Wednesday, May 27, 2009

BWOF 07-2008-107, Yoked Tunic Dress


This dress, BWOF 07-2008-107, hadn't really caught my eye in the magazine. The voluminous tunic is not really something in my style lexicon, I think because of my height I worry it won't suit me. But several people have made several cute versions and when I saw the one Christina made recently it pushed me over the edge. I absolutely loved her hem trim on the dress version. When I visited Anthropologie in Miami, I was really drawn to their use of embellishment and trims. I love them in theory, but rarely find a way to incorporate them into my garments. I always fear that it will be too cloyingly girly. But a lace trim on a simpler, edgier, less girly garment really works. And since I really can't figure out how to use trim on my own, I had to completely copy Christina. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

I bought the blue print fabric last July as a remnant at G Streetf for $3. It's a lovely, airy lightweight cotton woven and the print is perfect--graphic and bright but very on trend. I had thought to make it out of Simplicity 4589 with a white contrast yoke (from the G Street $2.97 table, of course), which I made several years ago, but just wasn't enthused about the pattern. Then when I saw Christina's dress, a light bulb went off and I knew it was destined to be this pattern.

The first step was to grade this down two sizes at the top, from a 38 to a 34. I haven't done that before and found it more difficult than grading down one size. Now, this would probably be remediated if I were more precise and used a ruler instead of eyeballing, but I'm pretty good at eyeballing and the final fit is good. It's good that I have this experience because there are very few pieces in the May 2009 BWOF that start at a 36 (and almost none at a 34).

I needed to fully line this garment because the blue was rather sheer and lining seemed the easiest way to finish the yoke. Christina and others observed that this doesn't really need the back zip (it pays to take almost a year to get to an issue!) but I kept the center back seam on the yoke so that I could attach the lining to the fashion fabric at the neck and armscye edges by machine with no hand sewing, as I did for the Tracy Reese Dress and, with illustrative photos, Vogue 8386.

Batiste LiningSew the shoulder seams of the fashion and lining fabrics, leaving the side seams and center back seam unsewn. Place right sides together and stitch the neck and armscyes seams. Turn right side out, and then sew the side and back seams of fashion and lining each all at once, stopping at the seam line for the dress part. Works a charm, easy, and creates a really nice finish.

Once the yoke was completed and turned, I sewed the front and back of the dress to the yoke and lining. This is why it's important to stop your side and back seams on the finished yoke at the seam line. I eliminated the back seam on the dress, so I couldn't sew the dress to the yoke before turning. Then sew the side seams of your dress and lining. As you can see, this creates a nice clean finish on the inside.

FrontI was pretty sure I wanted to use the white lace, but I pinned it on before just to make sure. I didn't want to cut the length off until I was certain I'd use it, so I just flung the long tail of the lace over my shoulder to get it out of the way. And what a lucky accident, because I saw that it looked so cute hanging off the sleeve! I really love the extended drop shoulder sleeve shape the wide lace creates. I was thrilled to have my serger for this project, because it was the perfect way to trim the lace to length and keep it from raveling.

As I presumed when I first saw the pattern, I don't think that the unbelted style really suits. It's hard for a pear to wear this shape, because it doesn't take advantage of a smaller top and does nothing to hide larger hips. Although you lose the trendy shape with a belt, I think it's a much more flattering look for me. And the belt is so perfect for it! I got it at the Target girl's department with Cidell a couple of years ago and I'm not sure I'd ever worn it before I finished this dress. This reinforcing of my pack rat, doesn't like to get rid of anything tendency is bad! But I'm glad I kept the belt around.

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Four Projects in Four Days


So on Friday I mentioned that I had a four day weekend (I work 9 hour days and get every other Friday off), and I made an ambitious plan of Four Projects in Four Days. I hadn't had an orgy of sewing in quite a while (I'm thinking all the way back in October???) and I was in the mood for a good solid stretch of tracing, cutting, sewing, and closet replenishing.

I didn't catch up on the sleep I desperately needed, but I finished my four projects, plus a "wearable" muslin (the garment is fully finished but the fabric is so grody) *and* a bonus accessory. Whew!

The photo above gives teaser details of what kept me busy. You may recognize some of the fabrics from my lists of planned projects, but some just demanded to be made even without being put in a formal project queue.

I did not, alas, engage in an orgy of photography, but I did get my friend to take a picture of me in what I wore to happy hour on Friday. More on that tomorrow.

