Tuesday, February 26, 2013

adventures in black and white...the next version.

I like doing this… At first I wondered if it would be a little boring for me to embrace the black and white thing since it’s my norm for me to wear black and white, but this trending Spring look is really challenging me to approach at these two neutrals in a completely different way.

My black and white project this week uses once again, a peplum….Are you tired of this peplum thing yet? Not me!

I imagined a peplum in black and white, and set my mind to working it out, using New Look 6130.

With the princess seams, it was pretty much a no-brainer to do the bodice. But the weight of my white ponte was, well, not weighty enough. I underlined it with a swimwear lining so it wasn’t quite so see-through.

Underlining is a very good thing. We should use it more often.
To continue that black and white theme through to the peplum, I needed to split it in parts. I cut the pattern apart where the peplum skirt tuck lies, so my seam is hidden…and then sewed it all together.


 By the way, I underlined the white section here as well.

Added an exposed zipper to the back:

My mistake? Without even thinking, I put that zipper in. I just grabbed a fashion zipper from my zipper stash and went to work.  I was so careful. It was a flawless installation, and well, after seeing it completed, I realized that for a better style effect, I should have done that zipper the full length of the back or shorter. Arg. Well, that's what a jacket is for.

I thought I had a great fit, and then the neckline went all wonky on me.

I think it's because of two different things:

1. The type and weight of the fabric. I used a lighterweight ponte, like I mentioned above. Even with underlining and interfacing, the fabric just did not support that open split neckline. I even tried using a sturdier interfacing, but it had the opposite effect and made it flop even more. So I went back to the original interfacing. I believe this would have been much nicer in a v-neck or bateau neckline. In fact, I almost took the whole bodice apart to do a v-neck but by the time I was at that point, I just plain gave up on it. I was "THIS close" to throwing it in the trash can.

2. Because of the structure of the neckline, I should have done a bit more of a full bust adjustment. I wonder if that would have made it lay better? See those drag lines just across the top of the bust?

The other issue? Now that I look at it in the photos, I can see that this top with the inverted triangle of white really emphasizes my inverted triangle body. ( I think I read somewhere that it's also called a strawberry shape...isn't that a nice name?) Again, I could throw a jacket over it, but, oh, that neckline.

Well, I'm going to be perfectly honest with you. I'm guessing I won't wear this top, unless I throw a jacket over it. I think I would wear it if it were made in two fabrics that were more similar in tone and color. So it's not SO "look at me, I'm black and white!" It would probably be a more flattering look for me, given the inverted triangle thing.  I'm going to try it with a print skirt that I'm working on right now, and then maybe, just maybe, this peplum top and I can work something out.

So, all in all, I must confess, I do like this pattern for a peplum top with princess seams. It really gives you a great opportunity for color blocking and fitting. I may work with this one again in the future, but for right now, it's not my friend and we need some space.

So speaking of peplums, I have been to Joann’s THREE times looking for the newest Lisette pattern Simplicity 1666. I'm actually liking how the seaming is on it...might be better for my body shape.

I MUST get this pattern! I have the perfect fabric for the dress!

Looking forward to my next adventure in black and white!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

anti-aging secrets

Everything about me is changing. Which I've always felt is a very, very good thing as long as the most important changes are happening where it really counts...marriage, faith, friendships, wisdom, work...all that good stuff.

After 50, my skin started changing. It’s lined and a little softer. It’s also much drier. I've been trying to figure out the best thing for my skin all of this winter. I use a prescription Retin A , so that definitely contributes to the dryness. I find that the moisturizer and makeup that I've been using just isn't quite right anymore.

Here's one thing  I know:  it’s all too easy to get sucked into the whole product market where every manufacturer/end user has the best product and swears by its effectiveness.

I confess, yes, I am a Birchbox lover just like thousands of the rest of you. I do love me some surprise products in the mail….I can’t help it!

