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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pretty Birds!

Have you ever been in need of something to do with your bag of scraps?  Well, here is your chance to make some adorableness.  I'm going to be honest with you, usually if it's less than a yard and I can't  use it for a project I'm working on and no matter how fabulous the fabric, it may just meet the garbage.  But this book, "Pretty Birds: 18 Simple Projects to Sew and Love" by Virginia Lindsay of Gingercake blog offers the most adorable solutions to your scrap fabric pile.
I'm not a "crafty sewer" by any means.  I live strictly for wardrobe building and for the fashion side of sewing.  But even for me, I think there are a couple of really cute projects that I would consider trying.  And the owl is one.  I think it would be cute for Isabella's room. Even though I've never sewn any softies, I would love to turn him into a pillow.
Another project that I feel would work for me is the canary.  The shape screams pincushion. 
And the final project that I would do is the cardinal.  I would create a few of these to be Christmas tree ornaments.  He couldn't be more perfect for that!

PRETTY BIRDS should be on the shelves of your favorite book store March 2015.  

By Virginia Lindsay 
Blog Tour Schedule 
 2/25 You Go Girl!
3/10 Sweet KM
3/12 Buzzmills

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Let me be the YKK on yo' zipper!

YKK Zippers vs. Coats & Clark - Erica B.'s DIY Style!
The title of this post is taken from the rap group Outkast's 2001 hit single, "So Fresh, So Clean".  Everytime I see a YKK zipper, I can't help but to sing the lyric aloud.  Which leads me to talk about my new favorite preference in zippers.  It was a longtime coming, but I finally have to say good-bye to Coats & Clark zippers.  I've held onto them for so long based on convenience.  See, I live really, REALLY close to Hancock Fabrics, Jo-Ann's AND Hobby Lobby.  I've always been able to easily make a mad dash to one of these locations for a quick zipper run and also with the savings possibility of coupons! Coupons will cause you to make bad choices just to say that you saved money.  When in the long run, you're not!

I've had several invisible C&C invisible zippers break on me in the last year.  Too many to count.  I even blogged about an experience that almost put me in a bind.  I did consider it was me.  But I've been successfully installing concealed zips for many, many years.  So when I doubted my own ability, I went in search of re-learning from scratch how to do it all over again.  Still, the zippers failed me once again and then again.  So, I'm done.  I'm not going to promise that in the throes of sewing passion that if I need a zipper, I won't give in and use a C&C.  But it's definitely no longer my go to brand.  

So as of today, YKK is my zipper brand.  They're considered the best zipper brand in the world.  And it's the brand that most designers use.  Just grab a random RTW garment of yours and look at the zipper.  It will almost always be stamped "YKK".  

Now that I've ventured out into the world of custom sewing, there is no way that I would put a C&C zipper in a garment for a customer.  I just don't trust their reliability,  Nor would I ever want to compromise the integrity of something someone has paid me to make with a sticky zipper, breaking teeth, a lockup or one that will more than likely split open on someone's special occasion.  I've had that happen, I know what it feels like and I wouldn't want anyone to experience that -- especially when I made it.

A zipper doesn't make a garment, but it can damn sure break one!

Here are my sources for YKK zippers:

What zippers are you using and highly recommend?  And what are your favorite sources or vendors?  Please share!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Beauty Review: Younique Mascara!

Allow me to preface everything in this post by first saying, I am NOT a beauty blogger, nor do I deem myself a beauty expert.  However, I am a consumer that has been purchasing makeup for the last 30 years.  That makes me an expert on ME and on what I like!
So, when I was approached by Emily Guffey, a Younique Presenter to review the Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes, I jumped on the opportunity.  I'm a product junkie and I love being put on to a new product that I've never heard of or probably wouldn't purchase based on the lack of familiarity.
So I graciously accepted this beautifully packaged mascara.  It's like NOTHING I've ever used before.  And the entire process of using it is an experience.  Let me explain how you apply it:
First, you apply a thin coat of your own regular mascara as a base.  Any kind will do.  I'm a fan of L'Oreal mascaras, so those are what I use.  

