Saturday, July 18, 2009

This is What I Wear

I engaged a week of what Trena calls "stunt dressing". I wore the same skirt every day to see if anyone would notice. I mean, of course, I wore a skirt made from the exact same pattern every day this week. Here they are, left to right, Monday through Friday:
These were all made with the tried-and-true McCall's 2029 A line skirt, version B which is above the knee: I made each of them with a wonderful Hoffman fabric from that is 55% cotton and 45% rayon. Monday was southwestern chili pepper day:
Tuesday was tropical drinks day:

Wednesday was surf boards day:

Thursday was vacation/holiday:

And Friday was even more surf boards:

As expected, no one noticed. Although three different folks did say during the week, "You made that skirt, right?" I think everyone knows me so well, they wouldn't be surprised by anything I wore to work. Once you have seen the Crab Dress, you have seen it all.
Parting Shot: My friend Aimee and me. I'm wearing Wednesday's surf board skirt!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This Is How I Sew

Yesterday I gave the program at my monthly sewing guild meeting - we are the Fashion Focus Group for anyone interested in the Richmond, Virginia area - and my mission to was impart how I use just a few patterns to achieve different looks for my dresses. I'd like to say I do this because I love the challenge, the creativity involved, etc., but I really sew this way because:

I. Simply. Do. Not. Have. The. Time.

That is the truth. Between work and the MS, my time and energy are in short supply.

Clearly, the most time consuming part of sewing is fitting. And a good fit is what makes a garment look good on you. So my philosophy is that once you get a good fit, work that pattern to death. You can achieve great results with minimal effort.

So yesterday I was able to show how I got 14 garments from just two dress patterns and two skirt patterns. Here are the two dress patterns, Simplicity 9559 and McCall's 4919: The Simplicity pattern was the very first dress pattern I ever used. I got lucky; for some reason the bodice of this dress just fit me perfectly. It is out of print these days, but it has several views, which includes a v-neck bodice, a sweetheart neckline, and a sundress. The McCall's pattern is simply a sheath dress pattern, with a seam at the waist and a straight skirt with a vent in the back. I believe it is still in print.

My two skirt patterns are McCall's 2029 and Butterick 4515:
The McCall's pattern is an A-line skirt with a waist band, with two darts in front and two darts in back. The Butterick pattern is a dress pattern, but I only use it for the circle skirt.
Because the Simplicity 9559 fit me so well, I have made every view many, many times. Here are three examples of the v-neck bodice, the sweetheart bodice, and the sundress, all in cotton:
You will have to trust me that these look good on - ideally I would have had photos of me wearing them, but alas, no photographer was available today. The next photo is of the McCall's 2029 skirt pattern which I have made up in various fabrics:The green plaid is a wool tartan I bought in Edinburgh at a weaver's shop right next to Edinburgh castle. I bought it off the remenant table, which is probably the only reason I was brave enough to cut in to it. I lined it in silk. The red skirt is a cotton/rayon fabric that I love to wear in the summer. And the pink sundress is a morphed hybrid: it is the sundress bodice of the Simplicity 9559 dress and the McCall's 2029 skirt. It has poodles on it:

I couldn't believe my luck when the front and back darts of the skirt matched up perfectly with the darts of the bodice. Clearly, it was Meant To Be.
Next are all my versions of the McCall's 4919 sheath dress:
On the far left is a cotton version done in a Kaffe Fassette fabric, the red is a red wool I got from, and the silver on the left is a duipioni silk I made for a Christmas party (which I wear with a sash). The grey wool skirt in the middle is one I made just using the skirt portion of the pattern. I've photographed the back of it, so you can see that I just added a waistband, and I lined it in a bright silk fabric that VickiW gave me. I wear this dress constantly, especially in the winter in wool, with a sweater or jacket. I feel very Jackie-O in it.
Next are more morphed dresses. All of these dresses are made using the circular skirt pattern from the Butterick 4512:

On the far left is an Italian worsted wool version that I love. The wool is a brown check with light blue, and I usually wear it with a light blue sweater and brown mary jane pumps. I made it with the v-neck verison of the Simplicity 9559 pattern. The bright pink is a duipioni silk with the sheath dress bodice. The pale yellow dress is the same as the brown check wool, but of course, it uses two different fabrics, and I drafted a collar for the yellow version.
And of course, the latest incarnation is the silk jacquard dress I recently posted about. It was made with the circle skirt, and the sweetheart bodice of Simplicity 9559:

So this is how I roll. Some would call it lazy sewing; I just call it smart sewing. I never do muslins; I just keep making the same dress over and over in different variations on a theme. Muslins bore me, and have I mentioned that time is always of the essence?
I do, however, make other patterns. I have a particular love of vintage patterns, and I have ventured into dress patterns that actually have sleeves. But the above examples are what I make when I don't have a lot of time or energy, and I want to know that what I am making will work. These are the tried and true pattern friends.
Hmm. Now I'm thinking something needs to be made in a rayon batik. I'll have to think about that some more and get back to you . . .

