Archive | December, 2012

2012 Sewing Year in Review

31 Dec

It’s that time of year when we talk about our year in sewing. I *love* reading these on everyone’s blogs. It’s a good reminder of what we  sewed and it’s such a great opportunity to be introspective.

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Here’s almost everything I made last year! I think I’ve made 42 items by my count (some tees and other projects unblogged). I always think I’m totally not productive. Then, this number pops up at the end of the year and I’m feeling pretty good about it. It does include lots of things not for me such as items for Linus and gifts too.

Biggest Change in Sewing

Purple Fridays

This is the year that I really embraced sewing things in sets or themes. Purple Fridays gave me Baltimore Ravens’ themed clothes for the office — plugging a hole in my wardrobe (I always have ‘work’ holes LOL).

sweaters

My Sweater Knits series brought me four new sweaters and a sweater dress for winter (some will post in 2013. Not enough days left in 2012 to show them all!).

summer shorts

The Summer of Shorts pumped up my summer and casual clothing. I’ve also now got several swimmers for the pool and six basic tee shirts to layer under suits. And, despite not having run in months…. I have great active wear for biking and running – all because I focused my sewing.

It also appears I *finally* started sewing more solids!

Turns out I work well when I have a theme!

Biggest Change in Blogging

Well, I’ve noticed I don’t post many in-progess posts, what might I sew musings and definitely no more tutorials. Why? Well, a lack of time. But, also, there are so many great and informative blogs out there, that I think it’s best left to people who have a real knack for teaching. And, while I have the gift of gab, the internet and sewing community have changed so much in the five / six years I’ve been blogging that I probably just don’t say as much as I used to in general.  I’ve had an emotionally and professionally rough but rewarding year that has ended better than I would have predicted. It’s a little crazy to me that I have an unerasable internet presence and can definitely never hide from the Google / HR police. I also apologize now to the people who’ve written me and I just haven’t written back. I used to be really great at keeping up with questions, comments, and emails. But, my time is more limited and I’ve wanted a bit more control of the amount of time I spend on line. I still enjoy meeting people and interacting with sewing commenters and readers. But, I know I’m not as free with my time and information as I used to be and for that, I apologize.

But, please know that my blog readers are my friends. I appreciate each comment and the time you take just to read the random stuff that does come out of my head. Sewing kept me sane in 2012. Blogging made me happy. And you guys are a huge part of both.

Favorites

I picked four favorites this year that make me happy every time I wear them.

Favs

Vogue 8825 Puzzled Dress. This dress gives me life. It’s the best cut for my frame in a luxiours material if Mood’s silk jersey.

McCalls 6279 Denim Trench Dress. Again, a type dress I’ve wanted to make since I started this blog! Love the details, the buttons, the fit. Love. This. Dress.

Butterick 5522 Tina Turk Dress. This dress makes me so happy! I made it for a then-boyfriend’s birthday. Luckily, the dress lasted longer than the relationship! Over the Christmas break I let the hem out another inch so I’d feel a bit more comfortable at work.

HP 1016 Sailor Pants. These pants are not the most beloved garment I’ve sewn, but they are something I’ve wanted to make for *years* and I’m always excited when I get a pair of well fitting pants in my wardrobe. The cut of the pants are really good for my frame and worked well for my nautical themed stunt dressing this summer.

This year I also focused on ‘projects in my stash’ — items I’ve wanted to sew for years and have the material on hand to make. Three of my four favorites are made from material that was at least two years old!

Most Challanging

Challanges

Vogue 1252 Tracey Reese. The drafting on this Vogue pattern wasn’t great. This is a beloved dress in my office and it’s grown on me quite a bit. But, I don’t know that I could take it on again given the variables.

Burda 2-2009-124: The Officiant Dress: This dress was a challange to get the fit spot on. Generally, I realized this isn’t the best style for my figure. But, I needed to make it work and spent a lot of time tweaking it. It was worth it as I fit in perfectly with the wedding party. And, the bride and groom thanked me with a nice gift card to Mood fabrics! And, I’ve been asked to perform another wedding of dear friends this May! So, another Officiant Dress is on the way!

