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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 Sewing Resolutions

  1. Keep working on my tailoring skills.
  2. Make another "CHANEL" jacket... this will hopefully be soon. I already have one in mind!
  3. I still plan to learn to drape and draft!
  4. Sew more for my family, especially Michael!
  5. Perfect my welt pockets. They still make me nervous.
  6. Sew more basics (i.e. t-shirts, white shirts, jeans).
  7. Sew a tailored jacket.
  8. Commit to sewing atleast six BWOF garments.
  9. Try a Marfy pattern. Even though I rarely read the pattern instructions, it's nice to have them. :)
  10. Take some advanced/expert/couture level sewing classes.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What did I get?

Here's my favorite gift I received! I'm following suit after reading Ann and Carolyn's blogs. It looks like my laptop had a baby! ROFL How cute is this? This is the Acer Aspire One mini laptop. I'm a closet gadget geek and I had been researching these for a while now and I decided on this one.

Not only is this the cutest thing ever, it packs a big punch! Now for the geeky stuff:

The Good

This model runs off of an Intel Atom processor N270, comes with 1GB RAM (which will be fine since I have my big boy and a PC), and 120GB hard drive. And most of all, it comes pre-loaded with Windows XP! When I first started looking at these, it seemed that the only available operating system was Linux, which I know nothing about. It has Wi-Fi (of course), built in multi-in-1 card reader, 3 USB ports and the keyboard is surprisingly comfortable. I had seen on other minis that the screen was bit of a pain, but everthing fits and there is no side-to-side scrolling. And most importantly, it travels well! It comes with a protective vinyl slipcover and you can easily toss it in your purse... that is if you carry a good size handbag like I do!

The Bad

Now the only thing I don't like is the 4-cell battery. I wanted the 6-cell battery model but it wasn't available in stores and I wanted mine NOW, LOL! I do plan to upgrade the battery so that I can go longer than 2 1/2 hours without the A/C adapter. Oh and the touchpad took some getting use to, but I think that's pretty standard on most mini-laptops.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What I'm working on!

Pattern: McCall's 5766, view B

1. Black and ivory houndstooth wool; 2. sleeve heads; 3. shoulder pads; 4. Hymo hair canvas interfacing and 5. ivory Bemberg lining

So this is where I am so far:

My fabric is a very lightweight boucle, so I stabilized it with a nylon fusible knit. Here is a close up of the fabric. I've taped and pad stitched the lapels and pad stitched the undercollar. Tany has an excellent tutorial posted on her site. Also, if you are a visual person as I am, here is a great video I found on Youtube that shows you how to do it. They call pad stitching "feather stitching" on there at around 10:20.

Also, just for fun, take a look at this gorgeous structured coat:

Rihanna last week in Paris wearing a coat by Azzedine Alaïa.

What kind of tailoring do you think is going on inside those lapels and collar? That coat is fabulous!

Monday, December 15, 2008

2008 -- A Year in Review

Last year, I set myself a list of goals in sewing that I wanted to complete. Let's take a look and see what I did.
  1. Re-build My Closet -- Start the year off sewing must have items and basics (i.e. black trousers, a black suit with skirt and pants, more white shirts, cute activewear, a fabulous LBD). I think I did a pretty good job with my closet re-build. I'm pretty happy with everything I did. The only thing I really wanted to make was a LBD for daytime and one for After-5.
  2. Purge My Pattern Collection -- Time to get rid of the "what the hell were you thinking" patterns. Ninety-nine cents sales get you everytime. I was so much better this year. I didn't grab every pattern that came out, nor did I hit every sale. There was one this week and I totally bypassed it!
  3. Improve My Tailoring Skills -- Striving for the "perfect" fit is an ongoing battle. Even though fit will be a constant battle, I'm really proud of myself with this. I actually opened the books that I have and used them! I also made a coat!
  4. Make Another CHANEL-Inspired Jacket -- I need one for Spring! I never got around to do this either. Hopefully, I'll get my Spring CHANEL jacket in 2009.
  5. S.W.A.P. -- I may not necessarily enter another contest (that was stressful, but worth it), but I will try to ALWAYS sew with a plan. I completed a mini-S.W.A.P. this year!
  6. Draping -- I've been wanting to learn draping for about a year or so. It's about time I get on that. This is still on my list!
  7. Drafting -- I need to get on this too! I'll be looking for classes or seminars. I didn't get in this the way I wanted to, but hey, I made a start!
  8. Embroidery -- I will MAKE myself use that machine. Didn't do it!
  9. Knitting -- Not sewing, but I will try to make time to add it in. Didn't do it!

