Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back from the woods

Sometimes I just wonder if I could live in the woods forever. We just got back from several days of tent camping at Eighth Lake in the Adirondacks…a much anticipated trip for me, since I have so many fond memories of camping there with my family many years ago. The smells, the forest, the incredible views…I will always count this place as one of my favorites.

The week was such fun…hiking, swimming and canoeing, campfires and camp cooking. I took plenty of magazines and my nook to read, but found myself most times much too distracted  by the quiet, the beauty, and the wildlife.

We had the best time. Our site was right on the lake, so evenings, we listened for the loons, and watched the fog settle over the lake. For weeks I looked forward to this trip, and remembering the wildlife encounters of my childhood, I was counting on seeing raccoons and chipmunks at our site. And we sure did….daily.

 But what I had really hoped for, the dare-devil thrill seeker that I am,  was a bear sighting, and although we didn’t actually see him, there was indeed a bear right at our campsite one night!!!

…he left his evidence everywhere.

Ben and Rebecca joined us for the weekend for their first tent camping adventure. It was a perfect opportunity to relax and re-connect with my son and his girlfriend, and to make even more Adirondack memories.

On our way home, I insisted on taking the long way, stopping by one of the places that we always camped when I was a kid…Lewey Lake. And with map in hand, we explored the sites and circled our favorites to prepare for next year…when we just may have to make two trips to those Adirondack Mountains.

I am so thankful that we get to enjoy these mountains, thankful that much of it remains just as God created it. Wonderfully made. But now that I’m home, desperately in need of some nesting time and sewing time, I’m just as thankful to be living in a house instead of the woods.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Butterick 5706...the perfect sheath?

Searching for the perfect sheath dress

Meet Butterick 5706. The first version.

This is a basic sheath with several options for sleeves, neckline and hemline.

And because this is such a basic dress, I think it’s essential to try to get the perfect fit. So, I started with my muslin.

I cut according to my high bust measurement and did a full bust adjustment. Then I tweaked from there….

Added an inch to the length,

Raised the neckline by about an inch

Took in the side seams below the bust and added some long shaping darts to the front waist area.

Added some width to the cap sleeve

And I don’t know where I went wrong, but after I cut out my dress from fabric, I realized that the shoulder/neckline area was gaping. I’ve had this issue before after doing the FBA and I believe I need to go down a size through the upper bodice and shoulder. Anyway, my quick fix was to remove some of that excess with a few darts at the neckline in the back of the dress and chopping out a section above the neckline in the front, adding a seam there. Then I embellished it with a button on each side.

Doing this, I was much more comfortable with the way the neckline laid against my body. No gaping.

So, I made some final adjustments to my pattern so that the next version, made from that stunning Kaffe Fassett print should be spot on perfect fit.

I am determined to make this the best fitting dress I have ever endeavored to sew!

Monday, August 20, 2012

What's not to love?

Did I really just spend an hour sitting on my sewing room floor removing threads from the wheels of my sewing chair with manicure scissors?

Do I really have that much time on my hands?

Anyway, we had a big birthday weekend in my family. My son Ben, my daughter Meghan, her husband David and Sofia. So it was two days of birthday parties and it was good. I got to do a big dinner for the big kids on Saturday and we laughed ourselves silly sharing that meal.

The grand finale to that meal was two of the most incredible cakes I have ever made…a Carrot Cake from Southern Living that was the most delicious, gooey, dream-worthy, roll around naked in it carrot cake that I have ever tasted. A warm buttermilk/butter glaze topped the warm cakes, finished by a thick cream cheese icing. What’s not to love?

And a Dr. Pepper Texas Chocolate Cake from the Dinosaur Barbeque Cookbook. Sweet, dark and chocolately. It just may be my new favorite chocolate cake. And yes, it was made with Dr. Pepper, which, coincidentally, I do not like.

And is it so wrong that I got up at 2:00am this morning to watch Breaking Bad and ate a piece of that Carrot Cake? Is it really so wrong?

Even though we are never allowed to sing Happy Birthday to her, Sofia had a great party. Pinata, Dora Cupcakes, Beef on Weck and more family fun and babies made it pretty much another perfect day.

I love my family. I love them more than that Carrot Cake.

And I think I may have a few dresses to show you this week...where the OCD paid off while I worked out the fit and made probably the two best summer dresses EVER!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chatting about clothes

Good grief, where does the time go? Timelines are kind of skewed the last few weeks for me, just trying to get my back in proper working order, which has meant lots of appointments and driving time each week. But, the good news is, I’m about 90% better, and after this most recent episode, I have got to make myself a solemn promise to do my exercises, strengthen and stretch, and take good care of this age old herniated disc injury.

JR and I were talking the other day, and I was trying to explain how having a back injury can just about suck the life out of me. I try not to let it get me down, but it really does diminish what I feel like and can do. Top that with 90 degree days, and my sewing room being un-air conditioned…blah, blah, blah. You know what I’m saying. Enough of that. Life is good.

