Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Squaring Off (image heavy)

Lindsay T just did a post I've been meaning to do for a while, about making square photos for your PR reviews. When PR's gallery view switched to square photos, it took me a little while to adapt. Now I always make a square thumbnail photo for the gallery. I really appreciate it when others do the same, as it makes a review a lot more appealing if you can see the entire garment in the thumbnail view.

If you have a lovely, unlimited background it's easy to just crop your photo into a square. Unfortunately, my background is fabric draped on the rack of my canopy bed/auxiliary closet (I am in the process of shoveling out my room and took the clothes off the bed to hang in the closet and now I'm afraid I'm going to come home to find my closet rods have crumpled under the weight) and isn't as wide as I am tall, so I have to get a little more creative.

This does require a little computer savvy with your photo editing program, but really not that much and it doesn't require a hard-core program. I use a program called Picture It! that I got for free on a CD onto which I had Wal Mart develop film photos about six years ago. A google search says the program is still around, and possibly available for free download (I don't know how to figure out what sites should be trusted for downloads). It's not a fancy program at all--and my version is ancient in computer years--but it has all the basic functionality I need.

So the easiest way to get a square is just to crop your photo into one. When you're cropping, your program will tell you how wide and tall your cropped area is. Just make sure they're the same. It's a bonus if your background is an exotic foreign location, like Vietnam.

In Vietnam

If you have a great background but not quite enough of it, you can get a little fancier like I did here:


Do you notice anything about this picture? Like the double tree trunk on the left and the fence break on the right? I cropped the photo as wide as I could and then pulled that piece into a new project. Then I went back and cropped it again to get some more tree, and again for some more fence, and pasted those pieces in. I'm sure now that I've told you it's perfectly clear, but I don't think most people would even notice this without being told.

For tops, I can crop it square (I've learned to leave my face in the picture, it makes it friendlier). I like to fill in some of the space with info about the project, but it's not necessary.


But for dresses, I generally go with some kind of "scrapbook" style layout. I can't give you a tutorial because everyone's program is different, but I suspect most of them work the same.

Start by creating a new project. In my program, it's just like in MS Word or Word Perfect. Go under file and then click "new." Then resize your new project into a square (my program automatically makes it 6x4, a standard photo size). I generally use 8x8 as my size, so that the resulting image isn't giant but has plenty of resolution.

Then drag your main photo in to the project and resize it by dragging diagonally at the corners until it fills as much space as possible. If you don't feel like doing any more, you're done. Just center your photo and have it white on the sides. Who cares! I generally go a little fancier, though, just for kicks.

For a photo that's fairly wide, I'll just stick with the one image and then add text along the side, like this:


I like to include a line drawing or other image from the pattern so people can easily evaluate what they think of the pattern and my execution of it.

Here I tried to make the image a visual whole by adding in a box that matches the color of my wall before pasting in my pattern photo and adding text:


In the same vein, lately I've been doing a lot of cutting a piece of my background to fill in between two images. Here you can see there are actually four different photos that make this up: the front, the back, then an upper background in the middle, and a lower background in the middle. Had I not left a shoe on the floor in the range of the camera (oops) I wouldn't have needed to do the middle cut in two pieces.


If this is the second (or fourth...) version of a project, I like to show previous iterations to highlight the pattern's versatility:


If a pattern is interesting from more than one angle, your thumbnail can highlight that:


You can even use your thumbnail to tell a quick story:


When the square thing first started happening, I found it annoying and was a bit grumbly. But now I think it's kind of a fun challenge to come up with an interesting square composition. Also, if you're on flickr they display photos as squares, so it's great to have square thumbnails as my album covers.

I'm not sure how people feel about my scrapbook style. I can totally see how some might find it too visually cluttered when they just want to see some clothes! But I like having a quick reference photo that gives information about a project to help people decide if they're interested in the review or not.

Quick Tip: On Pattern Review, you don't have to have the same photo as your thumbnail and as the main linked photo. So you can upload a square thumbnail to show in the gallery, but link to a photo of any size or shape, which will pop up in the "click to magnify/shrink" window and when somebody goes to the review and clicks on the thumbnail it will take them to the linked photo.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Red Carpet Preening

Well, I obviously need to stock up on gowns, because there are some awards events going on!