Friday, May 22, 2009

And the Winner Is... Plus More Project Planning

Using the random number generator at, Myra is the winner of the vintage girls' patterns! Very appropriate for someone whose blog name is "Adventures in Baby Sewing."

It is already in the mail, so hopefully it gets there soon! This was fun; I will do it again eventually.


Projects 5-22-09

So in the category of thinking more than sewing, here is my latest project list. I have been keeping a pen and paper list of projects for a couple years, but I am really loving the visual representation of the project list as well. It's a little more exciting.

This is a mix of new fabric and deep stash. The red rayon print for the BWOF raglan sleeve blouse is rescued from a UFO project I finally acknowledged was a huge failure. I've had it for at least 5 years, because I know I moved it into my condo and my five year anniversary is this weekend. The denim and the orange knit are from just a few weeks ago. Everything else is somewhere in between.

Where am I going to start? Who knows. By the time I finished this composite I already had ideas for millions more projects, including the one I finished last night and a purse. Some of these projects are not necessarily planned for right away; the Butterick 5318 is more for early Spring/Fall, and (touch wood) it is FINALLY warm in DC, so I may not get to it until the end of summer. I just wanted to get it down before I forgot!


Projects 4-6-09 But what of the last plan? You might ask.

Ah yes. Well. I have actually completed three items, and have one traced and cut. I am still loving the remaining projects, except my choice of pattern for the yellow eyelet dress, on which I have been waffling for over a year. I saw a girl in an eyelet shirtdress on the street yesterday and loved the look of it. But I think an eyelet shirtdress needs a fuller skirt and I have only 2 yards. I am now on the lookout for a princess seamed sleeveless shirtdress with a notched collar. I haven't actually gone through my pattern stash or anything. Hopefully I have something suitable in there.

So, I still have plans that someday those projects will get done as well. This is a four day weekend for me and I have planned to do little other than sew (aside from some social excursions). I am hoping to get four projects done. Ambitious, I know.


I am meeting a friend for happy hour tonight at Vegetate. If you're in the DC area, you should check it out. It goes until 8 and mini (veggie) burgers are only $3.50 and they are awesome. Definitely the best veggie burgers I've ever had, and as a vegetarian for 17 years I've had many. The last time we met there she took the urban chic pictures of the Tracy Reese dress. I'm going to try to talk her into a repeat performance this evening.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vintage Pattern Giveaway and Stashaholism Confessional

Vintage Girls' Patterns

So a while back I posted about a big bag of vintage patterns from my friend Courtney's grandmother. The bag contained several darling children's patterns. Although I love sewing for Marvel, I don't see myself getting all elaborate.

So here's your chance to score some vintage girls' patterns!

The bottom three are size 10, the top two are a 14 and a 12, respectively. Here are the measurements for the sizes:

Girls' 10: 28" chest, 24" waist, 30" hip (71 cm/61 cm/76 cm)
Girls' 12: 30/25/32.5 (76 cm/63.5 cm/82.5 cm)
Girls' 14: 32/26/35 (81 cm/66 cm/90 cm)

I just love the little Chanel style jacket on the lower right. And how cute is that double-breasted cropped 3/4 sleeve jacket. And so on trend right now!

-Leave a comment Wednesday or Thursday
-You must have commented sometime within the past 6 months
-I will mail anywhere in the world
-Provide a way for me to contact you. If your profile links to your blog, I can contact you through that. Otherwise, please send your email address to trena_b at h o t m a i l dot com (indicating the name you use to leave comments so I can match email addresses to names). That is my spam email address--not a good way to contact me on a regular basis as I never check it--but I don't want my real email address to fall victim to spambots.

I need to go to the Post Office on Friday to mail my mom's birthday gift, so I'll try to do the quickest giveaway ever! On Friday morning I will randomly choose a name, email the person, and hopefully get their address in time to head to the PO with gift and patterns in hand.


G Street 5-16-09

It was Fashion Sewing Club last Saturday (changed from the usual second Saturday because of Mother's Day, which worked out well for me as I had been in Texas on the Second Saturday). I restrained myself to one piece, an off white poly lace. It is freezing cold in my office so I have to wear sweaters in the summer. Right now that means a ratty, oversized, black, ready to wear cardigan. I plan to make something a littler cuter and more summery out of this. I'm thinking a very simple "Chanel" style sweater. I use quotation marks because it will have no structure or embellishment; the only thing Chanel will be the round neckline and straight/square center front opening (as opposed to the traditional cardigan V).


