Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Love at First Sight.......

I"m hard pressed to believe in the concept of "Love at First Sight" when it comes to people (it happens just not as frequently as some may think) but I am a believer in it when it comes down to the way I choose my fabric. For years I couldn't understand my connection and "instinct" when it came to buying certain fabrics. I always just had a gut feeling and attraction to the fabrics I chose. I've come to realize that I intuitively select my fabric and this is something I've grown accustomed to.

To clarify, there are 3 ways that I shop for fabrics. I purchase fabrics specifically for a project, I purchase a fabric because it may be pretty, on sale, and I have a use for it, and I purchase a fabric because of "love at first sight". Again, it's fabric buying for the last category that intrigues me the most.
Case in point, just the other day I was at Hancock Fabrics and ran across this little number. I hadn't bought a piece of fabric in a good while.  I looked at it and I just knew. Right then in there I wouldn't have been able to give you a detailed explanation of why I liked it (intuitive people feel before they can usually explain anyway) but it was that initial "love" that let me know I needed to get it. Looking at it now I can tell you it's the colors (I LOVE the yellow mixed with the red, dark blue and gray) and paisely pattern that I love. The picture does it NO justice. I grabbed 2.5 yd and will scout out the perfect pattern for it later.

I have to admit, some of my most memorably sewn pieces came from fabric selected in the same manner.
I love my Easter Dress and although I had a pattern picked out but it was the fabric that I made an "instant connection" with.

This dress is one of my FAVORITE'S!!!! And Lord knows when I picked up that print I had no earthly idea what I was going to do with it. Those circles are HUGE! But there was just something about it that intrigued me about it and I'm so glad I got it!

Here are a few other fabric in my stash in which the same thing happened. I love unique prints and colors.....

I don't buy fabric as often as I used to. I'm not into impulse buys or collecting---my fabric closet is full already. And although I try to be careful and discriminatory in my decisions to buy fabrics I ALWAYS, for the most part, give into these "love at first sight" moments because I believe it's in those times that I can see the the raw nature of my creativity at work. Trust me, for a person who's as careful, intentional, and frugal as I am, it's good to have a moment of raw instinct:)

So how do you shop for fabrics? Do you buy fabrics for projects, at discounts, or just pick fabrics and decide on a project later?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sewing Jots & Tittles 5.20.11

 "Sewing Jots & Tittles" is my weekly post where I get to ramble on and on about sewing related stuff that's been on my mind. Here what's been orbiting my brain.....

- Button Lovin'--After sewing my last dress I've found a new love for sewing buttons. I prefer  invisible zipper since they are my favorite notion but I have to admit, sewing buttonholes and buttons was less of a chore than I originally thought. My sewing machine makes it a piece of cake and for the first time I used my machine to sew on my buttons which was super easy. I don't know why I was dreading it in the first place.

-New Muslin
My new "muslin" which I mentioned in this post finally arrived.  It's thin and quite translucent but very strong. And it's much less expensive than other forms of tracing materials.  I can't wait to give it a try. I found out they actually sell this stuff in wider widths so I might look into getting a huge roll of that and fold it in half to cut. The wider one's are use when setting up septic tanks and go on the bottom of them. It's amazing how such a product can be used in sewing:)

-Iron Demineralizer--
 I have a Consew steam generating iron and it works absolutely great! I've only used distilled water in the past but had to use filtered tap water when I ran out. I noticed it wasn't steaming up as normal and had a feeling that minerals were building up in my iron. Well I added the demineralizer and my iron was back to normal.  Moral of the story, ALWAYS use the DEMINERALIZER!

-Pure Puzzlement:
I had to go shopping for "undergarments" this weekend. It's not my favorite thing and feels like more a chore. As we all know, elastic doesn't last forever and to keep from looking like . Anyway to make the process easier I always bring one of my bras in and use it as a template for the one's I try on and buy. Anyway I saw this bra and thought it was rather funny. I don't know about you, but I surely don't buy a bra to "minimize" anything---accentuate is more like it. It's a 36C (my size), is that even large enough to try and minimize???? I know there are some women who do but I'll leave this one for them! LOL!

-Skyscraper shoes--
 Ross' Dress for Less is my favorite place to shop for shoes. There I can get great shoes (some big brand names) shoes at drastically reduced prices. I ran across these little babies and couldn't pass them up. They are gorgeous but they have like a 4" heel on them. Ok, I know I'm going to be like 10 ft tall in these, but I can't pass out a great pair of heels, especially when they're only $16.

