Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

New fabric, and a new resolution

It's been a good long time since I posted because it's been a good long time since I sewed, or since I knitted anything exciting enough to post about. Plus, I still want to lose weight, so I've continued to be ambivalent about sewing anything new. But I want to get back into it, and I figure if I sew as I lose weight I will always have stuff to fit me, and if it's something I sewed it ought to be something I can alter later on if I want to take it in.

The other problem now though is that I have a lot less time than I used to. I have a new job, which I love by the way, but it is full-time instead of the 80% time I worked before, and it takes greater mental energy and an earlier bedtime so I just don't have the wherewithal to come home at night and do a bunch of crafting. Especially cutting. I hate the cutting part.

But, I still have plenty of patterns, and plenty of fabric, and I went ahead and bought more from just yesterday. As you can see by the accompanying pictures.

I'm taking inspiration from another blog that I subscribe to on my feed reader, Sew Every Day. I like this blog a lot, even though it's not as flashy or tip-filled or even as frequently updated as other favorites like A Dress A Day or Stacy Sews or Gorgeous Things, all of which I also adore. Sew Every Day is nicely written in a straightforward way, and it's accessible, because she just plugs along and does something sewing-related most days, even if it's as small a task as sewing a single seam. She makes lots of good basic clothes for herself this way, which is what I want to do.

So I'm making a resolution to do something similar, and sew a little almost every day. Realistically this will probably mean more like, oh, 3 times a week most weeks, none at all for a week every once in a while, with a two to three day binge of sew sew sew sew sew every six month or so.

The plan I have for now is to keep making dresses, mostly shirt dresses and maybe one or two more duros (even though those are getting kind of played out, they're just so easy and fun and versatile!). I'm trying to make sure that every dress I make is usable for slightly warmer weather (it never gets all that hot around here, but sometimes warm) but also, more importantly, can be layered with a turtleneck and tights and boots for the much more frequent cooler weather. I find that shirt dresses and duros are good for these purposes. Although there's also a need for the in between, where I just throw a cardigan or blazer over the top, and duros are hard to put things over because of the kimono-like sleeves.

I also like the dresses to be sort of more on the casual side. Just the fact that they're dresses makes them dressy enough with the right accessories, but I like things that can look dressed down too, and I think once again duros and shirt dresses are good for this, especially if I choose the right fabric. That explains why I'm so into plaid, it can look professional enough for my job, but also casual enough to wear out to the park on Saturday or to the sports bar on Sunday.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Burda 8075

This may be my favorite thing yet to make, because it came out nicely and was very easy. Don't get me wrong, I love my duro dress, but this one didn't require me to set in sleeves. Which, I'm getting better at, but it's still a huge pain in the ass.

The first time I tried to make this pattern was a disaster. It was the project that taught me that I have an unusually short measurement from my shoulder to my bust point. Does that mean I'm short-waisted? I've been told I'm short-waisted but this measurement has nothing to do with my waist so I think it's something different. Short-busted? That just sounds strange.

Anyhow after realizing this I started cutting out my patterns differently to adjust. I cut everything for my usual size, which is hovering around 16 now (I am biting my tongue, no more self-judgement, it's not helpful!) but all the parts above the bust I cut out along the line for size 12 or 14. I leave the widths the same, using the size 16 cutting line, but anything length related, and then the neckline and collar, I cut at the smaller size line.

And it came out great!

That's Sparky in the picture with me. I wanted to pick him up for the picture but he doesn't like it much and it also would have obstructed the top of the dress. I've been wearing it, as you can see, with black leggings and red ballet flats. I also carry around a red cardigan to go over it. When it gets colder out I think I'll still wear it with a black turtleneck underneath, black tights, black boots, and my black leather jacket over it.

Monday, August 06, 2007

some finished projects

I took these photos over a month ago but am finally posting to prove that yes, I do occasionally finish and even wear dresses that I make! Here is a duro dress, and a knitted dress.
I especially like the Duro, which I usually wear now with some tan western style boots. It's proven very versatile for going from work to various after-work events, like a fundraiser we had with the Social Justice Council for a Guatamalan mission. The dress is festive and stylish enough for a cocktail reception like that, but business-like enough for the office.
The knitted dress has proven slightly less useful because it's a little bit low-cut and I can't really decide on what shoes are good to wear with it. I don't mind lowcut dresses or tops, in fact I wear them frequently, but I do have to pay more attention when I'm wearing something as plunging as this!
I haven't been sewing quite as much lately, but I'm getting very far along on a nice knitted dress with a cable down the front. It's purple, which I know a lot of people don't like, but I think it will look fab with my red hair and some black boots and denim jacket. Right now it's covered in dog hair unfortunately so I don't really want to take any WIP pictures until I can make it more presentable.
I'm working away at it furiously precisly because I am so tempted to stop. I'm terrible at finishing things before starting other things, and I have an idea for a grey cabled cardigan that I want to use to learn how to use steeks, but if I start that I will have more unfinished projects that will fit in my knitting basket and I promised myself not to do that anymore.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Body image issues and sewing

I have a confession to make. I haven't been blogging here much because I haven't been sewing much. And I haven't been sewing much because I am really unhappy with my weight right now, and it's no fun to spend a bunch of time on something that I don't look good in anyway because I feel like I don't look good in anything right now.

I hate feeling this way. Part of the reason I re-taught myself to sew as an adult was that I had gained a lot of weight several years ago and I wanted to have clothes that were cool and cute even though they were in a larger size. It's hard to find that in stores. But then I lost the weight and moved to a small studio with no room for my sewing set-up and so stopped sewing so much.

I started again more recently for reasons that had nothing to do with my weight. I just wanted to make cool stuff in general, and I like the creative process involved with deciding what to make and then putting it together. I wish that were enough for me, that it didn't also have so much to do with wanting to look a certain way myself. But I guess it's not, because I've gained back a bunch of the weight I lost and suddenly sewing and fashion in general don't have the same magic for me anymore.

So I think I've been procrastinating on sewing in general, and on posting some of my project pics here, because of how insecure I'm feeling about my body lately. I had hoped that sewing would help me work that out. Maybe it can if I can get myself motivated again. I think that the way sewing can help with body image is by giving you a more objective way of thinking about your body. Instead of looking at myself in the mirror at Mervyn's in a dress I might buy and thinking, thighs too big or belly too pudgy, sewing requires me to just objectively think hip size 41" waist 32". Just the numbers, not the judgment. And you can't fudge on those numbers, the way RTW sizing messes with our heads by having something sized as an 8 at one place and something the exact same size marked as a 12 someplace else. If my waist is a 32, I've gotta sew the dress to fit that, no matter what, because I'm not gonna be able to fit into it if I sew for the waist I wish I had instead. So, objectivity, and truth, without judgment. Well, at least until I try it on at the end.

Does that make sense?

So anyhow it's something I'm struggling with right now, hence the spotty posting and ambivalence about finishing projects. Maybe writing about it here and now will light a fire under me and get me going again in a more positive direction.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm here and I'm still sewing

I haven't posted in ages and I have no really good excuse, especially since I have been sewing and I've even taken pictures of some finished projects but just haven't had the chance to put them up!