I desperately need to take photographs! I have several projects finished--including the fixed white high waisted BWOF 03-2009-104 skirt--but I've been all broken out and also busy. I have a nice long 4 day weekend (!!!!!) ahead of me, about which I could not possibly be more excited, so I will work on taking pictures. Even though I will likely still be broken out. I'll have to learn how to use the touchup tool.

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Look 6639, Girl's Tee

Narrowed width of A, added ruffleSo I was cleaning out my closet recently and came across the green polka dot skirt at left, which I made for the One Pattern, Many Looks contest in 2007 from Out of Print McCall 7526. Obviously my taste has changed since then because all three versions just got the boot.

I generally give my gently used but still serviceable clothing items to the Goodwill (I'm very careful to make sure it is still a nice item; worn out, stained, etc. become rags or go in the trash). However, I am always ambivalent about donating sewn items because I fear they just throw them straight in the garbage, no matter how well made, because they are "homemade" and who wants that? And, legitimately, there is no tag with sizing information, which creates more work for them.

However when I dropped off my most recent load I walked through the store (everyone is always talking about finding patterns and fabric at their Goodwill, but I have never found such a thing). My eye was caught by a pair of RTW pants that had suffered a very slapdash swayback adjustment, with raw edges everywhere, on the rack. My sewing is better than that. So maybe there is hope for my sewn, donated garments yet.

Anyway, when it comes to things I've sewn, I'm even more selective about donating than ready-to-wear and this skirt did not make the cut. The style is not in any way "in" right now and it takes very specific tastes to wear it. Tastes that strongly coincide with being under five years of age. Hmmmm.... I think there's still life in the old girl yet. My niece, Marvel, agrees:


Do you know how hard it is to find a plain t shirt pattern for kids? It's so odd. You'd think that all the pattern companies would have a t shirt and elastic waist shorts pattern, but they don't. I finally spotted one in New Look 6639, which also has a jumper and leggings.

This project was way more complicated than it should have been. The first time I did it, I realized after it was entirely finished that I had cut the fabric--stash about two years old from the G Street $2.97/yd table leftover from a no-pattern ruffle back skirt--on the crossgrain. It's not a 4 way stretch. She wouldn't have been able to get it over her head, the sleeves would have cut off the circulation in her arms, and it would have grown toward the floor the second she put it on. So I cut off the skirt (I had serged it to the tee). The second time I made it, I had cut the fabric on grain but I had cut the tee full length and the "waistline" would have been almost to her knees and the skirt dragging on the floor. Cut the skirt off again. Cut the t-shirt off at the waist. Sew the skirt back on. Finally, success, and luckily it was the perfect length.

The pattern is perfectly serviceable. I love that it comes in a huge range of sizes, from 3-8. So you can use it for five years! It has a neckband, which is fine but the draft isn't great. It's a rectangle piece of fabric and it is drafted to be as long as the neck opening. It should, in fact, be a little shorter so that it sits flat. You can (sort of) see that it sort of pooches out at center front in this side view.

Marvel was very pleased with the dress and immediately put it on in the McDonald's playland and began dancing around. I would call it a success! She totally loves dresses. When my dad ended up in the hospital my brother and his family came to visit and when I saw Marvel she immediately started pointing out the features of her dress, such as the floral print and the bow at the waist. She is an avid follower of my sewing via my flickr account, so she knew I would understand. I can't wait until she's old enough to come do a sewing internship with me!

All photos are here and the review is here.

Trena and Fox And for more adorable kid pictures, here I am with Fox! I finally got to meet Cash and Fox, which was very exciting. Cash got a little fussy when I held him, but Fox was my buddy. I can't remember if this was taken before or after he spit up into my cleavage. Jet was too busy running around and playing to have his picture taken, but there are always new pictures of Cash and Jet (and more of Marvel and Fox) on my sister in law's flickr, like this really sweet one of all four kids.

And just for good measure, here I am with my sister's boys. We are heavy on nephews in my family. It's a good thing my one niece loves dresses!

With my nephews, 5-09

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Random Pictures, Pocket Situation, and Stash

I went to Texas over the weekend to be with my family while my dad had surgery. There were complications, but he is now home from the hospital and hopefully on the mend. While I was there, I got to see my sister and brother and their respective children, which is always fun.