Allow me share a few of my little secrets.
Forget all the anti-aging claims that are out there. My brother-in-law is a plastic surgeon. He tells me the only truly proven anti-aging topical is Retin A…prescription strength. I wish I had started it years ago. The over the counter stuff may have some good properties, but there is nothing to beat the percentage that you can get with a prescription strength. He says, “Why send in a boy to do a man’s job?” I know that I’m lucky to be able to get that generic prescription instead of spending lots of big money on a whole host of other creams and serums, day and night this and that. For me, it was a great solution, and after a year of using the prescription strength, I feel like I really see a difference in my skin,…it just keeps getting better while at the same time, mostly due to hormonal changes, it's getting drier.

via pinterest

 I also believe that another true anti-aging effect can be achieved with appropriate hydration. Drinking lots of water and using a good moisturizer. I started using 100% Argan Oil as a serum/moisturizer and I LOVE IT! My daughter uses pure Jojoba oil and she loves it.
via pinterest

And the last secret? Joy from within can take years off your face.

What about you? Do you have a regime that you swear by? I’m really interested to know if anyone uses any of the cosmetic oils that are available and what your thoughts are.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

making pants ...

Okay, here we go again with the pants. It's always a project for me to try to either :
a. buy pants or
b. make pants.
Which is why I tend to wear mostly skirts and dresses, and why I told Victoria that I would make pants as my Fearless February project.

I have no hips, I have no butt.  So imagine my surprise  when I see that one of the websearches that landed someone on my page is "best fitting a** pants." Seriously. Do they even know me?

My Michael Kors Spring 2013 Collection inspiration continues with these pants:

Aren't these the cutest pants ever? I love the blocks of color,  the front yoke placement

The shiny sateen. SO amazing. I'm going to make them. As soon as my fabric comes in the mail! So I sure hope that I can get them done for my February challenge and for the Pattern Review  RTW contest!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

skirt in stripes

The Michael Kors Spring 2013 Collection is one of the freshest most fun collections. When I first laid my eyes on it, I knew I had to do some pieces inspired by those stripes and colors.
When I found this knit rugby stripe at Joann's, I knew exactly what it would become.

I used Simplicity 2184, a simple gored skirt intended for a woven fabric. But then, leave it up to me to mix things up. I used view D, cut a size smaller and came up with this"

Dressed up just a bit

                                                                             And for work:

                                                                         And weekends

What a fun skirt to wear!

So I may as well confess. While I was at it, I picked up the red and blue stripe of this same fabric. And a few shades of stretch sateen to match because I am crazy about a few other things in Michael's collection. I'll let you know as soon as they are finished! 

For today, I'm working on a new peplum top and maybe a Hot Patterns skirt. Happy sewing weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

love is a comfortable robe

I think I have the best husband in the world.

Out of the blue, while we were watching television, he presented me with a big box. It wasn't even Valentine's Day.

Inside the box was a luscious, fat terrycloth bath robe. Wrapped up in a big fat red grosgrain ribbon.

I thought maybe a customer gave it to him.

Or that he got bonus points to redeem for something free.

But no, he bought it for me. he said, "Honey, I hope that I am everything you will ever need in your life." I said, "babe, if that were the case I wouldn't need God or shopping."
I guess he’s tired of seeing me in Ben’s old flannel robe when I get out of the shower.

Of course, this certainly is a practical gift (in JR's words, I needed it, and he got gray so that it wouldn't show stains)  and not in any way a grrr wink wink gift.

But he remembered my love language,

And he surprised me.

And that’s just the best. I wrapped up in that robe and wore it straight into bed over my flannel pajamas that night and I loved it and I loved him.

Last night, I personalized that robe with an expression of love. With a leftover knitted heart class sample.  He thought it was cute.

This morning, I was texting my husband, my kids, and texting Lori...we were all chatting about Valentine's Day... thoughts of love, romantic gifts (or lack thereof) and how we were spending our days.