I'm moving ever closer toward my goal of usually wearing at least one thing that I've made. Mostly because I've actually finally made some stuff that I want to wear. Still, the half-finished items are more plentiful than the finished, as are the mostly finished that aren't working out quite right and that I can't figure out how to fix.

I posted in the Sewing Pattern Review boards about my frequent problem of needing to take up the shoulders in dresses that I make and got some good suggestions about changing the patterns rather than trying to change the garment once it's put together. problem is I am lazy so I have to start by trying the easiest possible fix and then work toward the ones that are harder if the first try doesn't work. I had wanted to get started on some vintage patterns, but I don't want to try out any alterations on the vintage stuff until I figure out if they will work or not.

I picked up several new patterns on sale at the Vogue website so here are a couple of those, none of which I've actually made yet naturally. Although I did cut out 8108 with some fabric I got on my pilgrimage to Mood Fabrics, and I'm super excited to find some fabric that will work with that plaid thing.

Hopefully I will have time soon to post the pics of finished projects because I'm really really proud of them and want to show them off.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The universe wants me to make muslins

OK, I haven't posted in ages, mostly because I've been busy with other stuff, mostly work-related, and going to various meetings and events in an effort to network to get my consulting business jump-started a little bit. But also because I'm pretty frustrated with my sewing right now.

I have been sewing sewing sewing but there's always something wrong with almost everything I make. I made the Burda shirt dress, but had to take up the shoulders and then couldn't get the collar to work again, so I did it without the collar, which doesn't look as good as I wanted, but I didn't have any fabric left to recut the collar in a size that will fit. And now I've also noticed that the darts need taking in because it's too big and looks a little like a maternity dress.

I'm making Butterick 4973 in a nice olive green knit, and it is simple and will be great... if I can only get the neckline not to gape.

My striped corduroy pencil skirt rides up weirdly and has a big wrinkle across the front when I wear it. I have no idea what THAT's all about. I made it ages ago and haven't felt good about wearing it since because of this problem.

I can deal with the darts on the shirt dress, but the rest is making me crazy. The only things I've made that have really worked out for me so far are the center view of Vogue 8300 in a black denim (the facing's wonky but it's on the inside and doesn't show so it counts as ok), my easter dress
which is nice but not often wearable, and the grey knit dress I wore all around NYC. Which I guess is pretty good, that's 3 things, but I'm working on so many more that are not working out! And I'm tired of using my seam ripper all the time.

anyhow I'm just ranting now. but it's driving me nuts and causing me not to really want to post here like I had been before. I think the universe is telling me to make muslins from now on, but darn it I don't want to!!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dancing on the Bar in a dress I made myself

I haven't been posting because I was out of town. We went to NYC and guess what! I got engaged!

This is the actual dress I was wearing when he proposed, made from Vogue 8145. This is a highly embarrassing picture as I was drunk and dancing on a bar at the time, but it's the only one I have showing the whole dress so I had no choice but to use it. I live to serve.

The dress was originally 3/4 sleeved the way I made it, but it was unexpectedly hot in NYC and I realized that one of the advantages to having made the dress myself was that I could just cut the sleeves off myself if I wanted and not feel that I was messing it up somehow.

Also, it was knit jersey fabric so it won't unravel where it was cut. It is a VERY comfortable dress and I'm quite happy with it. I made it pretty much just like the directions said, except that the ties are not as wide because I folded them over and sewed them into tubes to turn inside out instead of just hemming them as the instructions suggested. And I found the way they were tied on the pattern envelope highly unflattering on me, so I just wrapped them around in a sort of empire waist instead and it changed the whole look for the better. Basically I wore the thing all weekend, with red ballet flats and a red cardigan for when it was chilly.

I also took and wore the duro dress I made but don't seem to have any pics so I'll have to get some another time to post, or see if our NYC friends took any that they can email me.

I almost didn't make it to the garment district because of the aftermath of the night this picture was taken--I was VERY hungover--but finally dragged myself over there and bought some very nice fabric which I will take pictures of and post in the next few days, along with my plans for it. This other picture is me at Mood. My mood: hungover. In other words not so good. But it was fun anyhow.

And just because, I'm also adding a picture of the engagement ring which is an antique sapphire with white gold filigree. N. proposed at Katz's Deli, which I thought was awesome. This was right after I said yes. With a chopped liver sandwich. N. had pastrami, and we both had chocolate egg creams.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Happy discovery, and breaking a vow

Last night I was going through all of my fabric to see what I can actually match up with some patterns and what I really want to make sooner rather than later. I have one basket full of fabric in the corner by the sewing machine, and two large plastic bins on top of the big bookshelf. Which by the way is an extremely un-earthquake-safe placement for them. I need to quake proof the house sometime. But not yet. Too much sewing to do.

So anyway at the very bottom of one of the un-earthquake-safe plastic bins I found a knitted purse project I had been working on a couple months back and hadn't seen since then! I'd looked, I thought, everywhere, with no luck and even started a new version of it, grumbling all the while because this one was about half done, but I didn't think to look under fabric because I keep yarn and fabric basically separate. Usually.

I remembered how it got there. I used to keep a few small knitting projects, each in its own freezer bag, under the couch for easy access until the day we left Sparky out in the house on his own with Scout to see how he would behave. He behaved by dragging out all of those knitting projects and chomping away. fortunately he didn't destroy anything I really cared about but the freezer bag for the purse project was all tattered and the yarn was all tangled and I was too annoyed to deal with any of it so I threw all the gnawed on knitting stuff into this bin, and proceeded to pile fabric on top to put all my misbehaving dog troubles out of sight and out of mind.

Anyhow here are some pics of the purse in progress. And my foot. And a doggy toy. Those components were unintentional.
I'm using some yarn I got on eBay, very cheap, and now I know why because it is super-old and kind of brittle so I have to use two strands together and break off at weak spots in the yarn and start again, hence all the ends hanging out all over the pictured finished piece.

It is just a plain basketweave sort of stitch, 8 knits, 8 purls, repeated with a single knit stitch on every row at beginning and end for selvedge. You can see the unblocked finished piece as well as the other piece in progress. I'll next knit or crochet a strip about 2 inches wide or so to single crochet both pieces to as the sides and bottom. I'm undecided about the strap. I don't want too long a handle or strap, just big enough to go snugly over my shoulder and under my arm when I'm wearing a jacket. I made some I cord to test for this, but now I'm leaning toward using some large rectangular plastic handles that I will cover with the same yarn in a sort of single crochet to make them match.

I will definitely do a lining out of whatever decent matching fabric I have on hand, and put in a magnetic snap for the closure. Hopefully I can finish it very soon to take to NYC, but I'm not sure because I have lots of sewing to do for the trip also.