Then you apply a coat of the Moodstruck Transplanting gel.  And IMMEDIATELY following while WET, apply the Moodstruck Natural Fibers.  

The part about immediately and wet are extremely important.  Let's just say that the first time I tried this product that I failed to do that part.  It was like I was brushing tiny little feathery hairs into my eyes.  I knew I had to have done something very wrong.  So, after a few more tries and probably around a week later, I feel like I pretty much know how to properly apply it.  You have to do one eye at a time, have all applicators ready and move through it reasonably fast.  I really like the end results when applied properly.  I think after you actually get the hang of the application process, you can apply it quickly.  Because it really is all about technique.
A problem that I initially had was when I was applying the fibers too dry was the falling or flaking of the fibers onto my under eye area.  But again, this all has to do with perfecting your own technique.  Now, would I recommend this product?  Not to the regular woman.  But I HIGHLY recommend this to the lady who LOVES makeup and is always in search of the latest and greatest new product!

Disclaimer:  I received this product for to review.  I was not compensated.  All opinions on this product are my own.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Inspired by Pinterest! #FashionFriday

Happy Friday!  I find inspiration everywhere.  But I mostly find it from reading fashion and style blogs, my favorite retail site: Net-a-Porter.com and of course, Pinterest.  My brain is constantly on spring fashion lately.  It's all I can think about.  Here are a few things that I've pinned this week and the sewing pattern doppelgänger.
My pattern pick for the Alexander McQueen fiery red flirty mini dress is this pattern.  Since I recently made the jumpsuit from this selection, I know how the bodice fits and to me, that's the most important part of a fit and flare style.  The bodice of the pattern is different from the McQueen, but I love princess seams because you can easily adjust the fit.
McCall's 5530 (OOP) 
When I saw the Alice + Olivia jacket, I stopped what I was doing and immediately went to my pattern cabinet and pulled this one out.  I've had this pattern since it was initially released and I never got around to making it.  I'm so glad I was reminded of this adorable jacket.  I'd love to make mine in white just like the original.  Alice + Olivia styled theirs with high-waist wide-leg pants.  I'd probably do something similar.  Or maybe something as along the lines of what Stacey Bendet would do, like a maxi skirt!

Butterick 6169 and 6183
I wasn't immediately blown away by the styling of the new Butterick Lisette patterns.  But I looked away from the envelope and looked at the potential of each piece on its own.  Now, how cute would that moto jacket be when paired with the culottes?  I say pretty darn fabulous!
The white jumpsuit is from BrooklynBlonde.com and the black one is Michael Michael Kors.

Let's all face the facts:  jumpsuits are NOT going anywhere anytime soon.  They are the ultimate one-piece dressing.  And a long-sleeve peg-leg jumpsuit is a must have for me.  I picked this one.  Whether I make this one, or change out the bodice for a button style, I'm making one of these.
J.Crew has made the big shirt hot to me again.  It's like throwing on one of your boyfriend/husband's shirts with a pair of distressed jeans.  I make an awesome white shirt just about every year.  So this one is at the top of my list for this spring.  And this Butterick version is perfect.  I've already made one of the views before, so I know it's a great pattern.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Book Review: "Art & Sole" - Jane Gershon Weitzman | A Timeless Valentine's Day Gift!

