Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A (Brief?) Detour: McCall's 6069

Oh McCall's 6069, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  Okay, I'm not actually going to count--I'll just tell you:  comfortable, stylish, and easy to sew.  The trifecta!

I made a size 12 and added one inch in length to the bodice and 5.5 inches in length to the skirt.  Pretty easy to sew although I did have a little trouble figuring out the placement of the back strap.  The fabric is a fun ITY knit from Fabric Mart.  I think I'll make this again, maybe in this fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics:

Shoe love:  These are the shoes I'm wearing today.  French Sole ballet flats, quilted gold with silver toe caps.  These shoes are versatile and very comfortable!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Just Do It? Just Did It!

Hi there!  Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to blogland; it was a crazy-busy work week, and I was just bleh.  But now, midway through a glorious three-day weekend, I have enough energy to get to the task at hand.

So, when last we spoke, I was dithering about what fabric to use as a (hopefully) wearable muslin of McCall's 2401, for what I hoped could become a TNT.  Well, I made the dress last weekend, and I've been thinking about the result for the better part of the week.  Something isn't quite right about it, and I'm not sure what to do--or even if I want/should do anything about it.

The dress fits--could probably use a half-inch more at the hips.  The fabric isn't ideal, and it isn't even one of the fabrics I'd been originally contemplating.  I had another run through my various fabric stashes, and found this plisse/seersuckerish fabric with little daisies on it.  Perhaps a bit twee, but I thought it had a little Lilly Pulitzer feel to it.

I sewed a size 14, added 4 inches to the length, and used an invisible zipper instead of a standard one.  It fits well around the neck, and when standing still, it looks okay too, but it feels a little tight across the upper back/shoulders.  I'm thinking making the armscye a little larger might do the trick.  Again, though, I'm just not sure I have the desire to rip apart this version and try, try again.  I might come back to it.  I think I will definitely make up this pattern in a double knit or a stretch woven.  A little stretch should do the trick for a better fit.  For something cool and comfortable, I think I need to make something a little looser, with a slightly flared skirt.  I am perusing patterns in my stash and online.

Next up, I am almost finished with my "Backyard BBQ" dress using Vogue 8383 (oop).  All I have left is to make the buttonholes and sew on the buttons.  I'm using a fun citrus print on a lime green background--perfect for sipping a frosty beverage as the grill fires up!

After that, I'll probably try my hand at McCall's 6069 in a fun ITY print from Fabric Mart.


Shoe love:  I love these Sigerson Morrison ballet flats--black suede with purple studs.  Usually, Sigerson Morrison shoes are pretty expensive, but this pair was sold through Target, so they're frugalicious!
Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Just Do It!

I’m annoyed with myself.  Why?  Well, unfortunately, there are many reasons, but the one I’m focusing on here is my tendency to over-think.  Yep.  When I got home yesterday, after a loooooong day at work, I really wanted to sew something.  Wasn’t quite sure what—and that’s where my troubles began.  Like many of you, I have so many patterns and so much fabric, that I could have an amazing wardrobe if I used only ¼ of it, but figuring out what to use and which pattern often stymies me.  How about this fabric with that pattern?  Do I really want to use up that fabric when I’m not sure I’ll like the design? And on, and on.  Rather than fuss and fret over the absolutely perfect use of fabric and pattern, I would like to “just do it.”

Anywho, I think I’m going to make a sheath using McCall’s 2401—a pattern I’ve had for ages but have never sewn.  I’m hoping for a wearable muslin.  When I went to bed last night, I thought I’d decided on this fabric for the muslin.  But I really like the fabric (I think it would make a fun circle skirt), and what if it doesn’t turn out and I’ve wasted it?  Yep.  Then I thought, “Wait.  Will the print look bizarre with those darts?  Probably.  Other contenders for the hopefully wearable muslin are this pink floral or the yellow jacquard.  The thing is, both of these fabrics would need an underlining, and I don’t want to do that for a muslin.  I’m going to re-visit the stash and see if there’s anything else.

What do you think? 

Then, first thing this morning, I was  stalking  reading blogs, and on 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World, Steph was wondering if she was over-thinking the use of a minky animal print for her daughter’s coat.  The coat is adorable and, I think, completely appropriate, but Steph’s over-thinking hit home.  You know, after years of sewing with no “community” to bounce ideas off, having access to this gigantic online sewing community is amazing and comforting. 

Shoe love:  A pair of my faves from my Stuart Weitzman collection.  I don’t wear these too often because they’re a little high and not the most comfortable, but I love ‘em (as long as I don’t have to walk too far).  And they’re very flattering.  I love the texture and look of suede, and I think they make my size elevens look slightly smaller (these are actually 10.5s, an almost impossible size to find).  The pumps are made in a lovely camel suede with the teensyist of platforms.  The platform and the heel are in camel patent.

Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In the Pink

Or, my continuing adventures with Vogue 1250

Last night, I whipped up another version of Vogue 1250--a fab DKNY design that a lot of people in blogland have made.  

This matte jersey number is the version that will be traveling back east with my DD, Ms. L, tomorrow.  

It is no surprise that the second one was just as easy to sew as the first.  The pattern is well drafted, the instructions are easy to follow, and, most importantly, Ms. L loves it!  Yay! Success!  Happy daughter!  Happy mom!

Shoe love:  And speaking of pink, who wouldn't want a pair of pink suede pumps?  Really, now.  I wanted a fun shoe to wear with trouser jeans, and these are perfect!  These are from Spiegel's line.  I purchased these last spring; it looks like the pink ones are sold out but they still have the black suede version on sale for $34.99.

Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vogue 1250 Love

DD, aka Ms. L, has an upcoming function for which she wants a new dress.  It needs to travel well since it’ll be stuffed in a suitcase from San Francisco to Virginia Beach, and must be ready to stun the bf upon arrival.  Seemed to me that a knit dress was called for.  I suggested Vogue 1250, a fantastic DKNY design, and Ms. L enthusiastically agreed. 

Yesterday, we made a muslin--a very wearable muslin, I might add--using a fun print from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I had ordered two yards of this fabric last summer, but I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do with it.  When we went through my stash yesterday to look for a good jersey to make either the test or final version, this fabric leapt out and said, “Me!  Choose me!”  So, natch, we did. 

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this pattern?  Vogue 1250 is a perfect marriage of sophistication and comfort.  Why can’t I find a man like that?  Not that I’m really looking.  It is easy to sew—just the main piece, back bodice, and back bodice facing.  It comes together really quickly, and the results, although I may be a wee bit biased, are stunning!  Ms. L is 6’ tall and in excellent shape, so it is rare when something doesn’t look good on her (the little minx).

I added nine inches in length, but other than that, I sewed a straight size 14.  We also made a matching belt to help define her waist.  In the photo above left, the belt is tied around her waist twice, knotted in front, with the ends tucked into the belt.  She is wearing my gray suede Mary Jane pumps from Nordstrom.  (We have the same size feet and enjoy swapping shoes--it's a veritable lending library of footwear.) 

Without belt
The photo on the right shows the dress with just one belt length around the waist.  She prefers this look.  I think both look great.  I also like the way it looks without the belt.  In these photos, she is wearing my Stuart Weitzman black suede pumps.  I L.O.V.E. these shoes.  They are so flattering and look great with a variety of outfits.  They even work well with more vintage-y looks.  Alas, I’ve had them for at least seven years, so I doubt they are still available for purchase.

Tonight, I’m sewing up the final version--the one that is headed to the east coast.  It will be made from a pretty pink poly jersey from Hancock’s.  I’ll make a self belt, but I think she will probably accessorize with a purchased black belt, the black suede pumps pictured, and her beaded black clutch.  Or she might go with silver accessories and shoes.  Or champagne.  We’ll see.

Shoe love:  I just purchased these Naturalizer Nuevo platforms in “Cookie Dough.”  They’re super comfortable (I do like my comfort) and will be perfect with spring/summer pants and casual skirts.

Happy sewing! 

 ~ Peggy

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Selectively Frugal

Recently, there was some discussion in blogland about whether one sewed to save money.  Being selectively frugal, I figured, yes, of course, I sew to save money.  But it is much more than that.  I sew for a satisfying creative outlet.  I sew to get what I want.  And I sew to get the right fit--particularly in pants and dresses which are rarely long enough for me in RTW.

New navy linen pants
Several years ago, I made a pair of self-drafted pants from a rayon challis that I’d bought at Britex.  The fabric was navy blue with a raised pattern of ecru flowers; it was more expensive than I would’ve liked, but I loved the fabric.  And when I’d sewn the pants, I loved them too; they were perfect with a navy tank and a beige linen unconstructed jacket, espadrille wedges, a braided leather belt, and a chunky wooden-bead necklace.  The pants were one of the fewish items that I dry-cleaned.  Well, silly me, one day when I was doing laundry, I threw the pants into the washer.  I realized I’d made a big blooper about midway through the cycle, but hoped that the pants would survive. 

Survive, they did, but they were only suited for wear by someone with legs about half as long as mine.  I was annoyed with my carelessness, because the pants (and outfit) filled a hole in my wardrobe.  I wanted to replace them ASAP, so I took the ferry into San Francisco and went to Britex with high hopes of finding the same fabric.  When does that ever happen?  Right.  And it didn’t happen that time either. 