I basically decided to break my vow not to buy more fabric and to go get some black denim or suiting to make a jacket out of to take on the trip, because I don't have any decent black blazers or cardigans right now. I will probably also look at some other patterns for tops, and if I see some red/black/white plaid cheap I'm getting it to make a simple little button down shirt from. Because yes, I plan to learn buttonholes tonight or tomorrow. Seriously! And, if I find suitable red and/or black cottony fabric I will make the duro dress to take also because I'm tired of waiting till it's close enough to October to use the Dia De Los Muertos fabric for it instead. I can have more than one duro dress, can't I?

As you can probably tell I'm using red black and white as a theme so that everything I make and pack will match and so that I can wear red lipstick all weekend because I want to and that's all there is to it. Does anyone else in the world plan to sew a whole wardrobe simply to match a lipstick shade? I doubt it but I don't care, I'm doing it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Getting down to the wire

As per usual, I have been procrastinating. On lots of things, but this blog concerns sewing and knitting and such so that's what I mean here. I still want to make a lot of the stuff I'm going to wear in NYC, but we leave in a week so I better get crackin'.

Again as usual I've started to doubt myself as it gets closer to time to do something. I'm no longer sure about the items I posted earlier being the ones I definitely want or need for the trip. Now I'm leaning toward some other stuff, but I think posting it all would jinx it and just make me change my mind again so I won't go into detail until I'm actually packing--or totally back from the trip--and therefore must commit.

I do still plan to take the grey jersey dress, because it's long-sleeved and I think it may be chilly in NY next week. So that's what I'm going to make tonight. Or at least get started on. It's cut and ready to go so I don't think it will take terribly long.

As for the tunic top, I tried it on on Easter and don't like it after all. It fits weird, and I don't think I can fix it. So that's out. I don't want to make another one at least yet for fear of facing the same problems. So I need to decide what to make and take instead.

The shirt dress is also cut and ready, but I don't have all the buttons I need and I think I'm putting it off simply out of my buttonhole phobia. I need to just get over it already. There are at least 4 other things I want to sew but can't until I learn buttonholes. So I guess it's time, but I can't seem to sit down and MAKE myself do it.

I know, I'm being super-obsessive about all this. It's just my nature.

This morning I went through the enormous pile of laundry N. promised to do tomorrow, and used it as an opportunity to kind of check on my wardrobe, see if there are some things I should get rid of, and some holes I need to fill. Naturally there are lots of both. I'm having trouble letting go of things that I've been keeping with the intention of altering to fit. Maybe tonight instead of making the grey jersey, or at least over the weekend, I need to spend some quality time with my box labeled "alter these" and decide what I'm just not ever going to get to, and get to the ones that I AM going to alter right away. I should just have a big alter fest, and whatever doesn't get altered over the weekend I'll get rid of.

But altering's much less fun than making! We'll see how far these good intentions get me over the next few days.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter dress

Easter dress
Originally uploaded by fishbellywhite.

Twirl, lady, twirl!

N. took this picture of me on the balcony of our friends' North Beach apartment on Easter. It's the first thing I've made that I wore out to a real event, and I got lots of compliments on it. I did a lot of twirling; I'm not used to circle skirts but it was super fun.

Sorry for the crappy picture quality. I'm still getting used to this whole camera phone thing.

this is that Butterick retro wraparound dress pattern by the way. 4970 or 4920 or something like that.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Stitching and pitching

I thought I wasn't going to post today because instead of sewing last night like I thought I was going to, I went to the baseball game. The Giants played the Padres in our second game of the season, and my friend Michele (that's her at right, telling me Happy Birthday at the game) called me right before the game to see if I wanted to go. It was her birthday gift to me! Today is my actual birthday, but we have to sing for Holy Thursday tonight so she decided to help me celebrate yesterday instead.

Anyhow the Giants lost, so that kind of sucked, but whatever, it was fun anyhow and I got garlic fries. Plus it's only the second freakin' game of the season, so geez all you so-called fans calling sports radio, enough with the whining already about how bad we are this season! I like to maintain some optimism about my teams for as long as I can, even despite evidence to the contrary. Let me live in my fluffy pink cloud world for a while, the world where the Giants win the pennant and all my knitting turns out perfect even without swatches, ok?

But the reason I'm posting anyway is because I came across this: Stitch and Pitch. It's the perfect marriage of two of my favorite things, baseball and knitting! The designated SF Stitch n' Pitch game is July 24th which is way too far ahead for me to plan for now, but I signed up for the email list so when it gets closer to time I'll probably make a point of going that night. I don't know if I'll actually enter the baseball themed needlecraft contest, because I'm usually too lazy for contests of any kind, but who knows, I may get inspired.

I knit at baseball games, either actually at the game or while watching on TV, all the time anyhow. When the Giants were in the World Series, I knitted an orange scarf while watching the games at the Hotel Utah. Unfortunately they lost, and then the next season, it seemed like they always lost when I wore the scarf so I decided in my superstitious baseball fan way that I had knitted FAILURE into the scarf and couldn't wear it to games anymore. I only wear it on the off-season now.

I started knitting a scarf last season in red for my other favorite team, the Red Sox, but I put restrictions on myself to avoid more knitting of failure. I only knitted it either while I wasn't watching a game but they were up in the rankings, or while I was watching a game and they weren't losing. Anytime I was knitting while watching a game and the other team pulled ahead I'd put the knitting down.

Unfortunately this meant I didn't ever finish that scarf. I need to start over this year. Maybe I'll do a new orange scarf for the Giants also. Last night I just worked on my current easy project which will either be a shrug if I don't run out of yarn or a short wide scarf if I do. That's a picture of it (above) I just took, on my desk. Note the dog hairs conveniently knitted straight into the design. Courtesy of Sparky. He's lucky he's this cute, otherwise I would've had to cook him for dinner after he chewed up some of my favorite knitting needles last week.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Playing catch-up

I haven't posted in several days, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, N. had surgery. Nothing really major, but he was out of commission for several days and I ended up with a lot more on my plate than usual what with running errands for food and drugs, walking the dogs, and doing various chores that he would normally have done. So I hadn't been sewing or knitting or crocheting as much as usual.

Also because it's Holy Week, and I sing in the choir at church, and this is like the busiest week all year. I had rehearsal last night, I have rehearsal and Holy Thursday mass tomorrow night, a noon service on Friday and then Good Friday mass later in the evening, a rehearsal Saturday afternoon, Easter vigil mass Saturday night, and then of course Easter mass on Sunday morning.

I plan to follow it all up by drinking margaritas and beer all day on Sunday. That's playing catch up in a way also, since I gave up drinking for Lent and plan to seriously start making up for it on Sunday. Hey, maybe I'll do some drunken sewing and take pictures of disastrous results to post here! Um, or maybe not. We'll see. And then we're going out for a nice dinner to celebrate my birthday which is actually tomorrow and which I have no time to celebrate on the actual day because of all the singing and religious stuff I have to do instead.

