Posted in sewing

How Do You Measure A Year?

Once upon a time I measured my sewing year in garments made. I haven’t done that the last three years because I not only slowed down my sewing, I wasn’t always motivated or able to get photos of what I sewed. But, I’ve been doing a lot of fun domestic travel that isn’t always documented here.  The lovely thing about traveling and meeting sewing friends is they become real life friends that you talk, text and chat with about all the things. So, I thought it might be fun to measure my year in sewing internet friends as told by Instagram  😀

In April, we hosted Melissa of Fehr Trade and her husband James. She bought Linus THE GREATEST tee shirt ever. Seriously. How cute is he? It’s my favorite shirt for him.

Melissa muled from the UK macaroons to me from Dibs, brought amazing chocolates, beer, cider and even store brand chocolate I asked for (because I remembered eating them visiting family in London as a kid).

While sad to see her go, we were able to pull together a little sewing meet up while she was in town.

I’m often asked about Trena, The Slapdash Sewist who hasn’t updated her blog in over a year. Well, she’s doing great. She hasn’t blogged for a while because she wants a new computer to make things easier and she got married in September 2015. She’s updating her computer at some point where she’ll be able to blog again. And, I’ve been prodding her to at least get on Instagram. If you can imagine, 2017 is our Ten Year Friendversary. Can you believe it? We met through Pattern Review and really are best friends. Crazy. We’ve been trying to decide what to do to celebrate out Friendversary. And, I think we’ve settled on a weekend in Minneapolis this summer for SR Harris fabric shopping. Oh, and she didn’t make her dress below. We found it on the first dress outing. It’s sold at BHLDN as a bridesmaid’s dress. She did make her hat though and she was stunning. My dress is one I had made in China years ago.

 

For my 40th birthday in April, we went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a week. Conveniently, a friend owns a second home there so it was an easy trip.  While getting off and on Route 66 in Albuquerque, I got to meet and have have fun drinks with with Nancy  from Sew West. I’ve known her for what feels like forever through PatternReview and blogging.

 

This year I’ve made two very dear dear  friends through sewing and this blog. First is Jeannie who authored the 365 Dresses blog. I get a little vaklempt when I type this: Jeannie is amazing. She doles our knitting, career and getting along with your remarried parent advice and doesn’t get tired of talking about any of it. I think I text or email her a minimum of six times a week. Even when she was in Paris! I just treated her like an old school Pen Pal — held captive by my demands for a response. We went to New York in early December and Maryland Sheep and Wool over the summer. And, because she’s here in Baltimore it’s so easy for us to make plans together.  Jeannie has truly been a bright spot in this year. And, it feels kind of miraculous to know her. I mean, what are the odds I’d meet an experienced machine knitter less than five miles from me that I *like*? She’s a true friend and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have her in my life.

 

At MDSW, I also got to meet knitting phenom Dana from Yards of Happiness. She’s also owner of the cutest pair of chihuahuas ever and knits for them regularly. You may remember her from her old blog, The Art of Accessories — which gave me life. As noted here many a time, I can’t accessorize to save my life. I miss that blog, Dana.

 

Later in May, Dibs came in from Londontown! She did not have macaroons with her, lol. Dibs was warm and HILARIOUS. She promised to visit every time she’s in Maryland. Lucky for me, she has family here.

 

In June, I got to meet Jasika from Try Curious. I’d been following her on Instagram and reading her blog for about a year and I was obsessed with her personality. Like, would talk about her to Jordan as though I knew her.  When she had a trip to New York planned, I took the bus up to hang out with she and Marcy for the day. It was one of the best dates I’ve had this year. I’m happy to tell you that she’s *exactly*  who she presents herself to be. She’s got a sharp wit, a beautiful spirit, nuanced reasoning and a true sense of herself. The US presidential election was really really rough on me. Who am I kidding. It’s *still* rough. But, a tiny bright spot was getting a note from Jasika the day after checking in on us.  Without having talked about the election, she knew I’d feel like the world I knew was closing in on me.  She may have also mailed cookies at Christmas that we managed to eat in less than 12 hours. We have no shame in the Rosensamuelfeld house. Seriously though, ALL THE HEART EMOJIS for Jasika.