First, the fabulous Lindsay T nominated me for the Weblog Premio Award as one of the bloggers from the younger set. Now, having just turned 34 and being unequivocally in my mid 30s rather than early 30s (which I claimed through 33) I don't know how much longer I'll be considered young. I sometimes find myself in the next demographic category up in statistics and it's always a shock. But I'll take it while I can get it.

Rules: 1. Select 6 bloggers to whom you would like to give this award; 2. Put the award on your blog and indicate who gave it to you by identifying her/his blog; 3. Paste these rules on your blog; 4. Write 6 of your most important values and 6 negative points you condemn; 5. Inform the 6 recipients by leaving a comment on their blog.

I'm going to be loose with the rules; I don't like singling people out because I'm sure to miss someone great when I do so. I like all of you. But it's interesting to think of 6 values. I'm interpreting "values" loosely. It's more like items.

Three sewing values: adjust the bust in flat pattern stage, press your seams, and clip your threads. That last one always gets me.

Three communication values: I am working on a new (to me) project at work and I am seeing some unproductive communication strategies in the group (we are spread across the world and communicate mostly by email). What people don't seem to get is that by using positive communication you get what you want. And people are happy to give it to you! I am revealing my secrets here, but this is how to respond to someone's statements: "1. Great idea. 2. I agree. 3. To get to that, let's do this." Even if number three is in BLATANT contradiction to 1 and 2 (and consequently their original statement) they will almost always agree. It's simple, really. This is more of a three step strategy than three values per se, but making people feel good while still being assertive for myself is a value for me.

Six things I abhor: when someone runs the water while brushing their teeth, littering, comments that serve no purpose other than meanness, people touching the top of my head (because I'm short), superfluous quotation marks and apostrophes, and getting up early (by which I mean before 9:30; workdays suck in that way).


Then I found out I was nominated for PR award for Best Fashion Photography. How very exciting! The whole nomination process was write-in; that people took the time to affirmatively single me out is so sweet and touching.

The category was quite a surprise. I find taking pictures a pain in the behind because I have to use a tripod and self-timer 90% of the time (unless I'm seeing Cidell, who has taken the best pictures of me--the one on the right being my favorite of all time, I think) and I am NOT naturally photogenic. In the beginning, about 90% of my photos were "wadders." Taking project photos has taught me how to look better in pictures and now up to 30% of them might be acceptable. Although my background is not very interesting (not having a yard or live photographer limits me to indoors) I do put effort into "styling" my shoots with hair, shoes(!!!), makeup, and accessories and I'm glad that people enjoy looking at the photos.


I added my Goodreads shelf to the lists on the right. There are more books on it than the widget shows; I'm not sure how it selected those to highlight since most of them aren't even books I rated that highly, but whatevs. If you're on Goodreads let's be friends. I love to read, and a few other people have their book lists on their blogs and I enjoy seeing what's on their shelves. I'm always looking for a good book to read--assuming the library has it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shirtdress with a Twist (or a Frill, as the case may be)


I was browsing through blogs and ran across a post where Rosanne of She's Sew Unusual posited BWOF 11-2007-106 as fall shirtdress. Of course! Although I loved Cidell's rendition, it just doesn't grab me at all as a fancy dress, too Corporate Cocktail and that gauzy fabric they've used for the bodice for the model looks like a cheap top from Forever 21. But as daywear it's great.

One of the fabrics in The Carol Collection is a loosely woven, lightweight wool challis in a paisley print. I think the print might be too much for a whole dress, but it adds just the right dose of color for an otherwise buttoned down look. I tried a couple of colors for the skirt, but ultimately settled on a black skirtlength with a subtle pinstripe purchased from G Street for around $4.50.

The sleeveless is not practical for Fall, and I didn't want to treat it as a jumper because I already have several jumpers. I am loving jumpers now but I don't think they have a long shelf-life. A few years from now jumpers will look juvenille and icky, as they did a few years ago, and then in another 15 or so years they'll be back in fashion. As the sands through an hourglass, so are the fashions of our lives.

Also, if I were to treat this as a jumper it would have to be a turtleneck under and I HATE turtlenecks. I'll do the occasional mock turtle, but only occasional. My neck/collarbone area is one of my best features and I like to show that area off. Plus, a turtleneck would make the neck frill look weird, and I didn't want to give up the neck frill.