Fortunately a lot of the stuff we're singing is my favorite kind of music, really overwrought crunchy sorrowful dramatic Lenten stuff, like Gesualdo (who by the way is also famous for being a murderer, see the links for the juicy details), and Sanders' "Reproaches" (also notorious for being interpreted by some as anti-semitic... I see their point but disagree, or at least I don't find it any more anti-semitic than the gospels are inherently which is a whole other topic better suited to a post on a religious blog which who knows maybe I'll start someday, plus I just find the piece beautiful-sounding and great fun to sing) and Allegri's Miserere.

The third reason I haven't posted is that I'm starting to feel guilty that I never have any interesting photos of either finished projects or projects in progress. I've been procrastinating posing for pics of finished stuff because by the time I get around to it in the evening my hair looks crappy, my makeup has all come off, and I've put on my pajamas to chill out in front of the tv and don't want to change. And I am vain so I want to be in my pictures, and I want to look good!

So anyhow. I have very little to share, except that I've come up with a plan for the stuff I want to make and wear in NYC when I go.

I want to make my grey jersey dress from a Vogue pattern I ordered but haven't yet received (I will probably leave off the ribbon wrap thing on this version, but I'm not sure yet), and I'll wear that with purple tights and my black kitten heels if it is chilly out, or barelegged with my chartreuse and red slingbacks if it's warm. I don't have anything else to match those slingbacks so I'm looking forward to having a nice simple plain grey dress that I think they'll look good with.

I have my purple tunic top that is finished already, which I will wear with dark wash jeans and black kitten heels.

I want to make the black Burda shirt dress with white line drawings of flowers, and wear that with the black heels and footless black tights and white shrug that I am nearing completion on, or possibly red ballet flats and red cardigan from Thrift Town.

If it's warm I'll also take the black eyelet which is finished except for an alteration to make the waist slightly bigger, and wear that with footless tights and red ballet flats and cardigan. Oh, and I need to find a slip to go with it first, and I can't find any slips anywhere... what's up with that, doesn't anyone wear a slip anymore?

And I want to make a twist top out of some nice stretchy fabric in green and black print that I just bought, to wear with jeans and heels or with a denim pencil skirt I'd like to also make if there's time and room in the suitcase. Probably with footless tights also, we'll see. I may also take the awesome tunic shirtdress/blouse I scored at Goodwill the other day to wear either over jeans or with tights also. Have I mentioned that I love tights?

The gals at Go Fug Yourself seem to hate the footless tights look, (and granted those links go to some pretty bad examples) but for some reason I really love it at least when it's done right, which it usually isn't. For me though ot makes things slightly edgier looking or more casual looking I think. I'm sure it will soon go out of style but I think I'm going to wear the hell out of them till then. They're surprisingly practical for this in-between San Francisco weather too, they make my legs a little warmer but not too warm since they leave the ankles bare.

As I lamented earlier I have no interesting project pics ready for this post, but a post without pics of some sort seems naked, so here is an image of another vintage pattern I ordered but haven't decided what to do with yet. I kind of like how that view on the right looks like it's a sort of leopard print, so maybe I'll make something like that out of it. ooh, or zebra print, I've been coveting some zebra print lately, I thought maybe in a coat, but maybe I could carry it off in a dress if the design is simple like this one. I'll have to ponder, and see what fabric I can find on sale.

I have several more vintage patterns on the way to me from Ebay so I'm putting a moratorium on further vintage pattern purchases. Also on fabric purchases till I sew up at least the list of things I just mentioned for the NY trip.

Tonight hopefully I'll have time to finish the denim cheongsam-like dress I started on Sunday, and maybe cut out the twist top. I want to experiment with cutting more than one fabric at a time, since I have some of the purple fabric leftover from the tunic top and think that would make a nice twist top also.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The agony of indecision

I've started looking on eBay for vintage patterns, the cheap ones, which means the less popular ones, but still. And I've actually gotten a couple! I haven't decided yet what to do with these, but there is some green and brown plaid at Fabrix I've had my eye on and I think it would make a nifty vintage dress, maybe the 1950s style one. On both of these, I will probably make the skirts less full. I like the full skirt look, but it uses so much fabric, and I'm not sure it's the most flattering for me anyway.

I continue to buy and buy and buy fabric without managing to finish much of anything, but I think I don't care, at least not yet, because I have a few other things in mind. The aforementioned plaid, and some thin sort of sweatshirty material for a dress I talked about in an earlier post, and some dotted swiss of some type for some thin sheer little floaty tops I'll make just as soon as I learn how to do buttonholes. I've been procrastinating on the buttonholes. I think I'm scared. It seems weird to have a phobia of learning buttonholes. Like Billy Bob Thornton's reported phobia of antique furniture. Who could be scared of antiques? Well, I'm scared of buttonholes so now I guess I get it.

I bought a whole bunch of dark denim on sale at Discount Fabrics in the Sunset on Monday, and have been trying to decide what to do with it. I'm thinking I'd like to make a denim cheongsam. I think that would be a funky twist on a semi-casual sort of wear-out-during-the-day dress. I thought I could put red bias binding around the collar and armholes and maybe the hem. Then it would go well with my red ballet flats and my favorite red cardigan. and red lipstich natch. I love me some red lipstick. Plus if I make it up in denim it will be easier to undo and fit better if I need to so that I can practice on cheap plentiful denim instead of the rarer, more expensive brocade I've had for months waiting for me to get my courage up for the cheongsam.

Which reminds me, I'm obsessed now with bias tape ever since I used some I made myself around the edges of the Butterick retro wraparound (pictures coming, I promise, but there's something wrong with the lens on my new camera phone so none yet!). It's so easy to make it! It looks so cool! And I can use it to avoid hemming! How awesome is that? So I'm going to stay on the lookout for super-cheap fabrics that I may not use for whole garments but would be cool to make bias tape out of.

Right now I have so much unused fabric and so many uncut patterns stashed away for planned projects that I can't decide what I should do next. I've realized that most of the things I've been working on, at least as far as sewing goes, have been too summery for usual San Francisco weather so I think I need to prioritize according to some things I'll, you know, actually WEAR. Like, maybe even to work. But I do want to get a lot of things done specifically for the New York trip, and I don't really know what to expect weather-wise there, so I'm torn. It's keeping me up nights. The agony of indecision! Tonight I have too much work to do to start anything new, so I can put off the decision till Friday at least.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Scout the dog and Scout the pillow

I haven't had the time to take new pictures of my work, even though I finished the Butterick 4720 (or is it 4920? the wrap dress thing) and it looks pretty good. I'm busy now setting up blogging from my phone, and from flickr. So this is a test of blogging directly from flickr, with a picture of my dog Scout and a pillow I made representing my dog Scout. I made this quite some time ago, and it has since been ever so slightly chewed by the new dog Sparky. Maybe it was jealousy and he needs his own face on a pillow. I should work on that!

I just used scraps that I cut into the appropriate shapes, placed on the square background, and then satin stitched around on the sewing machine. Next time I go through my scraps I'll see if I have enough to make one for Sparky, and also one for my cat Owen who died around New Year's and who I really miss. I always meant to make one of his face when he was still with us, but I'll have to do it as a memorial instead.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Coming soon: More personal photos

I'm very excited because I'm getting a camera phone soon! Maybe as soon as TOMORROW!

I think I might have blogged earlier that I was getting a hand me down camera phone from a friend, and I did, but she had warned me that it was beat up and not really very good and guess what? She was right. So I started whining to N. (my BF... I'm trying to think of a catchy nickname for him but so far have drawn a blank) on a regular basis about how I really really really really want a camera phone so that I will have a camera with me at all times and can pictures of things for my blog and of questionable parking practices in the city and of weird and fabulous outfits on the street and so on and so forth.

I didn't expect to really get one, but N. has been going through all our bills to find ways to save on monthly expenses and realized that if we change cell phone providers we can shave a substantial amount on our monthly bill AND get cheap (with the rebate) new phones with cameras. Yay!

So I figure I'll take more pictures. For example yesterday I wore a skirt I made to work, but I haven't ever gotten around to modeling it for a picture but I easily could have taken a shot of the inside of the hem to demonstrate my finishing techniques or whatever at any point during the day and then downloaded it to post here. Hopefully I will have many opportunities like that as I wear more of my own creations and also as I get used to having a camera with me all the time.

Speaking of hems, I finally pressed up the hem and the sleeves on my black eyelet dress last night and started handsewing them. Hemming is the only type of finishing I know how to do pretty well, so that it looks neat on both sides. This is because even before I started sewing much from scratch I frequently had to hem things to fit my short self.

I handsew all my hems unless it specifically seems that machine stitching will add a good design element, which is pretty rare in the styles I like anyhow. First I press up about 3/8 of an inch with some stitch witchery (that sticky iron on stuff, you know) and then another 5/8 to 1 1/2 inch or whatever seems to look good to sew. I usually use either the slant hemming stitch as seen about halfway down this page of hand sewing stitches, or more often, an uneven slipstitch as illustrated slighly further down the same page. I prefer the latter because it really is almost invisible, but the former is faster for when I'm feeling lazy, and easier if the fabric is tightly woven and hard to push the needle through. Or if I put the stitch witchery too close to the first fold I pressed up, since the stitch witchery is hard to push through sometimes. In fact that's a good tip: don't put your stitch witchery right up into the fold! I'm gonna have to remember that one.

There's one little trick I use that I'm not sure where I came up with, it may be really obvious but I'll share it anyhow. Even though the stitches are very tiny they still show just a little bit on some material in the right light or from the right angle, so I want them to be very evenly spaced. So I use a pen to mark two little lines on the tip of my left thumb (I'm right handed) so that when I grasp the hem to sew I can make sure the needle comes out by one mark and goes back in at the other.

See, if I had a camera phone I could take a picture of my thumb which still has some residual ink from the marks I put on last night. Because I know everyone out there on the internets is just dying to see my sad chewed up little thumb.

On Summerset Banks's Pins and Needles blog, she asked: do you have any particular "go-to" garment, the one that you wear all the time for all types of purposes because it's just that versatile/comfortable/ awesomly stylish/whatever? OK that's a paraphrase. Anyway, I don't, but I sometimes have in the past, and I'm hoping that something that I make in the next few months will become that go-to piece. I'm musing over the idea of a dress made of sweatshirt material (I saw some thin sweatshirt material at Fabrix that I almost bought some of and will probably go back for) that, if I pick the right pattern, could be a go-to dress, since it will be relatively warm for the SF cool weather, and as a dress it can be dressed up, but as sweatshirt material it can be dressed down. It will also match with almost anything I'd bet, be comfy, and not wrinkle easily. Ooh, and best of all, now that I think of it, it will match some fab chartreuse and red kitten heel peep toe shoes I got from a friend but have never worn out because I don't have anything to match them! So now I HAVE to make it. I'm also loving all the canary yellow accessories that seem to be in this season, which will also go with sweatshirt grey.

Anyhow we'll see, and I'll try to remember to revisit the question at some point in the future as more of my projects get completed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The hair always wins

I bought a pattern to go with the red stretchy fabric I posted about buying the other day: Butterick 4789. It got decent feedback on Sewing Pattern Reviews, and it was pretty cheap at Joann's so I went for it. I'll work on it after I finish the approximately 30 million other things I've got going on right now.

I'm also bidding on some honest to goodness vintage patterns on Ebay right now, since I love the vintage look but don't actually own any vintage patterns yet. Since I am cheap I may not win any good ones, but we'll see. I'll post pics if I get any.

I posted my questions about finishing the insides of garments on Craftster and got a lot of useful feedback. Several people DO finish, and a few even say that they would never NOT finish. But, I'm still lazy, and I'm still pretty sure I will never start lining things that don't call for lining, or learn how to do french seams for anything that I don't have to finish. I may however start zig-zagging my seams to finish them, because another craftster made a pretty good case for the fact that things will probably last longer if they're at least marginally finished on the inside. Plus I guess I can use the practice.

Maybe I'll zig zag the edges of pieces before I put them together if that seems workable, because I'm really bad at zig zagging or otherwise neatly finishing seams that are already stitched, since it's such a small space to stitch on and a little hard to work around if it's not just a straight line.

I may be willing to learn flat fell seams, because they look sort of cool on the outside too, but again, I'm too lazy to start doing them all the time.

Anyhow last night I was too tired to stand at the ironing board and turn up hems on the wrap dress and the eyelet dress to finish up, so I started an easy knitting project instead. I wanted something I could do without thinking, while I'm waiting for things or riding in the car or watching TV or whatever.

I'm going to need a white wrap or sweater of some sort to go with the shirt dress that I hope to do next. I always always need a wrap. Mostly because it's always sort of chilly at some point in the day in San Francisco, if not all day every day like lately, and like it will be all summer most liekely. And even if I go somewhere warm, then I freeze indoors from the air conditioning. I used to hate that about going places in Texas during the summer, you could catch pneumonia just from the extreme temperature changes from sweltering outside to teeth-chattering cold inside.

I've been saving Uncommon Threads on the DIY network to my DVR to watch every day and picked up a few good ideas for projects. Recently I saw the episode about making shrugs into other, more complicated garments and really liked the idea of the "shracket." Actually I hate the name because it's hard to say and sounds a little like a combo of shmuck and racket (I imagine some mealy mouthed gangster saying, "That shmuck fell for the numbers racket we ran last year!" or something. Whatever that even means. Can you tell I watch too much film noir and gangster fiction?), but the garment itself seems easy and pretty quick and cool looking. I didn't want to crochet it though because I don't want the stitch to be so open so I'm going to do a knit version instead using some Bernat Baby Boucle yarn in white I got for $2.99 a skein at Joann's yesterday.

Here's how I'll make it. I'm knitting a long rectangle in regular stockinette, long enough to reach from one elbow across my shoulders and back to the other elbow, and wide enough to wrap snugly around my upper arm. I'm using a size 7 or 8 needle (I don't know which it is but I'm pretty sure it's one of them). Then I'll stitch up the sleeves almost to the armpit on each side to make the shrug. I'm thinking of making it so that the purl side faces out, because it looks less directional than the knit side and might make it less obvious that this thing is just a glorified shrug. There's nothing better than a design that's easy as pie to make but looks like you put lots of skill and time into it!