Happy Valentine's Day! I was gifted this gorgeous haute book to review and it's the perfect coffee table book and timeless treasure for shoe lovers who not only like to wear beautiful shoes, but enjoy looking at them as well; fashionistas and art aficionados.  
When Stuart Weitzman opened it's first boutique on Madison Avenue, its displays of specially commissioned fantasy art shoes quickly became a destination, drawing crowds from all over the world to its magical windows.  The best of this carefully curated collection is on display in book form for the first time in the unique gift volume, where these imaginative creations are presented in vivid detail.  With its inventive and beautifully crafted footwear in a vast range of materials --- from watercolor paper to playing cards, from fresh flowers to frosting --- this stunning showcase where fashion and fantasy meet will thrill show and art lovers alike.
My personal favorite of course, is called "Sewing Circle" by Robin Roth-Murphy.  Robin uses mixed -media such as metal wrapped in silk and synthetic textured fibers; fabric, torn fabric woven into mesh canvas; new and vintage buttons, zippers, spools of thread, and embroidery needles; paint; wire; jewelry collected from estate sales; and glue.
The line between fashion and art is often crosses and sometimes entangles.  And this beautiful book of "fantasy shoes" is a perfect representation.
The bright and colorful photographs capture the innovative designs of these spectacular non-functional shoe sculptures.
There are 150 fantasy shoes in the book.  I find the creativity of each artist and the use of their imaginations to be breathtaking.  And since this book has a new home on my coffee table, I'm sure it'll be a great conversation piece.
About the author:
Jane Gershon Weitzman, wife of esteemed shoe designer Stuart Weitzman --- was the Executive Vice President of Stuart Weitzman and the first Vice President of Stuart Weitzman Retail.  She spearheaded philanthropy for the company by generating funds to support breast and ovarian cancer research and awareness.  Her efforts were brought to life through innovative charity events on the brand's website, such as the Stuart Weitzman Celebrity Breast Cancer Shoe Auction, and its retail stores.  She serves on the Trust Board of the Boston Children's Hospital. 
Art & Sole ($30.00, Harper Collins) is an amazing book.  And even if you aren't the biggest shoe lover, you can definitely appreciate the art aspect from the perspective of a lady that clearly knows a lot about shoes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

McCall's 6991 | Tab Sleeve Twist Wrap Front Top - Take Two!

If I make a pattern more than once, you know I really must love it.  When I made my first version of McCall's 6991, I knew I'd make another one.  
The first version was made in a synthetic fabric.  I wasn't completely sure if it would be a top I'd wear a lot, so I really didn't want to make a big investment.  But since the end of the year, I've reached for that top multiple times.
This time I used this awesome, graphic polka dot and stripe black and cream silk crepe de chine that I bought from Mood.  I would link to it, but it is so great that it sold out fast!
I know a lot of others struggle with silk sewing.  I don't find the fabric to be difficult or slippery in the least.  It's one of my absolute favorite fabric to work with.  I love the feel of it.  My number one tip is to simply cut each piece out on a single layer.  That way it will remain on grain.
Being that the front of this top is one large bias-cut piece, there was no way that the print could be evenly matched.  But I really like the effect that the bias draping created.  I did put consideration into the back.  I cut the yoke on the cross grain and made sure that the back's pattern placement was symmetrical.
On this version of M6991, I still omitted the pocket on view B as I did in the first one.  And I used the tab sleeve from view C.  
And per usual, I used a Microtex needle, made French seams and created narrow hems.  I really, really love this top.  And who knows?  There may be a third...

Monday, February 09, 2015

Review: Vogue 9075 | Cream Crepe Culotte Jumpsuit!