My sister is a scrapbooker and obsessed with photographs. She had an album out that she had rescued from my grandparents' house after my grandfather passed away. He and my grandmother had maintained albums for all the families (my dad has six(!) older sisters) and my sister made sure to get ours. I was looking through it and found a picture of my prom dress! I mentioned in my sewing backstory, part 2 that I made my prom dress but didn't have a photo of it. Here it is!

Prom 1992

It's hard to see the details because of the way I'm standing, but you can pick out the sweetheart neckline and drop waist (and the fact that my poly satin needed a good pressing!).


Mom in her Outfit

I also got my mom to put on her outfit of the Knip Mode 04-2008-13 top and BWOF 10-2008-103 skirt so I could get a picture. Smash could not resist getting in on the action. Actually, it's just that nobody was petting her at that exact second and my mom was just standing around doing nothing (in Smash's mind) so Smash gave her a job.

Growing up I looked a lot like my dad, but as I get older I start looking like my mom--even my sister noticed this. Good thing she is cute. And she looked so good in her outfit! It was motivating to find more projects to make for her. It's difficult because she had thyroid surgery while she was pregnant with me and has a (very faint) scar at the base of her throat that she is self-conscious about, so she likes high necklines. We also share the same pear shaped figure with protruding tummy, which she is also self-conscious about. So there are very few patterns that fit her preferences and of those even fewer that fit my preferences (I want her to look cute, not frumpy!).


Pocket SituationI finished BWOF 03-2009-104 but I find myself in a pocket situation. That show through is terrible, and renders the skirt unwearable.

**edit since I've already received two suggestions re: lining** The skirt is fully lined already. I *thought* I had dealt with the problem of sewing in white by lining the skirt, but obviously not. The lining is behind the pockets, and it is not possible to pull the pocket bags through to the back of the lining; I pinned together the yoke and the front to make the front lining one piece and I just don't think that cutting a hole in the lining is going to work.

I received a suggestion on flickr to use flesh colored fabric for the pocket bag. I don't have any flesh-tone woven but I do have some knit; I can look for woven if that will help. Is this the solution? I was thinking of replacing it with white batiste, but maybe that would still show through. I'm afraid my only real option is to cut away the pocket bag about an inch beyond the line and just stitch down to the pocket opening to make it a false pocket. I'm quite annoyed about this! Suggestions welcome.


5-09 WalMart

And while I was in Texas I ended up at WalMart, my parents' favorite place to shop. I had to stop by their fabric department, since they still have one. The two fabrics on the left were $1.50/yd and will be used as knit linings. When I saw the knit print I was like, "Cute, it's kind of like Missoni." The bolt end said "Missoni knit," which I think is very dicey from an intellectual property standpoint. I don't think "Missoni" has become genericized like aspirin or elevator. However, regardless of legal issues involved in its name, I took all that was left on the bolt for $2.74/yard. I ended up with nearly 3 yards. I think I will make the Burda 7890/BWOF 11-2006-116 (Karen offered to loan me the issue) top for winter, and the rest into some sort of dress. Probably a summer one because I don't think that's enough fabric to make two long sleeved items.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vogue 1086, Tracy Reese Sundress

When I found out Tracy Reese was doing patterns for Vogue, I was very excited. But when I actually saw them, I was not so much. I love the 1092 suit but it is, if not exactly beyond my skill level, beyond my level of concentration and attention to detail. But the 1086 dress goes too far in the opposite direction--it's a cute dress, but not really anything special. Cidell argues, convincingly, that it's actually kind of great that she released a fairly easy pattern, as it allows newer sewists to sew a designer item.

However, that didn't stop me from acquiring both of them! Cidell got me the suit pattern when she chanced to visit Joann during a Vogue sale, but she wasn't able to get the dress pattern. The last time Joann had a Vogue sale it was on my list.

I checked the drawer, and drat! Only one copy of the pattern, and only in the larger size range. I was so annoyed. Here was a dress pattern that I didn't even really want *that* much and yet its unavailability made me determined to have it. (This is why I should learn how to play hard to get in dating.) So I spent about 30 minutes leafing through the entire pattern drawer, convinced that somebody must have misfiled a copy of it in my size somewhere else. I think the employees thought I was nuts (the pattern drawers are close enough to the cutting table that they could hear my steady rustling but not actually see me) and were possibly scared they had a Crazy Lady on their hands, but my obsession was rewarded when I indeed found a misfiled copy in my size.