Three-quarter length or long sleeves would be most practical, but I wasn't feeling it. Instead, I took a cue from the divine Ms. DVF and went for puffy elbow-length sleeves. Which will also date this garment in a couple years but I am a *little* bit a slave to fashion.

My only gripe with Burda's drafting on this is the center back seam of the skirt. It is drafted as a straight line. Seriously. Do the women in Germany not have butts at all? I built a little curve into the pattern, and had to take even more in when I sewed it. I chalked the seamline below so you could see how much I changed it from a straight seam. I also lengthened and deepened the back darts. As you can see in the shot above, this gave me a nice fit in the back.

Center Back Seam

Embellishment is one area where I lack. I don't have a good imagination for it. I unfairly malign it as juvenille, when in fact there is some amazingly sophisticated embellishment to be had (such as the embroidery trishapatk did on her One Fabric-Silk contest entry). So I didn't want to give up the ruffles on this pattern. I pondered how to finish the edges of my ruffles; a rolled hem would be a little difficult in wool challis but probably possible, but would it be the best use of my fabric? I experimented with running a twin needle stitch near the outer edge, thinking it would give a nice finish and the zigzag on the underside would stop fraying. It caused the fabric to curl under and just wasn't very interesting. But the frayed edges actually *were* interesting. Hmmm....

I ended up making one inch wide strips (the fabric didn't tear on the crossgrain but did tear on grain, so I got really accurate cuts), putting in a narrow zigzag 1/4 inch from the edges, fraying, gathering, and hand stitching at the neck and sleeve bands. I really love the way it ended up looking. I had a hard time photographing it, but I think the below illustrates the kind of feathery effect I got. I'm going to keep this in mind for other fabrics that can be raveled, especially as I work with more wools from The Carol Collection

Trim Detail

The only downside to this project is that it does not quite suit my well-ripened pear body type. I shortened and narrowed the front darts to try to give more room across the tummy, but it is just unpleasantly bulgy there. Wearing a belt helps camouflage the tummy problem but I still feel a little self conscious, and even without the tummy problem my hips are just enormous in this. I don't mind the hips so much as they are a more "acceptable" womanly curve than a tummy, but there is nothing hourglass about my body; I'm a straight up Erlenmeyer Flask (see right). All photos from this project are here, and there are more details in the pattern review.

Seeing this project, I think I might have to give up on making Simplicity 3673 (the slim cut version at least, and I'm not really drawn to the full skirt version). And it's not looking good for the super awesome petite jumper BWOF 09-2008-114 either. Bummer. I got simple princess-seamed A line Simplicity 2868 as a possible replacement, or Simplicity 2866 with a square neck and small neck pleats. I don't like either of them nearly as much as 3673, but better to end up with a garment I feel pretty in than one I feel like a giant walking tummy in and never quite get around to wearing. We'll see. Simplicity 3673's bodice hits right below the bust (while this is several inches lower) so maybe the darts open up enough by the time they get to the tummy. I'm probably deluding myself, though.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sleeve Drafting

Occasionally I find myself with a great pattern for Fall...that doesn't have sleeves. Everything else about the style lines says Fall but they've tried to market it for Spring. Luckily, unlike in a store, I have the power to change even the seasons of the year. That's power!

Often I will just substitute a sleeve from a similar pattern from the same line. I assume that pattern companies don't vary the shape of their armscye much from pattern to pattern, just drafting it straight from the block. However, if there's a chance the armscye has been customized or where I want a perfectly fit or a specialty sleeve, I will draft my own. I ran across this issue in two recent projects.

The first was Simplicity 4539. This now out-of-print pattern has a great cowl neck. While I like the first (sleeveless) version I made of it--one of the UFOs that resulted from my Great Craft Room Cleanup, a cowl neck is really more evocative of fall than spring. One view on the pattern (not the cowl version) does have some bitty cap sleeves that only go in half the armscye, but no sleeve that can be extrapolated to a longer length. I wanted a fitted regular sleeve with no puff in the sleevecap, so I decided to draft rather than copy for this one.

Drafting a sleeve was a little complicated by the fact that during the long dormancy period of this UFO I lost the back piece, so I had to draft that from the front and my armscye was pretty symmetrical. Kathleen Fansanella, a pattern-maker in industry, has very strong opinions about sleevecaps and their ease and shape and I kept that in the back of my mind. She says that (1) in industry, sleevecaps are drafted with almost no ease, and (2) the front and back of a sleeve cap should be different shapes. The ease that we contend with (especially in the Big 4) is to compensate for poorly drafted symmetric sleevecaps and armscyes, she concludes, not necessary for comfort or wearability. Very interesting.