Burda Magazine 5-2009-122: Captain’s Ballgown. If I’d had any other option of a floor-length gown to wear to the Captain’s Ball, this dress would not have been finished! Either the draft was off or my body is funky. But, the bodice of this dress took every bit out of me. Plus, the whole silk formal is underlined and *lined*. I’ll be wearing this in the spring to the CenterStage gala and to anything else that I need a dress that touches the ground!

Least Worn

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Badgley Mischka Jacket, Vogue 1099. I like everything about this jacket on the hanger and dress form. But, I just never know what to wear it with. I’ve worn it three times this year :-/  I wore it last week with my tuxedo pants and it wasn’t bad. I thought I needed to be taller and leggier to get away with it. But, it seemed to work. I’ll keep trying it with other things.

Learning to Let Go

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Happily, I didn’t sew anything this year that I didn’t end up liking. But, my biggest sewing disappointment this year was my tuxedo jacket. It was fraught with problems from jump. I mis-sewed the welt pockets and it was downhill from there. I didn’t have lining when I needed it .When I decided to start sewing again (after getting lining) I was missing a sleeve. I couldn’t find the buttons I wanted. Blah, Blah, Blah. I let her go out to pasture with your encouragement. I havent’ really looked back either. It just took me a long time to say, in the immortal words of N’Sync ‘Bye, Bye, Bye’.

Next: 2013 Sewing Plans and New Year’s Resolutions

Burda Magazine 9/2012 #109: Blue Wool Sweater Dress

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I’m continuing my current passion for sweater knits in this Burda sheath dress from September 2012. While I’m still tracing mine from the magainze (tears), you can download it for a mere $5.40 from the BurdaStyle website here.

This marine blue knit was purchased in the same bundle as the autumnal pullover I just completed. The knit is incredibly soft. I love the way the colors meld in this knit. I originally sewed this dress to wear to a Hanukkah party and have pulled it out a few times for work since then.

Since the pattern uses the same upper body model as my recent pullover, the FBA alterations on the French darts / busts were already done.

I love the sleeve technique used. See the pleat at the deltoid? It’s sewn in one fell swoop with the shoulder seam.

Next time I make this dress (and there will be a next time) I’m going to use the same back neckline  from the original pullover. I decided to skip the zipper, but you’ll see here in the back that this dress version doesn’t have the v-shape back necline as the pullover.

That makes the dress little bit of a stretch to get in and out of since I use interfacing along the neckline and armholes to reduce… well, stretching. Also, I think this a lot of dark fabric too close to my face. I thrive in color and I think something more open in the neckline might be more flatterning.

Is it strange that only in the last two years I’ve noticed how incredibly short my neck is? Strange because I’ve always thought my mom had a short neck. Now, I think *I* have a short neck. Which means, of course, that I’m well on my way to becoming my mother….

Notice I’m not holding a remote nor am I in my backyard or dining room? It’s was so foggy when I wore this dress. So, I talked my friend Liz in to being my photographer and this is our conference room. Man, it’s so much easier to have someone else take your pictures (as long as they know you need 60 to have one good shot).

Look at me! I’m ‘working’.

Look at me! I’m ‘modeling’

Heh.

I’m a fan of this dress and have to thank Caroline for turning me on to the style! I feel more coming in wool jersey, don’t you?

I have two more sweater knit projects coming, including something I never thought I’d make. A cardigan! Stay tuned :)

The material for this dress was purchased in part using an allowance from Mood Fabrics for the Mood Sewing Network

Burda Magazine 9/2012 #130: Purple Friday Side Gather Pullover

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Folks, this is the last of my Purple Friday Posts for this football season! The Ravens had an amazing game against the Giants last week and are AFC North champions (I only have a vague idea about what that means). I’m told we’re in the playoffs. I’m sure someone at work will clarify for me…

I needed one more winter Purple Friday garment for work. Also, I think purple is a lovely Christmas color, no? I’m posing in front of the outdoors Christmas tree at my office building. Liz, my friend and colleague, is my photog today and she *rocked* it. I didn’t have to retouch a single picture and only cropped like two of them.  I don’t want to be obviously self-indulgent and post *all* of the amazeball photos. But, if you want to see them, you can click here and I can maintain the pretense of modesty.

