the seat, but I guessed at the amount, figuring I could just pin the pleats in. Silly me. So, my bedtime reading tonight is going to be a back issue article from Threads (thanks Diva Els!) and Armstrong on pleats. Then I can get back at it tomorrow afternoon.

I am still debating whether or not to add the yoke to the skirt. The prototype is sewn in the panels as per the pattern, so I can just add a facing to it and leave it as is. The plan was to get the flounce and the pleats sorted out and then trace off the shape of the yoke and then go cut it off and recut the yoke and facings in 3 pieces vice the 4 I have now (allowing for a CB zip). But that would ruin the strong vertical element I am trying to out in with the pleating. I am going to have to play a bit, I think. If I can play tomorrow, then by tomorrow night I can redo the patterns as per the changes and then sew it on Monday and Tuesday.

I must say thanks to Maria for loaning me the Roberta Carr book and for Els for sending me the scanned shots of the flounce pages. It really is great to have such resources at hand for projects like this. What a great place the sewing world is ...

On a family note, Hamster Boy came home from camp this afternoon. He went away to Cub Camp for the past 7 days. This is the longest he has been away from us so far. He spent 4 days at his aunt's when I went to bring the Pilot home, but that was with family, so it was a bit different. And he had Monkey Girl with him then. This time he was only with his fellow Cubs Scouts. He had loads of fun and is exhausted, but he missed us at bedtime. He is a boy who hates being away from his own bed, even if we are with him. He likes being home at bedtime. Sleepovers with friends are OK, but home is best. I sense a new aura of self confidence in him, though. My little boy is taller and seems to be a bit older now. I am glad he went, it was worth the expense. But I am so glad he is home!

School starts here in 3 weeks. This is a big thing for me this year as Monkey Girl will be going for full days this year. That means that I can go back to work! It has been requested by the kids that whatever job I get, can I be home when they get home from school. They don't like the idea of a babysitter. I think that the job I am looking at will make that possible. Remember that position at the gym from the spring? They are hiring again ... I applied for a different position, but have been told that they want to talk to me about a couple of positions, so I may be gainfully employed come Labour Day. Seeing as I really would love new kitchen cupboards, this will be a great thing for us if I get the job. Stay tuned for news next week ...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Summer camps!

This morning I was at the gym listening to music on my "bot (what I call my MP3 player) and reading the subtitles to a news channel. One of the "news" headlines caught my eye and then my ire. Turns out in Halifax, Nova Scotia (where I spent a lot of my childhood) the city is putting on some day camps for boys and girls. Turns out that a little girl (about 10-12 y.o. age range I guess) wanted to sign up for the boys only camp as she was not interested in the girls camp. This is where my blood pressure started to rise, I am afraid. I have been blessed with both a son and a daughter. I teach both of them that gender is not an issue and that they both are able to do the same things as the other. In fact, both children are in Scouts together. Monkey Girl is not interested in Girl Guides or Brownies. So, she entered Scouts. Now, I realize that her access into Scouts is only due to the lawsuits of the past. So, I feel for the little girl in her quest for a camp that interested her, whether it is Coed or not. You see, the only other option to this camp was a "Glamour Day" camp. This did not appeal to her sense of fun at all.

Now, I have to be honest here. I do believe that there is a huge gender double standard out there. Us women have been suing for access to all programs on the grounds of gender discrimination, but we have no qualms in denying access to males who want to enter our domains on the grounds of needing our own space. My question, when do men get their own space? So, my problem with this whole incident is that there was no middle ground option for camp. You were either in the boy camp or the girl one. Easy solution? Offer the program in a coed option or a male only option. That way there is pure choice.

Still on the subject of camps, I came across this little story in the National Post, a newspaper up here. It is a design camp, only without all the PR drama. The kids get to design, sew and then show their creations at a fashion show at the end of the session.
Think Canada's Next Top Model Meets Camp. This is a week-long fashion camp, hosted by the Design Exchange, an organization devoted to promoting Canadian design

One of the 12 year old campers has this to say:

"That's another [thing] with people who are buying clothes," she sighs. "They don't realize all the hard work that goes into them."She doesn't get a chance to finish. The day is winding down and cleanup is beginning. As the girls clean the scraps off the table, Cate reflects on her experiences at the camp.
"I'd rather be here than anywhere else in the summer," she says. "This is funner because you get to do your passion."