My first step was to sew the shoulder seam and then trace the armscye:

Trace Armscye

As you can see, I also made a dotted line across the lower edge of the armscye. When I draft my own sleeves I end up with a much more rounded sleevecap shape and I sometimes have a hard time figuring out where the sleeve seam ends and the sleevecap begins. I will often cut notches at the ends to make it easy when I'm sewing. I'm a big fan of adding notches where necessary (I ALWAYS cut one at the center top of the sleevecap to match up with the shoulder seam).

Here is my completed and cut pattern:

Add Sleevecap Ease

As you can see, I added a sleevecap of about 1 inch (the blank area above it is seam allowance, which I just added in cutting as I do with traced BWOFs). My pattern is assymetric, but actually in the opposite way Kathleen illustrates on her blog. I have a forward shoulder and when I bother to correct for it (usually only in sleeveless wovens) I have to take about an inch out of the back armscye to prevent gaping. So for me, having extra fabric in the back would not be attractive; I actually need more fabric in front to accommodate my bad posture (you can bet I just sat up straight in my chair writing that sentence!). Well, that's not true. I don't need more fabric in front, just a normal amount, with a lesser amount in back.

As this was a knit, I didn't add any ease along the width of it. The sleeve went in very easily and fits well, including in the back where I don't see any gaping at the lower back armscye.


I'll definitely be making at least one more of these for Fall/Winter, maybe more if I can make them different enough that I won't get bored (already have an idea for a sweater knit...). All the pictures of this pattern are here.

Next pattern was BWOF 11-2007-106. Cidell made this one as a cocktail dress last year and wore it when she met Christian Siriano of Project Runway fame. I'll do a whole post about this dress later, but now suffice it to say I wanted sleeves, big puffy ones.

At first I was a little stumped. I've drafted puffy sleeves before, but my method was to trace it, then cut it into several pieces, then tape the pieces to a new sheet a couple inches from one another. I find it hard to line everything up correctly so I was trying to think of a new way to do it. My brilliant idea? Pleating the tissue paper before tracing the armscye!

Trace Armscye

It's a little silly but it works. To figure out how much puff to add I measured the sleeve and armscye of BWOF 01-2008-108, the yoke front blouse (review here and blog here). The sleeve is about six inches wider than the armscye, so I pleated six inches out of the tissue paper, then traced the armscye. This is where BWOF's lack of seam allowances make things easier, because I just had to join the traced shoulders and front and back and I knew the armscye was the right shape.

Next, I unpleated the tissue paper and added a 1 inch sleeve head to my armscye tracing.

Draft Sleeve Head

The final pattern piece again has a very round sleevecap.

Finished Sleeve Pattern

I think next time I will scoop a little out of the sides to resemble a commercial pattern sleevecap more because I had a little trouble at the bottom of the armscye getting the sleeve and armscye to fit together, but it turned out well, exactly what I was looking for:


All the pics of that project are here, more blogging and review to come.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Look 6394 Maxi Dress


This is an oldie but goodie. I made the first version over 13 years ago for my 21st birthday and wore it at my college graduation as well. Around the same time I made a short casual version out of a rayon that I've worn as a beach cover up and occasionally a dress off and on over the years. I hadn't made it since, but had better sense than to get rid of the pattern.

Then Cidell went off on a maxi dress tangent. I resisted for a long time, pleading height issues, or perhaps lack thereof issues. But eventually, she wore me down, and this seemed like the right pattern.

I've learned a lot since the first time I made it, and a lot of what I've learned is how to treat my small bust. So I gave the front bodice pattern an SBA:

Front Alterations

OK, fine, I have to admit that I didn't narrow the dart on the pattern piece until after I made the dress and the dart pokes out way too far. It's lost in my big print, but it's definitely pokes out way beyond my bust. Lesson learned. It's funny because I've been working on a post about SBA and I couldn't find a photographic example of a bodice pattern with a narrowed bust dart because I haven't sewn anything with a bust dart in several years. I just find them impossible to work with my bust. So I can excuse myself for forgetting that step.