Vogue 9075 | Cream Crepe Culotte Jumpsuit! - Erica B's DIY Style!
It's spring sewing time y'all!  And we had the perfect weather this weekend to actually be outside sleeveless without looking like a fool!   
Vogue 9075 | Cream Crepe Culotte Jumpsuit! - Erica B's DIY Style!
So, out of all of the newly released patterns, Vogue 9075 is the first one I made.  It's pretty ironic because it wasn't love at first sight.  I really crinkled up my nose and kept right on scrolling when I first saw it.  It had to grow on me.  So by the time they went on sale at Hancock, I looked at it in the big book and I was sold.  Do you ever have to do that?  Go in the store and sit down and flip through the catalog?  It's something about the big glossy pages that allow me to study the lines and see them in a different way that I don't necessarily get when looking at them online.
Vogue 9075 | Cream Crepe Culotte Jumpsuit! - Erica B's DIY Style!
I knew from the jump that I didn't want the sleeves.  Even if I make that cute little full-skirt dress, I'm still going to make it sleeveless.  Something about those little sleeves that just make me not a fan.  Maybe it's the odd length.  I can do a cap sleeve, but that short sleeve?  Just no...  But I do reserve the right to change my mind!  I'm a woman and it's my prerogative -- if I see something that's fabulous that compels me to sew it.  So don't hold me to that.
Vogue 9075 | Cream Crepe Culotte Jumpsuit! - Erica B's DIY Style!
So for this pattern, I cut the 14.  I lengthened the bodice by an inch.  This bodice is cut to be very fitted.  Just wanted to give you the heads up on that.  Since I've lost some inches off the bust and reduced a couple of cup sizes, I didn't need to make a FBA.  That's one alteration that I'm not going to miss doing.  When making jumpsuits, my number one concern is always crotch depth.  Camel toe action is NOT cute, no matter who sews it! LOL  When I measured the rise, it measured fine so I didn't have to make an alteration there.  And when I measured the inseam, I liked the length.   I would normally add 2-3 inches to the length.  But I decided that since this jumpsuit pretty much looks like a dress, I would let the hem fall exactly as I would if this were actually a midi dress or skirt.  Any longer, I just don't think it would've come across as chic as I would've wanted it to.  So, if you're shorter than me (I'm 5'9"), you may want to consider the length and where you'd like for the hem to fall.
Vogue 9075 | Cream Crepe Culotte Jumpsuit! - Erica B's DIY Style!
I made this in this gorgeous cream wool-like poly blend crepe.  It's absolutely stunning fabric.  It looks and feels like a very lightweight wool crepe.  But it's a poly/viscose/lycra blend.  The fabric drapes beautifully as you can see.  I decided to omit the pockets for obvious reasons.  And I fully-lined the jumpsuit in a nylon tricot.  
Vogue 9075 | Cream Crepe Culotte Jumpsuit! - Erica B's DIY Style!
The great thing about poly is that it's not quick to wrinkle.  I sat down to put on my shoes and rode in the the car with only minimal wrinkling.  As much as I want to be a "fabric purist", I love arriving to my destination without looking as if I slept in my clothes.  So in this instance, hip hop hurray for polyester!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Review: Vogue 8872 | A Perfect Sheath!

Vogue 8872 - Peacock Blue Stretch Wool Sheath  - Erica B. DIY Style!
My preferred style of dress has always been a sheath dress.  I know a lot of women like skater styles or dresses with full skirts.  But I love a sheath dress.  And this pattern - Vogue 8872, which is a play off of the ever-so-popular Black Halo Jackie O Dress, is no exception.
Vogue 8872 - Peacock Blue Stretch Wool Sheath  - Erica B. DIY Style!
My preferred way to wear a sheath dress is close-fitting.   Sheath dresses look elegant and slimming, especially when they're form-fitting (not skintight).  This is something you must keep in mind when picking fabric.  I like fabric with a little bit of stretch for wearing ease.  That's why the fabric I chose for mine is this gorgeous Italian peacock blue stretch wool (98% wool, 2% spandex) that I purchased for my Mood Sewing Network garment.  
Vogue 8872 - Peacock Blue Stretch Wool Sheath  - Erica B. DIY Style!
I cut the size 14 because it was already in my stash.  I added 3 inches to the length of the skirt.  I like for my sheath dress hem to hit at the knee. I had to take in the bodice about an inch or so.  It's lined in a white nylon tricot from my stash.  So understitching is a very important step to not skip in order to make sure that lining doesn't slip out.
Vogue 8872 - Peacock Blue Stretch Wool Sheath  - Erica B. DIY Style!
I self-lined the corset-style midriff.  Two layers of this fabric gave a secure, Spanx-like fit.  I can eat while wearing this dress!
Vogue 8872 - Peacock Blue Stretch Wool Sheath  - Erica B. DIY Style!
Since the bodice is cut on the bias, it naturally has a beautiful drape.  I let it hang on the dressform for a few days and the neckline decided who it wanted to be.  I just went with it.  I left off the "shoulder wings", they weren't necessary for me.  And I also omitted the belt carriers.  If I decided I want to wear a belt, I'll just add a thin one at the waist.
Vogue 8872 - Peacock Blue Stretch Wool Sheath  - Erica B. DIY Style!
And my final alteration that I make to my sheath dresses (and pencil skirts) is to peg in the bottom.  My formula is that the hem should be four inches less than the hip point.  With a vent opening, it's walkable and the fit is perfect!  This dress is perfect for all sorts of occasions.  It's subtly sexy in a way that will make men look and women not hate.  Perfect for a dinner date or a women's conference and will have a great home in my closet!