Me to JR:
You better go put a deposit on that serger so I can tell everyone what a wonderful husband I have because he bought me a serger for Valentines Day!

And within minutes, from Katie:
One of my favorite Valentine's memories of all was the year JR woke up early and drew a Valentine in the fresh snow... It didn't cost a single penny, but is showed he cared and was one of the sweetest things I've seen. Future male generations should follow suit and learn from this example so they are a role model to their sons on how to treat a lady! :) :) :) happy valentines day!

Me to Katie:
He is. Sometimes i think I need more and you remind me that anything he would buy doesnt last forever but his love for us will always be love

Me again:
Not that i still wouldn't mind a suprise michael kors chronograph two tone watch.....


Me to Lori:
I just texted kate back to thank her for the reminder that his love for us is forever but candy and flowers are so temporary.

Me again to Lori:
Except a serger. A serger is forever.

Oh yes sergers are forever. I read that on a Hallmark card.

                                                      Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

adventures in black and white

Since 2004/2005, Pantone has been steadfastly forecasting fashionable colors for us. And we love it, looking  forward to their trends each season.
So, it’s always so interesting to see what clothes we choose and ultimately decide to wear every day. So, if we keep in mind that “every day” is different for everyone, depending on how you spend your time and what your work dress code dictates, I would still bet that a good number of us pretty much wear a lot of black.

I do. And I love color! So, let’s think about this.

First of all, is there anything wrong with a predominantly black wardrobe and second, why are we not adventurous when it comes to color in our wardrobes?

not so basic black
                                                     not so basic black by lbrundage 

Is there anything wrong with black? No!

Every wardrobe needs a neutral base. Mind you, black may not be your best neutral (maybe yours should be navy or gray or chocolate…oh, wait….everyone should have chocolate as a staple) But for point of discussion, since so many of us gravitate toward black, we’ll talk about black.

  • Black goes with everything.
  • Black can be appropriate from the bedroom to the workplace to a funeral and gosh, even a wedding these days!
  • Black is always classic and
  • From time to time, it may even be trending in fashion, like it is right now, when paired with white.
  • Black is a wardrobe staple that crosses style, generational and seasonal borders. It can be simple or grand, embellished or plain and dollars to donuts, if you can’t think of a thing to wear, a simple black sheath, black tee or black pants can be a place from which to start to build an outfit.
  • Black is easily accessorized.
  • (I am not even going to go to the black is slimming argument, because I think if clothes fit properly and are of the best shape for our body type, anything can be slimming)
Second question…I wonder why so many of us are not adventurous with color (cultural/religious requirements aside)?

I know! I know!  I think there are two reasons why women chose black over colors.

  • With black you don’t have to think. Black is easy. When you are a busy woman, any number of various engagements in a 24 hour period, wearing black is safe. To open a closet and have to think up an outfit everyday can seem overwhelming.
  • We are scared of color...wearing color may bring attention to us. What if I choose the wrong color? What if wearing color means that others won't take me seriously. Don't get me wrong, I will wear color, but I always feel like when I do, I feel like I'm shouting "Hey! Look! I'm wearing color!"
So I was challenging myself to find different ways to wear the black in my closet…by adding white and a color once a week or by mixing up black and white textures or prints…. Just to see what would happen. Maybe I won't melt into a puddle or have to be carried off in a straight jacket  Maybe I'll still be taken seriously at work. Maybe I will still look 5 pounds thinner. I need a fresh approach to my favorite basic color. And I need to do it in a way that makes sense. And I need to include a sewn or thrifted or up-styled article of clothing in the outfit.

                    (vogue 8815 peplum, leopard scarf, a thrifted skirt with tags, and a little shot of red for my earrings)
What do you think about this? Is black a wardrobe staple for you and why? Will you try the black and white adventure challenge? I am dying to try some unexpected colors/textures with black and white and then share my experiment with you!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

can you wear green?

