Monday, January 30, 2012

Yes dear, there is a raisin in our bed.

On my way home from work Friday, the skies over my town were filled with the blackness of a huge fire.

 On my way in to work this morning, those same skies were filled with snowiness.

Are Tootsie Pops actually smaller these days? They sure don't seem like the 2 cent ones that I used to buy at the corner store when I was growing up.

This is an amazing red blazer. Very nicely constructed, and I may very well steal that fabulous animal print lining when I make my red jacket.

Victoria, Of Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing,  put up a really good pants post, which includes  a discussion of the  Yahoo/Glamour article “Ten Pants that Every Woman Must Own.” 
Oh, great. Now I need print pants. Well, Victoria of Ten Thousand Sewing Hours, I'm glad it's not Ten Thousand Pants Every Woman Must Own."

Am I the only person at work that thows away the empty toilet paper rolls?

I feel like I did little this weekend other than watch documentaries, play with pinterest, polyvore, and google reader, and clean the bathroom.  Well, I fussed a little with the master bedroom…rearranging, re-accesorizing. 

And I cut out some gray pants.

I also started knitting a  Drops Seed Stitch Baby Jacket which reminds me a lot of one that was sold at Baby Gap recently. It will go with an equally adorable seed stitch baby hat which I already made.

And…Yes, dear, that is a raisin in our bed. I had a craving right before bed...what can I say?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Basic Weekend Wardrobe Planning


So, here we go. I'm serious about this wardrobe thing. I really am. My daughters have gotten on my case over the years, my husband has had a thing or two to say, and trust me, I know that a closet full of clothes does not a wardrobe make.
I'm going to take our wardrobe participants through the steps of planning, right along with me.

1) First and foremost, evaluate your closet.
What do you have that would already work in your basic wardrobe? This includes a careful examination of fit, style and freshness.
For example,  I've mentioned before that I have a nice pair of black ponte pants.
I have several white shirts, but I would like  a more updated style.
I could put together a basic  wardrobe from the things I already own, but I want something fresh for Spring. So I’ll add and substitute as needed.

Here's what I've found....
I have a khaki skirt and a few denim skirts. These will work.

White blouses..most are older and not so snazzy anymore.

Black, white and denim jackets. But let's look closer:

Lots and Lots of black in the jacket department, but nothing for Spring.

Lots and Lots in the Denim department, too. You know I love my denim.

 Lots and Lots of Black Cardigans....this represents only what was in the laundry this week! There are many more where these came from!

A couple of cute vests...once again, black.

Some favorite jeans and black ponte pants.

And, I've decided that it's time to finally get rid of some styles that I cling to, but really, they are not the most flattering for me. How many eyelet peasant-type tops does a girl need? None. at least this girl needs none. I'm happy to share...if you want em, let me know..they are sized large or x-large and you can have them if you want to pay for the shipping.

2) After a careful assessment, I  think I've narrowed down what I need to sew:
           jacket/blazer in colors
           Pants in a new neutral
           Jeans in colors
           New white blouse
           Cardigan or vest in something other than black.

The next thing I’m looking at…even before choosing colors, is the style of the garments I want to add to my wardrobe. I'm looking for personality, what works for my body and weekend lifestyle.  I search my pattern stash, and do lots of research on line. I browse websites, check out a few of my favorite magazines, and books. I window shop or flip through pattern books at Joann's on my lunch break. 

FYI, Sarai has done a  recent Coletterie blog post on Style Signatures. She asks, "If you’ve never thought about it, take some time to notice how you dress for the next week or so. What do you gravitate towards most often? What things do you like to wear? Do you do a little something that makes you feel unique?"
(I have to admit, even though I tend to gravitate toward black and denim, I could maybe re-define this classic and safe look with some shots of color.)

3) Make a list, shop the stash for patterns, and keep a notebook of what you need to get.
Once I have my patterns decided, the fun begins. I keep a journal with me at all times… and in it, I keep lists, drawings and pictures related to knitting or sewing. It’s a great resource for shopping. When I get an idea, I  put it in my book.

I decide on my patterns. This is when I start to get a little excited. By printing the line drawings and laying them out, I'm starting to see a plan develop.

So that's it so far. Next wardrobe post, I'll be talking  about color!

But until then, lets meet the wardrobe sewalong participants! Girls, let's hear how you are doing so far with your planning, and then go round and say hello to one another!