I also found some darling cotton print fabric, and decided they were a match made in heaven. Well, heaven may or may not be missing an angel but here it is:


My biggest gripe with this pattern is that there are no finished measurements provided. Rather than rely on the unreliable sizing situation in the Big 4 (though Vogue is a misdemeanor offender compared to felonious Simplicity) I always choose the size to make based on finished garment measurements. I scoured the pattern envelope, direction sheets, and tissue, and the only finished measurement I could find was the length. Frustrating!

SBABased on the model photo, it looks like the dress is intended to have a relaxed fit at the midriff with several inches of ease, and I wanted to make sure I got that look. I cut an 8 in the bodice, a 10 at the top of the midriff transitioning to a 12, and a 12 in the skirt. I shortened the skirt about 2 inches in cutting and hemmed off another 3 inches or so. And although I couldn't tell what the finished bust measurement would be, I figured that it would be too much for me so I took a smidge of gathering width out of the bodice front. As the bodice gathers on top and bottom I took out a straight vertical piece. The final bodice looks fine; I probably could have left it as is *or* taken a little more width out and it would have looked ok either way. The relaxed fit gives some wiggle room.

As this was a designer pattern, the instructions included a lot of couture techniques; lots of french seams and such. Obvs, I totally ignored all that. Heh. The bodice construction is interesting as designed. The bodice has princess seams (which don't really show in the line drawing) and front and back yokes.

LiningOnly the yokes are intended to be faced/lined. However, my cute fabric from Joann was almost a batiste weight and fairly sheer so I lined the entire bodice. This had the advantage of making it easy to finish the neck and armscye. I cut the bodice lining of batiste and then assembled the upper bodice pieces, leaving the side seams and center front seam unsewn. Then I sewed together at the neck and the armscye, as shown at left. I trimmed the seam allowances very close using the serger. Then you reach up through the back, through the armscye tunnel, and pull it all right side out.

Original NecklineThe next step is the center front seam. As others have noted: Whoa. BWOF's low necklines have nothing on this pattern. I didn't put on a bra for the pic at right, but if I had, the neckline would have showed it. It was SO LOW. And of course I didn't realize this until *after* I had twin-needle topstitched. I had to pick it out and close up the neckline a good 1.5 inches higher.

After that, everything went together quite easily. I lined the midriff with a heavy cotton sheet because I didn't want it wrinkling, and the skirt with a cotton/poly Knoppa sheet from Ikea. I think I should have gone with batiste for the skirt, though. One of the things I like about using the Knoppa sheets for lining--aside from the fact that they cost only $1.99--is that the cotton/poly kind of "sticks" to the fabric, so there's no issue with the lining twisting around or otherwise asserting its independence. However, in this project that quality sort of weighs down the skirt, which would be better served as a little more light and airy. As per usual, I pleated rather than gathered the lining to reduce bulk.

As mentioned, I topstitched everything using a twin needle. I really don't think this shows from more than three paces, but at least I took one of the designer-y "suggestions."

zipperConcern has recently been expressed that I am losing my slapdash edge. I would like to assert my bona fides in this zipper. Ignore the fact that the midriff lines match up perfectly because I hand-basted half of it in (again, as per usual) and look at that offset at the underarm! I have no idea how that happened. And I have no intention of fixing it.

I wore this to meet up with a friend for happy hour. She does not sew but was a patient photographer, so I got some cute Urban Scenery shots. All photos are here and the review is here.


And a follow up from the last post...

The lovely Vivienne, who I got to meet at PR Weekend 2006, generously offered Amy the BWOF 07-2008 she was searching out for the 108 tunic, but if someone else is still looking check out Hot Patterns 1028, recently reviewed on PR by Off the Cuff. It's not an exact match, but has a lot of similar styling.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Questions and Answers, Swaybacks, and Stashoholism Confessional

I've had a few questions in comments lately so I'll try to provide some answers. I don't know everything by a long shot!

Holly had several questions on my post about BWOF 03-2009-102, the empire waist knit dress:

I'm new to reading sewing blogs and I'm scared. Here's why:

1. I don't know how to order BWOF;

2. My sewing machine only sews straight and zigzag stiches;

3. I keep seeing some sort of grid thing you guys use when working with patterns and I don't have one of those.

Any advice you could give me would be great, especially if you could please tell me how to get the pattern for the dress you just made.