 

Found two things I was looking for in the #garmentdistrict: @jasikaistrycurious and Ankara swim fabric

A post shared by Renee (@missceliespants) on

 

We wrapped up the 2016 Internet Sewing Friends Tour with a trip to Kansas City. Jordan’s college roommate lives there and we went to visit he and his fiancé. Jordan is no longer surprised when I tell him I ‘know’ someone in random parts of the country. In KC, I got to   meet with Mel and Ody who I knew from Pattern Review back when I joined in 2002. They were so kind! They took me all over town! Zoolee’s Fabrics was closed when I was there. But, I ended up ordering some really great lingerie sewing notions from her online.  I was really interested in seeing how Fabric Recycles worked too.  I didnt’ get a lot of photos. But, I think if you sew it’s worth checking out. Not for the fabric. But, for the vintage and modern notions. I bought a pressing mit, Japanese made walking foot, a Jean-a-jig, and vintage Fur tags. And, it was all for a song.

 

 

If you’re wondering where is next… I’m not sure! We’ve noodled going to Boston for a long weekend this year. But, we’re really saving for a big trip to the west coast in January 2018 for Jordan’s milestone birthday. We don’t know if we’re starting in Seattle / Portland or further  south. But, the plan is to take two weeks to drive the coast and definitely hit Los Angeles and San Francisco where Jordan’s brother lives. If anyone has done this, I’m totally open to suggestions.

We *are* going to Chicago in March to see Hamilton and I’m planning on checking out  the Mainbocher exhibit at the history museum.

There’s also a big family reunion on my mother’s side of the family in Carriacou, Grenada. I think I might go this summer for a few weeks. I hear there’s internet on the island now so I may not be bored totally out of my mind!

** I obviously need to make more tops. Am I wearing that green Burda top in 75% of the photos?  And, the jeans are unblogged Jalies. The coat is Butterick 6224 and the red sweater is a 2012 Burda.

Posted in sewing

Sewy Isabelle Bra or Random Complaints About My Chronic Disorganization

I’m not the neatest person (massive understatement. i am a huge slob). A few years ago I couldn’t place my hands on my Rebecca bra pattern from German pattern maker Sewy. I decided to re-order the pattern and of course, my original turned up a few months later.

Last month, after spending a small fortune on RTW bras, I decided it was time to make my own again after a three year hiatus. I started tracing my Rebecca bra in my new size (75G vs 70G) only to discover I’m missing half the pattern. Not just half the pattern, I’m missing BOTH page twos of my pattern. I’m so annoyed with myself. But, after stewing about it all night, I just couldn’t bring myself to order a third copy. That Europe to US shipping is no joke.

Solution: take a stab at my Isabell bra from Sewy instead. I’ve had the pattern for two years and a fabulous English translation thanks to reader Marianne. I made a plea for help and she offered to translate it.

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Anywho, back to the pattern. I can’t even show this on my dressform because my dressform back is wider than mine and not as malleable.

I guesstimated my size in Isabell. When I made the Rebecca bra, I was a 70G. But, had to pinch out some volume from the lace cup and reduce the length of the band. At the time, I was a RTW 32F. Right now, I measure between a 34G and 36H. I can wear both, but neither comfortably. I figured going up one band size and one cup size would get me close. And, it turns out it was spot on with no further alterations.

Notions: size 44 wire (34F), findings from BraMakers Supply, fabric is scraps from this wrap dress. Lace is from a warehouse sale locally and like a $1 a yard.

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These straps were purchased in Amsterdam from Kantje Board. They are plush and wider at the center and narrow at the bottom. I only bought two but wish I’d bought a dozen!

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I’m severely out of bra sewing practice. So, my finishing isn’t nearly as neat as I would like. But, I do quite like this bra and wear it frequently.

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I’ve started a second one in beige. But, need to dye some findings to match to finish it up. Dye purchased. Just shear laziness in play.

I really hope the rest of my Rebecca pattern turns up :-/  It’s sized for non stretch lace and most of my haul from Kantjeboord two years is ago is non stretch.

Also, when checking around for reviews of Sewy Isabell, I stumbled on  Brina’s Sewing Room– a German language sewing blog – that talks about taking classes at Sewy and the store they have. Have a peek at her blog post and photos. I for sure thought Kantjeboord outside of Amsterdam must be the only store of this kind. But, based on their photos, it looks like Sewy near Colon offers the same stock.