What a great camp idea ... I wonder if it is Coed?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Design Options ...

As I was sketching belowstairs, I have come up with some design options for the skirt. I have decided to forgoe the bias side panels. I am still using the panelled skirt, but am adding a deep shaped yoke ending at around the hip level. As I am eliminating the back kick pleat, I need to add walking ease. I would love to incorporate some pleating in this skirt somehow but I also think that a nice flounce would be very flirty as well.

The idea for the pleating came from this discontinued Folkwear pattern that I have in the stash. This pattern has the pleating at the sides going all the way to the waist. This pleating would be great on the side panels and if I only pleat below the yoke, then I would not have to worry about adding bulk at the hips. There would be no need for the flounce in this option, but I would still be one element short for The Challenge requirements.

If I pleated the CB panel only, that would still give me the walking room I need and I could still have the flounce on the bottom 4" or so of the side panels. That would allow some of the visual interest to carry around to the front. I would leave the CF panel on grain as per the pattern. This option would also give me the three elements I need.

What do you think?

Why Google is my friend ...

I have cut the HP pattern out for the basis of the skirt for The Challenge. I have decided to eliminate the existing waistband and go for a faced waist instead. I am going to add a circular ruffle and place the side panels on the bias. Since I am going for the solid green wool that means I don't have to worry about any pattern matching. I am also adding a circular ruffle to the hemline. The third element is still a mystery. There already is a box pleat in the back of the skirt, but since I am adding the ruffle, I am going to leave that out.

There was a little stall in my process, however, in that I had no source material in my reference collection (limited as it is) to calculate how many circles I would need for this skirt. The instructions in Armstrong deal with how to make a circle, half or quarter circle skirt, but not what I wanted (if I am worng somebody PLEASE tell me what page to use ... I have the latest edition!). Diva Els refers to Roberta Carr's book Couture: The Art of Fine Sewing, which I don't have (insert a not nice word here!) and the library does not have it either (I love online library catalogues!). So, I have e-mailed two local PR members to see if either of them have it for me to borrow. Not wanting to stop my efforts on this skirt so soon, I turned to Google and took a wild guess.

I typed in "drafting circular ruffles" and found not only El's post over at The Sewing Divas, but also this lovely site that actually has a calculator that does all the math for you and actually tells you how many circles you need and how big to make them and how much fabric you will need to cut them! How easy is that?! I LOVE IT ... but I am still going to hunt down that book and buy it for myself for my birthday! The tradition continues ... a new sewing book each year!

On Age ...

I can proudly (and honestly) say that today I celebrated the 39th anniversary of my birth. Yup, that means that as of today I began my first day of my 40th. To my husband, when I pulled this logic on him some 6 years ago (the Pilot turned 46 this month, you see), he gave me a weird look and then said quite firmly "I am not 40! Not for another 3 hours ...". It was a challenging year for him and the only good thing about it was the fact that he was in his fortieth year and could laugh about it. You see, we both believe that if you don't have a sense of humour, DO NOT let us know when your birthday is. We are known in his family and amongst our friends for placing penguins, cows, buzzards, storks, or whatever tacky lawn ornament we can rent on lawns for significant days. We laugh at birthdays, not stress out over them. So, today, as I stare 40 in the face, I am laughing.

No midlife crisis for me! Why suffer through midlife, I ask, when there are so many little crises throughout your life already! Spread the pain out and laugh more! And who says this is the middle of your life? I personally would love to live beyond 80, so I have yet to reach the middle of my life! When I do decide on an end date, then I'll be able to decide what the midlife date is!

Time was when older women were respected and revered for their wisdom. The old crone was usually a woman of some status and respect in the village of yore, somebody who had seen life at its best and worse and survived to tell the tale. She was somebody who had answers, but knew when it was best to be a silent supporter to allow the youngsters to figure things out on their own. I am not a crone, but that is something that I aspire to. I see women who are double my age and they are out dancing through life and laughing a mile a minute, regardless of the wrinkles each laugh makes. Badges of honour, each and every one.

So, I am going to enjoy 39 and view it as a training ground for my 40's. May I have the grace of my sister in law who accepted our Stonehenge card with the caption "See? There is something older than you!", the practicality of my lovely mother who sent me a card that doubles as a fan for the hot flashes that are to come (a good German woman who believes that preparation is everything!) and the sense of humour of my friend who gave me a card at the coffee shop this morning wishing that my year (and coffee cup) "runneth over" with good things, may I keep the whimsy of my daughter who took me to Timmy's tonight for a birthday doughnut. Because life doesn't end at 40 ... it is just beginning!

Signing off as I descend to the workshop for a night of caffeine induced sewing thanks to my daughter, husband and dear friend!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Second thoughts can lead to surprises

Well, despite the initial sense of boredom with the latest project, I finished the top. And received a pleasant surprise! I am so glad that I didn't toss the top unfinished. I learned a few things from this top. First, I was right in not needing an FBA. It fits fine without it, but a small one would not be amiss if I want to use a s.a. of greater than 3/8" on the s.s. Second, I did need to lower the bustline about an inch or two to get it in the place I want it to be. It is OK where it is, but would be better lower. Third, I like this kimono sleeve style on me. I am pleasantly surprised! There is a bit of an armscye crease, but I think this is inherent in the design. If I am wrong, somebody please let me know ... I am always open to constructive correction! The last thing is that this would be great in a knit, so I will make at least one more from the supply of rayon knits from the stash. I suspect that the knit will fit better than the woven unless I do the FBA to give a bit more ease. Last lesson, Mindy's cover needs to be adjusted. It seemed way too small on her. So that will be a project for a rainy day I think!

So, I am glad I finished this top, even though the initial reaction was not very good. So, sometimes it pays to keep going even though you really don't want to!

Next up is a skirt project for the monthly S&B at Darrell's. A simple skirt with 3 original elements added. Lots of leeway there. I have decided to use the Hot Patterns Sportive Skirt as a base. I had initially planned on taking a pencil skirt and adding panels and a curved waistband on my own. But then my thought process was interrupted by the screaming from the Workshop Closet. Turns out I had a pattern already there with some of the elements I wanted already there! Amazing what you can hear when you actually listen to the Closet ...

I am going to use a medium weight dark green wool in the stash that was always intended to be a skirt. That way, I can later progress into a tailored jacket out of a coord checked wool. This is something that I have been wanting to do for some time, and since I am now seriously trying to re-enter the workforce, I now need that interview suit. So the question now is, what other elements to add. If I remove the box pleat from the back, I can then add a flounce to the bottom or a block of Hemline pleats in the side panels, or even just switch the box pleat to a set of narrower pleats. I plan to eliminate the waistband and instead use a deep curved faced yoke with belt loops. But I need one more element ... Maybe a welt pocket somewhere? I will have to see where the seams are when I muslin this up later on tonight. If the panel seams lie in the right place, maybe I can do a vertical pocket there. If not then I may have to do an angled pair in the side panel.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Second thoughts

Ever start a project with some enthusiasm only to have that slowly but steadily disappear as you progress? You know what I mean. You've done it. Picked a pattern, matched it to stash fabric in your mind and cleared the table of project so that you can carry on uninterrupted. Then, from the moment you lay out the fabric you hear that inner voice murmuring. First, the fabric is narrower than expected. Easy fix, you alter the layout (who follows those things anyway?). Then you start cutting (there should be enough ease with smaller s.a., after all, it is loose fitting, right?). Of course you did a dry fit of the pattern and the fabric pieces, right? You didn't just rely on measurements, did you? Because this is supposed to be an easy top for those hot days you are taking it easy sewing it together. Checking the directions even though it is all obvious (except for the insertion of the mandatory modesty panel, those are really hinky!), you start sewing. And, the more you sew, the more you really don't like what it is shaping up to be.

This is where I am at. The fabric is a cotton paisley print from a surprise bundle last summer. I thought this would be an easy project for a nice summer top, but it isn't forming up that way. The fabric is light enough, but there is not enough of it and I think I really should have done an FBA even though the numbers said I didn't have to. I think I am getting too complacent in my sewing. So, I am really not sure this will work out in the chosen fabric for fit issues. But I really don't seem to mind at all. I think I will finish and then re-eval as to whether or not I re-start in a different print. I have some nice summer calicos and florals in the stash that would suit this. I will have to see whether or not the kimono style sleeve suits me body or not, though. This is a new one on me. Either way, at least I am sewing again!

There is a new challenge at the S&B at Darrell's for August. A simple skirt with 3 differnent elements to it. I think that my mind is on that project right now and that is why I am not crazy about this top right now. I have till the 3rd week to get the skirt done. MB and I are brainstorming design ideas ... I hope to start the pattern once the Pilot is back to work on Tuesday. Whether I start from a ready project or I draft my own is something I am still trying to decide on.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Magazine Musings ...

It is interesting to see that Taunton Press has decided to cease publication of it's latest offering, "Sew Stylish". With the website up at the same time, I was watching to see how much content would be duplicated in the website. As I saw the site expand to include so many contributors, I began to wonder if it would become the main focus of the Sew Stylish staff. After all, the internet is the fastest medium in which to spread a message. It is also, so the "experts" say, the primary medium for the younger generation. It also doesn't require printing presses and a staff to handle subscriptions and can be advertising driven. So, it is not a surprise that the online version is taking over. Response time is so much faster online. Nothing like instant gratification in publishing!

The comments on the demise of the mag puzzle me, I must admit. I picked up a couple of issues to compare to Threads (to which I suscribe). While there were some articles that were specific to SS, I found the majority to have been copied from Threads (I did like the Formalwear themed issue, however, as it was a useful beginning reference for sewing formalwear). So, in light of this, I wonder why so many people said they preferred SS to Threads? Is it a question of layout? Of strictly article content (this would be puzzling considering the twinning of some of the content)? I would really like to know ... Anybody care to enlighten me with their views? I would love to discuss this ...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pant foundation

Last night saw me start the pant foundation for the second time. Technically, it was the third time, but I figure the almost complete erasure of the first draft to be a drastic editing, not a re-start. The instructions are fairly straightforward, but I seem to have hit a stumbling block for a while on one step, but I think I have made it past that hurdle alright. I'll find out for sure when I get to the muslin stage!

The foundation (the portion of the pant above the crotch line) is formed by measuring your ankle to waist height and using that as a centre line from which you draft the front and back patterns. You then mark the crotch point, the hip point and the waist points on this line and then extend perpendicular lines according to the amount stated in the instructions. The result is a rectangle shape on each side of the centre line. The problem I have been having seems to lie in the formulas used to draw these lines. Whenever I got to the point of drawing in the darts and extensions, the back numbers never seemed to work out. The numbers would have me extending into the front piece ... so I read it through again and discovered a little note that said to decrease the dart intake by 1/4" if the waist measurement met up with the centre line. Seeing as my measurement bypassed the line, I just marked the side seamline 1/4" in from centre. We'll see how that works out when I muslin it up.

Tonight, I draft the leg extensions ... I think I will update later on with photos to better explain. This won't make sense to those of you who have not done this before. IT barely makes sense to me

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sewing Man Shirts

I have written before of my quest for the perfect fitting shirt for the muscle bound Pilot. Today it takes a quirky side route ... His new position allows him to wear civilian clothes on Fridays. Due to the July Temps, he wanted a short sleeved shirt really quickly for TOMORROW. Turns out the majority of the shirts in his portion of the Closet are POLY and he doesn't like them in hot weather. So, prior to him going shopping for a new shirt (Which we all know won't fit him anyway!), I made him try on the shirts already there that were LS, in the hope that I could cut one down sleeve wise. He has two striped shirts hanging, one is a Hathaway, I am NOT cutting that one until it wears out and can be used as a pattern! Then, in the midst of other shirts, there is the KS shirt I made about 2 years ago. "Try it on", I asked. What was too large then, now FITS!! That is what one full year of daily gym workouts to relieve stress will do ... Had I known that the old pattern would now fit, I would not have had to go bother Darrell. Not that that is a bad thing ...

Except for the sleeves, which are now too short to wear. So, that shirt is now off to the cutting table to become a short sleeved shirt. That means that the second shirt, ageing down in the Shop can be finished and worn for Fridays as well. I sense a menswear binge coming ... as soon as we can agree on fabrics, that is!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Pant Pattern Theory

Before heading to the drafting table, I did some more reading last night. The process of drafting pants is very mathematically. Why this surprised me, I don't know. When I first learned how to do an FBA, it was a similar process. I cut and spread according to measured amounts. In altering my existing pant patterns, it was adjusting by eye all the time. I find that I like the math approach better. It just fits my brain better. Whether or not it will fit my body better, I will find out soon enough, I suppose! I have a pattern printed off from Pattern Maker that I have yet to tape together and sew up. I think I will sew that one up after I have the self drafted pattern done to compare. I have not seen that one reviewed before, so it will be interesting to compare the two. The information that follows is taken from the Helen Joseph Armstrong book Patternmaking for Fashion Design, 4th edition. I am trying not to copy it wholesale, but I do think that for those of you who have not self drafted a pant pattern before, (like me) some of the information behind the process interesting and maybe even helpful.

The intial idea of drafting my own pattern from scratch was quite daunting. How would I handle the shaping of the pieces? How do I determine the crotch curve? How would I draw it? Once I realized that the whole pattern's shape grows as you use the measurements, it seemed easier. The shape starts with a vertical line with a number of horizontal points marked on it according to your measurements. These points are then extended to horizontal lines whose lengths are determined by your measurements and some minor math (all of which is easily diagrammed in the Armstrong book). The curve is also drawn this same way.

I had initially intended to start with the culottes, but closer reading revealed that culottes are based on an A Line skirt with a crotch extension added. Not what I want right now. While the thought of drafting a skirt block also appeals to me, my project this summer is to perfect the pant! So, which one to choose first? Armstrong's trouser pattern is the next logical place to start. The slack is based on the trouser pattern, but my real goal is a nice city short/pedal pusher as an end product. But first I have to draft the trouser, so I guess I will end up with both in muslins!

My time at the table is limited this weekend as I promised Monkey Girl that the next thing off the table is her new bathrobe/housecoat. I am using this cute Simplicity 4767 for her. I made her some PJ's last winter. She loved them but decided that the absence of fabric on her neckline was too chilly for winter temps, so this is now a summer PJ pattern. I cut the robe out of a nice soft yellow Minky that I found at Wal Mart last year for a great price just for this purpose. And I had just enough to sew this up. From now on, I go for my standard yardages for fudge factor. I had hoped to cut the robe longer to allow for the inevitable growth spurt that follows each sewing session for her! Not a chance ... although, there was probably enough last year when I first bought it ... It is all cut out and once I re-thread the serger with lighter threads, I will finish the edges first as it is very messy.

I aim to have it finished for tonight's bath routine, but I do have some shopping to do this afternoon. A coursemate of the Pilot is coming tomorrow with his family. When we were in Toronto, I was given a crash course in Pakistani cooking at his home. Tomorrow I have to recreate what I learned. Tomorrow I get to make Biryani, a wonderful spiced meat and rice dish that is spicy and oh so yummy! To top it off I plan on making a traditional dessert as well. As the family is Muslim, I have to get my meat from a store that stocks Halal meats. No biggy ... I absolutely LOVE going into ethnic grocers ... the smells are divine and I always get new recipes and techniques to add to the Kitchen. I have my list and am waiting for Pilot and Hamster Boy to get back from Rugby. After some lunch and some other errands, we are off to get groceries! I may make the meat tonight and then let it sit in the sauce so that all I have to do is the rice tomorrow.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Next in line ...

Now that Bollywood is finished, I am ready for the next major project. Aside from the spattering of kid sewing and finishing that shirt for the Pilot, I am determined to draft a pant pattern from scratch. Last year I bought Helen Joseph Armstrong's pattern drafting book and have been dutifully skimming it for a year. Time to put measuring tape to body and then pencil to paper!

I figure the amount of time I spend altering patterns can be better put to use drafting my own from scratch. I don't have software and am not sure I want it as I love handling patterns! I can much easier see how to change patterns to reflect the styles I want since I started with this book. And, since the budget may not allow me to take the courses I want this fall, I think I will start with this for now and then see whether or not I need to pay tuition for what I want to do. Once I have mine done, I have convinced a friend to let me do her a pair as well. This will give me experience and her new clothes as she drops her post baby weight. Win win I say!

So, tonight I have the Pilot take that measuring tape to me and then I will start the process. Armstrong's book has foundations for culottes, pants, trousers and jeans. I think I will start with the culottes first as they are fuller and I have a nice stash cotton that would be perfect for summer wear! Then I will go for the pants (only cut to short length).

I have yet to see a comprehensive review of this process anywhere, so I intend this series to be as detailed as I can make it without copyright problems. In other words, I will take photos but I won't type out the entire process. I will, though, post some of the math that I found interesting. To draft your pattern, you start with your hip and waist measurements and then manipulate those to get your crotch extensions, depth and so on. But that will be tomorrow's entry, so I will leave you all in suspense until then!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bollywood Bash ...

Well, we are home! The graduation is over and was wonderful! The Pilot managed to turn it into a second honeymoon by booking us a room in the fancy hotel we spent the original honeymoon in as well as our first anniversary. This was all done without my knowledge, so when I arrived with my bags, he says with a grin, "Don't unpack too much ... we're not staying long". What a night! The restaurant had a wonderful view of Lake Ontario and the city as it revolved, giving us the full view of the sunset over the horizon. Perfectly romantic! Even with all the others at the table. We all were very quiet as we sat with our spouses and watched the sun go down. It has been a long 10 months, even for those who were lucky enough to be with their families the whole time. For those of you who put up with my private and public rants over the past year, thanks for putting up with me. Your kind words of patience often helped me get through this single parent thing. Now I just need to adjust to him still being here all the time!

I almost called this post "The Eagle Has landed ... in Bollywood" but thought better of it. It just isn't me ... but almost! The dress was a huge success. The Pilot had spoken about the dress (All he knew was that it was silk, no more info allowed) to the women on course who wanted to know what was being worn so that they could judge what to wear themselves. He was no help to them, but the rampant curiousity had me almost swarmed when we arrived. Those who knew I had made the dress were amazed and were asking permission to touch the fabric. Those who didn't know, soon found out as the word spread throughout the wives. I even had a Stacy London moment as the wife of a US Air Force officer came up and said "SHUT UP! You did NOT make that dress! By. YOUR. SELF! Tell me you do this for a living and where because I want you to make me something! WHERE DID YOU GET THAT FABRIC!!!!!" Between that reaction and the two German Officer's wives who both gave great compliments (one wanted to know which boutique I shop at that sells matching shoes!), my ego got quite the boost that night ... even before the wine started to flow!

So, credit where credit is due: To Darrell, thanks for the fabrics and the confidence. We'll talk more when/if that US wife comes up for a fitting! To MB, thanks for all the encouragement and advice! Ells, your knowledge, as always, is a comfort when I ask for help. Enough small talk ... what you really want is to see the dress, right? So, here it is after the night of dancing and socializing! I did end up hand stitching a modesty panel in the day before I left, but I think that it still works ...

The gathering shifted a bit I think when I stitched the bodice to the waist panel, so I am not 100% with the way the bodice lies, especially in the centre panels of the front. I had some concern about the fabric and the pattern, but in the end, it turned out OK. The last bit of hindsight self-criticism? I think I should have NOT added the fullness to the bodice. To my mind, it really emphasizes the Twins. So, should I actually do this as a summer dress, there will be no additional fullness on top. Too bad the Pilot couldn't get the shoes in the shot ... he is learning how to use his new digi cam. Finally, he joins the rest of us in this century! Suffice it to say that I found a pair of strappy leather sandals in a beautiful bronze that actually matched the contrast on the dress and I found them at Sears of all places! Fate, my friends, it had to be fate!

Well, I am off to get supper going for the restless kidlings. Iffy weather and friends being away has made them restless ... time to go shopping, I think! It always makes me feel better!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A quick note ...

This is just a quick note to say that I am about 30 minutes and one load of dishes away from leaving to join the Pilot. I am picking up the kids and then heading to my sister's for one night and then leaving them with her for the rest of the week whilst I and the Pilot enjoy the first weekend without children since before Hamster Boy was born. In that time, we will pack his room up, attend a garden party/graduation ceremony, a formal dinner at Toronto's CN tower and then maybe even dance the night away! We will then return home with the kids on Saturday, in time for our National Holiday.

The dress is finished, but I have to apologize for not having a photo done. You'll have to wait till I come back and have the photos uploaded. The skirt is also done, and while I did manage to get a top cut out, it is not coming with me. I ran out of time as there was unexpected laundry to be done last night as well.

So, I will post when I come back, with my family reunited at last! Then it will take a while to get used to having him here full time again! I love being an Air Force Wife!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bollywood Gets a Makeover!

Yippee! The redesigned bodice works wonderful! Extending the contrast bands all the way to the waist panel looks really nice. The slight gathering on the bodice also works well. The fit is better and I love the look of it. Uniquely me!

Something that I found difficult was the understitching of the lining. I had to understitch the armscye and the neckline and I found that I had to start at one end of the armscye and then stop at the shoulder seam, then start back at the other end of the armsyce and do the same. It probably would have been easier if the shoulder was a bit wider, but I managed it anyway.

The skirt gathered like a dream as I laid it out so that there was less embellishment at the top edge. I even managed to French seam the sides and the contrast panels. All I have left to do is to hem the skirt and the lining. The zip is in and hand stitched already. I am happy with it, although I must say that this has been a hard journey. I probably could have done without the bodice gathers in hindsight, but I am not about to take it apart!

Tomorrow I leave to go bring back the Pilot for good. His course ends on Thursday and my sister is taking the kids for me for the week. Yup, we have reached the point in our parenthood journey that we are taking a few days WITHOUT the kids as we pack him up and attend all the functions this week. So, I hope to have the dress photo'd up and posted tonight. I may even have something else done as well ... I have the HP Trumpet skirt half cut out already. I had already done a muslin in the fall, so this is an easy sew up. It is getting the bias stripes matched up that is the fun part! I am dreaming in technicolour here as I also hope to have a simple bias top cut out and sewn together to hang overnight for early morning hemming.

See you all later (much later) on tonight ...

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Bollywood Saga Continues ...

Well, I have finished the bodice and pinned the waist panel to it to see if I like it more than I did this morning. I don't. I dislike it even more. As you can see, the pleats are really invisible and it is much fuller than the muslin was. Even though the pleats are mainly on the side, I don't think that moving them over closer to the CF would change the armscye puff. It just is not appealing to me as it would give the dress the appearance of a puff ball tied in the middle.

So, I spent the better part of this afternoon cutting out another bodice. This time, I started with the bodice mount/lining pieces. I liked the princess line of the mount and it fit well. I added 5/8" in length and also constructed a contrast band for the neckline. Instead of the simple V, I took the contrast band all the way to the waist semline, so the dress will have a Duro like effect. To keep some of the original feel of the dress, I also added some slight fullness to the bodice, which I will gather in. I kept the mount fitted without any gathering as per the original pattern. As the gathering is so slight, I am omitting the interlining. I suspect that the interlining is another reason for the extreme puff factor. This omission will, I hope, give the bodice a softer feel to it. We will soon see ...
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Listening to Your Fabric

I am deep in the throes of Bollywood. I have completed the bodice, complete with one recut of the front. I am not sure what exactly went wrong there, but something did so I redid the fronts and things matched up this time around. I suspect that I forgot to add a s.a. on the contrast band I added. I am so glad that I reduced the gathering on the skirts, because I now have lots of Uh oh! fabric to play with! Of course, with each Uh oh! my wrap gets considerably smaller ...

