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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!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 Year-End Review!

 Let's start with the worst of the worst...
This early March make... sigh.  I knew this was F'd up when I made it. Sometimes you just have to own your own mess.  I was in a sewing funk and said as much in the post.  I wanted to make something... and I had bought this crappy-assed fabric.  It was Carolina Herrera for Godsake!  That meant it was supposed to be fabulous, right?  Wrong.  This fabric was like cardboard.  It must've been used for home dec.  It was beyond stiff.  And my slit was way too high.  When I sat down, all of the lady bits were almost on display.  It's been gone...
This skort?  Another case of horrible fabric AND design.  Contrary to belief, I do post failures.  And this is definitely one.  This style was clearly drafted for someone that lacked any sort of curves.  It would've looked perfect on Mikaela with her long, lean, athletic build.  This is a "You Live and You Learn" project.  Everything ain't for everybody and this wasn't for me.  #SheTriedIt though...

The dress that sparked a life change...
I absolutely love working with neoprene and I loved this red dress.  It's fabulous to wear and one of the easiest fabrics to sew.  It's like a beefy power knit.  But when I tell you that the super duper Spanx, plus this amazing fabric did me NO favors... NONE!  I knew it was time to get my ass in the gym.  Pronto.  Stat!  I still have this dress.  I like to try it on because it now hangs off me like a sack.  When I have days that I look in the mirror and my dysmorphia kicks in and I can't see the changes that I've been working towards for almost a year?  I try on that dress.  It's become a mental savior.  And this picture is a reason to keep pushing forward on days I'm mentally drained, tired and sore.  

Now, onto the favorites...
Favorite top!
Vogue 1387, has been one of my favorite tops.  Even though I made it in a larger size than I would sew today, it's still very much wearable and I've been wearing it! A lot! I made this top in an amazing silk crepe de chine.  It has an elastic waist AND a drawstring.  You couldn't ask for a more perfect (figure) transitional garment.
I really like these Simplicity 1366 pants.  They make me so happy.  Maybe it's the print. I don't know...  But I do know that I like them a lot.  I find myself reaching for them often.  I don't want to wear them to the point of getting sick of them.  That happens more than not with me.  So I decided to let them be until Spring.  Even though they'd look really cute with a sweater.  But I'm going to leave them alone.  Because I'd quickly overdose on that print.  I still plan to make this pattern again.  
The Vogue 8939 black turtleneck midi dress is something that I could and would want to wear everyday.  It's not only chic, it's easy dressing and comfortable.  It's an amazing version of the LBD.  

Favorite Project for Someone Else...
My kids ask me to sew them things all of the time.  I literally laugh them out of the room.  As if I have time...  Girl, bye.  But when it comes to special occasion sewing, I am all in for that.  This is Mikaela's last high school homecoming.  Of course I was making her dress. Whatever she wanted.  This dress was a more mature look for her, but still youthful at the same time.  

And favorite projects of the year...
They're two amazing coats, what more is there to say...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I'm having Marsala with splash of Sequin for New Year's Eve!