Time went by, and I kept my eye out for the perfect navy fabric.  It needed to have a nice drape, and I wanted something with some pattern and texture.  I finally found something about two weeks ago at Jo-Ann’s--a navy rayon/linen blend with beige embroidered flowers.  Unfortunately, Jo-Ann’s didn’t have any navy jersey for a coordinating tank.  I whipped up the pants using my self-drafted pattern (yes, I remembered to pre-shrink the fab), and set them aside while looking for the right jersey.

Jersey from Hancock's; necklace & belt: Target
Then, last weekend, I happened to be passing the town of Vallejo--30+ miles from home, and I remembered that there was a Hancock’s close by, so I  cajoled my buddy into stopping there.  Wedged in a stack of remnants, I found a small piece of navy jersey--nice and dark--perfect for the coordinating tank.  Naturally, I bought it--there was just a yard, and I knew that would be plenty.  And the cost?  Yep, 95 cents plus tax.  Not only would this fabric help replicate the outfit I’d loved, it was super cheap, and it would be a perfect job for my new coverstitch machine. 

I used KS 3740, a TNT, for the tank.  It was a cinch and I did an okay job for my first time with the coverstitch.  (There were a few wonky parts on the hem, but since the navy thread disappeared into the navy jersey and the ugly parts were on the back, which would be covered by a shirt/jacket, I figured it would be fine.)

So, anyway, I’m tickled to have a new outfit, and I’m super tickled that the top cost less than a dollar, and even the navy linen wasn’t too bad since I’d gotten it at 50% off.  Yay!  I do love me a cheap and fairly stylish casual outfit.  Cheap, well, except for the cost of the coverstich, and the first tank (the color of it was too light for the new outfit), and the ruined challis, and the navy linen.  It’s like the House that Jack Built!

So, thinking back to that conversation about sewing and saving money, I’ve changed my mind.  I probably don’t do it to save money--once you figure in the cost of sergers, sewing machines, specialty machines, etc., it’d take quite a while to whittle those costs down.  But, so what?  On the other hand, I certainly have a much larger (and better fitted) wardrobe than if I only purchased RTW!

Up next:  I'm hopping on the Vogue 1250 bandwagon with this fun jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics!

funkadelic paisley jersey

Happy sewing! 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Toe in Water

Phew.  I finally did it!  After spending the better part of a year stalking reading the blogs of bazillions of super-talented sewists, I have decided to join their ranks.  Well, hmm.  Slight correction.  I don’t mean that I am super-talented, but I do love to sew.  I hope this blog will help me catalog a few of my favorite things, including sewing, design (clothing, interior, and landscape), shoes (erm, I am slightly obsessed), and other creative pursuits (aka “stuff”).

Easter, mid-60s:
Dress sewn by my mom;
bangs cut by me
Some of the blogs I've come to love are Mushywear, Lindsay T Sews, Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, Sew Silly, Miss Celie's Pants, Eugenia's (Fabulous) World of Fashion, Yoshimi the Flying Squirrel, I Made This!, Sewn, The Sewing Lawyer, Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing, Sewaholic, 10,000 Hours of Sewing, Erica B's DIY Style, Gigi Sews, A Little Sewing on the Side, Communing with Fabric, Pins and Needles, What I Wore, Kadiddlehopper,...and the list goes on and on and on.

My mother and grandmother were excellent seamstresses.  My mom taught me to sew, and I also took sewing in 4-H.  For about nine years, I ran a business designing and selling custom doll clothing for 18” dolls.  Loved it!  I sold the clothes, shoes, and all sorts of accessories via mail order and at special events throughout California.   I designed and created school uniforms for dolls (these matched the various San Francisco-area private and parochial school uniforms), Chanel-type suits, ball gowns, poodle skirts, fur coats, ice skating outfits—well, you get the idea. 

One of the things I’ve learned from reading other blogs, is that I really like to see photos of the various projects.  Therefore, tomorrow I am going to buy a timer for my camera and see what I can do.  In the meantime, I think I’ll work on creating a photo display of outfits and accessories.  Kinda excited about this, because it harks back to my college years (and well into my twenties) when I did window and store displays to supplement my income.  Such fun!

Okay.  Enough of my blather.  Now it’s time to post some pics!  As I mentioned, I haven’t figured out exactly how to photograph my sewing projects (but I’m working on it!), so here is a home-designed and sewn outfit from the past.  This is a picture of my parents on their wedding day in the mid-50s.  My mother designed and sewed her outfit, a waltz-length dress of white lace over pale yellow taffeta.  Her shoes were gorgeous:  pale, pale yellow peau de soie appliquéd with pearls and rhinestones.  I coveted those shoes!  And I wore them for “dress-up” for years; unfortunately, my feet grew too long!

~ Peggy