And my look is never complete without great makeup...
Celebrity Makeup Artist Rob Scheppy -- think Kim Kardashian's fabulous smokey eye, teamed up with Tini Beauty and created this gorgeous 8 color eye shadow palette.  Now, I love makeup and beauty products in general.  I'm a certified product junkie, and I've always loved the Kardashian sisters' makeup, so this was a great product that I was sent to review (no compensation, just this beautiful palette).
Matte shades:  White Russian - creamy off white; Cinnamon-tini - terra cotta; Pavlova - taupe; Blackout - black
Shimmer shades:  Pearl Fizz - pearly white; Rose' Champagne - peachy bronze; Cuba Libre - light cola; Bella Note - charcoal grey

So, today was my first time using this palette.  The colors are neutral, beautiful and perfect for my lifestyle.  Have you ever purchased a palette with colors that you'd never, EVER wear?  I have and this is not one of them.  I love that there are matte colors for day and if you want to get snazzy for evening or a special occasion, you can use the shimmer.  When I applied it, I used it dry.  I used the top row of matte colors to create a smokey eye.  The pigment went on pretty lightly, but you can always build the color up by patting on more.  I'm assuming if you apply it with a dampened brush, the color will be a lot more intense.  This is a great addition to my collection and I'll definitely be putting this to use.  I mean, how could I not?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

B-Metro and SalonSuitesAL Invites You!

What:  New Year, New You, New Salon in 2015

When:  Thursday, January 22nd

What Time:  5:30 - 7:30 pm

Where:  Salon Suites - Bazaar - 280 Location, 5363 Highway 280, Hoover, AL 35242

On this Thursday, fellow Birmingham blogger Rachel Tindall of "To Hell in a Handbag" and I, will be blogging for B-Metro Magazine -- live tweeting, Facebook updates and posts to Instagram for those of you who can't make this event.

Let me tell you a little bit about this business, which I feel is an incredible business concept.  If you're a beauty professional and you're needing a space, SalonSuites provide individual and double suites where you can offer your clientele a wonderful experience in a high end retail location.  And the great thing is that this is not just limited to hairstylist, it's also perfect for estheticians and massage therapists.

During the event on Thursday, there will be several stylist working and you will have an opportunity to donate hair to Locks of Love for FREE.

Swag Bags will be given to the first 20 people.

If you're local and can make it, I look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Come 'White' This Way to the Belk Spring Preview!