Well, it's the end of another year!  And what a year it's been for me.  I won't bore you with gory details, but let's just say I'm not sad to see it end. #ByeFelicia  But as usual, I've had my love of fashion and sewing to keep my sanity intact.  For the last couple of years, I've been up to my head in tailoring.  I'm usually immersed in an end-of-the-year coat making project.  Well, I finished up early this year.  Go me!  And I needed a simple, palate-cleansing project.
McCall's 6991 had been in my to-sew pile and I'd also picked up this synthetic habotai a while ago.  I liked the color.  And just so happens that it's "Marsala", the color of 2015.  Now, normally I would simply refer to this color as maroon.  Isn't that what we've been calling it for years?  But of course, heading into 2015, we're brand new!  Semantics aside, it's a beautiful color that's flattering to most skintones and has always been a fall/winter staple with its rich wine-like deep red color.
The size 14 sewed straight from the envelope.  The fabric is pretty transparent, so the best seam finishing was French seams and narrow hems.  This is a pretty straight forward design.  It's a very trendy top with it's wrap/twist front style and mullet or high low hemline.  I've been seeing these tops everywhere from this length to the exaggerated back hemlines that drape to the back of the legs.  I thought this would be a fun top to add to my wardrobe that I could wear a couple of times with minimal investment.  Hence the reason I chose to make this in a synthetic.  
I know that the high low hemline is a style that you either love or hate.  I think I've moved on from the dresses and skirts.   But this particular blouse design just appealed to me.  I think it'll work great with my leather leggings (which I really want to make another pair.  Those are coming soon) and a pair of skinny jeans and tall boots.  
For an evening look, it pairs perfectly with my Vogue 8909 sequin joggers.  Can I just tell y'all that I've truly gotten my money's worth out of these pants.  I've loved these pants -- nearly to death!  I'm going to buy more sequin to make another pair of black ones and a maybe a pair of gold ones.  Not necessarily a jogger style.  But probably with a tapered leg.  I think they're a great wardrobe staple.  Well, they are in mine!  They fit perfectly into my lifestyle.  I've found that they just "work" when you need to be less than cocktail, but more than casual.  If that makes any sense.  I tend to find myself in a lot of those fashionable predicaments.
Wishing you all a fabulous sewing New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Vogue Paris Original - 1023 | A Vintage Christian Dior Mohair Coat!

Vintage Vogue 1023 - Vogue Paris Original: 1970s Christian Dior Coat. Mohair Fabric from Mood Fabrics - Erica Bs DIY Style!
Every year I make a coat.  It's something that I look forward to and I'm always excited when I plan my project.  For the longest time, I've had this gorgeous vintage Vogue Paris Original (#1023) - 1970s Christian Dior coat in my collection.  But I had never been able to find the perfect fabric.  I wanted something "fuzzy", just like the pattern envelope.
And I found fabric that was absolute perfection.  This heathered gray fuzzy mohair-blend from Mood Fabrics (from my monthly allowance for my MSN monthly project) just epitomized everything I was looking for.  And as a plus, it was gray.  I am completing all the neutral outerwear colors in my wardrobe and then I'll start of the fun colors!
Vintage Vogue 1023 - Vogue Paris Original: 1970s Christian Dior Coat. Mohair Fabric from Mood Fabrics - Erica Bs DIY Style!
This is my first foray into the truly vintage patterns arena.  I've done "older" patterns, but nothing as old as this one.  This pattern came in only one size.  And I bought it in a 14.  If I were purchasing it now, I would've bought a 12.  But I'm happy with the sizing because it leaves enough wearing room to wear this coat over a suit if needed.
Vintage Vogue 1023 - Vogue Paris Original: 1970s Christian Dior Coat. Mohair Fabric from Mood Fabrics - Erica Bs DIY Style!
The only alterations I made to the pattern pieces were adding length... my usual.  And I also wanted to make sure this was a full-length coat -- on me!  I wanted another coat that would be just as long or longer than skirts or dresses.  I hate when a coat is slightly shorter. I added 3 inches to the length of the coat.  And I added an inch to the sleeve length.
Vintage Vogue 1023 - Vogue Paris Original: 1970s Christian Dior Coat. Mohair Fabric from Mood Fabrics - Erica Bs DIY Style!
Even though I would normally tailor a coat anyway, I felt so lucky that this pattern is so comprehensive.  It came with its own tailoring instructions and pattern pieces for all of the interfacing.  How awesome is that?!  And why don't modern coat patterns come with such details?  McCall Pattern Company?  Simplicity?  Anybody?  These instructions were so easy to interpret that if you're attempting your first coat, you could easily achieve amazing results with this one.  One thing about the convenience of having all of the pieces included is that it saved me hours on creating interfacing pattern pieces from scratch.  I felt like I was getting a coat making course just from the instructions.
Vintage Vogue 1023 - Vogue Paris Original: 1970s Christian Dior Coat. Mohair Fabric from Mood Fabrics - Erica Bs DIY Style!
For my coat, I blocked interfaced the entire yardage before cutting.  Even though this fabric is of a heavier weight, it's still very drapey.  And I needed for the body to be sturdier.  