1. Lori  of Girls in the Garden
2. Lynne of Wonderfully Made
3. Barbara of Working with Delight
 4. Jodie ( no blog but posting great comments)
5. Tonia of The Enchanted Daydreamer
6.  Angela of The Creative Diva
7. Karin of Sew Here We Go Again
8. Katie of Kadiddlehopper 
9. Marie (no blog but posting comments and we can link flckr page)
10.  Yvette of Sew Today, Wear Tomorrow
11. Sandi
12. Renae of Seams Awesome
13. Patty of Sew Much Knitting
14. Jamye of Straight Stitch
15. Doobee  of Doobee's Creations
16.  Bonnie of Tres Bon Babble (informally participating)
17.  Kris O of Needle to Say
18 Nikki
19.  Mari
20. Will this be YOU????

Monday, January 23, 2012

Amy Butler Weekend Travel Bag

What started last Saturday with an entire hour's worth of cutting out, and culminated with about two hours of   hand stitching yesterday, is one of the most challenging projects I've done in a long, long, time.

Last fall, I did a commission project for a sweet friend, and in addition to payment, she gave me an extra bonus. I thought carefully about just what to do with that would be easy to fritter it away on this and that, but I wanted to create something that I would use often, something that would not only be practical and pretty, but  a remembrance of Rhonda as well.

So, I selected the Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag.
And then I selected Amy Butler Soul Blossom decorator twill in two coordinating prints.

In addition to layers of peltex, interfacing, and piping, and a 30" sport zipper.

Oh, yes, the  piping...which I couldn't do without my lovely new piping foot. Applause please.

My hands and fingers hurt on Saturday from holding those thick layers and carefully guiding it all through my machine.  And from all the slip-stitching of the lining to the zippered opening. And me, without a thimble. I would suggest a thimble. Later, my machine  breathed a sigh of relief when she only had to stitch together the lining. And my fingers were thankful for a rest.

I made a few changes. Of course.
Generous inside pockets were added, along with purse feet on the bottom.

I have to toot my horn a little. I'm proud of this bag. The construction, while technically pretty basic, was a challenge because of all the layers which had to be sewn together. I've never made anything quite like it. And while it may be tempting to eliminate some of the interfacing or peltex to cut corners time-wise and penny-wise, in the end, I can say that all of those steps and layers are essential to the structure of the bag.  I'm glad I took my time with it.

I've never had a pretty weekend/overnight bag. And now I do! And I can't wait to fill it up with a weekend wardrobe and then sneak away!  Follow along as Lori and I sew our way through a basic wardrobe, starting today. If you'd like to join us, stop by Lori's blog and let her know!

We promise fun and encouragement along the way!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What I love about the weekends

It started this way... we have a funeral to go to. Announces my husband. It's at 11:00am.

Of course, I had a whole line-up of "things to do" yesterday, but all that got put on the back burner.
We got to the church, and the parking lot was empty. I check online for the obituary.
The funeral is on February 4th.
But, as luck would have it, JR had to use a bathroom, so we stopped at my daughter's house and She, Sof and Ray were just on their way to breakfast at a local place so we were able to join them. And I will do anything for some Sof time..

I love weekend breakfasts. Not only sharing them at a local diner, but the kind of breakfasts you get to take time with that you don't normally take time with during the week...
                  Coaches Oats, apple, raisins, cranberries, brown sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.

And omelets...made with fresh eggs from my other daughter...all pretty and speckly and various shades of chicken.

So while we were out and about in our funeral attire, we also got to do a little impromptu antiquing, which was fun. My big purchase? A cute Hall's bowl to match another that I have, and a sweet little juice pitcher
(I must confess, I have an addiction to adorable juice pitchers)

And what else do I love about the weekend?
Getting to relax with a Restoration Hardware magalog in front of the fireplace...just dreaming of new ideas.

Funny thing is, this catalog came as a complete surprise! I had forgotten that we spent all of $20 at Restoration Hardware for some new house numbers, and in return? We get this amazing, fat book of ideas and inspiration? Good deal!

Oh, Restoration have given me a whole new gospel of good design with which to spend hours and hours of time wasted in the idolatry of desire.

And one more thing I loved about this weekend...bringing to conclusion a major sewing project which took me the ENTIRE week. A Weekender Bag...

Which I will share tomorrow.