Then I'm going to switch to larger needles, probably around a size 10 since I seem to have about 4 size 10 needles for some unknown reason, and pick up stitches all around the opening in the middle. I'll knit that in 2 by 2 rib, or maybe a fancy twisted or eyelet rib if I'm feeling ambitious, until it's long enough to fold over into a collar on the top edge.

I'll then pick up stitches with the same size needle around the sleeve openings and knit the same rib stitch into cuffs that I'm hoping will sort of bell open to the wrists. I love bell sleeves even though I usually have to be careful not to just drag them through a plateful of BBQ or pasta when I wear them. I hope the sleeves will open out like this without shaping because the needles are bigger, but if not I'll just cast on extra stitches or increase evenly by trial and error until it looks like I'm envisioning or I give up and just let it do what it wants.

This by the way is the same philosophy I use to fix my hair: trial and error to make it look like some gorgeous movie-star idea of a hairstyle I have, ending with my giving up in exasperation and letting it do what it wants to anyway. It's an ongoing battle, and you'd think I'd learn the truth eventually: The hair always wins. Always.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The haphazard sewist

I sometimes joke that I need to have a cable access cooking show called The Haphazard Cook because although almost everything I cook comes out pretty good, I rarely use a recipe and I throw things together in a totally random, unplanned, and extremely messy way. I'm one of those people who changes the "recipe" in the middle because I don't have oregano but I do have cumin, and uses every single dish in the kitchen because I suck so bad at estimating sizes and amounts, and ends up with a light dusting of flour on my cheek and batter on the tip of my nose and sauce down my blouse like a clueless 1950s I Love Lucy type sitcom wife, only much less cute. And probably not in as adorable a home-sewn dress and apron either!

It's just my personality. I don't like to plan ahead, and I like to get things done quickly so that I can enjoy the product of my labor.

I can't be quite so haphazard in my sewing though because I need to follow patterns, and as I learned from the black eyelet collar debacle those little dots and clips and things on the patterns actually, you know, matter and are there for a reason so if the tailor tack falls out or the chalk marking smudges away it's not going to work to just be like, oh whatever, I'll just eyeball where it's supposed to match up and all will be fine, la la la.

Still though there are ways in which my sewing is a bit more like my cooking, especially because I don't like to finish anything on the inside because I am lazy and no one's going to see it anyway. So I don't trim seam allowances unless I have to, and then I do it kind of crazily and raggedly, and I don't do any seam binding or anything like that. I'm really not even that careful about pressing seams open or in whatever direction the pattern calls for; I do press them because that is important, but I do it sort of willy-nilly if it seems like it won't really make a huge difference in the finished garment. On the outside of the garment anyway.

But I feel a little bad about it sometimes, because so many other sewists (or sewers? I hate that term because it looks so bad, but sewist is sort of annoying too but I don't have any alternative so anyway...) seem very detail-oriented and I imagine that even the insides of their garments are beautiful and neat with lovely little Hong Kong finishes or seam binding from charming floral scrap material they cut and folded and stitched themselves. I remember in the Little House books (or was it Little Women? something like that [gosh I'm feeling awfully parenthetical today, aren't I?]) someone was taught that the back of your sewing work is supposed to look as nice as the front or else you just weren't good enough or something like that. I don't know. On the other hand these are the types of people that graded our poor sewing forebears down for stupid things like not using a thimble on an otherwise adorable finished work, so why should I listen to them anyhow?

Since I probably only have about 4 readers if that many on this blog, I think I'll go ask somewhere else, but I'd like to hear about others' philosophies or experiences on finishing the insides/backs of garments. Does anyone else even bother? Is it really as big a pain in the ass to do as it seems to me? Do the insides and backs of your garments just look better than mine to begin with because I'm still a sort of beginning sewist and I don't really care all that much anyway if the cutting lines are a bit ragged or my thread gets a little tangled where I first started sewing a seam?

Maybe I'll gin up my courage a little bit and post some actual pics of the disgraceful state of my garment guts so that you can see what I mean for real. I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What, a finished project? REALLY??

Yes, I finished something. Not a sewn something, but something nonetheless. I made a big crocheted beret with a knit band out of some black cotton yarn a friend gave me when she was cleaning out her stash. Whenever I need a really quick project fix, so that I can truly feel I've accomplished something, I crochet a hat or scarf.

I've been crocheting longer than I've been knitting or sewing, and I don't need a pattern to make most things I want to make. And since I live in San Francisco there's a need for hats and scarves year-round, so they're things I can actually use. Not like for instance the halter dress I'm almost done with, which is fab and retro and all that but not exactly something I'm going to wear on a weekly basis.

That halter dress by the way was basically all finished till I sewed on the hooks and eyes to fasten the halter on the back of my neck, and realized I sewed them on all wrong. Which would be easy enough to fix but I REALLY sewed them on, really tightly, really securely, so after I spent from midnight to 12:20 Saturday night trying to rip them off while there was nothing on TV but a history channel tie-in to that 300 movie about Thermopylae and I wasn't feeling nearly testosterone-y enough to put up with that, I gave up. I'll do it sometime later this week when there's something decent to watch to distract from my frustration.

Also over the weekend I set the sleeves in my purple tunic and they came out all right. Well enough that I am not embarrassed to wear it, which is really my only criterion for success in sewing at this particular point in my learning process. The picture here is of the neckline when it was still all messed up; I just folded it under another time and fused it in place to fix it, but no pics yet of the finished project. I still have to hem the ends of the sleeves before I can model it.

The best thing though is that I re-did the neckline on the black eyelet, and without the collar it came out fine! Now I'm hanging it up over night to let the bias set, and I'll hem it tomorrow and tack down the facing which is sticking out a bit, and model it soon. If it ever gets warm enough I'll even wear it out somewhere. Joy!

I told myself I wouldn't go to the fabric store again till I finished something but of course I did. I got some black cotton with white line drawings of flowers that I think I'll use for the Burda shirtdress from my previous post, instead of the plain black which I am using for the Butterick 4790 instead. I think that it will be my Easter dress since the other fabric is pink flowers. I also got some stretchy red fabric that I don't know yet what I'll do with, but it was a gorgeous shade and only $1.99 a yard so I had to have some. This was all from Fabrix, natch. The lady at the cutting table asked me, Anything else for you today? And I answered, God, no, I have to get out of here quick before I spend any more money! So I paid my $12, and disappeared into the early afternoon fog.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sweet sewing dreams

Actually, it's a little more like insomnia, but I have this thing that I do when I'm trying to fall asleep at night. I make lists. I'm an obsessive listmaker, I do it as much for fun or to occupy myself as for organizational purposes.

The things that I list vary over time according to my current interests... ok, obsessions. But there are a few things that I come back to again and again. One is a list of names. Even years ago, before I ever thought seriously about having kids, I'd make lists in my head of baby names I liked, mostly girls' names, but sometimes boys' if I really wanted a challenge. I'd go through the alphabet and have either one name per letter, or as many names per letter as I could think of. Sometimes they'd have to be names I actually liked, and sometimes they'd have to be names I really really hated.