Posted in sewing

Finally. A White Singer Featherweight.

Over the summer a neighbor posted on the community listserv that she was destashing fabric as she prepared for a move. Never one to turn down fabric, I went over for a wee looksie. Turns out she’d been a one-time reader of my blog (pre-graduate school) and collected vintage sewing machines.

And, then she showed me this:

I immediately began trying to figure out if I could talk her into selling it to me. She wasn’t particularly interested in selling. And I was a motivated buyer. I knew I was leaving my job soon and finally merging bank accounts with my husband. So, now was the time to spend money any way I wanted. Plus, it was literally in my backyard. I kind of felt like it was meant to be mine.

Now, despite being lucky enough to buy  a black singer Featherweight in 2009, I’ve *always* wanted a white one. But, they were too far away and too expensive.

Short version: it took about two months of gentle prodding, prying and begging emails before she put a price on it. And, I took it. Happily.

Meet my squad.

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It’s a 3/4 sized  Kenmore 1040 (Kenny, acquired in 2007) , my main machine a Bernina 830 (acquired 2013). My new-to-me white Singer Featherweight and my black Singer Featherweight. I just realized that each of those machines has a sewing community connection! How cool is that?

The first project I decided to make with my new machine was a  random carrying tote and sewing pad. So, very crafty of me, eh? I’m not prone to craft projects. But, I was housesitting the weekend I bought it and thought would be a fun thing to do that didn’t require my full sewing room. The pattern is available from The Singer Featherweight Shop.

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My fabric is a fun Dutch postal fabric I bought while in Amsterdam on our honeymoon three years ago. I think I thought I was going to make shower curtains from it. Then realized I wasn’t going to make a shower curtain from anything.

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To be funny, I decided to line it with orange fabric. Because, Netherlands = House of Orange. Get it? I often amuse myself with totally nerdy stuff.

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There’s one piece I didn’t finish, the folding bed cover for storage. I may or may not get around to it. For now, I have the unfinished piece just sitting there, heh.

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I am officially the cat lady of sewing machines.

Posted in sewing

All the Fashion in the Western Reserve

My dearest childhood friend Stephanie lives in Youngstown, Ohio. We met back when our families were stationed in Germany during middle school. She has three great kids and a full time job so we don’t get to see each other too often. She’s just a five hour drive away so Jordan and I took the long Labor Day weekend for a mini break in the Western Reserve. As per usual, I managed to squeeze in as much sewing / fashion related stuff as humanly possible. Since this is a long post with many, many photos, I’ll just help you along here here and let you jump to the parts that might interest you most. I was lucky enough to spend time looking at quilts and knitting at the The Canfield Fair, fabulous performance costumes at the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and checking out the amazing costume collection at the Kent State Museum.

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Sewing Machine Tractor. Of course.

When Stephanie suggested the Canfield Fair for our Friday plans I was all about it. And, not just in for the deep fried cheese curds.  The Canfield Fair is the largest County Fair in the country! I went online and saw they had quilting exhibits in addition to hand and machine knitting. There was fashion sewing too, but I didn’t grab any photos of those.

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While there were just a few items that were machine and hand knit, I was BLOWN away by the gorgeous hand and machine made quilts on display.
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After we left Youngstown, Jordan and I headed up to Cleveland for the remainder of the weekend. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was top of our list.

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As per usual, I beelined for the costume display.

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Oh, Queen Bey. Why did I recognize every single one of the seven costumes on display?

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Also, I totally want to be a Supreme.

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On Sunday, we drove an hour outside of Cleveland to Kent State University so I could see a few of the current exhibitions from their museum’s costume collection.

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Closing this weekend in the incredible Flapper Style: 1920s Fashion. Holy beaded beauty. Flapper Style is a wonderful collection of period pieces. The 40 pieces (mostly dresses and hats) are grouped by themes of Romanticism, Art Deco, Exoticism and Abstraction. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Following the incredible Flapper Style, I went to view the Fashion Timeline exhibit which does a remarkable job of tying fashion to current events. From the advent of fabric production to the invention and adoption of the sewing machine, fashion is tied together.