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This little pullover from the September 2012 Burda Magazine is kind of perfect (available for download on BurdaStyle.com) . I like the gentle drape of the slight cowl. I looooove longer sleeves. I support any top that I can wear over leggings / jeggings and cover my bum and distract from my thighs.

I sewed a 38 and did not grade up for my hips. I did make a one inch dartless FBA and I think the fit is spot on. And, of course I made my usual swayback adjustment. Looks like I could have taken a ‘smidge’ more there too.

Any other changes? Well, I think the elastic length called for (or the braided elastic I used) needs to be shortened. When I first sewed the side seam elastic is wasn’t really gathering much and providing the shape I wanted. So, I shortend it by about five inches.

I took about two inches of the elastic on the sleeves too. I haven’t a clue where this sweater knit came from. I have some vague memory of it. But, that’s it. Just a vague memory. It was discovered in the great fabric-move-to-higher-ground so Superstorm Sandy doesn’t get it. I can happily see this top in other fabric iterations including a burnout / see through jersey layered over a tank.  When I first tried on the finished top, I also thought it would be *great* as a ballet / yoga top.

Speaking of tank tops. In the editorial, the model is wearing one. I found the neck opening a bit wide and adjusted the shoulder seam by about 1/2 inch on each side. This does impact the drape slightly, but not much. I also think the shoulders are long for me. But, most shoulders  are. I just never think to measure and adjust.

I’m not even sure of the content of the sweater knit. But, it’s cozy and will be great this winter. But, because I’m perennially cold (Carribbean parentage!), I’ll also be pairing it with this blazer.


(I should have rolled my sleeves down. And, this is my first time in five years wearing jeans to the office. But, it’s a holiday week and a Friday)

Likey? It’s an exact copy of a beloved J.Crew blazer from college. My mom had this version made for me in Korea about six to eight years ago. The original was beige and while it still fit, it was showing it’s age and looked dingy. So, I sent it to my mom and she had it remade in Korea. I loves it. I guess the tailors did too, because they didn’t give her back the blazer!

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas with family and friends! I was sick like a dog with a wicked cold. My mom is arguing with me that it was the flu. Somehow her 40+ years as a nurse tells her that, lol!  I spent a big chunk of my mini-break in bed instead of sewing. But, Christmas Day I ws better and had a low-stress and lovely time. I saw Le Mis, ate sushi for dinner and latkes for breakfast. I think 2012 is going down as my best Christmas ever. Well, except the year I got a Speak and Spell. That was pretty awesome.

Burda Magazine 9-2012 #106: Wool Sweater Knit Pullover

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It’s a well documented fact that I am insanely jealous of knitters. I love love love wool sweaters. I think cotton sweaters are useless for keeping me warm. And, they fade. They fade badly. But, wool sweaters have moved out of my price range in the last ten years. For real. I can remember buying 100 percent wool sweaters at lower to mid price stores like GAP, American Outfitters, J.Crew and Express as a matter of course. In fact, I still have a wonderfully warm and dense sweater from American Eagle purchased well over 10 years ago. But, now sweaters are thin blends and just not the same quality I used to find. Actually, I was at H&M and saw a men’s sweater that had a bright sticker saying ’50 percent wool!’  So, it’s not just me who is looking for wool :)

I was super excited to find several wool sweater knits at Mood Fabrics when I visited back in October. I took some samples home with me and started digging through my Burda magazines for an ideal match in this Burda Magazine 9-2012-106. At $18 a yard and needing less than two yards for a sweater, I knew I’d be hard pressed to buy a RTW sweater for less.

My first sweater is a orange/ brown sweater knit that feels as soft as my friend’s J.Crew cashmere. The color just about blends in with my skin in real life :)

It rocks under my suits — including this denim ‘washable suit’, heh. The denim adds to a 70s vibe the color gives off.

The sweater knit doesn’t have the highest recovery. So, my sleeves stretched a bit into a bell shape. Noting this, I took about three – four inches out of the neck binding.