 (Picture taken at Ross before I paid for them and cut them apart:)

-Pattern for this Fabric
I absolutely LOVE this fabric!  The colors are pretty awesome---white, gray, orange, olive, and silver abstract print that's sheer and crinkly. I have in mind what type of dress I want I'm just waiting to see an exact picture of it so I can copy it.

Denim Print knit---

Don't ask but I want this for a project so badly! I saw some jeggings a WalMart long ago and they were actually not denim, but a knit with a denim print! How clever is that. I want some of that fabric!!! Has anyone seen any anywhere?

 -Palmer and Pletsch Jeans DVD

I read on another blog that P &P came out with a new DVD. I'm actually excited and it's one on a great topic---sewing jeans. First of all, I don't really need it and could sew a pair quite fine without it but I have most all of the DVD's and am pretty much a collector at this point (plus I love their interfacing). Besides I'm a visual learner and it's always nice to pick up a couple of new ideas and different approaches to doing something. I'm ALWAYS learning:)

So that's what's been on my mind. What's been on yours?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Style Safari--Part II: Eureka Moment!

As I mentioned in my initial Style Safari post, I am on a journey to Really discover my style. I understand our styles are forever evolving but I want to get a good handle on mine so I can sew better clothing options for myself. I have a good idea what my style is (hint: most of what I've sewn reflects it).  I found it interesting that many of you were sorta in the same place and that others of you felt you had a pretty good understanding of what your style is. No matter which "side of the fence" you're on, clothing is a reflection of who we are and gaining perspective and understanding of one's style is a great thing.

The "Style Safari" post came on the eve of my dilemma with the "one hit wonder dresses" in my closet. These are dresses I've made and only wore once and pretty much lost interest in (detailed in this post. ). I was trying to figure why that was the case and which many of you offered some great comments/advice on my dilemma but I think it was Heather who really nailed it. Her comment was....

I know I'm super late to comment on this post, but it actually took your post from today to jog my thought process on it. I think you (and maybe me) look at your projects as art pieces. They're planned for a certain event, they invoke a certain mood, and you love them when you wear them for that event. Then it's over, like the party or Mother's Day, and you don't think of them again because you're on to the next art project. Artists don't paint the same thing twice.

So maybe instead of making an art piece for a special event, you consider making art pieces for Mondays, or Thursdays. That way you can enjoy them more often? Just a thought. I'm trying to apply that to my own way of sewing, too. 

Wow, Heather I think you, as they say, "hit the nail with the hammer".  That's a great explanation and is similar to the conclusion I arrived at, except you thought of the whole "artwork" analogy! Just Brilliant! And it makes sense. I only had this problem with my "special occasion" dresses not all of the other items I've sewn.  I realized that alot of my "special occasion dresses" were just  "too special". I've resolved myself to not "back myself into a corner" so to speak with some of my style options. That's one of the mail reasons I don't like alot of trends. I don't want my work to be easily "dated" but instead I want to create clothes that can "go the distance" and get alot of wear.  You know, create some timeless pieces that really stretch my wardrobe. I think Mary said it best with her comment "I tend to make things which can be worn in a variety of situations-so I don't really have any lonely pieces". 

Great suggestion Mary and that's the direction I want to go more towards. As I investigate further, I'm proud to say that I'm really getting a grasp for my style. Again, I had an idea before but now it's all really coming together. It's amazing what happens when you actually stop and really think through your choices. I've discovered so much so far and am having so much fun. I can't wait to show you what I've discovered.......more later.....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Butterick 5600-- A Dress for Shoes...

 As I blogged about a few posts ago, this dress was supposed to be my Mother's Day dress until my sewing machine went down for a few days and needed repair. Well it was nice to finally finish this dress up. Again, I was inspired to make this dress in order to wear a cute pair of shoes I had in my closet. I think it turned out well and I absolutely love the pattern. Well here's the review.....

Butterick 5600

Pattern Description:
Semi-fitted, straight, above mid-knee dresses A, B, C have front darts, back pleats, self-faced yoke front and neckbands, side seam pockets, outside casing with elastic, self ties and stitched hem. A: sleeveless with self ruffle. B: short, gathered sleeves with elastic casing. C: short sleeves with stitched hem and self tab with nonfunctioning button.

Pattern Sizing:
I cut a size 10 for the bodice and size 12 for the skirt. I wanted this to have some fit and didn't want to look like I was wearing a bag with a waist tie.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, Yes, Yes!!!