Tonight, we start our Basic Wardrobe check Lori's blog later on for a first installment!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wardrobe Basics

Planning a basic wardrobe....
It can be a daunting task, to say the least. Heaven knows, I’m in my 50’s and still trying to get it right! Reading all those 2012 blog posts that include goals such as  “closet makeover” or “wardrobe re-do” or just plain "wanting to get a good basic wardrobe…finally" has inspired both Lori and I to open up the subject of planning and sewing some wardrobe essentials.

So we  have been emailing and brainstorming. And emailing some more. 
What does a basic wardrobe include? How do we plan what to sew? 
Lori has put up a recent Nate Burkus Show wardrobe list
Just today, I read one on “Girls with Curves.”
and Angie came up with a list that she describes as personalized wardrobe that can be personalized to fit your own lifestyle.
Real Simple has a pretty complete and comprehensive basics checklist, too.
I actually loved the Good Housekeeping Wardrobe Basics...a pared down list of navy shirtdress, striped tee, red tank and cardigan, dark jeans, white skirt and khaki suit. So sharp, so simple!

There are about as many different “must have” lists out there as there are personalities, lifestyles and imaginations!

So, here is what I came up with…a Casual/Weekend Wardrobe Must-Have's.  I did this, because, believe it or not, work is pretty easy for me. It’s the weekends where I find myself giving up…wearing the same old stuff…looking like a shlumpadink.  Sometimes I think I may have too many choices, so this Spring, I’m going to try to focus on a few items that can go a long way, that will transcend the trends, always look sharp, and can be easily mixed and matched...and be age appropriate.

So, my top ten weekend/casual wardrobe?

1.       Black pants…ponte is good. ( see Lori’s post  for an excellent list of sources for patterns, styles and fabrics)
2.       Skinny Jeans
3.       Fun colored jacket
4.       Shirt dress
5.       Khaki or Denim Skirt
6.       Black, White or Denim Jacket
7.       Print Top or Tunic
8.       Print skirt
9.      White shirt
10.   cardigan

I think this will work for me.  And chances are, you also have a good share of these items in your closet addition to knit tees, which are as standard as bras and panties. So I’m going to be looking to see what needs to be updated, freshened up with a new color pallette,  or what’s missing.Then I can decided what I need to make to create a complete weekend wardrobe.
For example, I have a very good pair of black ponte pants, and a favorite pair of skinny dark jeans…so instead, I’ll be making a fun pair of Colette Clover ankle pants in a bright color and a pair of gray slender pants.

My fun colored jacket? Red.
A shirt dress.
I already have a favorite Khaki and denim skirt
I’m up to my ears in Denim jackets, and last year I made a white jacket, so I’ll be planning to sew a casual black jacket.
Print top? I’m looking at a bow front blouse/tunic that can be worn with lots of things.
I have print skirts…this will be last on my list and will happen if I find a perfect irresistible fabric
White shirt? Yes. I could use a new one… I have several, but they are all just this side of fresh and crisp. And it's always nice to start a season with a new white shirt.
I’d like to make a cardigan. Will I knit it? Will I sew it? Not sure.

So on my list of wardrobe basics to supplement what I have is:
A red jacket
A black jacket
Bright colored skinnies
Gray pants
A print top or tunic
A white shirt
A cardigan
A Shirtdress

So stay tuned to both Lori's blog and mine as we unfold this Spring Wardrobe Adventure. We'll be  announcing a Sew-Along and Link Parties, and finishing up with a blogger's fashion show, a contest and lots of fun posts!
Will you join us?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When the weather outside is frightful...

Ten on Tuesday...Ten things to do when it's cold outside.
Brrrr. Actually, this winter hasn't been bad at all. But it's gray and damp, that's also a good enough reason for me to stay inside.
What do I like to do when the weather gets nasty outsite?  I love those days…in fact, my sister and I, when we lived just a mile away from each other, would look forward to any winter storm, blizzard or negative degree weather and somehow plan a way to get together.  We’d talk on the phone all day, share our plans, and the weather updates from our backyards and front windows. Sometimes the kids would bundle up and end up at one house or the  other to play games or have lunch. I loved those days.

But my best things to do these days when it’s too cold to be outside?

1)      Make a fire in the fireplace.
2)      Baking…of course. Cookies, bread, muffins. They are all good cold-weather baking, and excellant to have with #9.
3)      Make soup….any kind of soup.
4)      Read magazines… I’m addicted to magazines, and I love a good long stretch to dig into the big pile and browse...plan home decorating, read up on the latest knitting patterns or a new sewing technique, plan a wardrobe or copy recipes.
5)      Knit … mittens or a hat or something easy and warm.
6)      Sew. This weekend, it was cold. The kind of cold where it was just better to be in the house.  Augie had a sleepover and we have beeen planning  a project since Christmas.  Together, we made a Finn Hat and we made a very, very happy little boy. Mimi even surprised him with a Finn-shaped pancake for breakfast!

