Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy, Sunny Colors--aka Fruity Pebbles

As my grandpa used to say, "It's hotter than Hades!"  We're in the mid-to high-90s this week, so I decreed that I must sew at least one more summery topper.   This jacket/big shirt is made from white gauze with a geometric pattern in bright yellow, tangerine, red, and magenta.  It is a different colorway of the fabric I blogged about here, both purchased from Hancock.  I think the colors are so happy and sunny, but for whatever reason, I’ve “named” this topper Fruity Pebbles (even though I’m really more of a Trix kind of gal).
The jacket is Butterick 6005 (OOP), size 12.  For this iteration, I added 5” in length to the jacket, so it comes to mid-thigh on me, shortened the sleeves to ¾ length, and added bias cut cuffs. 
The shell is tangerine and magenta.  The tangerine knit (kind of slubby) is from (I think) FabricMart, with a very soft hand.  The armscyes are coverstitched, and I used magenta interlock from the stash for contrast at the neck and the hem.
I’m probably going to wear these tops with white leggings, McCall’s 6173, blogged about here—if I can allow myself to ignore the “no white after Labor Day” doodah.   But, hey, if it’s 96 outside, it’s summer to me! 
What about you?  Do you let “rules” dictate what you will or won’t wear during certain seasons? 

Shoe love:  I don’t own these sandals, but I think they’d be mighty cute with this outfit.  Love the orange!  These are made by Frye and are called the Alessia Artisanal t-strap.
Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

One Done!

Well, one item has been completed.  I am trying out a new system—cut and marked items ready-to-sew stored in baggies—and so far, so good!  After work, I grabbed a baggie with the makings of a black/white jersey shell, mainly because the sewing machine, serger, and coverstitch were already threaded with white thread.  The shell, another Kwik Sew 3740, is super easy and I could probably sew it with my eyes closed.  
It was a very pleasant way to spend the evening.  Sewing something that was an almost guaranteed success while a couple of episodes of House Hunters played on the TV in the background.
And here it is.  Perhaps it is not the most exciting or complicated item, but it will fill a void in my work wardrobe.  This black and white jersey is from Gorgeous Fabrics, and although I’ve had it for about a year, it appears to still be in stock.  I bound the neck edge, and used the coverstitch on the hem and armscyes.  I made the shell a bit on the long side, because I plan to wear it a bit bloused and with a belt.
Shoe love:  Speaking of black and white, here are some super cheap loafers that I purchased on sale from Spiegel—they were under fifteen dollars!  I haven’t worn them yet—I’ll probably wait until next spring, but I do think they’re pretty cute.
Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Monday, September 19, 2011

Increased Production??

Are you like this?  While at work, I often think about sewing—what I’d like to make, how I’d make it, what fabrics I might need to purchase(!), etc.  But by the time I get home, I’m exhausted, and I often don’t have the gumption to cut out whatever it is I’d been thinking about during the day.
So, I’m trying something new to me—and this is something I know I’ve read about on other blogs, so it is hardly original.  This is what I’m trying:  On Sunday, I cut out eight items—two casual jackets, four shells, and two pairs of pants.  I put each cut and marked item in its own zip lock baggie, along with (if needed) cut interfacing and elastic.  My hope is that having these kits will help me over the I’m-just-too-tired hump that I’ve been facing after work—because I really do enjoy sewing once I start, but I’m not a fan of cutting things out.  We’ll see!
What do you do?  Do you have any tricks to keep your sewing on track? 
Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Super Stretchy

Here’s another outfit for my hot ‘n cold office.  I’ve had this cardy pattern in the stash for a while and was eager to give it a whirl.  I used a very inexpensive (less than $2 per yard) mystery fabric from Fabrix.  It is a super-stretchy lycra blend that’s quite spongy and doesn’t have a great recovery.  It has an embossed floral pattern—slightly raised and a wee bit lighter than the vanilla background.  As usual, I was aiming for a wearable muslin. 
I like the look of longer outer layers, and I think I can carry them off because of my height.  So, for this cardigan (McCall’s 5978, view A/B) I added 10” inches in length so that it hits me mid-thigh (my camera died before I was able to get a full-length photo).  I made the ¾ length sleeves, but none of the suggested embellishments.  The fabric was kind of easy to sew; that is, it didn’t skitter around, but its sponginess made it a little too thick for the facings, and the shell’s armscyes stretched out a lot.  My usual M.O. is to steam/iron recalcitrant fabric into submission, but this fabric didn’t want to cooperate.  At the price, I can live with it.  My sample buttonholes didn’t turn out well in this fabric, so I decided to forego them.  I plan to wear the cardigan open for a nice long line and will be wearing a chunky necklace, so the buttons might’ve been a little too busy with it anyway.
I also made a matching shell using my TNT pattern, Kwik Sew 3740, with self binding at the neck.  No problems except for the stretched out armscyes which I expect will go back to the intended shape once I’ve washed it.  Both pieces were hemmed on the coverstitch.
With this twinset, I plan to wear brown straight-legged pants that I made by tracing a favorite pair of RTW slacks.  They have an elastic waist—I know, I know, but I like elastic waists, and since the waist is covered by the shell, so what?  The fabric is a lightweight suiting that I purchased several years ago from JoAnn’s.  It is chocolaty brown with reddish brown threads in the weft. 
Something you probably don’t know about me is that I like to mix higher-end with lower-end items.  Actually, I hope they all look high-end!  I figure, why spend a lot of moolah on trendy pieces that’ll probably go out of style after a season?  Hence, I purchase a lot of jewelry at WalMart, Target, thrift stores, and the like.  I also make some of my own necklaces.  As for shoes, my closet runs the gamut of price points.  For this outfit, I’ll be wearing a bronzey/coppery chunky necklace from Target (shown in the photo), paired with bronze pointy-toed flats also from Target, and my Louis Vuitton purse in the classic brown monogram leather.  I think they all play well together.   (P.S.  I consider my 7-year-old LV bag an “investment”—at least that’s how I rationalize it.  Plus, someday, hopefully a long, long, long, long, long time from now, it will be my DD’s.)