Were the instructions easy to follow?
They were!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I loved the pattern design, the ruffled front and the elasticized sleeve. I didn't like that the pattern instructs you to hem the skirt before adding the front band. As a result, due to some error on my part, my hem on the front right and left sides aren't exactly equal. Since it was finished early I can't easily correct it. It's not really noticeable but I'm really annoyed by it.
(Such a crazy close-up but my Hubby/Camera Man was determined to get a better shot of the ruffle details. I'm beginning to think he's taking his job too seriously!!! LOL!!!)

Fabric Used:
Gray cotton sateen

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
1. I left off the pockets.
2. I didn't slipstitch the yoke but instead could flip it inside out and sew it.
3. I didn't slipstitch the facing (step 44) instead I serged 3/8" off the facing edge and stitched in the ditch on right side of facing to catch facing underneath.
4. I finished the sleeves by serging the edges and sewing them up. I didn't create a narrow hem for the elastic casing.
5. I forgot to mention that I made view B and added the ruffles from view A to it.
6. I lengthened the dress 3". I'm so glad I did this because it would've bee really short.

(The inspiration for this dress was indeed the shoes!!!)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I really would like one in denim or a bright color!

Great dress! Simple to make and oh so stylish!!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Style Safari ---Part I

 Thanks so much for your feedback to my last post. You guys left some interesting comments that made me think a bit. I'm definitely ready to make some changes in my sewing selections. I'm ready to change up my style a bit.

But before I get into that I want to announce that I did get my sewing machine back and "she" has a clean bill of health. I thank God for Mr. Smiley and his 40+ years of experience in sewing machine repairs. It turns out that there was a small piece of metal underneath my needle plate that isn't typical of older Brother's. This piece, if I understand it correctly is suppose to prevent the thread from backing up if you turn the hand wheel backwards instead of forward. Well somehow it got bent and my bobbin thread was getting stuck on it preventing my feed dogs from moving properly. To solve the problem he removed that piece and she runs as good as new. Ok, on to the details of this post.....

I'm feeling good and for some reason quite liberated. I'm in the mood for an adventure. Based on my last post I had to do some soul searching about my sewing selections.  I've loved the things I've sewn but I'm ready to step out a bit to explore and get in touch with my style. To be quite honest I don't know how to define it. I know what I like but I don't know if I fit into any particular category. I'm sure I do, probably in a few, but I don't know what that is. But if I had to apply adjectives to my style I would describe it as colorful, fun, and feminine. I really love prints and explosions of color. 

So I'm pretty excited.  I'm ready to get out there and begin discovering my style. So I'm diving into this with a little research. I have about 40 fashion magazines I've been collecting for the past year that I really hadn't had time to dive into. So I plan on going through them and collecting pictures of what I consider my style and see if I can gain a bit of assessment there. I also hope to gain a little bit of style inspiration along the way. I'm in search of my style, how fun!!!! I'll let you know what I discover......

How about you, "Do you feel you've got a good handle on your style or are you still trying to discover it?"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wrench in the Plans/ Ghosts of Mother's Day Past....

First of all Happy Mother's Day to all of you Wonderful Mom's out there! That's all of you who make a difference in the lives of children or friends whether they're biologically yours or not. Thanks for making a great impact and for your sacrifice.

   Well today was an excellent day despite the little adventure I had on yesterday afternoon. It's unfortunate that I had no "new" Mother's day dress to wear today. So I didn't get to wear the shoes I showed in my last post. It's not the end of the world and it's the least of my worries since my "baby" is now in the shop. Yes, "boo-hoo", my sewing machine is in the shop!!! Yesterday afternoon I was nearly 85% done with my dress when I noticed my sewing machine began making a clicking sound. Well I figured out it was probably the bobbin or I my needle had dulled. Well after changing these 2 things and even taking out the bobbin case and clearing out any thread under my machine it still kept clicking and even started to jam when I sewed. So I knew right then and there that was the end of my sewing for the day, especially when I tried the back up machine and it wouldn't cooperate with me---that's a whole other story.

   So I did what any good Mom would do, I immediately called the only man I trust with servicing my machine. His name is Mr. Smiley (that's his name for real, no joking) and he's the owner of Smiley Sewing center. I called him and arranged to drop it off in the next couple of hours. He lovingly took my machine and I won't have a prognosis until Monday afternoon. I hope a tune-up is all that's needed. I can't function without my sewing machine:(.