We're halfway through January and I hope everyone's new year is off to a great start!  Mine is, with the exception of my sewing mojo taking a winter hiatus.  But there is always one assured way to get my stitching juices flowing again -- having an event to attend!
When I reviewed my year and looked at all of my looks and OOTDs, I realized that I've been wearing black, black and more black -- a lot.  So I needed to reach the opposite side of the spectrum, white!  I love a great pair of white pants.  But there are things that I require my white pants to be:  crisp and tailored, wide-leg, loose fitting and NO pockets!  
I reached for Vogue 9032 again.  I used view B this time.  The first time, I used view C.  You really get your money's worth from this pattern.  These are two completely different cuts of pants.  The black pair is intended to be VERY fitted and flaring below the knee and IMO, they work best with a stretch woven.  And probably a double knit also.  This white pair is made in an Italian Doublecloth cotton (very much like a heavy twill) that I've had in my stash for a while.  I'd purchased it for a lightweight, spring type of coat, but I decided it would work for these pants.
My favorite detail of these pants is the back princess seams.  For this pair, I lengthened by 5 inches.  I like for my wide-leg pants to be LONG.  Like ground-skimming long.  I feel this is really subjective, so I'm not even open to debate on my pant length.  It's a matter of taste -- in this case, mine.  Wide-leg pants look odd to me if they don't graze the floor, but I'm not going to quibble with you if you don't like yours long. 
Backstory:  I've always been a tall girl, and I'm very particular about length.  It was always a struggle when shopping for RTW, which is one of the main reasons I took to sewing.  I could never find sleeves long enough and I've always stacked bracelets to fill in the gap. (See, there's always been a reason for my love of over accessorizing).  And skirts and dresses from RTW always bordered on being a tad too short.  When I use to wear suits to work, I would always catch a side-eye from some of the ladies in my office -- as if it were deliberate.  And for pants, my favorite trick was to buy cuffed dress trousers (Jones New York and Ellen Tracy were the best) and let down the cuff for the extra length.  So yes, I'm really anal about length.
I love that this pattern is drafted with a very deep hem of 3".  And I weigh my hems down with quarters on each side seam, right in the fold.  I guess you can call them my "Dollar Hem".
I cut the size 14.  I had to take in the waist.  My waist is currently 11 inches smaller than my hip measurement.  The only thing about these pants that I don't like is the lack of belt loops.  I could really have benefited with the ability to wear a belt.  I feel if you don't over-fit them, then they're not going to stay up.  But muffin tops ain't cute!  And I omitted the pockets.  I've discussed pocket-show-through on this blog and I'm pretty sure that it's been discussed ad nauseam throughout the sewing blogosphere.  It's not a good look.
To quote Arlene Goldstein:  "The modern Southern woman likes a completer piece."  And I wholeheartedly agree!  It's not an outfit unless it's punctuated with some sort of jacket, sweater, coat, etc...  Vogue 8780 has been in my sewing queue for the longest.  I decided to make my version in a deep red wool melton from my stash.  This is the quickest version of a coat that I've ever made.  I cut and sewed it yesterday morning and was out the door in it by 4:30 pm.  
I cut the size medium and made it straight from the envelope.  Now, they didn't specifically say that this pattern was drafted for fabric with stretch or "give", but it could've been a catastrophe with the sleeve situation.  They are pretty narrow.  I would advise you to measure your biceps and forearms against the pattern piece.  And this coat will never be able to be worn over a thick sweater.  I knew it might be a situation when I attempted to hem the sleeves and it wouldn't fit over the free arm of my machine.  But it worked out... barely! LOL
Other than that, this was a really quick piece to make because it required no lining and has a raw-edge finish.  Even though it's wool, it's not the warmest but it was fine from my car to my venue.  And I could also keep it on as part of my outfit.

Let's talk Belk Fashion Buzz and what's hot for Spring!
Here's a brief overview:  Belk's Spring '15 - "Modern Mash-Up", presented by Arlene Goldstein, Belk Vice-President of Fashion & Trend Merchandising.
Sporty Chicperformance fabrics like jersey, nylon, athletic-inspired hoodies, bombers and stylish sneakers. 
Spare MeA-line, columns and trumpet skirts, along with tunics, over-sized shirtings.  This collection looks most like my personal aesthetic and the one I found most interesting.
Islander - pattern mixes, wraps, exotic details, eye-catching bright colors. 
Garden Partydreamy pales, whites, florals and lace-like textiles
I love these gatherings because it's always great to run into and catch up with my favorite local bloggers and journalists from local publications.  
And no event is complete without a great gift bag!  Now as I type this and it's about about 30 degrees outside with freezing fog, I'm so excited and looking forward to spring!