The French darts provide great shaping. Thanks for my Facebook friends I was able to alter the bust for a one inch FBA.

If you’ll notice, I did the binding on the bias, the bottom band on the crossgrain. It helps provide some visual interest.

Ahhh, and the back. I did a 1.5 inch swayback adjustment. I also added 1.5 inches in length to the pattern and shortened the bottom band by about four inches.

Overall, a winner of a pattern and a sweet warm sweater to boot. I’ve already gotten loads of wear and compliments on my sweater. And, best of all, I was *warm* :) I have a few more sweaters planned for this winter from Mood’s sweater knits. I feel toasty already!

The material for this sweater was purchased in part using an allowance fromMood Fabrics for the Mood Sewing Network.

Bits and Pieces

15 Dec

I was rather productive in November with three dresses for me and three outfits for Sir Linus (my father’s very cute nickname for my dog). But, December has yielded not quite as much. I have a few things coming up that need to be photographed.  In the meantime, I will regale you with a minor project, a lingering UFO and a tale of woe.

First, tale of woe. My beloved gravity feed iron bit the dust last week after five years of faithful service. While working on a project, there was a spark, smoke and the shorting of an outlet. I’m not sure if I need an electrician or not. The shorting of the iron may have blown a fuse or blew out something (tripping the switches / circuit breaker got me nowhere). I just haven’t had the where with all to investigate. So, I’m back to my age-worn Rowenta Sew ‘n Press. I liked this iron fine when I bought it. It doesn’t cyle off (yeah!) But, I feel like I’m putting water in every 10 minutes and it wears 3 oz compared to my heavy gravity feed. Hopefully I’ll be replacing my gravity feed in the first quarter of 2013.

 

Minor finished project is another 4-2011-122 tee shirt from Burda. I’ve gotten so much mileage out of my other tops. They are great under jackets and wore well in the summer as easy tops. I’ve had this navy version cut out for months. But, was waiting until I had blue thread of the serger to finish.

My UFO. I just need to add buttonholes to the this Vogue  vest / cape. I know it’s not much to look at here, but withold judgement until I’m all done. The buttons I have are going to make it pop! The material is CRAZY thick, an Oscar de le Renta wool. So, I need to use my buttonhole attachment to make the buttonholes. And, because nothing is easy, I need to use a modification in sewing the buttonholes since the since buttons I have are too big for the template. I’ve decided to wait until the light of day and when I’m alert before tackling this.

Finally, one more Purple Friday outfit is on the cutting table. It’s a little sweater with a cowl neck. I’m going to a Christmas Party / Ravens Game Party on Sunday and would like to have this completed by then. It’s just 1.5 star pattern from Burda so shouldn’t take much out of me.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend and managing to stay out of the mall for Christmas shopping. I know I am!

Pattern Review Birthday Meetup

13 Dec

Yesterday after work I headed over to A Fabric Place in Mt. Washington for the Pattern Review birthday party. Eleven years! Crazy, right?

I was lucky enough to meet several new-to-me sewists in the area, including Tee of Dressed to a Tee whose photo I’m using (above). It was wonderful meeting so many new sewists who regaled me with stories of all the fabric stores that Baltimore used to have. They even talked about when you could buy fabric at the local Epstein’s Department Store. I also have a bug in my ear now to join Maryland ASG.

I’m wearing my Burda Melton Wool Trench from three years ago. I love this coat (despite the less than flattering photo. I really need to work on my posture).  I didn’t get to wear it much last year since it wasn’t terribly cold in Baltimore. I’m wearing it all the time this season! And, I’ve gotten multiple comments from people on the street every time I wear it. I can’t tell you how *great* that feels.

I’ve been thinking about making another coat. Something knee length without a vent in the back. For weekends and when I don’t need my legs as covered for work. But, my dilemna is color. I want a pale blue or cream coat which means I would spend every week at the dry cleaners! I also lack for time to really dedicate as I did for this coat. Oh, well. There’s always next year!