Worst of 2008/Least Worn

  • Vogue 8156 - I really enjoyed the process of making these, but I hated the silhouette of these trousers.
  • Simplicity 2923 - This was really a cute dress pattern, but I made a bad fabric choice. This was made in a twill fabric, similar to denim. The dress ended up feeling like cardboard.

Most Worn

  • Vogue 8138 - The shawl cardi has been my go-to wrap since I made it. I'm thinking about making a couple more in different colors.
  • Vogue 1020 - Has been another of my favorite t-shirts since I made it.
  • Vogue 1034 - These have been my most worn jeans since I made them. They've been washed and worn so many times, I'm surprised they haven't fallen apart!

Favorites of 2008

Vogue 8548, Butterick 5249, Self-Drafted Ruffle Pencil Skirt, Homecoming 2008 and McCall's 5745.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Ruffle Pencil Skirt

I was at the mall last week and it seemed that every store I saw had a version of this skirt. I saw them at different price points, primarily junior dept./low-end. Me being who I am, I thoroughly examined them and saw that most were cheaply made. Even though I really, really liked the style and started envisioning how I would wear it, I knew I'd never buy one of those. I would just have to make it and make it better than the RTW versions.

Since I didn't remember seeing a pattern like this, I decided I'd just draft one. It's just a simple pencil skirt with a cascading ruffle, how difficult could that be?

Project Details:

Pattern: Self-drafted
Fabric: Wool blend I've had stashed for a couple of years
Notions: 7" Invisible zipper; hook and eye

Description: A pencil skirt updated with a side cascading ruffle detail.

The skirt is just a plain ole pencil skirt with a back slit that I added a ruffle to. The drafting of the skirt was very easy, it was the ruffle that took about three tries to get right. I turned to "Couture: The Art of Fine Sewing" for directions. My info was taken from chapter 15 - Circular Ruffles. Ummm... there was a quick lesson involved in re-learning how to find the circumference and radius of a circle and I had to borrow a compass from one of the kids... LOL! Here is how I drafted my ruffle:

I decided to serge the edge of the ruffle instead of hemming. I attached it by just sewing it to the skirt... clipping the curve as needed. The skirt also has a back slit and I lined it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sewing for the Kiddies

Do you sew for your kids? I rarely sew for mine... only special occasion clothing. The reason I'm asking is that Mikaela had her first school dance tonight. I'd been searching high and low for a cute dress pattern. I was looking for something that's age appropriate for an 11 year old, that she would actually want to wear. It seems like everything I came across had that "Little House on the Prairie" dated look... SIGH. I could tell that I would really have to use my imagination to make this happen. I know some of you are asking, "Why didn't you just buy a dress"? Good question, LOL. Well, Mikaela preferred that I made her dress because I made Amber's homecoming dress, remember? If you have kids, I'm sure you understand my dilemma.

I decided to go with:

Project Details:

Pattern: McCall's 5745, View C (Modified)

Fabric: Stretch Velvet
Notions: Three 5/8" Buttons, 1 7/8 Yds. of 1/4" Wide Elastic and 1/2 Yd. of 5/8" Wide Ribbon

I changed the bodice of the dress because I felt the original was a bit plain and boring. Instead of adding the plackets to the front, I joined both pieces together.

I created a tuxedo type ruffle and added a ribbon to it and sewed it over the center front seam. I then sewed on the buttons. As you see, the neckline has elastic. Speaking of elastic... something I found completely useless was having an "elastic guide" pattern piece. That was just ridiculous to me. We sewers are more than capable of measuring and cutting. Just tell me how long it should be and let's keep it moving.

I really love the sleeves! They were such a fashionable and trendy detail. They were finished with a 5/8" hem. Elastic was also added at the waist. A casing was formed with the waist seam. And the dress was finished with a 5/8" hem also.

We decided to accessorize the dress with leggings and ballet skimmers. She loved the dress and it was very simple to make!

Monday, December 01, 2008

All Hail the Sheath!

I had been wondering for days who designed the cute dress that Mrs. Obama was wearing during the Barbara Walters interview. Turns out, it was Jason Wu! (Thanks to the Mrs. O) Jason, you've just been put on the map! It's clear that the sheath dress will be her "uniform" of choice and I love that. This is the sort of dress that I would wear during the Spring and Summer months.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the dress is raw silk with hand-embroidered rosettes that took 100 hours of labor (can you imagine)! If I were him sitting there watching the interview with the rest America and there she is in his dress... I could have happily died right then and there!