Saturday, April 28, 2012

Well, I'm wearing them.

I cannot emphasize enough that my jeans are not a technical marvel, nor are they a seamstress' perfection, but I am wearing them today. And I'm happy to say that this vision that I have had in my mind ever since I saw the Cabi Bootlet Jeans last fall, has sort of become a reality this morning!

I adore them. I think they are just the cutest little jeans ever. So, since I  miscut this pair of  test jeans, the shorter length ended up being a perfect fix.

I dare not show you the top of the jeans, with the misplaced button, horrid fly front and pocket placement that only accentuates my flat butt.  But trust me when I tell you the fit is fine, other than just another minor adjustment to the waist to crotch depth , which, duh, I didn't even think about until I saw the 
Silhouette Patterns Webcasts about fitting jeans. (thanks to Debbie, a reader, who turned me on to this online treasure)

So, I dare say, I'm going to do it again. Now that I've worked out most of the issues and understand the construction, I can say with certainty that the time was worth it this week. I will make a pair of jeans that will fit this narrow-hipped, thick-waisted, short and flat-butted body of mine!

And I will wear this little cropped jeans today because even if they are not the prettiest things under that long top, they fit well and are comfortable and will be perfect for getting a pedicure with my two favorite girls on the face of the daughters! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jeans and Trains

Okay. My jeans are a hot mess. And my serger blade is dull, which really messes up the works. But these are practice jeans, and despite the setbacks, I think I’m getting somewhere! It may not look like it, but I did have had some lightbulb moments this week:

1.  I can make jeans that fit and flatter. I really am most concerned that these stash fabric jeans have the fit issues worked out. which, I think is happening.

2.  After pulling out the fly AGAIN, I’m really left with an unsightly disaster up front. But I have been led in the direction of some fly front tutorials:
Debbie Cook, Peter from MPB, and (while not a tutorial), Katie shared her favorite fly front recipe from Jalie Jeans, so I was able to print the instructions from their site to use the next time around.. I see better fly fronts in my future.

This is not a nice fly.


3.  I played around with the idea of a “tummy tuck” panel, and have been exploring some options like extending the pocket linings to the fly or adding an extra bit of structure by way of a separate panel, so I think that will definitely be an element in my future jeans.  

4. I have learned that some combination of denim weight + lycra content are essential to getting a good fit. My fabric did not give good jeans support. I would choose something sturdier.

5.  I need a different foot for topstitching. I think using a narrow foot would be a much better option, especially when topstitching around that fly front mine field of zipper pulls, fly facings and zipper stops. I have the feeling it will give me a little better control.

6. Today, I bought a pair of jeans at Old Navy which fit nicely. I will wear them, and use them as my muse for future jeans sewing endeavors.

     And in other news:
The best thing happened the other day at work. One of our social workers was showing off pictures of her new granddaughter, and I was showing off pictures of my newest grandbabies, and as we chatted, we learned that her Chicago daughter lives about 10 minutes from our Chicago daughter! In fact, as we talked more, she shared that she always takes the train, and then the Metra to the Glen Ellyn station, which is exactly where Amelia lives! As she told me about her train travel experiences, she mentioned she was going again for her baby’s christening in May. The SAME weekend that we are going for our baby’s christening!
So, JR and I are taking the train! I am very, very excited! It’s a brand new adventure for us and seriously makes the most perfect sense since it would cost far more for us to drive, and two extra days of driving time! And my new friend Ellie is going to be riding along both ways with us!
We get to (hopefully) sleep all night and arrive the next morning in Chicago! Needless to say, I am thinking about what I might need to take along for the train ride, and planning an easy to pack weekend wardrobe again.
Have you ever taken a long distance train trip? What things should I absolutely not forget to bring along?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jeans vs. Me

Gosh, I could think of so many fun things I could have been doing the past few evenings. Let's see...
I could paint my toenails,
read a book,
bake cinnamon buns,
scrub the toilets,
do laundry,
pull my fingernails out one by one...

But, NO....I decide to try to make jeans. Now, mind you, I'm sure, somewhere in my past history, I have actually purchased a pair of jeans that fit. Especially in these days of spandex and shape-sizing and a zillion different options for jeans. But, jeans were on the Spring Wardrobe Challenge, and by golly, I decided to give it the old college try.  After all, I like a challenge. And I like to sew. And I like jeans.

And I have Butterick 5682 and all of those girls look great in their jeans, right?

SO far,
I miscut my pattern so these will be cropped jeans.
I used a denim with 3% lycra that I've had in my stash. Have you ever tried to topstitch on denim with 3% lycra?
And speaking of top-stitching, I ran out of top-stitch thread and couldn't find a match, so the front of my jeans are top-stitched a different color than the back of my jeans, but hey... maybe that could be intentional, right? They are custom jeans.
I've burnt my arm on my iron,
taken out the fly about 4 times, the last time making a hole in the fabric with my seam ripper,
which made me decide that just maybe these jeans need to be distressed so it looks like that hole is intentional.

And all the while I'm thinking of a 30% off coupon at Kohls where I could spend 6 hours trying on 50 pairs of jeans and it just may be less painful and less time consuming than what I'm doing now.

But I will not give up. No sir. I make my own clothes. I can make my own jeans! I will win this battle of the denim!

But did you know that you have to change your thread about every five minutes? These could take awhile.
Oh, and I have rivets, too.

Does anyone like making jeans?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Other people's junk

During the years I was making dolls and had to hunt for vintage textiles, I would go to the flea market at 4:30am on Sundays with my flashlight, and stop at every garage sale I would come across. Never fail, I would always find a little something extra for myself. So, it’s no surprise that as JR and I are shopping flea markets, auctions and thrift stores to find things for our first antiques and flea market show, I would find a little something for myself.

Some of my favorite finds over the past few weeks?
A glass chandelier ( I want to keep it SOOOOOO badly…my husband and I are still in negotiations over this one)

A cloth Moravian star chandelier ( all handmade! It’s the quirkiest, coolest thing ever…for $5!)

A set of amazing green glass dishes

A clock radio, straight out of the sixties, which proudly sits in our kitchen with it’s static-y stations until it moves to our 1961 Scotty camper.

And how adorable is this vintage baby scale? 

A vintage sailboat pitcher.

And my turquoise Spring coat, which started as a Dennis Basso “too-large” coat and after a few alterations, has become another favorite! It certainly has a 50's opera coat style to it. 

That is why I love other peoples’ junk.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Black Dress

The Black Dress is another of our  Basic Wardrobe Sew-Along Pieces.

It is classic, chic, simple, elegant, casual, special, everyday, versatile, and essential. Historians say that  Coco Chanel gave birth to this classic  in the 1920's and it has been a wardrobe staple ever since.
Of course we all remember Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, who wore her simple black dress so well that she became an icon of the LBD ever since!

While I won't bore you with a long list of patterns and fabrics, I can say this... practically any pattern you choose can become your black dress. Your pattern plus your fabric choice is essential in determining whether your black dress is for casual or dressy....or both! 
photo thanks to  Tori's Misadventures

Black dresses are my go-to's when nothing else seems to work. I have a few black cotton knit dresses that I can wear with a bright cardi or denim jacket for work or weekend. I have a few dressier versions in linen and cotton/silk that I have made and they have served me well both  at work and weekend OR for special occasions.
If you select a simple style made from a fine fabric, your dress can easily cover all your dress bases.

So I say, have fun. Use your imagination. and tell me about your favorite black dress! 

My own Clinton Kelly

You know, it’s not every day that you come downstairs all ready to go out the door only to have your husband (aka Personal Style Consultant/Critic) give you the once over.

“So, is that trendy these days?”

“Is what trendy?”

“Wearing pink and orange.”
(I am wearing  a very adorable fuschia tunic under a deep coral drapey cotton cardigan atop a pair of darling slim black ankle pants so there.)

“Yes, it is dear, very trendy.”
( I am also wondering if he is recalling all of the times that he complained that I should wear more color…I need to get away from all that gloomy doomy black and gray.)

“That’s called ‘hot blocking,’ isn’t it?”
(I am a wee bit surprised that he got it half-right… could he actually be browsing through my In Style magazines while  behind closed bathroom doors every morning like a good Personal Style Consultant/Critic should?)

Yes, dear. It’s called “hot-blocking.” If you actually care enough to care, we can call it “hot blocking” my little Clinton Kelly.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Burda Style 7360. A Spring Coat

Without the simple lines of this coat, the print wouldn't work. Without the print, this coat wouldn't work. Which to me, makes a perfectly perfect Spring coat. I was inspired by a couple of black and white
Kate Spade trench coats, and all my sewing plans got put aside until I could make my own version. As usual, the Burda Style pattern is beautifully drafted, but requires a sewing skill set to work through the instructions.  (you'll have to excuse my photos..I have been having some sucky camera issues of late)

This coat is made from a heavy cotton sateen from Joann's April Johnston for Project Runway , and lined with an anti-static lining. 

I just love that unexpected surprise of cobalt blue.  Every once in awhile, you can even get a peek of it up the sleeves. The 3/4 sleeves...a modification from the original pattern.
My other modifications? I raised the pockets by about 3 inches...they were exceptionally low on the original pattern.

The back has a very deep vent ( which you cannot see here!) One change I wish I had made was to make the coat a bit more A-line than it is.

I was about to put the lining in yesterday and  started to seriously think about bound buttonholes. So, after practicing, I decided to go for it.

I found some excellent tutorials on line...

Gertie's bound buttonholes ( this is the method I used)
And Sharon's tutorial for finishing the back of the buttonhole. 
And even though it took me a good part of the afternoon, I'm SO glad I added this extra special feature. And SO proud that I learned something new!

For me, I hit just the right mix of style and print and surprise, and I would certainly recommend  using Burda 7360.  It has interesting lines, a fabulous fit and some interesting design options.

Have a fabulous week, my friends!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I can have my popcorn and ice cream, too!