As you can see, I shortened it below the armscye, tapering smaller at the CF point where the left and right bodice meet up so as not to lower the V. Then I shortened it at the shoulder (because with a smaller bust there is less distance between ribcage and shoulder), taking a wedge-shaped tuck that is deeper tuck at CF (about 1.25") to reduce that distance more and smaller (about 1/2") at the armscye.

The shortening at armscye was because I thought the bodice too long overall; I also shortened the back about an inch. I think it could stand to be shorter still, but it's not grotesque.

I loved this fabric when I saw it on the $2.97/yd table at G Street. Something about the big painterly lines and the little touches of yellow just made it perfect. It turned out to have a weird sort of coating on it; it was hard to sew and the needle left a trail of little puncture lines behind it. I suspect it was some sort of home dec or something.

When I was cutting, I was in a bit of dilemma about the print for the bodice pieces. I actually cut two more after I posted the two choices presented, but ultimately I went with the second one from that post. I'm thrilled with my choice, actually, and I love the way one side is black-with-white and the other is white-with-black, and it sort of matches with the way the print is positioned on the skirt as well. I had intended to put in side seam pockets, but I forgot and anyway I put the zipper down the left side (I hate back zips and avoid them whenever possible). The dress really needed pockets, so I cut them to sort of balance/echo the print placement on the bodice and I like them.

My tip for this dress is about the lining. When I went on my "I'm getting rid of my car!" trip to Ikea, I picked up some $1.99 Knoppa twin-sized sheets. They are a poly-cotton blend with an almost waffley/gauzy texture. While I don't think they would be great to sleep on (they don't list the thread count on the package...), they are EXCELLENT for lining/underlining. The waffle texture is very breathable and kind of makes it "stick" to the fashion fabric, while the poly in the blend keeps them from wrinkling. They're not entirely opaque, but two translucent fabrics here made a solid. And $1.99? After spending $5/yd on cotton batiste last time I was at Chic in NYC, I decided I needed to be a little more circumspect with it. For some projects, only the best batiste will do. But for other things, like this project, the $1.99 sheet is actually better. Now I have to figure out how to get back to Ikea somehow.

I feel like Angelina Jolie--minus the boobs, babies, and Brad Pitt--when I wear this dress. I've worn it twice and both times was complimented on the street (unlike its poor earlier "ugly dress" sister).

All photos are here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Aquatica Wardrobe Plan

The Carol Collection is too much fun to play with. I'm having a blast putting things together and dreaming. Here's part of my dreaming:

Aquatica Wardrobe Plan

Same caveat as with the other wardrobe plan--there's no guarantee this will actually get *made*...at least not on a timely basis. I am actually still plugging away on the larger red and navy wardrobe of which my Paris capsule was just a part; I finished a blouse and skirt last weekend. I don't know that any more of it will get made this year, though, as it's a Spring/Summer wardrobe and for once I'm actually excited about Fall/Winter sewing. Despite my inclination to a leisurely pace involving more dreaming than sewing, I have a conference in October and this capsule would be nice to pack. I'm not following any particular rules here re: number of tops/bottoms/accessories/reversibles/matches/mismatches/etc. It's short on tops--only one--but I have RTW and previously made pieces in my closet that will serve for tops, such as a nice gray V neck sweater rib.

It's built around the plaid in teal and deep green. I just loved the 102 jacket from September's BWOF. I'm not sure I have enough fabric to make it, and if not the whole plan kind of falls apart. I'm hoping I will, if I cut what is supposed to be a self-facing out of the plain teal wool and perhaps crop it a teeny bit more. With my limited fabric, there will be no effort made to match the plaid on the sleeves to anything. This is the downside of BWOF--if it was a Big 4 it would take me twenty minutes to figure out if I have enough fabric. With BWOF, I have to trace out the pattern before I can even start to consider the possibilities, and tracing is enough not-fun that I'm not in a hurry to do it and find out that I actually can't make the jacket and have traced it for nothing.

The most traditional suit element will be the skirt in teal wool, also from this month's BWOF, 09-2008-119. At first I thought I would make the pleat inset out of the plaid, but then I thought that a button-on decorative band in the plaid (using the buttons from Karen!) would be more versatile, allowing the skirt to stand on its own.