White House Holiday Tour

9 Dec

Taking a cue from Trena’s trip last year, I had an opportunity to visit the White House to see the holiday decorations set up for the Holidays. I’m saying ‘holidays’. But, really. As a friend pointed out — 45 Christmas trees and one menorah :)


I’ve been to the White House a few times over the years for work and school. But, haven’t really taken a tour for fun. So, this was a much more relaxing experience! Except, out scheduled time was 8 a.m. on a Saturday! For those who don’t know, I’m about an hour north of DC. So, I was up at 5:30 a.m. to make sure we got there on time. But, in retrospect, it’s a GREAT time to go. Plenty of parking and as the first group to go through, the crowd isn’t that bad and the three security check points go faster.

We were told before the day that cameras and photos were not allowed. I was *salty* as I had plans on making this the cover of my Christmas card this year. But, when we arrived, they said photos were allowed for the holidays! So, I snapped a few (so-so pics) with my phone.

First, we saw Bo (the Obama dog). Folks, you would have thought the President was walking on the lawn. Like, people went running to the windows and the gate to get a picture of this animal. A friend with me who won’t even pet Linus yelled like the Beatles just landed.

There is a Bo in the White House decor too. I couldn’t tell what it was made from. Maybe yarn?

I loved the White House Gingerbread House. Look at the bottom left of the white house lawn, there is a gingerbread Bo. And, can you see Santa on top of the White House? So stinking cute.

Can I tell you how in awe I was in seeing the Presidential seal?

Here is the State Dining room. They are gearing up for several holiday parties of the next few weeks.

All of the hallway arches are decked out with garland

I went with someone who has a serious admiration for the Kennedys. More so for RFK… but his photo isn’t hanging in the White House. The photo was my idea :-)

I planned to wear my finished cape. I’d been calling it the White House cape! But, we were SO LATE getting to DC that I just bolted out of the car with my wallet, keys and mobile phone (no bags allowed). I didn’t make anything I’m wearing. The top was purchased from my boss :) I think it’s Alice & Olivia with lace insets. Plaid socks to be festive :)

And, on this first day of Hanukkah, here is the menorah (and me taking the photos. heh)

I might make this an annual tradition. My mom wants to come next next year. So, it’ll be Christmas in Baltimore!

Pattern Review Meet Up (In Baltimore)!

4 Dec

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I’ve been lucky in the last month to meet up with two different groups of sewists. If you’re in the DelMarVa area, here’s your chance!

Pattern Review is celebrating its birthday on December 12 all across the country. One local celebration will be here in Baltimore at A Fabric Place  in the Mount Washington area (known to many online as Michael’s Fabrics).

I joined PatternReview.com way back in 2002! I remember (one of my) first posts was using my mom’s 3.0 MP camera in a dirty mirror. Heh. Man. I wrote a *lot* back then. Probably my excitement over having someplace to talk about sewing!!

I’ll be at A Fabric Place for the 11th anniversary of PR from 6:30 p.m. ’til 8 p.m. along with Robin from A Little Sewing. Are you planning on coming? It should be a great time!

Weekends

2 Dec

Yesterday I went down to the DC suburbs for the MD/VA/DC blogger meet up organized by Lisa. Good times! I’ve been wearing the heck out of my little purple shift (worn below). Despite swearing I wasn’t leaving with any fabric, I walked away with about ten pieces from the unloved fabric table. Heh.

This weekend I also made up two pairs of men’s boxer briefs from a Jalie 2327 for a holiday gift. I’m not sure how they fit yet as I’ve not gifted them yet.  But, based on some snooping around in underwear drawers (pun intended) I figured out the size I wanted to sew.

I also noticed that the RTW pairs I saw had a gusset in the crotch (horrid word), so I added that.

I used some flag elastic from eBay for the waist.  Gives it even more of an International Male (link is SO NOT safe for work) vibe, LOL. One pair is just from tubular cotton in my stash. No idea where it came from. The other pair is from the Under Armour knit I bought from Guss Woolens.

I do think the fly  is INSANELY long looking.

This took about 30 minutes from start to finish to sew. Super easy and actually useful. I’m probably going to make my dad a few pairs too. But, with traditional brief elastic and in boring white or gray. He cannot take fancy stuff with his drawers.