Most recently I gave myself the challenge of listing one girl's name and one boy's name for each letter, and every one had to be unusual or uncommon, but still something that I would consider naming a kid without feeling like I would be traumatizing the poor sprog for life. For example, D might be Dahlia, because that is both unusual and pretty, but not Dorcas, which is just unusual and old-fashioned but not suitable for today's public school playgrounds.

Anyhow the other things that I always like to list are articles of clothing. In this case it's not just a list of words, but a list of images in my head of outfits I'd like to wear. Sometimes for a particular occasion. Sometimes I restrict myself to new combinations of clothing pieces I actually already own, or to new pieces added to complete outfits of things I have already.

My absolute favorite is to mentally plan what to pack for a trip. The restriction I put on myself for that is to take the absolute minimum amount of clothing necessary to be stylish and ready for every anticipated activity on the trip, so mostly everything has to match and be interchangeable and layerable (I know, not a word, but whatever) and probably all go with a single pair of shoes that I can walk in, or maybe one pair of walking shoes and one pair of dress shoes depending on what's planned for the trip.

Lately though I've added to my list making: I'm now making mental lists of all the stuff i want to sew. Again, always with challenges/restrictions, either the same ones as with my other wardrobe lists, or the newest one which is that it has to be stuff I can do either with the patterns I have already or with the fabric stash I have already.

Anyhow I'm beside myself with joy over my current bedtime listmaking possibilities because not only do I have a sizeable stash of patterns and fabric, but I also have a trip to plan for! To NYC, in April! Can I sew most of my wardrobe for the trip? Probably not, but that won't stop me from trying.

Anyhow I'm posting the pattern envelope pics for my latest two acquisitions, both Burda, which I've never sewn before. The shirtdress will be in all black, with some darling little mod black and white buttons. The wrap dress will be this stretchy brown and blue sort of crinkly chevron stripe pattern stuff I got on my last trip to Fabrix. Only the black is likely to go to NYC with me though, so I'll probably start with that.

I'm still not done with the tunic dress because I need to pick up some elastic, and get up my courage for setting the sleeves in. I'm not so good at sleeves yet, I haven't practiced much. I could leave it sleeveless but really don't want to because I have farmer arms right now (you know, glaring white at the top and sort of tanned on the bottom) plus I need to tone up to avoid the dreaded upper arm jigglies.

The black eyelet is on my schedule for this weekend; I haven't gotten around to ripping out the disastrous collar yet because I've been hemming a halter dress in the hopes of actually, you know, totally finishing at least SOMETHING sometime soon. I save hemming and/or ripping to do by hand in front of the tv while I watch my shows, most of which are on hiatus right now because of the basketball championships or something.

Also in the planning stage: a nice big chunky stylish beret type thing I want to knit or crochet. I need more decent-looking hats for bad hair days now that my hair is growing out and doesn't look as good with my short-hair hats from before.

And seriously, I'm going to get some decent pictures of my own up soon. I really don't care as much as my boyfriend does that they're perfect, so I'm just going to do it myself and stop counting on him to fix them for me, at least for the blog where it doesn't matter that much as long as they don't totally suck.

(oh, and I'm so excited, I actually got a comment! a helpful one! yay, I'm not totally posting into the vast wilderness of unread internet space!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not a good sewing night

Last night I didn't have any extra work to do, and I got done with the work I did have earlier than expected, and there was nothing good on TV, so it was a good time to get some sewing done. Too bad I couldn't get anything to go quite right.

First of all, I've been working on a Vintage Vogue pattern for a dress with a sort of weirdly shaped neckline, that forms into an almost sort of triangular opening in the front, with basically 3 points. I can't find an image of it online and I don't have it handy to scan, but it looks a little like this pattern, but without the gathers on either side and straight lines, not curved. (And honestly, I guess I should be happy that it's not more like this picture... this looks even harder!) It also has an option for a collar attached to it, and I wanted to make that version since it seemed a bit more casual looking to me, and I had visions of wearing this to some outdoor singing gigs with my red cowgirl boots and red lipstick, or to summer daytime parties with footless tights (even summer is cold enough for tights here in SF) and red ballet flats.

I'm making this out of black eyelet, which I love, but that caused some problems with attaching the interfacing that was called for in the collar and in the neckline facing since my interfacing was all white and would show through the eyelet lace. So originally, I put the interfacing on some black muslin and used that for the interfacing on those pieces.

Well, I just couldn't get the collar and neckline facing to assemble correctly. It looked terrible. And at first I thought that it was because the black muslin and the interfacing attached to the pieces was just too thick and was keeping it from bending into the right shape. So I ripped it all out, and bought some black interfacing to use instead. Last night I tried to reassemble it all with this version, and it still wouldn't come together right! The points weren't clean enough, the back of the dress was sort of gathered and wrinkled in a bad way, and the collar didn't line up right.

I'm really bummed because I love this material and I don't have enough left to do an easier dress with. So tonight I'm going to rip it out again, and give up on doing the version with the collar, and hopefully I have enough eyelet to cut out the neckline facing again and this time I don't think I"ll bother with interfacing, but just use the material plain or maybe with a black muslin backing to it. And if THAT doesn't work I may have to give up entirely and just make a skirt instead of a dress.

I also worked last night on this tunic dress, Butterick 4920, that I originally saw in blouse form (you can do a blouse or a dress with it) on a couple of blogs including Stacy Sews and Cat Fur Studio. The blouse would probably get better use, but I decided to go for the dress just because I had a ton of fabric for it, a pretty and smooth dark wine colored jersey that I got at one of my favorite SF sources for cheap cheap fabric, Fabrix on Clement Street. I chose the burgundy color as a replacement for black. I'm trying to get away from wearing too much black, and since the other dress that's giving me fits is black eyelet, and I also have a bunch of black poplin for a sort of mod shirt dress Burda pattern I just bought, I needed to branch out. This color is dark and deep enough for evening or for a more somber occasion (I have a wake to attend in NYC in April, and I might wear it for that) but isn't the same old black.

Quick word on Fabrix: I love it because it's so inexpensive, I always find (metered, but still) parking when I go by, usually on Monday afternoons on my way back from therapy, and the fabric is all on huge bolts at least 60" wide so you get lots for your money. The drawback is that they have very little in the way of notions. Well, that's not totally true, since they have a lot of ribbon by the yard, and a huge bin FULL of buttons, but you have to sift through the buttons for, like, hours to find all the matching ones you need. You also really have to look for a while to find the good fabric, because it's all sort of piled up everywhere and some of it is not only cheap (as in, inexpensive) but what I like to call cheap-ass (meaning tacky and not well-made). But I love the process of digging through lots of stuff, I find it entertaining and even calming, so that isn't really a drawback to me.