Shoe love:  Perfect for a night on the town, I love these black peau de soie Nina slingbacks with a kitten heel.  For me, a kitten heel means I’m less likely to fall on my face (still no guarantee!) and less likely to have blistered toes by the end of the night.

Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hot Time in the County

Here’s another warm weather dress that’s perfect for weekend errands. 
The pattern is McCall’s 8107 again, in an above-the-knee length version, made up from an inexpensive print in easy-care poly/cotton.  Not a lot to say about it—like the longer version, the dress is underlined in broadcloth, has facings, and a back zip.  Easy.  Again, I love the shaping that the princess seams provide, and the flared skirt is comfy and glides over the hips.  Cool and light, the dress is easy to wear, and looks nice as is or styled with a denim jacket, low-slung belt, and a necklace.
And speaking of necklaces, look these fun ones I bought Saturday.  The coral and red bead long necklaces (left) were on sale at Francesca’s Collections; I bought two of the same so that I can double them into four strands and wear them together.  The other two necklaces (right), also on sale, were purchased at White House/Black Market.  Hey, I can always use another silver-toned necklace, and I love the dark and light pinks and antiqued silver beads in the other one.  Now to figure out if I have anything to wear with them!  Maybe I’ll have to make something new.  :)
Shoe love:  The perfect shoes for this dress: caramel colored Bernardo sandals.
Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Head-Slapping “Duh” Moment, or, Perfection is Probably Boring

Oh, Peggy.  *shakes head*
I thought I had broken my cover stitch machine.  I’d only purchased it in May, and it had been working great.  Threading was easy; I’d switched colors numerous times without a problem.  But the other night when I wanted to hem some leggings, the stitch was loose and floppy.  I double-checked the settings.  Didn’t help.  I changed the needles.  Didn’t help.  I tried countless combinations of tension and stitch settings.  Nope.  No help.  I was in despair.  I’d spent a small fortune on this machine, and I was sure that I had done something to it to ruin it after only a few short months in my home.

As it turns out, I did do something wrong.  Well, more accurately, it’s what I didn’t do that caused the problem.

I’d bought the machine in Santa Rosa, which is about an hour from where I live in Marin County.  Because of road work on the freeway, getting up there is a pain-in-the…, so I generally try to avoid it.  However, last weekend, I was visiting friends in Sonoma County, so I decided to swing by the sewing machine shop to look at the floor model and scribble down its settings.  When the saleslady was free, she came over to find out what I was doing.  At first, she was perplexed and couldn’t figure out what my machine’s problem was—and, of course, I didn’t actually have the machine with me!  (That would’ve been too logical.)  Finally, she said, “Well, of course you have the presser foot up when you thread it…”  I said, “Huh?”   I have no idea.  Maybe it was up sometimes, but I really don’t know.  She told me that the presser foot must always be up when threading or the threads won’t go through the tension discs.  That was the head-slapping “duh” moment.

I raced home, lifted the pressure foot, re-threaded the machine, et voilà!  It worked!!!  I had spent a lot of time pouring over the instruction manual regarding settings, but I failed to register the first item on page 14, where it states that the presser foot must be up before threading the loopers.  Durrrr.

Lesson learned and a HUGE sigh of relief!  So, am I the only one who does silly things like that?  Have you ever bypassed the obvious and worked yourself into a frenzy? 