Side1. BWOF is distributed in the United States by GLP News. It's $80 for an annual subscription, with 6 month and 3 month subscriptions available for a modest $3 premium over that rate ($43/6 mos, $23/3 mos); if you are a new sewist I might recommend one of the shorter subscriptions to see if you will enjoy sewing where you have to trace the patterns and the instructions are not always very good. I heart BWOF, but I would probably have found it discouraging in the very early stages of sewing.

This seems expensive at first blush, but it is actually an incredible bargain if you sew enough to make it worth it. It is under $7 per issue, each issue has around 40 patterns (the description says 60 but I'm not sure where they got that number), so we are talking like 17 cents per pattern. Now, in reality, I generally end up making 2-3 patterns per issue but that is still less than $3 per pattern. A very reasonable price for fashion-forward sewing delivered to your door every month! BWOF is the only magazine I subscribe to and I look forward to it every month. (This reminds me that I need to renew my subscription.)

2. A straight stitch and zig zag is all you need! I didn't get a serger until about 8 months ago and I've been sewing for over 20 years. Use your straight stitch on wovens and a slight zig zag on knits and you're good to go.

3. The grid thing is just a cardboard cutting mat, available for around $20 at Joann, Hancock, or any other fabric store as well as online. I put it over my table to protect the table and make it easier to cut. Plus, the scissors are so loud straight on the table! I do find the grid useful for measurements and use the bias markings for cutting bias strips, and recommend it as basic sewing equipment, but it's not necessary. I should do a sewing glossary post on basic sewing equipment...

4. Unfortunately, the pattern is available only in the March 2009 issue of Burda [World of Fashion]. It is an excellent issue--you can check it out here--that would be worth acquiring. You might be able to find it on eBay or Etsy. Burda also says on its archive page that past issues can be purchased in German if they are still in stock. (This means the instructions would all be in German.) You can also check (and post a want ad) on the PR Classifieds. There are several back issues on this website (I am not affiliated with it, have never used it, and cannot vouch), but unfortunately neither issue that Holly or Amy is looking for. Finally, you might contact GLP News. Occasionally people with subscriptions have had issues lost the mail (not me, touch wood) and GLP has been able to get them replacements, so I assume they have a very small stock of back issues. I hear tell of retail bookstores carrying BWOF; I've never chanced across it in any bookstores I've been to.

Amy also wanted to know about getting a back issue of BWOF:

I am sort of new to the Burda patterns. I saw one on a web site I really liked and have finally figured out it came from the BWOF magazine. Do you know where I can get a copy of the magazine or a copy of the pattern in it? It is from BWOF 07-2008 and is pattern number 108. Thanks for any help you can offer.

All my ideas are listed above. Hopefully you can find what you want!

Laura requests:

Hey, have you ever done a tutorial on sway back adjustments? If not, would you mind doing one? I've looked around and they're all different!!! But since yours works I'd love to know how you do it.

Swayback Adjustment

Basically, that's it. My swayback is directly below my natural waist (my bum is pretty high) so I go about an inch below the natural waist and fold out a wedge of about one inch at CB, tapering to nothing at the side seam. This naturally creates a curve in the center back, but you can make it more dramatic if needed (I have not found I always need extra curvature and I have a serious swayback). Where there is a dart, as pictured above, the lower apex (the nadir?) needs to be redrawn so that it is on grain with the rest of the dart.

The bummer about this alteration is that it adds a center back seam. There's no getting around it. I'd rather have the distraction of a CB seam than the distraction of fabric pooling above my sizeable rear, so I deal with it.

Lisette M asks

I love it! I love how it looks on you and your accessories are perfect with it. Is the necklace one of yours?, it is gorgeous.

Yes! I pretty much wear only jewelry that I've made. I've been so caught up in sewing the past several years, though, that I rarely make jewelry anymore except as gifts. I always bring my supplies with me when I travel because pliers are allowed on planes and I get so antsy just sitting there for hours in a cramped seat. I'm flying to Texas this weekend and will work on some new pieces. Maybe someday I'll even put something in my now empty Etsy shop. I do commission work, so if you have a particular piece in mind (or want to be surprised!) just get in touch.

