Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kitty Says No

See that cute creature on my sewing table? Yes, he's guarding the material I was using for the blouse I cried over the other night. I've had my first good night's sleep in a couple weeks and I WAS going to post about salvaging it after working on it, kitty said "No, take another nap". So that's what I'm going to do, then I'm going to work on my daughter's costume.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I hemmed some pants, does that count?

Hi there. I bet you are wondering why I haven't been posting. Or where all the pictures are of what I've actually made in the last months. Or something? ANYTHING? Well the honest truth is I've been really busy with the things that make home, well, A HOME. I had been on nights at work for so long that the noisy outdoor chores, or indoor chores didn't get done. They didn't want to wake me up. This also led to nothing much at all being done, even the 'quiet' chores. So I'm making up for almost nine months of cleaning. And of course, now that I'm on days there's more socializing too. Apparently my friends missed me. And honestly I missed them too. Oh yeah, and then the parenting stuff. After school activities, parent teach conferences, play dates, birthday parties, homework and I don't know what else. But that is all made worth it for the hugs and kisses, the seeing them accomplish new things and all those things I would be missing out on otherwise.

But I hemmed my husband's jeans. Nice pair of jeans he found for a good price but they were TOO LONG. It only took a couple months but I got around to fixing that for him. And later the next day I tried to do some sewing while just absolutely exhausted. You know what they say about not operating heavy machinery while tired? Sergers count as heavy machinery! They have sharp moving parts, in case you didn't know that. I had decided to try making another cowl neck, but this time out of a charmeuse instead of knit. It was going great until I caught the sleeve in the moving knife.

I cried. I really really cried. I went in my bedroom, shut the door, and cried and sulked and realized that I'm just. so. tired. Its frustrating when you have all these wonderful ideas and great fabric to work with and when you do have a little time to yourself it gets chipped away a little at a time until you realize there's nothing left for yourself.

This also the reason I hate the holidays. So many expectations on your time and politics to deal with when you want to say no. This just might be the year I have a complete melt down.

This reminds me of a Heinlein quote, and so that is what I will leave you with today.

Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please — this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!
So learn to say No — and to be rude about it when necessary.
Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.
(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fashionista and Intelligence: Not Mutually Exclusive

One of the things that has often bothered me is the stereotype that people who are into such professions as science and math, or really anything collegiate in nature, are not into fashion. I say this is hogwash! Just because one is brainy and likes to crunch numbers, write scientific papers, or setup unix databases does not mean they have no sense of what looks good on them. Granted there are the famous stereo types such as Einstein. He had a suit for every day of the week, all put together so he didn't have to spend time thinking about day to day things. But on the other hand, he cared enough to put the effort into THAT much of a wardrobe. And honestly, his hair has become iconic.

I recently had a conversation with another lady at work who I always think "Wow, she looks really put together". Lovely dark skin and hair, awesome clothes (even though not my type, they look good on her, which is the point), and smart. I found out she used to model, then went to college on that money to get a degree in electronics.

Which made me think about a famous actress from the 40's. As some of you might have guessed, I'm enamored of the clothing from that era. I went searching for famous actresses and came across Hedy Lamarr. Not only is she credited with being the first actress to appear naked in a movie that was not a "Blue Movie" (what they called porn back in the day), but she co-invented a device that eventually led to our current wireless technology. The Frequency-hopping spread-spectrum invention. It was originally thought to make torpedoes and other submarine communications harder to decode during the war, but wasn't put into use until the late 50's(or 60's, I'm being lazy on that fact check). How could a Hollywood actress do such a thing? Turns out she was a talented mathematician before she became and actress and the idea came up when trying to solve a special effects need for a movie.

And to continue the idea of fashion and electronics intersecting, former Project Runway contestant Diana Eng is working on her own line of clothing that incorporates advancements in technology. Things such as El-wire and sew-able electronics called the Lilypad Arduino. A fashion subset of the open source electronics for hobbyists created by Leah Buechley at MIT. I happen to own a spool of conductive embroidery thread and have a few project ideas of my own. In fact, I already did one simple one for my son last Christmas.

So it seems to me that one does not need to give up brains for beauty and fashion. They can, in fact, go hand in hand. And I think that if we take this a step further we can teach our daughters that while you don't HAVE to be one or the other, its OK to be both.

So keep sewing, keep learning, and most importantly, stay beautifully true to yourself.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sewing On Hold

Hi Everyone! I'm jonsing for some real sewing, but alas, I must do Adult Like Things. Things like fixing up the yard, house,work, and taking the kids around to all their extra-curricular things.

I have several sewing related but not actual sewing posts in mind. I'm gonna try and get those up soon. In the meantime everyone do some sewing for me and stay beautiful!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vintage Love with a Hint of Danger

(Image Courtesy of MyVintageVogue)

I went searching for fashion photos of the war-era 40's not so long ago and I came across this amazing dress. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE it. One of my friends called it "dangerous" and my husband calls it.. well we won't tell you what he calls it. Lets just say he's all for my obsession on this one.

