2009 Wrap Up

I love WordPress for their blogging platform, but I do not love that I can’t embed this slide show. Oh well, click here for my 2009 projects. 

I was less productive this year than in 2008. But, I finally refashioned something and I FINALLY made something for my mom. Well, it wasn’t initially for her but she ended up with it.

For 2010, I have some very modest goals. The first, is that I’m not buying fabric. Scoff if you like, I know I would if you said it to me. But, I have more than enough to sew for the next year. Linings and trims are ok to finish projects. But, I have plenty to work with now.

Second, is that I have a great collection of Patrones, Mrs. Stylebook, Knip Mode and La Mia Boutique. And, I don’t have a great comfort level with them. So, every other project (or one project a month) needs to be from on of those four magazines. Otherwise, I can’t justify the space they are taking and the hasseling of friends and colleagues to send them to me.

I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t stick with them, but I like making goals and reaching them when possible.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s weekend and bring on 2010 I say!

Oh, Man. This Draft Blows.

I finished the 9-2009-111 Burda wool flannel dress on Christmas.  The wool flannel with a touch of lycra is from a Fabric.com buy two weeks ago.  They were going to be pants, but it was just too lightweight. I also tried to pull a Dawn and take photos outside in the middle of winter. I’m tight on photography space inside the house since I moved the sewing to the basement.  But, my Jamaican / Grenadian roots do not have the constitution for outdoor shoots when it’s barely 30 degrees out!  The dress is so-so. I must warn you — I think the draft blows. 


 From the model, you can see the pleats in front are unanchored. The Burda directions actually caution *not* to press them in place. But, if you don’t tack them down in some form — they do this once they are on your real life woman parts:

Bird chest and back. Yuck. Ugh. Again I say yuck.

So, my solution was to handstitch the tucks down with thread. It’s not the look I wanted and I’m not happy. It kind of just looks unpressed. And they still pull at the bust apex. I wasn’t able to get a closeup photo to show you.

I did fully line the dress with this pretty pink poly from the Carol Collection. I do smile at a pretty lining. I curse them every step, but I’m so happy with them once they are in. I used the bodice pattern pieces, eliminated the folds and made a princess seamed lining. Which is honestly how I would make this again.

And, I made my typical 1.5 inch swayback adjustment with a horizontal tuck

I’m rather sad that I put this much effort into a dress that is just ok. It’s also not doing me any favors. It’s a little hippy for me and I don’t think the color is doing anything for me.

It’s fine. I wouldn’t make it again and because of the pleat issue I can’t recommend it to anyone without a serious FBA?  But, it’s a dress that will get me through the next two or three winters just fine.

I am working on another dress that needs a zipper insertion and hemming. Hopefully I can show it to you over the New Year’s holiday.

Baby Making Weather

I’m fascinated by the show Hoarders on A&E. Once Trena found the episodes online, she too couldn’t stop watching. It’s really a cautionary tale, isn’t it?

I think of this because I started cutting the Michael Kors-ish dress today. The dress has a belt component. Now, I do in fact have buckle / belt kits. I bought yards of belting at PR Weekend in Portland and buy up every single one of those Dritz Buckle-to-Cover whenever and wherever I can find them.

Really, I kind of hoard them. I think they’ve been discontinued and I’m always worried I won’t be able to find more. And, you know Burda is with all their ‘self covered belt’ nonsense. I hoard them to the point that I’ve only let myself use one once. And I’m mad about that because I don’t even have that dress anymore!

So, is there anything sewing related that you hoard? That you you’re worried will be discontinued?

It’s totally baby making weather in Baltimore and right now I’m trying to remember why I’m not in Panama for Christmas. But, I am using the best birth control of all. My sewing machine.  So far I’ve been out three times to shovel and suspect I’m in for another trip or two before the day is over. We are getting one to two feet by tomorrow. Definitely at 12 inches already. The good thing is that the manual labor finally made me open up something else I’ve been hoarding. New Zealand Cream liqueur from Redwood Cellars in New Zealand that I bought five years ago when I spent two weeks driving on the wrong side of the road. Delicious with coffee.

Living the Dream on Etsy

There’s an interesting article in the New York Times about crafty peeps who are making a living online at Etsy.  The debate being, can you do it? And, what happens when you turn something you love into your job.

This seemed like a nice segue to mention the new makeup I’ve been using. If you’ve noticed (thanks Debbie) I switched recently. I started buying my mineral makeup from Etsy of all places. First, let me say that I don’t know anything about allergic reactions and irritants, etc. All I know is that it doesn’t have lead and my skin looks amazing since I switched.