And a question from Katharine in Brussels, just for kicks:

Question--are you growing your hair out? It looks a little longer.

I am just lazy!!!! When I moved to DC I went through three or four years of trying different stylists at all different price points ($30 Hair Cuttery which left me looking like a hammerhead shark with my hair right at my wide jawline and $90 fancy salons) and never finding anyone I liked. Finally I did.

There are two kinds of hairstylists. There are the ones who are perfectly made up and impeccably groomed who you want to look like, and there are the ones who have crazy insane jolie-laide (although frankly in my opinion just laide) hair who you know have vision. She was the latter. She had a buzz cut with big sideburns. I'm not kidding. And she gave me fabulous haircuts. I am a grownup professional and don't want to be too out there, but I always say, "Do NOT give me anchorwoman hair." She found the perfect balance between personality and anchorwoman. Then I went to see her a couple years ago and she said she was leaving the hair business to join the ministry. With all due respect, I needed her more than God.

So I was back to square one. I went to the Aveda Institute a few times for super cheap student cuts, but I got a mushroom head anchorwoman 'do one time and a girl who didn't know how to layer thin hair the second time and accidentally just cut it all off so I decided to get back on the salon circuit.

Thumbnail I got a recommendation to a co-worker and found Claire at Ilo. She is amazing. She gives fantastic haircuts and has a sexy voice and British accent to boot. She gave me the fabulous short haircut that I wore curly until it got too long in July of last year. She told me I'd have to come back every four weeks. Her cuts cost $90, so $110 with tip. No way was I going back every four weeks. I countered with 8. She agreed to 6. I, um, haven't been back. Yep, I haven't had a haircut since last July. I (irrationally, I hope) fear she will be mad at me when I go back so I'm procrastinating.

When I went to Claire the first time I hadn't had my hair cut in well over a year and it was long like this. I am sure she has had her share of bad experiences of people with long hair coming in *thinking* they want a really short cut and then crying and threatening to sue so she was a bit trepidatious in cutting it off. I told her it was that long due only to inertia. My hair is too thin and prone to breakage to grow long and it looks hideous that length. I always see old pictures with long hair and get all nostalgic but I have to remind myself that while it might, by some miracle of photography, look glowing and lustrous in the picture, in real life it was stringy and split practically up to the roots and frankly embarrassing to wear around all the time.

Bottom line, I am not intentionally growing my hair long and will get a haircut as soon as I find the courage to face Claire!


Here's a random link for you, the blog of 1000 Awesome Things. It's a list of everyday little things that make you happy. It has nothing to do with sewing, but it's sweet and I'm enjoying it a great deal.


G Street, 4-2-09

On Saturday afternoon I went to a party on the Red line. Since I was so close to G Street Fabrics' Rockville location and I needed a zipper I headed up to the White Flint station. Since this is not my usual G Street I felt I was totally justified in browsing the $2.97/yd table. Whether I was or was not, I found some fabrics I couldn't pass up. Since I can never pass up knit prints I got the red with huge circles and orange with swirls (I had a hard time getting them to look two different colors in the photos).

Paris, Day 4: Rodin Museum I love the huge print on the red, but the circles are in rows rather than randomly placed. For the first time ever, I am going to have to focus on circle placement in cutting. Normally I don't worry about highlighting the girls because there's nothing there to highlight, but red circles the size of dinner plates over my boobs would be too obvious even for me. I am not sure what pattern to use. I already have Vogue 8379, the DVF-ish wrap dress, in a similar fabric (though with a smaller scale print). So I don't want to do anything too similar to that. Suggestions welcome!

I am thinking Butterick 5079 (technical drawing at right) for the orange swirls. There are only a few pattern reviews of this one and nobody seems to absolutely love it, but it appeals to me that it is a semi twist dress that is not really a twist dress. And of course, there is that ruching at the midriff! My new favorite thing. I think the versions that have been made are cute. And plus, I own the pattern so I should make use of it!

The black fabric is a casual tiered-look lace with a bit of stretch. It looks like it has some cotton content; I haven't done a burn test, that's more by way of describing its level of casual. I have already made some of it into a short sundress with spaghetti straps--one of the holes in my wardrobe I recently discovered--and I'll make the rest into a casual black summer skirt. I'm not going to pretend I don't already own 5 or 6 black skirts, but none of them are casual summer skirts. So, ya know, I neeeeeeed one.