Now I want to copy it and make it my own. I am certainly not at that skill level where I could try doing a draped pattern. Especially since I don't currently have a dress-form. I really do want a good one though. So instead I went and started looking at The Big Four pattern companies. And wouldn't you know, it was Butterick that had a good starting base! B4343, to be exact. Lovely, isn't it? It would not be hard at all to add a strap to one side and a flowing sleeve to the other. The other beautiful thing about this modification? I can actually WEAR A BRA! I know, I know. But when you are a 38DDD, this is important.

What do you think? Can I pull this off? What color should I do? Maybe a black velvet?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Its Full of Stars!

This picture has the most accurate color.

Howdy folks! This post is up way later than I had hoped because of my kids' having their yellow belt test and then some snafu with the internet company. Kids did great, my ISP is gonna get buggered and then I'm gonna switch services. ANYWHO! On to sewing!

PAJAMAS! That's right, I made some pajamas for my little girl. I used McCall's 4646 view D for the pattern. This view is a top and bottoms and it calls for 2 1/4 yards of 60" wide fabric. I only had 1 3/4 yards of a flannel back satin I bought about two years ago. So I had to use what I call "creative fabric acrobatics" in which I try to get the most of for my money. What helps here is that the pattern is not one-way and wouldn't look weird unless I used a bias cut. But why would I do that for this project anyway? The other thing I did was make the top short sleeved and she had to have the pants shortened by almost 4 inches as well. So by golly, I managed to get the whole thing cut out!

And since I had to use such short sleeves, I couldn't put in elastic and really didn't have enough room to hem. So instead I used this very narrow cotton insert lace and zigzagged the edges together. I then turned it under, pressed, and sewed it in a narrow hem. Not really the neatest, but hey, these are pajamas for a little girl. On the inside seams I just did an overcast stitch to stop fraying, with the exception of the front bodice top, which I pinked. I'm not sure why I decided to do it this way. Probably just laziness.

I had made view B about a year ago, but I did it out of a polyester charmeuse which is exactly the WRONG fabric to do it with, very difficult. So this felt fairly simple. We currently have view A cut out for the robe. Its a very bright printed flannel and Felicity (that's my daughter) wants to help sew it herself. Since she has her own little Singer Featherweight and sewing table from last Christmas, this should be fun for her. I'm sure it will give me a grey hair or two trying not to have an anxiety attack over it. Isn't being a mom fun? The robe project will have its own posts, to be sure. And without any further ado, here is Felicity modeling for us. The one above is her showing off one of her many baby dolls. Below are the rest. Keep sewing and stay beautiful!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Our Inner Louis Lane: Comics and Sewing Linked in the Past

(Image Courtesy of My Vintage Vogue)

When I stumbled upon this picture the geek in me became rather excitable. There is nothing exceptional about the dress and if you read the advert you'll see its really trying to sell the fabric. This being from 1948, selling fabric through catalogs was still widely common.

What really made me like this is because it is featuring Superman and making a reference to the girl imagining herself as Louis Lane. It was rather fresh on my mind since I had recently learned my paternal grandmother would buy comics for "her kids" but not hand them over until after she got to read them. See, Superman debuted in the American popular culture in 1938 and became an iconic symbol for "True American Values". He was the handsome man to the rescue and the world's biggest boyscout (Of course, later in "Kingdom Come" Superman himself said that the world no longer needed a boyscout, but that's a different discussion).

See, in 1947 Christian Dior and the couture houses of Paris revealed "The New Look". It was a very successful attempt to bring back the glamour of couture houses and to try and erase the utilitarian styles left on us by The Great Depression and WWII. We want to remember the grand dresses and shiny stars that grace the silver screen. But in reality the majority of the population was still making their own clothes and still struggling to make things work. To me, this would have been an apealling advertisment to those like my Grandmother that were dreaming of being rescued by their handsome superhero and taken off into a better day.

My Grandmother

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekly WTF: Dr. Who?

So I get the alerts for new pattern releases. What sewing nerd doesn't? And when looking through the coats I saw V1213 (above) and thought, BUH?? So... you know when you are doing your best to use as little fabric as possible when cutting our your pattern and you are left with these very long maybe 12 inch wide strips of fabric and you think to yourself "What in the WORLD am I going to do with this?". When its too much to consider a real scrap, but not really enough to make anything else with... Well, I guess maybe some kids clothes. But how many 7-10 year old's do you know that think "Oh hey, wool trousers, THANKS MOM!". Not so many, I'd suspect.

Well, KOOS Couture for Vogue Patterns just gave us the perfect solution. That's right, here's a coat that will not only use up that pile of leftovers but it will WOW the competition. Or confuse them. Grandma might clean her glasses a couple times just to be sure she's seeing things right.

But you know what, I'm gonna get this pattern. I think it would be awesome with this scarf. At the very least I could walk around asking people if they've seen a blue phone box recently.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Good Idea/Bad Idea: Pinning

So I thought I should point out one of those little things that most books tend to not point out. When pinning two pieces together and getting ready to sew, make sure your needle head is pointed TOWARD you, not AWAY from you. See above reference. The one on the right side not only makes it difficult to take the pins out as you go, but you are more likely to stab yourself with them. I know this, but sometimes I'm lazy and don't bother with it. Which is why I'm typing with a band-aid on my finger. Just sayin'.

And now for your pop culture reference: