Monday, July 13, 2009

Rethinking workwear

For those of you who have been wodnering where I have been I can safely say I have not been sewing. I have been lurking and reading and trying to avoid buying patterns and fabrics as I had the plan to finish the work wardrobe this summer. I work at a ladies gym as the club administrator, and have a mandatory top I Have to wear along with black, none fitness wear bottoms of my choice. The top was a choice of a polo shirt in white or black (w/company logo) or a yellow button shirt with darting on the front and shaped sideseams along with the same bottoms. I had stalled in the sewing as word leaked out of new uniforms being on the way. Well, they are now here. I can't post a photo as they have yet to come into my possession, but that will happen next week.

The original plan was to make up a skirt suit out of a black wool w/white pinstripe and then a shirtdress out of a black wool with a blue pinstripe for that Nautica look when combined with the yellow shirt. The goal was to make basic black not boring. So, I chose my fabric very carefully. I have an Armani wool that I was going to tailor into a wonderful pair of trousers now that I have made the HP into a TNT for me. THese are all going to have to be rethought as the new design is a raglan sleeved polo shirt with some shaping (according to the photo, anyway ... stay tune for that!). The colour is a red, but it looks to be a blue toned red so far with white accents at the seam lines. That won't do for the shirtdress or the business suit. They are dressing me down and I am not sure that I like it!

So, I have a HP Sportive Skirt suit already half done in bamboo cord that will fit the bill. The skirt is done already, lined with a remnant of silk bought for a steal at Darrell's and the matching jacket is cut and ready to go under the machine. The delay has been due to a window repair that required the computer to be relocated into the Shop as it had the only phone jack for the DSL connection. So, now that the computer is back, I have yet to set the room to rights. (I did find an old cross stitch that has been aging in the closet though ... I pulled that out and have been playing away at that again!) I have a pair of the Razor Sharps in a cashmere wool for the winter that is divine to wear! As I haven't pressed the crease in, they can be dressed down a bit.

So, all you wardrobe mavens ... how do I rework this new wardrobe to accomodate the polo shirts? Patterns already on hand and fitted include the HP Razor Sharps, the HP Sportive Skirt Suit, the Chilled Out Sweat suit and the Skinny Jeans (which aren't so skinny at my size range!); I have a DKNY pant that I have never tried but is cut out that has seamlines in the front and back that could be sharp yet casual. But would they look good in the wool? I seem to have blinders on that all I can see for these fabrics are business clothes! I need pattern suggestions please!

Fabric list: wool (tropical weight) w/white pinstripes
wool w/cashmere w/blue pinstripes
wool (midweight) with a herringbone pattern woven in
rayon linen (very lightweight)
bamboo knit
Sophia knit

I am going to have to finish that jacket and then I figure I can start on the new special project. In the spring was the First Communion Dress, two years ago it was the Cocktail Dress that was my incarnation of the HP BOllywood for the Pilot's Grad dinner. Now, I am going to work on a dress for me again! My company holds it's annual conference each year in the summer. The weekend ends in an invite only event knwon as "Top 500". It is for the top sales people in the company and for select others that have been nominated by their home clubs. Not being a sales person, my GM nominated me to go. The big finale of the event is a Hawaiian boat cruise on Lake Ontario. Thanks to MaryBeth, I now have seen the Decades of Style pattern line and fell in love with this dress pattern ... it is a 1940's wrap sundress that I have to have!!!! In the right print this could be nice Hawaiian as opposed the probably prolific tacky style that will prevail on the cruise!

I may have to play with the back a bit if I can't find a bra to go with it, but that won't be a problem. I've already warned Darrell that I need the right fabric and he is waiting with a "classic linen print" for me. Can't wait to see what it is like! I never have issues with his choices! If I do get the linen, then I may just enter this into the Threads Linen Challenge! I am thinking of trying a French seam or a Hong Kong finish or some other treatment I have never tried. Why not push my limits a bit more, right?

So I await eagerly the wardrobe advice, ladies! Maybe later we can talk about the shoes already residing in the Closet to supplement this wardrobe in the making ...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Promised Pics ...

For those who have mastered the art of patience, you are about to be rewarded ... thanks to the efforst of the Pilot, the Easter dress and Confirmation Dress photos are done and on the hard drive, so here they are! I made the same dress for each occasion, with minor changes (by request) to the sleeve design and the neckline. The floral Easter version came first and was made directly out of the envelope. I used a thin stretch cotton with a lining of yellow cotton. She likes the belt tied in front rather than the back here. The belt is meant to tie in the back but is actually long enough to wrap around the front once and then tie in back. It made for sitting through the Mass a bit uncomfortable, though, so she tied it in front.

The sleeves are way too full (she likened them to wings) and even if they were made in the chiffon asked for, I think it would be too much on her frame, so for the next version, I converted them into what I call a tulip sleeve (please correct me if I am wrong when you see the photos below). I also didn't like the way the bodice gaped at the neckline in the square shape, so I rounded it off for her. It then fit much better, but I think that if I were to do the square version again, I would have to dart out some of the neckline as the chest area fits well on her as she is a bit broad across the chest and back.

For the Communion version, I took my little fashionista to see Darrell at his shop to pick out fabric. I was thinking a nice cotton for comfort and ease, but then after talking to Denise (Darrell's wonderful assistant who happens to run her own kids label on diplay and sale at Darrell's now!), we decided on a silk dupioni skirt with a beaded silk bodice to match. Although initially against the thought of a one occassion dress, I then decided that it was time that I added to the garment history in the family. There are Baptism gowns on both sides already, but the only First Communion pieces are the headpiece and veil and purse that my sister's all wore. The head piece is now fitted to a bridal veil from my wedding, so we didn't want to take that apart, so I had nothing for my daughter to wear. So, I showed the silk to Hamster Girl and she was smitten (she loves the feel of fine fabrics and adores Darrell's shop just because of the rack of silk samples she fondles for hours on end!). Away we went home with a family piece in the making!

There were two time consuming issues with this dress: the beads and cleaning the sewing room. The sewing room needed to be purged of black lint. You see, for the past two weeks I had been sewing all black ... the cashmere wool pants, the Windbloc raincoat and the Bamboo cord Sportive skirt suit were all done in black. The cutting table and the machines all needed to be cleared before the antique white silk went anywhere near the room! The next hardest part of this dress was removing the beads from the seam allowances and to give room for the presser foot to move. Smashing each bead was preferred to the easier method of snipping the thread as that allows beads further down the thread to come off, so out came the small sewing hammer! I wrapped the head in some scrap cotton so that there was no chance at marking up the fabric. Then I was good to go!

There were many mini bridal gowns worn by her classmates (complete with veils and tiaras), but I think that this simple dress and her headband suited her much better. She loved the dress and I think it is a classic style that can be handed down to her daughter and maybe even Dino Boy's one day. This time, the ties were shortened so that one wrap in front and they were fine to tie in the back. As this dress is supposed to be mid calf length, the original ties would be very porportional if the length was not shortened as it was here. My daughter is quite the young lady when the time calls for it, but she is still very tomboyish at heart, so full length was not an option at all for her!

Here is a shot of the two of them, he counting the hours till his birthday while he sat and watched all the little "kids", mumbling about being bored when not serving on the altar! I am proud of how he let her have her day and didn't spend it all talkign about close his big day was!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Time Flies ...

Time is flying so fast here at Newman's Needle! It seems like only last week that I posted and promised pant photos. Since then, I have finished the cashemere wool pants, made a rain jacket for Dino Boy and then a dress for Hamster Girl for Easter (really a wearable muslin for her First Communion dress). I have managed also to alter a work shirt to fit much better only to have to tweak it a bit more. The photos are still AWOL. I find I am making more time to sew and to read my blog friends works, but not returning the favour by posting my own. Now that I am back in the sewinng world again, I am going to work more on posting as well.

I just got caught up over at Couturesmith where Connie is working on yet another wedding gown for her daughter's upcoming event. I smiled as she spoke about the mundane hand work and the inevitable rip stitching that comes with the end of a project. Today I spent in the work shop cutting and sewing and doing my fiar share of rip stitching as I worked with the beaded silk that makes up the bodice of Hamster Girl's First Communion Dress.

The sleeves in the original did not meet her desires as they were too wing like for her taste. So, the very full sleeve became an overlapped tulip sleep with a gathered cap. The ties were put in backwards (lining up) to the original as she likes it to wrap in front then tie in back. The beads needed removing in the seam allowances and the seamline (+1/4") to allow for a flat sewing surface. There were issues with the sleeve redesign that had me ripping the serged finish (lucky for me I don't trim the s.a. off when edge finishing at the start!) and that took a while.

All through the frustrations I kept breathing deeply. For like Connie's many wedding dresses, this is a memory project. My daughter's First Communion is tomorrow, you see, and I wanted to add a piece ot the family collection of special pieces. Both sides of the family have a baptism gown that has been handed down. There is a baby quilt made for me by my grand mother that is a constant companion to Hamster Girl in her bedroom. The head piefce that held the veils for my 3 sisters way back on their First Communion was worn for my wedding. All these memories. All these special sewing projects that have been handed down to me. This is my chance to continue the pattern and to hand something down to my children. So, no cotton for this dress. This one is beaded silk bodice with a dupioni skirt. This will be stored with my wedding dress for the future. I am pretty sure that she will be too tall for my dress, but I am sure that I can alter it to make something special for her wedding out of it.

Tomorrow my little girl walks up the aisle in her little white dress. Soon enough the time will come when she ias asking for her prom dress, then soon enough after that the "Big" white dress ... time flies. Time to take photos to freeze these moments! Tomorrow there will be lots of photos taken as she wears both dresses for her Nanna and Poppa and her Auntie who are here to share this special time. Maybe I can finish a skirt while I am at it for myself for tomorrow ... all I need to do is construct the lining and hem it. Doable before 1:00 pm???? Stay tuned!