You may recall that in my original professional wardrobe plan I had allocated some gray pinstriped wool to the Simplicity 3673 jumper, but sort of lamented that I wanted to use it for a high-waisted pencil skirt with detachable belt. Carol to the rescue! I love the green/white/black wool for the jumper. It kind of reminds me of Junior Mints. And now my gray wool is freed up for the skirt, sometime in the far distant future.

The green (with a slight tinge of yellow--it's the perfect color for me) is a heavy knit. Little Hunting Creek suggested that I turn a knit I recently purchased into BWOF 05-2008-125. The pattern was designed for wovens and I hadn't thought of using a knit. The fabric I had wasn't suitable, but I'm wondering if this is. The thing is, it will need sleeves--I just can't get behind sleeveless for Fall, because I'm always chilly. And I really want also to eke out the skirt from Simplicity 4074 (I've made it once and it's really nice). So again, not sure if there's enough fabric, will have to trace out the pattern to find out, bleah. It may end up being a more simple dress that takes up less fabric; I don't have anything specific in mind.

The dark turquoise is a linen or linen blend. I'm hoping it's not too heavy for BWOF 05-2008-108. I love the color. It doesn't correspond to a particular color in the plaid, but they are in the same color families and look good together.

The shirting will be...a shirt. While I have warmed up to short sleeved blouses, I am not feeling the love for long-sleeved ones. Well, in this case it will have to be 3/4 sleeve--I am not fashiony cool enough to wear a jacket with short sleeves and a shirt with long sleeves sticking out. Though now that I think about it I could be interested in 3/4 sleeves with a turn-up cuff, and turn the cuff up over the bottom of the jacket sleeve. I wouldn't hate that. Suggestions welcome.

Dream on....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Birthday Dress: Behind the Scenes

I still have a giant backlog of reviews. It's hard to choose what to do next, so I think I'll alternate between recent projects and past projects. The most recent and photographed project is my birthday dress, so let's get to it!

BWOF 05-2008-127 came in sizes 34-42. I decided to make mine a little roomy so that I could wear it for years. In retrospect, I think I went a little too roomy, but I do not have the model's figure and would never look like her in the dress anyway, so whatevs.

I cut a 36 for the bodice and midriff (though I added about half an inch to the midriff in cutting just to be safe) and just cut a circle skirt to fit the midriff rather than deal with the pattern pieces for the skirt. I really don't understand why Burda gives a pattern for a circle skirt. They're not shy about having you measure and cut your own facings and bindings and such.

A BWOF 36 requires an SBA for me, so I reduced the width of the gathered area and shortened the bodice a bit. I should have shortened it a great deal more; on the model it is right under the bust and on me it's about halfway down my ribcage. But, I think the look stands on it own, even if it doesn't look like the intended design. The front bodice was a little gapey when sewn on, so I further reduced the length of the center front by pulling the center edges of the bodice down into the seam between bodice and midriff; you can see the little points sticking out to gauge how much.

For the back, I took a wedge out at the lower armscye radiating out to the top of the zipper stop at center back (you can see I have marked that with a notch, to make it easy to find when sewing), taking more out at the armscye and less at CB.

The pattern calls for batiste, though really their version looks like chiffon or some sort of semi-sheer silk or synthetic. In my sturdier cotton, the pattern for the wide tie looked way, way too wide. I cut it about half as wide as the pattern. The scarf is easy to attach as long as you mark well.

Tie Preparation

You sew all the way from the ends to the shoulder marking, leave open to attach to the shoulders, and sew across the front neck. Then turn it right side out, pin and sew the opened bits to the shoulders, turn under and hand sew the inner allowance to the seam allowance inside the shoulder and voila.

BWOF wanted you to take the easy way out with the midriff lining, treating the midriff and lining as one when sewing to the skirt. I really don't understand why you wouldn't go ahead and put in a little extra effort to get the inside to look nice! I had followed their instructions to sew the midriff to midriff lining, sandwiching the front and back in between, but then it turned out that I wouldn't be able to turn the lining under to slipstitch to the zipper tape for a clean finish inside, so I ripped out a couple of inches and sewed back bodice lining to midriff lining and fashion to fashion. Then I sewed the zip only to the fashion layer and hand-sewed the lining down on the inside, for a nice tidy finish.

I didn't line the skirt, figuring I could wear a half-slip if it really needed it.

All the construction and completed photos are here.