Anyway, today's conundrum is the pleats. What looked very Grecian in the muslin, looks almost sloppy in the silk. I suspect it is the pussy willows that are causing the problem. The actual buds are almost chenille like, so when one lies on the crease of a pleat, they round it out like a gather. So, the seamline is trim and neat, but the pouf factor seems to be exagerated as the pleats are forced open by the fabric. As a result, I am going to remove all the pleating and gather the seamline. If I think it is still too full, then I will go back to the yardage and cut a new bodice, styled after the princess seamed bodice mount, only adding slight fullness at the bustline to echo the original design.

So, I am listening to the fabric on this one. The lesson for me? What looks good in muslin may not translate into the actual fabric. I trialed the gathers with a strip of the silk, I should have done the same with the pleats. I could have been done by now, but the song of the muslin was so much louder than the silk. It tends to be subtle and understated in it's teaching style. That muslin is so bold and bossy ... so pretentious, thinking it can behave like silk. This muslin didn't come through Ressy's dungeon, so I am not sure where it got such attitude!

Off to get the hair cut. I need a trim and Martin the Marvelous will be playing with the finish today as he tries to teach me how to "do" my hair to match this dress! If I can't do it on my own, then I have to try to get an appointment next week at a salon nearby the Pilot's residence. He comes home tonight for one last weekend trip.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On Shaving silk ...

No this is not typo. I don't mean saving, I mean SHAVING. As in with a razor blade. The pussy willows on the silk are almost velvet like but are actually just satin stitched patterns. That means that I have to shave it down in the seamline areas so that the seams are straight and that they lie flat. That tends to slow down the pace a bit. I found that a plain blade works best in the hand and that I need to angle it slightly to get the best shearing effect without slicing the base silk.

To test my method out, I stitched the contrast hem piece to the skirt bottom on the front panel prior to completing the French seam. I think that this will be the most time consuming portion of the project. I also think that I will be pretty good at French seams by the end of it as well!

All I managed to do was completely cut the garment out and to interface the waist lining and to construct the waist panels. I had the final Scouts leaders meeting tonight. But I did manage to get some time in, anyway! Off to bed ... tomorrow is another day!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Beginning Bollywood ... for real!

Although I said I wasn't going to sew over the weekend, Monkey Girl had a minor crisis. Her bathing suit from last year is too small and had a rip that was not worth fiddling with the stitch length on the serger for, so I threw together another suit for her. You see, she goes to the water park adjacent to the Rugby Pitch while Hamster Boy is playing. He is a proud member of the second tackle line on his squad. Now he gets to take down all the people he wants ... only he is discovering muscles he didn't know he had after an afternoon on the field! But he loves it! And I am proud to say that his squad won all their little games! WOO HOO! Go Scottish ...

I am about to head to the workshop to start cutting the fabric and lining. Unlike most linings, the Bollywood lining is not constructed independent of the dress and then bagged. Rather, it is attached in sections, so I actually have to cut the whole shebang out today. I am going to use some organza that I have in the stash for the bodice interlining rather than use self fabric or 2 layers of the lining.

I am taking a deep breath and readying myself for this. To keep me in the frame of mind (and to work them in), I am wearing the new shoes, bought just for this dress. I also am keenly aware of the fact that I only have 6 days in which to finish this dress and get the garden party dress done as well. So, I will be limiting my time online as I stick to the machines during the day. I will try to post my progress in the late evenings so that I have a means of ordering my thoughts for the next day. I make no promises about photos, however, until I have some significant progress made!

So, I am now off to pre-thread some needles for basting layers together and to layout and cut! I hope the silk is ready for this ...