For foundation, I’m using ‘Cocoa Girl’ by Mixology Makeup. I love, love, love the excellent color match I got and the Go Commando primer / finishing powder doesn’t make me look ashy and leaves me with a great glow and not a lick of oil (she has a couple of different finishing veils so you may want to convo her based on your skin color). By way of background, I was a MAC girl for 15 years and switched to Bare Escentuals in early 2009. The Etsy makeup I started wearing a month ago. And, I don’t go anywhere without foundation on.

You can get a three-color sample pack to try it out first. Mine was the Mocha Girl. Found my perfect match and not too sparkly. It’s not much cheaper than Bare Esecentuals, but the color match is excellent and I feel good supporting an independent business. Plus, she really worked with me on picking the right veil. Good customer service!

For eyeshadows I’ve been buying from Orglamix. The colors are bold and really stand out against my skin without looking theatrical. The shadows are siginificantly less expensive than Bare Escentuals. What I really liked about Orglamix is that they put the colors together for you in color collections.

While I like Orglamix A LOT, I will start buying shadow from Mixology. I love, love, love Mixology for having a full range of foundations that include me. Orglamix was going to be a special order to get my shade and I wasn’t up for that. I think companies that serve me with the least effort will get my money first.

So, that’s my endorsement for makeup🙂

Bias Cut Plaid Skirts Are Evil

There is a reason that Burda doesn’t show you the side seams on this puppy

That, is because bias -cut, printed plaid skirts are evil. EVIL I tell you. And, impossible to match at ANY FREAKING SEAM. Sherril says it’ll look ready to wear and Phyllis told me to pick my battles.

I’m working with a SCANT 1.25 yards of this fabric that a colleague brought me  from China. I thought I could do it. But, after tracing and cutting on Sunday — I’m ready to cut myself I’m so frustrated. So far, I don’t have a single solitary matched seam. And, that includes the center back seam.  I’ve put this project down until the weekend and need to seriously consider if I’m going to even bother constructing it I’m so unhappy with the matching of plaid.

I’m kind of tempted to just skip to this:

9-2009-111 Burda Magazine

And, I even have the same Michal Kors-like wool flannel

Let’s see what a few days away from the plaid will do. Recharge and refresh my friends😉

The Infinity Scarf is INgenius!

About two years ago a younger, hipper, cooler friend of mine was wearing a piece of fabric on her neck from American Apparel. It was just a circle of knit fabric. I thought it was the dumbest thing I’d ever seen. Then, being the trend hog that I am, I got on board and am now the conductor on the circle /  infinity scarf train.

There are so many ways you can wear it (as modeled by my friend Chezia below). And best of all, it takes 30 minutes to make. I used Joann’s knit from the stash that I bought on clearance this summer for like $3 a yard. Checked measurements on line of various scarves and sewed the whole thing up on my serger. There are more ways than what I did with the scarf below.

One big loop. Should be about a foot shorter than this for most people — falling between knee and hip.



As a hooded scarf

Doubled for a wrap

Wrapped as a top / beach coverup

Neck cozy and wrap

If so inclined, even a headwrap

This one is my Secret Santa gift for work. I made a cream one for myself.  To be honest, the cream was going to the woman at work, but she’s short, pale with blond and occasionally red hair. It occurred to me that the cream I loved on me might blend in on her.

If you need a quick and easy gift, make an infinity scarf! I haven’t had time to write and photograph a full tutorial. But, generally, you want to make the fabric wide. You’ll want it to be at least 12 inches wide when folded (so cut at least 24 inches width). Even wider if you’re interested in things like the dress or skirt options. When sewn together, you want the loop to reach between the knee and the hip. Again, this will depend on the person’s height.

If there are still questions out there, I can try and detail with some photos over the weekend.

Sweatshirt Dress Done!

The 8-2008-21 sweatshirt dress is my first La Mia Boutique pattern. I have about five of the magazines in the library and just haven’t gotten around to many of them.

When this first appeared in the August 2008 edition I was immediately drawn to it for it’s simplicity. I figured it would be hard to mess up. And, it is.

I thought this would be a totally casual weekend dress. But, with tights, boots, and huge earrings — it was perfect for the Greek ‘name day’ party I was invited to last night.

The only problem I had with the pattern was user error. I totally forgot to add seam allowances when cutting the bodice. Oops. Luckily, the dress is a sack so it doesn’t matter too much. Unlike Burda, La Mia Boutique has you trace pieces for the bands (wrist and skirt bottom).

I also ended up making the largest size — a 46 after I measured the hip area. I’m not familiar with their sizing but I’ll tell you now that it runs small. If I were to make it again, I would shorten it a smidge and taper at the bottom more. I omitted the pockets and the neck drawstring. I think pockets or a patch / kangaroo pocket would be adorable.

I bought the sweatshirt fleece from Joann’s a couple months ago at about $10 a yard and the ribbing is from the Carol Collection. The whole thing was constructed on my serger. Super fast. Super easy. Fun. And about $20.