My Cup Runneth Over

Just when I thought the birthday excitement had subsided (I still haven't posted my wonderful gift to myself) I got a package in the mail yesterday from Karen! She sent me a beautiful soft border print that is totally my colors *and* some antique buttons. Antique buttons? Karen, you know me too well. It will be hard to snip them off that package but Karen has been trying to teach me not to get trapped in Too Good to Use.

From Karen

I love both of them! A big thank you to Karen! I'm going to need to find some patterns for border prints, as I have several. I wonder how this fabric would look as a shirtdress? Hmmmm.....

Monday, September 1, 2008

Midriff Dilemma

I am working on McCall 5382 and having a dilemma. I am using a gorgeous silk brocade I got from Fabric Mart last year (long sold out, I'm afraid). One of brocade's great features is that it looks good from the front and the back. I'm using the yellow-with-white side for the dress because I'm wearing it to a couple of weddings (must remember to drink white instead of my usual red) and I don't want to commit the faux pas of wearing anything remotely resembling a white dress to a wedding. But, I want to play with the brocade. The inner side of the front bodice "wings" is in the white-with-yellow, but that won't really show. I am trying to decide whether to make the midriff white-with-yellow or stick with the yellow-with-white of the rest of the dress. I think I'll probably end up all yellow, despite my natural instinct to do contrast. (Yes, you may go ahead and be shocked that I am choosing classy over fun.)

Midriff Dilemma

I considered making a reversible shrug, one side yellow-with-white and the other white-with-yellow and wearing the white side out, but now I think I want to use the fabric for a skirt. I won't get much wear out of shrug in this fabric, but of course the skirt would be very fancy and perhaps I wouldn't wear it much either. Or maybe I could find some kind of top pattern. I'd be more likely to wear a top because I am bound to sit in something in a skirt but a top is easier to protect. At any rate, either would have more of a fighting chance of being worn more than twice (the number of weddings I have this month) than a shrug. I was given a silk scarf in Vietnam that will work as a wrap for the ceremonies.

The Carol Collection

Well, as Cidell has already shared, we had an amazing adventure on Saturday. Carol, the mother of Chelle of Necessary Chocolate, has decided to go quilting full time and was ready to purge her fashion fabric stash. Let's start with the proposition that now that this gorgeous fabric has made it into my hot little hands it will have to pried from my cold dead fingers so Carol's generosity (and Chelle's in resisting the temptation to take it herself) is quite amazing, inspired, and...well...generous. Wow.

We drove through some lovely farm country to Carol's even lovelier home, and then stepped into the mecca of her sewing room and *then* into the nirvana of her stash closet (enough mixed metaphors in there for you?). Her sewing room is gorgeous, with room for two cutting tables, a big table for the machine with knee lift so it can be free arm or table-set, and two sunny windows. And the closet. The closet! Chelle had given us some preview photos but wow, the closet was amazing. So organized! The fabric was beautifully laid out and organized by fiber and color. Though some pieces were over 20 years old, they had been kept in pristine condition. Certainly something to aspire to. Carol had some nice stories to tell us about some of the pieces.

Because the fabric had been set out all neatly in the closet it looked like way less than it was. Oh my goodness. We could barely get all the fabric into the car. This is a glimpse of Carol's sewing room, with me grinning like crazy surrounded by gorgeous fabric.

We got back to DC and I laid all my fabric out. You can bet that I considered doing a Scrooge McDuck through all this fabric. It was only Cidell's presence that restrained me. But seriously, this is major sewist pr0n. Do you see all the gorgeous colors? And textures? And scrumptious wools and fabulous silks? It's amazing.

Here is the debut of The Carol Collection.

The Carol Collection

I love that we have a lot of the same taste in colors, especially for teal/aqua/turquoise/blue-green/green-blue and all variations thereof. I am having a blast coming up with mini-wardrobe capsules. The possibilities are just amazing. In fact, I realized later a few fabrics are missing (yes, there are a couple more!!!!) because I had pulled them out to play with.

You can take your own Scrooge McDuck virtual dive through The Carol Collection. Just be sure to empty your pockets before you leave the vault! I'll be checking!


You would think with all this fabric I'd never need to buy any again. But, um, I neeeeed shirtings now. I need them. I can't wear all that wool with jersey tops! So I stopped by G Street to take advantage of their 25% off sale for Labor Day to stock up on zippers and thread and found a few shirtings on the $2.97 table. Only seven yards. No big. *cough*