Parting Shot: I got a pedicure this weekend! Which always feels decadent:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

An Etsy Purchase

I've bought patterns off Etsy before - that is where the Crab Dress pattern came from - but I have never purchased anything handmade. This week I decided to splurge and get a summer purse, especially after I realized that the one I was carrying around was given to me by a friend in 2003. I'm just not a purse person. A purse is something to carry your stuff in, not a fashion statement. As a result, a purse is one of those things I welcome as a gift since my picks are never all that inspired. But I saw this one on Etsy: I believe the fabrics are "Swanky" from Chez Moi of Moda, and the handbag was made by Lisa from simplestitches101. Here is a shot of the inside which is yellow (yum!) and has pockets around the sides:

She also included a checkbook cover, a credit card wallet, and a wristlet key chain:

Lisa also had for sale some "reader" glasses (also known as "cheater" glasses) that she had funkied-up by painting pink and white dots on them. Sold!

My glasses in my new purse:

I'm really pleased with this; it only took 3 days to get my new glasses and purse, and they will both be put to use tomorrow!
No sewing done today; I did attend my monthly sewing guild meeting where I gave the program on using just a few patterns to create many different looks. I'll post about that soon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

God is Good

Lately, life has seemed somewhat dry and barren - frustration has set in, between the economy, the unrelenting Michael Jackson non-news coverage, and the endless strife in the Middle East. Plus, work has pretty much sucked, too, and that is where I spend most of my time. So, I have spent the last few days saying to friends, "Tell me some good news."

No one seems to have any.

And then tonight I saw a friend. Two months ago he was suffering - physically, emotionally, and spiritually as a result of his addiction to alcohol. I wasn't just worried about him, I was praying for his life.

Tonight he came by and gave me the good news I've been asking everyone else for. He is better. Immensely better. Better than he has been in years. All of a sudden, the work problems didn't matter any more, and the price of gas just wasn't important. He was lost, and now has been found. I am profoundly grateful. God is good.

Parting Shot: I took this in Puerto Rico on the cruise - a girl in the street with her bird. She clearly adored this animal.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

Happy Fourth of July weekend, everyone! I got off work on Thursday and had a craving for lemonade, real lemonade. None was to be had, so I was going to have to learn to make it myself. Fortunately, the internet is a beautiful thing - goggle "how to make lemonade" - and voila! Real lemonade. It was delicious and there is a still a quart of it in the frig for the weekend. What worked for me:

Mix 1 cup of water with 1 scant cup of sugar. Bring to a boil. Set aside.
Squeeze the juice of 6 lemons, and pour the lemon juice into the water/sugar mixture. Pour a little over 3 cups of cold water into a pitcher and add the water/sugar/lemon mixture. Pour over ice into glass. Yum!

I also did a quick project: I made a runner for a chest of drawers in my bedroom to match my new bed quilt. I used some of the leftover fabrics, piecing them with no particular plan, but I ended up with this:

I rounded the front two corners because that is how the chest of drawers is shaped. Also, I never miss an opportunity to have curved corners because I hate mitering corners. I auditioned several bowls for the proper circumference, but this is the size I went with: I also sewed the binding on completely by machine, front and back. Here is a shot of my pinning prior to the final sew down - it gives you an idea how far apart I put my pins:
(See? That extra binding I made when doing the bed quilt came in handy!) This runner ended up about 29 inches by 16 inches, so I used fusible batting, and I did straight line quilting along the length. I used the edge of the walking foot as my guide and I simply varied the width by moving the needle to different needle positions on my machine:
Another shot:
I pieced the back as well:
Here you can see the runner on the chest of drawers. Pretty good fit!

It was fun to do something that only took a day or two. I also have a bedside table I was thinking about making a runner for, but I'm afraid to overload my bedroom with these fabrics. I love them, but I'm trying not to go nuts.

Parting Shot: New quilting book. Between this book and the internet, I don't really see any reason to buy a new quilting magazine, ever.