But back to the tunic dress. I shouldn't complain too much because it did come together mostly pretty well, and the fabric drapes beautifully, but the finished edge on the front modesty panel neckline gapes, isn't stitched straight, and looks yucky. It's because I'm not good at sewing details on stretch knit. I think I'll have to fix it by turning it under once more and somehow blind stitching it down in the hopes that the stitches won't show.

So my bad sewing night last night wasn't all bad I guess, because the frustration just made me more determined to come home tonight and fix it all. I hope it works out. I really want to make enough items to wear mostly things I made myself on my trip to New York, so that's an ambitious goal that I can't meet if I have to keep ripping stuff up and starting over again. My next adventure: learning to make buttonholes, so I can make some blouses (one from white lace, another from a sheer black with pink roses) and that shirt dress! Maybe this weekend if I don't have to work! Ooh, and I want to make an Easter dress too. More on that later.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Perfectionism in Picture Posting

I've been putting off posting because I want to put up pictures of a couple of finished projects but haven't had a chance to take any, mostly because I am vain and want to look good in the pictures without having to crop off my head due to a bad hair day or laziness-induced lack of makeup. Last Sunday I actually wore one of my new things over to a friend's house, and got my boyfriend to take some pictures, one of which I erased because I thought I looked fat and the others I asked him to download for me today and email so I could post them (I'm at work today and he's not).

Well, they're not here because he claimed they didn't look good enough because they didn't properly feature the shirt and refused to send them and offered to take new pictures tomorrow night. So tomorrow we'll have a little modeling session and I'll get pics of the sleeveless cowl-neck dress I finished, the blouse I wore in the rejected photos, and hopefully the halter dress that I didn't get done in time to wear out last Saturday and that still needs hemming.

I suppose I should thank him for looking out for me and making sure I don't post crappy-ass photos on my blog, but I do also think he's a bit of a perfectionist. In the meantime here is a picture of me at the park where the Giants play, wearing a scarf I made that you can't see very well but that I love. I tell people that I only had to skin 3 or 4 muppets to spin the yarn for it. Because I'm funny that way.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I bought a dress form!

I've been shopping like a demon for things to feed my current sewing obsession, and while I've probably bought lots of fabric and patterns that I didn't need and won't use for a while I did make one purchase that I think is an actual good investment.

It's a vintage adjustable dress form, not in the absolute best-looking condition, but good enough for me I think.

I had been looking off and on for a form, but they were all always too expensive or not in the right measurements. This one has a plaque on it with the range of measurements and it's uncanny, the range is exactly my range: the skinniest I tend to get on the lower range, and the biggest I tend towards on the upper. Which unfortunately is the range I'm at right now, but that's another lament for another time.
Anyway I'm hoping having a decent dress form will help me get better at fitting things, which has been a bit of a challenge for me. I also want to learn more about how to design my own stuff, and I just signed up for a draping class at Stitch Lounge next month to get going on that. I can't drape without a dress form, so I HAD to get this.

I also went to a Presidents' Day sale at my fave fabric store and got some deals on stuff I've been wanting, including some black eyelet which I want to make a dress out of (I need to find a good pattern now) and some houndstooth wool for a cape I want to make out of a pattern I already have.

Earlier in the week I cut out the pieces for a halter dress out of some black cherry-print fabric, and I want to whip that up tonight and tomorrow to wear to a rockabilly concert I might go to Saturday. It is very important that it look great, and very hot rockabilly-alicious, because I'm auditioning next weekend to sing for this band. I'm not nervous about the singing part, but I'm nervous about the image I will need to project, so I want to make a great first impression.
I'll post pics of some of the other fabrics and things I've gotten lately, and update my works in progress list soon. I'm just pretty psyched about the possibility of having some new things soon. I do need to rein in the spending from here on out though. Hm, maybe after I buy the duro dress pattern. I have some awesome Dia de los Muertos fabric I want to make it out of!

Staking a claim

I'm claiming my blog on Technorati.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007


So I'm thinking of signing up for this pledge at Wardrobe Refashion:

I, Holly, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new"
manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months. I pledge
that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own
hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that
I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoated, recylcled,
crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that
others may share the joy that thy thriftyness brings! Signed Holly.

Especially since I spent all last weekend sewing a couple of new things, and really want to make more of my own stuff anyhow.

My only worries are:

  1. I'm starting to do more freelance grantwriting work again so that may interfere with my sewing time
  2. I really want to buy some tshirts
  3. I'm already pretty bad about taking pics of my stuff to post and keeping up with blogging.

But, I'd rather sew than work part of the time anyhow, I could look at Goodwill for tshirts and then alter to fit, and I may be getting a camera phone from a friend who doesn't want hers anymore on thursday.

So what the heck. I think I'll do it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Can I make my own wardrobe?

I'm feeling more and more like sewing lately, and the idea of being able to save money AND have awesome perfectly fitting clothes really appeals to me. I recently bought the "Built By Wendy" book which is basically all about using her patterns for a shirt, a pair of pants, and a skirt to customize and make all the stuff of your very own you could ever need.

I'm all over the skirt thing, definitely. I've made several with other patterns, but my problem is that I haven't quite ever figured out the fit. Her book gives lots of tips on that, and I've been looking at websites and books and blogs for more info.

I'm a little more frightened of the shirts and pants. My one attempt at pants was a dismal failure. I had the dreaded big wrinkle in the front, you know, the one that looks either like a big smile or big frown? But I'm willing to try again if it means having some great ass-pants (those would be the kind of pants that make your ass look fabulous, not the kind that exposes your ass, which are much more popular around here during the Folsom Street Fair than at any other time of year) in the colors that I like.

And the shirts, I think I can handle once I get some practice on making buttonholes. I've had experience with taking men's shirts (western ones mostly), cutting them down, sewing in darts, and basically doing a trial and error thing till they fit. So maybe from scratch won't be that much harder.

So, with the stuff from this book I've got just about everything covered, except for dresses, and blazers. I have to have lots of cardigans or blazers or shawls because I live in San Francisco and there's maybe 2 days a year when the temperature doesn't get down to long-sleeve levels. So I just bought patterns that seemed rather versatile for changing up and making dresses and jackets.

So anyhoo let's hope that I actually someday get around to making some of this stuff. I need to get started immediately before I lose momentum. I have some nice turquoise and light brown plaid fabric for a short skirt I plan to wear with cream colored tights and kneehigh suede (ok, fake suede) boots. Maybe tonight?

Also on tap currently: I bought several bolt ends of varying shades of blue quilting fabric for a sort of contemporary style quilt for the bedroom, the design is based on the ocean, how as you look out toward the horizon it looks like bands of steadily darkening blues. Also, I've won an eBay auction for a bunch of solid cotton 4.5" cut blocks in lots of colors for an idea I have for a reverse applique quilt.

And, I finally finished a knit purse. I'll get pics later, but I love it. One problem though... it smells funny! I think when I blocked it it didn't dry fast enough and now has a moldy sort of smell to it. Which sucks because I want to start carrying it NOW! I'm a little scared to wash it, so I'm attacking it with Febreze and airing it out read good in the hopes that it de-funkifies itself soon.