Usually when I’ve been in a sewing slump, I need to jumpstart by just straightening my sewing room, organizing my stash and reviewing projects.

yes, this is my mess.
So, I think that’s what I’ll do. I got a little start on things tonight, and before you know it, I was setting in sleeves and attaching a lining on a dress!
just a peek at some stash organization
Do you ever find that the seasons change so quickly that you never really have time to sew all the projects you had planned? That is so me. Of course, it’s that time of the year that we start taking a look at new Fall patterns, adding to the growing project pile.

Could you die over some of the new Vogue patterns? Audrey has already made a jaw-dropping version of Vogue 1316. Some of my other favorites?

 I get the email updates from Burda and was blown away by this new batch of patterns:

The French Retro Collection
This week I've been reviewing the Fall trends…I’m so glad color is still a big thing, even though it may be toned down just a bit from the last few seasons. After years of being in a black and neutral rut, I am learning to embrace color and trying to do it in a way that is appropriate for a 50+ woman. There has to be room for a few jewel toned skirts and pants that will work back to some of other basics in charcoal, brown and winter white.

have I already started my Fall shopping?
 And seriously….shades of red, burgundy and blue? Made for me! Throw in a black and blue animal print from the stash? And a wee tiny suggestion of baroque? I’m sold!

And I’m really glad the peplum has slid into the fall season, since I totally missed it this past Spring and Summer. I have the same Vogue 8815 peplum top that is being made all over the sewing world and I’d love to work it up in maybe a glazed denim.

I love the idea of the updated military look that continues, contrasted by everything ladylike and feminine and curvy, including dresses and suits.

Lately I started reading a new fashion blog...Wardrobe Oxygen…I love when women accept their bodies the way they are and show us how to love fashion no matter what our size or shape. Alison has a great sense of style, and she is refreshing and realistic, too. So check out Wardrobe Oxygen for a bit of wardrobe inspiration.

So many looks, so little time! But until then, there are still five more weeks of summer….
But, what have you got your eye on for Fall?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Happy and Good

Do you ever feel like when you get back from a vacation you need another vacation just to get settled? The last several days have been sort of busy…we cleaned out a storage locker, have been working on furniture, and trying to stay comfortable in this blasted heat…which means I don’t do much sewing, I do more napping in my air conditioned bedroom!

But it’s good to be in a happy place in life.

While God is good all the time, I am rarely so. And despite my failings and flaws, this is a good life.

I wonder sometimes if it’s just me getting more mature… having a better grip on what’s important, learning how to let things go, and mastering the art of hard work balanced by sometimes doing nothing.

Certainly, there’s been a resurgence of creativity lately, and that is always good. with JR and I working on furniture pieces that have been selling…we seem to have a perfect blend of my ideas with his technical skill, his good eye with my joy and whimsy. We often think the same way, or at least in a way that compliments each other. That again, could be just maturity… having a better grip on what’s important , learning to let things go, and mastering the art of hard work balanced by sometimes doing nothing.

I love my family in a way that is less complicated than before….if that makes sense. I enjoy the simple action of loving them, of hearing their voices.

I am happy when I’m putting my hands to something and creating.

Fresh produce is good.

Absolutely a happy place to be.

Friday, August 3, 2012


You know how sometimes when you go on vacation, you wish for just one more day?

That’s how I felt this time around. Michigan was great, other than the flight delays which meant I had to spend the night in the Chicago airport, and then more flight delays in the morning due to weather, which meant I didn’t get to my destination until 10:30am on Wednesday instead of 10:30pm on Tuesday. I could have walked to Grand Rapids in that amount of time, I swear!

As per usual, it was the beach, the boat, kayaking, reading and thrifting. Of course, my standard trip to Field’s Fabrics for some stash. Good gravy, I love that fabric store. Seeing as the only fabric shopping I can do is at Joann’s or online, it’s always such a treat to see something new and different.

I came out with less than what I wanted, but more than what I planned for. So, I guess it worked out.

A couple of amazing, weighty ponte knits. Amazing. I think one will be a jacket and the other will be a pencil skirt ...

( just like the one I saw on the Cabi site!)

Enough of this jersey for a dress. LOVE the colors and pattern.

Some basic white Robert Kaufman Rayon Bamboo Jersey. Nice stuff. Really nice.
And a Kaffe Fassett outrageous cotton print for a shift dress.
Isn't this amazing????

So, that will be enough to keep me busy, right?

On our way home on Tuesday, we took our sweet time, discovering Marine City on the Detroit River. After a few scores in the antique stores, we had lunch at a local place on the river and then took the ferry across to Canada. It was such a great couple of hours. We’ll go back there every year, no doubt. This small town is re-building and re-marketing itself as a destination for antiquing. And we were certainly impressed with our visit.

So, it’s back to work, back to normal… until our next mini-trip to camp in the Adirondacks later this month. And then, next thing you know it will be Christmas.

                                                               Goodbye Lake Michigan!

See you next summer...