Emerald Green: the color of the year.

I've never been one to wear green. Except when I was a little girl. Because I was born on St. Patrick’s Day, I would often wear a green dress on my birthday (my favorite aunt Millie would buy me a pretty green something on some of those early birthdays).

So, then, back in the eighties, I had my colors done (remember "Color Me Beautiful?") which confirmed that I really don’t look good in green.

But I love green. My house is full of green. My gardens are alive with green of every shade imaginable. How could such a vibrant and alive color make me look washed out and dead?

That being said, I never give much thought to wearing green on places of my body that don’t come in contact with my face. Like, a bag, pants, shoes, a skirt?

Here is my  inspiration for the season…It's all about the Michael Kors. To be honest with you , I am FREAKING OUT over this collection.  Take a few minutes to watch the Spring 2013 Runway Show. I don't know why...maybe it's the boldness, the simplicity, the fresh new take on some classic shapes and patterns. Oh my gosh, I am crazy about it. There are rugby stripes.

What???? Stop the show! Green rugby stripes? Well then.

                            And  so, here is what I'm working on. Right now. And I AM SO excited.

This is going to be such a cool fun skirt. I can't wait to finish it this weekend!

And, let’s not forget that we can commit to do green in 2013 by adding more of it to our diets:
my favorite roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta
asparagus and gruyere on puff pastry
                                     That’s a win/win combination of green if you ask me.

a little sunshine and brightness please?

Ugh..its February in the North. I can have a tendancy to go into a black and gray mode... maybe it's Seasonal Affective Disorder or something, but I find I am less energetic, more likely to nap. Less likely to be adventurous, more likely to stay indoors and veg. I crave bright days but find that I fall into a rut of dullness. Does that happen to you? My clothes don't feel right, my makeup doesn't feel right, and I certainly don't have the sunniest of dispositions.

This morning, I was getting ready for work and had a whole black suit thing layed out...I sort of had to chuckle to myself when I opened the drawer for a tee and saw this:
I need to snap out of it!

A few nights ago, I drug myself up from watching episodes of Downton Abbey and made up another Renfrew from some Michael Miller cotton interlock that I've had since last summer. Lovely, lovely knit. I've made Renfrew a lot.

I am wearing it to work today. But now that I see the photos, I'm thinking I need to shorten the length and the sleeves...hmmm.

But for today, it will work just fine with a broken up suit and a pair of bright pants and necklace. So much fresher than the all black ensemble that my mood dictated this morning. I feel better already!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

sometimes little things are fun to make

When I was a little girl, like many of you, I started sewing and pretty much immediately started making doll clothes. My babes were going to be the best dressed dolls around.  Isn't there something so sweet and perfect about little girls dressing their babies and Barbies?

Before Christmas, I was approached by a co-worker and commissioned to make nightgowns for her granddaughters, and matching  nightgowns for their American Girl dolls. Six sets. This was a fun little project.

The girls' Grandma was The. Hit. of. Christmas. I heard that they wore those nightgowns all day long!

This set was mailed to one granddaughter, who is reported as never ever wanting to wear other pajamas. Ever.

Hmm, can't find a picture of the polka dot nightie! 
All of the knit fabric came from Joann's. I used three patterns : Simplicity 1722, Simplicity 4388, and Simplicity 8488 for the big girls' nighties. I found comparable patterns that I could use for the doll nighties to get a similar look using Simplicity 7083 and Kwik Sew 3965 and a free American Girl's original pattern . 

Fast forward to a  few weeks ago. My co-worker said the girls have just gone on and on about their dolls and needing clothes for them, so now the birthday gifts are being planned. 

First up are these two outfits for the faraway granddaughter's doll:

I have to confess, this has been a fun little distraction from my sewing, and I've used up scraps and bits from my stash. And it provided me with some extra pocket money.  "Too buy what?" you may ask?

  A coat's worth of poppy red wool ...