So that whole event left me without a dress so I had to dig deep in my closet to find a replacement. I have other cute dresses I've sewn before but I noticed a dress I'd worn once back in 2009. It was my Mother's Day dress from that year and I'd never thought to wear it again. Now that's the thing I can't quite wrap my mind around. This isn't the first time that's happened. I don't know why I make dresses for certain occasions that I end up only wearing once. Well that's understandable with a formal gown but this is just a basic dress. So feeling a little guilty I thought I'd give it another go. After trying it back on I figured nothing was too wrong with it although I felt that all of the pink made me look like a "Black version of Barbie" LOL!  And I guess it wasn't so bad. Here's the dress.....It's NewLook 6557 worn with a fuschia crocheted bolero.....

But I've noticed I've made a habit of these "one time wear dresses". Here's my Mother's Day dress from last year. I haven't wore it sense.

Just to add fuel to the fire---here's my Easter dress from last year. I don't even want to look at it again. And a good deal of work went into this one....

What's up with me? Could it be my fashion choices have changed all that much? Are they out of style? I don't know what's up with me. But I have to admit that it's weird to walk into your closet and be "haunted" by dresses of the "not-so-distant past". Does this happen to any of you?  Do you unintentionally make "one time wear" dresses?
So despite not finishing my dress and my "baby" being in the shop, Mother Day's was great and deep down inside I'm happy I got the opportunity to wear an oldie. I forgot that I blogged about this dress a year ago and like the dress I didn't finish yesterday, I was inspired to make it because of a pair of shoes too!LOL!  So what can you say, things always have a way of working themselves out. I have to admit, at least my LOVE for the shoes remains the same......
Happy Mother's Day!!!!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sewing Jots & Tittles 5.6.11

"Sewing Jots & Tittles" is my weekly post where I get to ramble on and on about sewing related stuff that's been on my mind. Here what's been revolving between my ears.....

-Mother's Day Dress-
I'm up at em' early trying to finish up my Mother's Day dress to wear to church on tomorrow. Hey, it's a special holiday so you know my saying "why not make a special dress". I really think I look for reasons to sew and never seem to have to look very far! LOL! Anywho, the inspiration for my dress actually stems from a pair of shoes I've had in my closet for a least a year and have never wore. They're the cutest little gray strappy sandal with encrusted stones down the front panel. I'm almost finished sewing my dress and I'll reveal it on tomorrow. I'll just let it remain a surprise until then.

-Speaking of Mother's Day-
I received gifts from my 2 favorite people---My Hubby and the "Wee-One". Yup, those are gift cards to Hancock's & Jo-Ann's Fabric. They know me all too well:)

- Finally some Vogues.....
For some reason my Jo-Ann's store will not get an entire shipment of Vogue patterns for the newest Summers season. They keep getting a few patterns here and there. I finally got my hands on some last week. This is what I picked up. I even was forced to get pattern 1240 in a smaller size since that was the only pattern they had. I'll see if I can exchange it for the right size if it ever comes in again. Sign..... But I'm happy I at least got some of the patterns I want.

-New McCall's-
Well although  I was able to pick up all but 2 Vogue's I was looking for I was delighted to find the new McCall's in stock. I didn't know they were in since the new catalog wasn't out. So on a hunch I checked the drawers and there they were. Now the new McCall Summer patterns are not very appealing to me and to be quite honest left much to be desired but there were a few that caught my eye. I love, love, love the blue top featured in the right pattern. Now that's my style!

- Sorta a Wadder-
Well it's been a while since I had one but hey as we all know they happen. This one is actually salvageable but I'm not sure if I want to make the effort. The top is too big so I would have to pinch out alot of excess fabric and probably add some elastic on the upper back bodice. I should have used a more stable knit for this top. I used a cotton knit so the stretch was too much for this top. I like the design, but it's a little revealing if you're not careful. I'll think about it making it again. But it's definitely worth giving it a try if you use the right knit:)

(To get this top to fit the dressform I had to pinch out 4" in the back. The same when I tried it on. Also, I'm not feeling the key hole but that's an easy fix---just whipstitch it up closed some. Again I might give it another try with a more stable knit. It would work perfect then.)

- Series on Sewing with Knits-
 I've read so many comments on my blog and others about the frustrations people have in sewing knits. For me they've never been all that difficult to sew but I know what it's like to pick the wrong fabric for a project (as seen above). Either way, I thought I could do several posts on sewing with knits in the next week or two that will give some helpful pointers and hopefully help those who struggle overcome some of the challenges--that is if anyone's interested. Please let me know.