Shoe love:  I love Talbots shoes!  I can only get my size online--they never, ever seem to have 11s in the store.  These are shoes that I purchased about a year ago, I think.  I love them.  They’re a lovely shade of burgundy, in suede (my fave), with low heels and a tailored and tasseled loafer look.   They're a little darker than pictured here.  They look good with slacks or dresses.
Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Peek of Piqué

With belt...
We didn’t have much of a summer this year, but I suspect our super-hot days will be here later this month and well into October.  So, in honor of the sweltering days to come, here’s a quickly made summery dress.  It is McCall’s 8107, view B,  unfortunately OOP, but still available on the BMV website.   I love the princess seams; they create a nice shape that is flattering to most women.  It is quite fitted through the bodice and flares gently away at the hips.  This dress is made from a bright floral  piqué lengthened to come to mid-calf and underlined with soft broadcloth.   

...Without belt
Underlined--no slip needed!

It looks like longer skirt lengths might be making a comeback this year.  Personally, I love this length.  I think it is graceful and far less likely to expose anything that I’d rather not expose!

Shoe love:  Bernardo sandals always remind me of my childhood summers.  Over the years, I’ve had many versions of their classic t-strap, the Mistral.  I love this version in red patent—and am looking for an excuse to make a purchase!
Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What's black and white and red all over?

In my continuing quest to be comfortable at work—with temperatures that vary between the arctic and the sahara—I have made another lightweight topper to wear with my baggy black pants with tapered ankles (blogged here).  This is a black/red/white ITY print from FabricMart, with a very soft hand.  It is so comfortable, I feel like I’m wearing jammies.  I just hope I don’t look like I’m wearing them!  (For the record, my current favorite pj bottoms are a turquoise flannel print of pastel-colored donuts with sprinkles and mugs of cocoa.  And I’ve never worn them to work.)
The shell is, again, Kwik Sew 3740, with binding at the neck and coverstitched hems/armscyes.  I added 3” in length to this one because I wanted a bit of a blouson over a chain belt.  (I managed to mangle my gold-tone chain belt, but I have successfully improvised a new “belt” by using a long necklace purchased at Target.)
The jacket is from Butterick 6005 which is OOP.  I’ve made versions of this pattern several times over the years.  For this iteration, I added 5” in length to jacket, so it comes to mid-thigh on me—similar to what is shown on the pattern cover.  I narrowed the sleeves and made them ¾ length rather than full.  The hems are coverstitched, and I topstitched the neck and front edges.  The pattern is for wovens, but it worked just fine with a knit.
I’m pleased with this outfit—it has some style and it is oh so comfortable.  When I wear it with my Arche wedges, even my feet are happy!
Shoe love:  The aforementioned black suede Arche wedges.  Love ‘em!
Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hot or cold--nothing in between

Ever have one of those days when you’re either freezing in the AC or sweltering when it decides to stop working?  This has been the case for me at work recently, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.  No, I haven’t learned any HVAC repair skills, but I have made a few outfits that can span the thermal vagaries of my workplace. 
A loose, lightweight pair of pants hides the goosebumps on my legs when the AC is visiting, but the pants also aren’t too hot and heavy when the AC takes a vacation.  For the pants, I used McCall’s 5889, View D, with 3” added to the length, omitted the pockets, and whipped it up from black crepe (JoAnn’s) that I had in my stash.  The pants took about an hour to make—no fuss, no muss!  The longest part was hand-stitching the hem.  No pix of the pants as they look pretty boring on the hanger, but I really like the way they fit, especially how they taper at the ankles.  Super comfortable and more casual than my other black pants.

For the shell, I used a TNT pattern, Kwik Sew 3740.  I’ve made this shell at least a dozen times, and though I haven’t timed my actual sewing (which can’t be more than an hour), I know it takes me nine minutes to cut it out!  This version is made up in turquoise matte jersey from Hancock Fabrics, and I added 2” to the length—the hem on the finished top sits 3” below my waist.  I’m not super pleased with my neck binding on this one, but it’ll do.  The hem and arms are coverstitched.
For the topper, I raided the pattern closet and found McCall’s 8178 which is OOP.  I added 5” in length to the jacket/shirt so that it hits me mid/upper thigh, and used this colorful gauze print from Hancock’s.  I love the colors!  They’re so happy, and the fabric is (thermally) cool.  I love that I can wear so many different colored shells with this jacket:  green, royal blue, black, white, or turquoise.
To wear with this outfit, I found the perfect necklace (pictured) on sale at White House/Black Market and some thick silver hoop earrings.  I do love a little sparkle!  For my tootsies, I wear either my silver Diba sandals (shown below) or my black suede Arche wedges.  Both styles look good with the outfit, although my feet freeze when the AC kicks in!
Shoe love:   I bought these Diba sandals at Nordstrom in Honolulu two years ago while I was shopping with DD (who had gone to Kona for a friend’s wedding).  We met up on Oahu, and one afternoon, when we weren’t lazing on the beach with cheesy magazines and mango iced tea, we took a stroll through Ala Moana to see what we could see.  I fell in love with the clean, chic lines of these sandals, plus I find silver (and other metallics) to be so versatile in footwear. The best part?  They are extremely comfortable.
Happy sewing! ~ Peggy
C'est moi!