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They started with the mid 1700s and wrapped up with the mid 1960s (You can see the interactive timeline here). As I’ve noted before, I have very mixed emotions when it comes to vintage clothes. For me, it’s important to not look at the amazing fashion of the past and idealize what were generally crappy times for people of color and women. I love fashion and costumes and can deeply appreciate the clothes for what they are. But, it’s odd to stand around and admire an antebellum dress that was afforded on the backs of  slave labor (says the girl who holds Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird up as her favorite books of all time). Or, love the  details in a dress from the 50s and 60s and not think about the massive violation of civil rights in America.  That said, the exhibit does a good job of noting the part of  our history that made fashion possible, like the invention of the cotton gin.  Or, acknowledging that women in the work place influenced and changed style very quickly.

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Here are a few of the pieces from the collection that really spoke to me.

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The final exhibition I saw was Fashion Designs of Southern Africa. While I was originally most excited about this new exhibit, I was underwhelmed in person. Perhaps it’s because I’m admittedly not familiar with designers from Southern Africa.But, I found the selections underwhelming with not enough context.

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So, that wraps up all the ways I turned our mini break into my fashion tour of the Western Reserve :-). If you can make it to Kent State I highly recommend you visit their compact but well curated costume museum. And, if you’re at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, give yourself plenty of time. I could have spent hours and hours in there. We also did a bunch of other touristy stuff including walking and biking tours that I very much enjoyed. I can tell you for sure though, Cleveland absolutely rocks!

Posted in sewing

Athletic Wear: Jalie 3462, Cora Leggings

You guys.

You guys.

I made leggings that did not require a full seat, full/forward/muscular/fat thigh nor a sway back adjustment.

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Don’t adjust your phone screen. What I speak is the truth. Because, the Jalie Cora Leggings are the MOTHER LOVING BUSINESS. Or magic. But, probably just really well drafted if we’re being honest. Yet, still a strong possibility of magic.

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When it comes to workout clothes, I’m a big fan of leggings. As my thighs have touched since birth, shorts give me continual chub rub and I don’t like to chafe. Leggings are my friend. I made three pairs of these and I LOVE them. They are stylish and comfotable and I felt totally hawt and fit!

Now, one bit of advice I would give should you choose to make these.  Listen is to your inner voice and DO NOT put the lightest color as the inner thigh contrast. Holy stare at my butt Batman!

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Eggplant, grey, teal with an eyeful of me.

After making this mistake with my first pair, I was far more judicious in my color choices with my  second and third pair – making sure to put the darker color at the center. Most of the fabric is from Suzie Spandex in Montréal – which I bought in purple, grey, black, red and blue during PR Weekend there like six years ago. What’s funny is the Jalie women were on that trip and raved about the Suziplex. The accent colors of baby blue and mint green are Supplex from Stretch House, purchased about six years ago in NY

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Black, grey, baby blue w. reflective tape

On my second pair, I added stretchy sew-in reflective tape to the calf and pocket seams (above).  Speaking of the pocket… Do you see my iPod bulging a bit at the back below my waist? It’s a crazy great pocket. It fits my huge android phone, keys and ID too.

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Chocolate brown and mint green

Of the many many yards of athletic fabric I’ve bought including Under Armor, Nike, and general supplex this Suziplex is the best stuff I’ve ever used. And, it’s sadly no longer being made. Melissa from FehrTrade tipped me off that they weren’t selling it anymore last year and I called and placed an obscene order – tariffs and international shipping be dammed! This of course left me with some odd colors (brown, teal, burgundy, and violet). But, I do not care. I will hoard these until they are sold for a $1 a yard at my estate sale.

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I sewed a size X at the waist grading to a Z at the thigh based on my measurements. That’s it. No alterations. No special tricks. No sizing down. No topstitching the seams. I sewed this mostly mostly on my serger and used my coverstitch for the hemming.  I did add some reflective tape on two pairs for some night visibility.

I do vacillate between feeling really good with how these look on my butt to feeling like they show a lot of my butt. It’s so hurrrd being a  woman.

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reflective tape

That’s it. I love them. Please pardon me while I go work out. Or walk the dog. He clearly is ready to go out.