-I'm being featured.....
I've had the distinct honor of being featured on www.weallsew.com. I'll be featured on their site under the "Favorite Sewing Blogs" section for a week. How cool is that? The wonderful Robin from the blog "A Little Sewing on the Side" is also being featured. Congrats Robin.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mar / April 2011: 10,000 Sewing Hours Challenge Review & May / June: 10,000 Hr. Challenge Goals

I'm pretty excited about the new month because it jumpstarts my May/June 10,000 Hour. But before I can move on to my new challenge goals I need to bring my April/May Challenge months to a close. Sorry, no direct pics in this post. Ugghh, I know--I promise to include some in the as I always do:)

Looking back over the last 2 months I have no regrets. It truly was a time for "Special Occasion" sewing. At the beginning of March I made my daughter's Father/ Daughter Banquet dress. Then I had to move on to my Gala Gown to ready in time for early April. I finished the month up by making me and my daughter's Easter dresses. Somewhere in the middle I made a Cynthia Rowley dress. So 5 dresses in 2 months time. I would have love to sewn more but I had some client work that kept me somewhat occupied as well.  So for the past 2 months I was exactly where I wanted to be---busy sewing!!!

Ok to move on to the 2 months that lay ahead. I'm working on my Mother's day outfit as we speak. I'm making 2 pieces and I don't have much time to get them done before the end of the week. I'm still deciding on patterns but I MIGHT (you know we seamstresses always change our minds) have narrowed down the fabrics I plan to use. For the top I have a sheer textured polyester with very interesting colors----white, orange, light and dark gray, green (pretty interesting shade)---all in an unique pattern. It will be a top of some sort. I also have white cotton sateen which will probably serve as a pant of some sort. Still trying to work it out but it's coming slowly but surely:) I'll give you a sneak peak later this week provided I don't change my mind again. I just don't feel like being too fancy for Mother's day. I kinda feel like I should do something Bohemian chic. I'll figure it out.....

As far as the rest of the month and next goes---I'll be focusing solely on making casual Summer clothes which I highlighted in a previous post here, with the exception of a cute outfit for church here or there. It's fair to say that I'll be picking patterns from the same pile I showed in April. My emphasis is cute and casual. That's what I'm all about. So I'm keeping it simple and uncomplicated.....and of course fun.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Look 6936

Somehow I mistakenly thought this was the last day of April so I was hustling to get a couple more blog posts in before the month ended. I can't believe how fast April went by.  No worries, guess I'll just start the month off fresh with a post. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I had 1 1/2 yd of fabric and had to find some creative way to make a dress out of it that wasn't too short or revealing since I wanted to wear it to church. Well I decided to give New Look 6936 a shot and am happy I did. Nothing overwhelmingly fancy about the pattern but considering I was using a pretty bold print I needed a more subdued pattern so this fit the bill perfect. Here's my review.......

New Look 6936

Pattern Description:
Knit dress with bodice variations and elasticized waist. I made view B.

Pattern Sizing:
I cut a 10 on top and a 12 on the skirt.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, yes!!!

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Very much so but always count on me to overcomplicate things a bit.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I liked the gathered shoulders and ties, the high waist and elasticized waistline.

Fabric Used:
A black, red, white floral print matte jersey.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

1. Added 3" to the length and only made a 1/2" hem.
2. I did as other Pattern Reviewers recommended and made fabric ties instead of using ribbon for the shoulder seam. I cut 1.25" wide & 18" long strip, sewed them and turned them inside out. I made 4- 2 for each shoulder.

3. I created a elastic waistline casing using the waist seam allowance and did not sew the casing down through all layers as directed. Instead I simply pressed it down.
4. I added clear elastic to the neckline and coverstitched it down.
5. Also there's ALOT of ease in this pattern so because I didn't want 6" of ease in bodice I scaled down a size. Just keep that in mind when choosing your size.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I think I might. It's a cute and quick dress (pattern says 2 hours) if you don't make a bunch of blunders like I did. Let's see it took me a extra couple of hours to make and I accidentally cut 3" off of the back skirt and had to serge it back on (fortunately with the print you can't tell) and I didn't like having to make the shoulder ties (I was just being lazy and slow).  I had too many distractions to be trying to sew. But I made this in an evening's time so that's not too bad.

Pretty and yet simple and easy dress to make. It's a great dress and in my case it was a nice way to highlight a cute knit print.


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