7)      Wear comfy cozies all day.
8)      Clean out a closet or a drawer or rearrange furniture or reorganize my sewing room.
9)      Drink tea or hot cider with spices.
10)   Watch a Marathon of Something on television or settle in for  "Gone With the Wind," " Breakfast at Tiffany’s", "Steel Magnolia’s" or "The Godfather."

You know what? I had a really nice weekend....even if it was cold. I got to see and hug and hold every one of my grandchildren.

That makes me very, very happy.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mirror, Mirror...

I love mirrors. If they are funky and old, that much better...the view through a faded or tarnished or aged glass makes me feel as if I'm looking back in time. 

a glimpse of  an image in a mirror tells a story that may otherwise obscured from view,

I love how they reflect light and expand a vista....

We can be mirrors...reflecting the emotions, moods and  attitudes of our world....

A mirror can display a vision of who we are or what we want to be.

When I saw this Sunburst Mirror in the last issue of This Old House, I knew we had to make it. The good folks at This Old House have given us a great tutorial on their website.

It's made from carpenter wood shims. and a mirror (which, by the way, my husband purchased at the new Hobby Lobby, and I didn't get to go with him).

It was a gift made  for someone special.

I hope when they look into it, they see not only a refection of now, but the possibility of what can be.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Soups and Shoes

Ten on Tuesday on Wednesday : My Ten Favorite Soups:

  • NY Senate Bean Soup
  • Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup with Townhouse Crackers
  • My own recipe rustic Tomato Soup
  • She Crab Bisque that I had when I vacationed once on Kiawah Island, SC many, many years ago.
  • Clam Chowder from one of those dockside chowder places in Boston ( again, from a vacation many years ago)
  • Baked French Onion Soup (when it’s loaded with onions that have been caramelized forever and topped with a ridiculous amount of provolone cheese on a crusty garlicy toasty baguette. And the cheese has to run down the side of the soup ramekin.
  • Roast Beef Soup ( I forget if that was Vicki’s recipe or Carole’s recipe!) Love, Love, Love…beef, potatoes, carrots. Simple and delicious.
  • Cheeseburger Soup
  • White Chicken Chili
  • That soup with Italian sausage, kale and white beans…I make it at home. I don’t know what it’s called..and it has a dose of cream in the chicken broth to make it sort of milky/brothy.

Now, the rest of the story.

I stated a closet clean out. My house has  the best closets in the world and the worst closets in the world. They are the best because it’s practically unheard of to have a 1920 house with room-sized closets for each bedroom. That is no joke, people. 

My sewing room is in one of them (and it includes it’s very own built-in cedar closet).
You could fit a full sized mattress in  the guest room closet (in fact, we've done that for sleep-over guests!) 
The third closet is with the master bedroom….just as roomy.

But the problem with these closets is that they have a sloping ceiling on one end and there is a window in each of them. Which makes it very difficult to manage the space efficiently. 

My husband would tell you that the space would be much more efficient if I got rid of half of my clothes. He also can’t understand why I have so many shoes ( and I don’t have that many shoes!) He also felt compelled to show me how I am statistically waaaaaay over the average as far as how much closet space a woman uses vs. a man’s usage. He actually dropped some random statistic on me like he knew what he was talking about! (I’m actually going to google it to see if he’s right.) JR  is the master of space planning, but after 3 ½ years in this house, we’ve come up with little more than a huge shelving unit along one wall and shoe shelves along the other window wall. We really do have to think about how to plan this closet space.

The clothes rods are arranged on the sloping ceiling end, and they are one behind the other….which is a huge pain. I feel like I’m parting the temple veil when I have to get something from the back of the closet…I need a rope tied to my ankle when I go in, just in case I never come out again.

So last night, I sorted, and folded and neatened 
things up a bit…which helps. 

I packed up two huge bags to donate (And this morning, I couldn't find a thing to wear).

Tomorrow, my husband starts a job for someone and he’s actually planning and building a master closet. I’m sure it’s going to be the most efficient, organized closet in WNY. I’m jealous.

But you know what they say about the cobbler’s family?
Oh, yeah. My cobbler would say I have enough shoes already.