I have been eating popcorn every addition to ice cream every night. Aren't they the two best snacks ever?
I can't decide which one I would like, so I have them both. The ultimate in self-indulgence, right?

I get like that when I'm making stuff. Why only one coat when I can have two?  Should I have to choose between two different styles of ankle pants or can't I have both? Or why can't a girl own more than two maxi skirts, right? That's right! We get to make whatever we want!

My black and white Burda trench is about to get a lining. And I'm very, VERY excited about this coat. I think about it when I'm at work, take ten minutes in the morning to pin something or sew a seam, and race upstairs when I get home to get in a bit of sewing time before I make dinner. I just want to finish it and wear it!

Then comes along Spring Trench #2, which was a thrift find. And I am very, VERY excited about this coat, too!

Basically, the color is amazing, and it has modification possibilities, so....

I have already begun the transformation.

It will be fun to have both coats for Spring/Summer. Just like having popcorn and ice cream.
I'm reminded of one of my all time favorite Peanuts cartoons:

Snoopy is sitting on his doghouse, typing his novel. In the first panel, he writes: 
`Edith had refused to marry him because he was too fat.' 
Panel two: `Why don't you go on a diet?, suggested a friend. You can't have your cake and Edith too.' 
Panel three: `Mmmm!' thinks, Snoopy, turning from the typewriter and joyfully kicking his dog feet in the air. 
Last panel: `It's exciting when you've written something that you know is good!'

 It's exciting when you are making  something that you know is good. My two coats are good. And I'm excited.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

I am forgiven, free, greatly loved and blessed. 
Happy Resurrection Day!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Sewing Dreams

Thanks for all of your comments on the Mad Men dress! I have actually entered it into the
Pattern Review Vintage Contest, my first ever Pattern Review Contest. ( Thanks Carolyn, for the heads up!)
So pop on over and vote for your favorite starting April 17th! And just maybe it will be mine!

I am woefully neglect in my Spring Wardrobe Basics Sew Along. I have every intention of doing that shirt dress (see the end of this post) and some jeans. I've never made jeans, actually. So since I have some skinnies already, I'm thinking of trying some trouser style jeans....such as these:

Butterick 5682

And that shirtdress...seriously.

My mind has been all over the place as far as sewing. I've put together a few color stories:

 And trying to decide in which direction to go.  My  leaning is toward the  royal blue/red line, but then I change my mind about every other day. 

I guess I get to do that, right? I have the fabric, I have the time, and I get to make whatever I want. I was totally sidetracked this week by wanting a print trench style coat for Spring. Without that classic "trench coat" styling. So, of course, I shopped the RTW,

Kate Spade

Fell in love with these Kate Spade designs...
Kate Spade

And shopped my stash for the perfect black and white floral sateen.

)oh, that cobalt blue? those will be ankle pants. I'm so excited.)   I've cut out the jacket  and I'm on my way. The pattern I'm using is Burda Style 7360.

I think using such a bold print calls for a less fussy trench. And, I don't do well with fussy and double breasted and all those extras. I LOVE the lines of this pattern. It has such a sleek look to it.

Let's see...I'm pretty much dying to make some tops from my Renfrew pattern:

And the search is on for the perfect fabric to make a shirt dress. I'm almost thinking of using some black eyelet that I've had for years....

Similar, from another source

What do you think? Would it translate well into a shirt dress?  How would you suggest lining it, if at all? Your thoughts? Your ideas?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Butterick 5557. My Mad Men Dress

Over at Julia Bobbin,  you'll find lots of ladies who are crazy about Mad Men. She hosted a SewAlong, and, yes, I participated. Just today, I put the finishing touches on my Joanie inspiration dress. I haven't emailed my photo to Julia yet, so until then, I'll share some background of my dress and some photos of my finished project.

I was inspired by the incredible florals that were seen throughout the first four seasons...representing a femininity and softness in such a man's world.

So, while Joanie didn't often wear florals...just for special occasions like a dinner party with Greg's boss or for the Cleo's, I was blown away when Season 5 was getting amped up and I saw this Joan :

And in the Season Five premier, we saw this Joan:

And I was hooked. (Check out the piped scoop neck of the pink dress, and the beaded sleeve edges of both dresses.)  Of course, it doesn't hurt that these ladies were years ahead of their time, right?  Because what exactly is hot this 2012 Spring?

Florals! Bold, wonderful florals!

In everything from dresses and skirts to jeans and jackets.  I selected my fabric, which is a charmeuse. But  you know how charmeuse can be so shiny sometimes? But it was this back side of this bold floral that I was in love with.

My pattern was Butterick 5557, from their Retro line. A copy of a 1955 pattern. This pattern is a two piece, but I knew it would work better for me a few more curves with that wonderful peplum-ish  top.

In addition to changing the neckline to a scoop neck and adding piping to the neck edge

I also added some beading trim to the sleeve hems. By layering two different beaded trims, I created a custom trim to add to the sleeve. I simply sewed them together the two along the ribbon using my zipper foot.

So here she is:

My tribute to Joan Holloway.

Now I just need a special occasion!