There’s not much to say about this, but if you are so inclined, here’s the review on PatternReview.com. I noticed today there are about four garments I haven’t reviewed on PR. I’ll get to that this week😉

Ready to Wear is a %$# Rip Off

Exhibit A:

Last year I bought a new coat. A VERY expensive coat for me– well over $200. A definite splurge. I was diligent. Outershell must be natural fibers only. I must be able to breathe. Must be flattering. Must make me feel like I couldn’t make it. Must not pay retail. I got said coat and was happy with it. Until all the buttons popped off and it started coming apart at the seams.

First, the seams at the waist ripped. Both sides. And, all three buttons popped off at different times.

Then, this BS. The lining on *both*  sleeves are all ripped and shredded.

I AM SO MAD. Yes, I know I can make a new lining and will. But, I coulda made this for a fraction of the cost and it wouldn’t be ripping now. But, I didn’t think I was ready and able to make a coat!

You know, my parents bought me a coat in Budapest, Hungary in middle school that I wore ALL THE WAY THROUGH COLLEGE. If the Soviets could make a good coat, why can’t Anne Klein!?

Whew. Glad I got that off my chest! On a positive note, I’m done with my sweatshirt dress from LMB! I’m wearing it out tonight to a Christmas party and will post pictures tomorrow.

And, I want to thank you for all the kind comments on my pants! I’m overwhelmed. I’m really glad these helped me rally and I’m excited that we’re all excited about sewing.

Can I Name My First Born ‘Cheviot’?

I am 100 percent in love with these pants!!!  They are Burda 9-2007-115  and I first made them two years ago.  Between the amazing fabric and finally getting the construction down, I honestly and truly love them.

These pants are not fast nor are they easy. Iactually had them cut in this gorgeous cheviot wool from Egypt for over a year. But, I was so disappointed with the jacket and just generally struggle with sewing pants that I put it away.

And, I was actually going to throw it out in the “great sewing room move” but never got around to it.  It’s really starting to get cold here and I am (as always) in DESPERATE need of pants / separates.

I love the pockets. They are a thorn in my side to make, but I do just love them. This time, I interfaced all the upper edges so that the pockets stayed crisp.  I also used pocketing  in addition to the fashion fabric.

And, lookit!! My fly front! Yes, I use the Sandra Betzina video. But, it’s always been hit or miss for me. This time, it worked (well, it worked after I ripped it out the first time).

Now, I did leave the pants unlined. But, I am SO BAD at making pants that I figured I was better off focusing on the actual construction of these and getting comfortable with pants before I tackled the lining. Yes, I have fears of the knees bagging out. But, for now, I don’t care! The fabric is super firm and just deliciously soft. I would fly myself back to Egypt for more of this fabric. Truly.

I will say, I have a desire to move away from wide leg pants. Burda says these are suited for ‘tall women’. I’m not short at 5’6. But, I ain’t tall. To qoute my mother, I don’t know that they are doing me any favors.  The muslin Marji and I are working on is a slimmer cut but still needs some tweaking. In the meantime, I have ordered some fabric from Fabric.com to make at least two more of these this winter.

Oh, this is pretty much what I want to wear all winter. Pants / skirt, sweater, shirt. I’m kind of into the three -piece wardrobe right now. When I worked at Lord and Taylor post college the rule was a dress, a suit or pants / skirt with a jacket. I think it’s a good rule of thumb for work attire.

I am so stinking happy right now folks. I have clearly been in a slump. I think, well, I think that 2009 was just a lot harder for me than I was admitting to myself.   I put on the ‘no one is going to ever love me so I might as well get fat’ 15 pounds — which does not make you want to sew (especially when family members think it’s ok to point it out to you. Like I don’t *know* that I’ve put on weight).  Work has been just incredibly busy and painfully stressful. This left me not wanting to sew and not wanting to blog and honestly with little *time* to do either.  But, making these pants — something I have just never done well and have little confidence in reminded me that I LOVE my craft. I LOVE to create and I LOVE to sew. I was SO happy after these pants that I’ve already got my sweatshirt dress from La Mia Boutique cut and pinned. I’ve pulled skirt lengths for my next four projects. I’m happy and not stressed in my sewing room since Marji helped me straighten it out. I guess what I’m saying is I’m back baby, I’m back!

I Just Need to Hem

I finished my pants on Sunday and was SO excited about them I pulled out more wool for another pair. Except, I pre-treated it badly and it is now felted. It feels just like a blanket.

Boo! Oh, well. I think I’m going to use it to make this Burda jacket. Yes, I know it calls for a knit, but it’s got so little structure I think I’ll be fine.

Currently on the cutting table is this sweatshirt dress from the August 2008 La Mia Boutique.

Doesn’t it look perfect for weekends?