Here is the interfacing:  The front interfacing and the back stay are made from muslin.  Even though the pattern did not suggest or provide a pattern piece, I created a shoulder reinforcement made from hair canvas.  This ensures a smooth line from shoulder to bustline.
Here is the lining and the facing.  And also the back linining with a center back pleat for ease.  The last piece is the collar, which is interfaced with a fusible that extends 5/8" beyond the foldline.
I drafted my own 1/4" shoulder pads for a custom fit. I created a pattern using the front and the back pattern pieces of the coat.  The shoulder pads are created by layering fleece, each is reduced by 3/4".  I used the sewing machine needle to created perforated lines so that I could just tear off and keep going.  The layers are stitched together on top of a layer of hair canvas the size of the largest piece. 
The sleeves are drafted perfectly.  They set without any easing.  I created sleeve heads with the same fleece as the shoulder pads.
This is practically a couture coat.  But the only shortcut I'll take each time I make a coat is to bag the lining.  For me, there is simply no point in all of that excess hand sewing when the lining can be sewn by machine.  The width of my coat hem is 3".  And in order to achieve a perfect "jump hem", I trimmed the bottom of the lining to the same length as the finished coat hem.  Turn the coat back to the right side and slipstitch the hole.
Here is the finished inside.
Here is the finished outside and a closeup of the topstitching.  I added snaps to the inside.  I found that a size 100/16 needle worked best for this fabric and sewing through all of the layers.  And it also made topstitching a lot easier with my heavy weight thread.
I had the hardest time trying to find a belt for this coat.  I wanted something that tied, but not a self belt.  I found black woven belting in the trim section at Joanns.  Close enough, right?  Well... no.  LOL.  I decided if you want something to be a certain color, then make it happen.  So I grabbed a can of spray paint and made me a gray belt.  I've never done this before, so I don't know how this will wear.  But until I find a replacement, I still have a full can of paint for touchups.
Vintage Vogue 1023 - Vogue Paris Original: 1970s Christian Dior Coat. Mohair Fabric from Mood Fabrics - Erica Bs DIY Style!
My lining fabric is crepe back satin from my stash that looks and feels really luxurious.
Vintage Vogue 1023 - Vogue Paris Original: 1970s Christian Dior Coat. Mohair Fabric from Mood Fabrics - Erica Bs DIY Style!
I thought I was head over heels in love with my camel hair coat from last year.  But I believe I have a new love... until next time!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Another Version of Vogue 8939 | Shades of Grey!

Vogue 8939 - Heathered Gray Jersey Knit Turtleneck Dress - Erica B's DIY Style!
So, I made another version of Vogue 8939.  Yes, I love the simplicity of this pattern just that much.  And I wore it out last night.
Vogue 8939 - Heathered Gray Jersey Knit Turtleneck Dress - Erica B's DIY Style!
This time I used a sweatshirt-like heathered gray jersey knit from Mood Fabrics.
Vogue 8939 - Heathered Gray Jersey Knit Turtleneck Dress - Erica B's DIY Style!
For this version, I only added 3 inches to the length -- so that it would be the length (on me) that it was designed to be.  
Vogue 8939 - Heathered Gray Jersey Knit Turtleneck Dress - Erica B's DIY Style!
And I used a mock turtleneck because this fabric is THICK.  
Vogue 8939 - Heathered Gray Jersey Knit Turtleneck Dress - Erica B's DIY Style!
And I added a zipper because I didn't feel that the fabric had enough give to be a pullover.  Have you ever struggled to get into a tight turtleneck?  Yeah... I didn't want to deal with that.  So I made sure my I could get in and out of the dress.  Nothing like having to pull something over your head and wiping off all of your makeup in the process!
So last night, I wore this to a Rebecca Minkoff event hosted by the Contemporary department at Saks Fifth Avenue Birmingham.
These are some of my favorite pieces for Spring.  I fell in love with the bright orange suede moto jacket in Rebecca's signature style.  Isn't it fabulous?
Here are more pieces that I love.  Rebecca's "Downtown Girl" style really plays to my own aesthetic.
Mikaela came along with me.  And we did our obligatory selfie!  It was a fun, mother-daughter time!  And don't be surprised if you see at least one more version of this dress.  I just can't get enough of it!