Monday, December 31, 2012

All the things I'd like to sew

I thought about doing a recap of all the things I've sewn this year - but 2012 is past, and anyway it's been done!

I'd rather make a list of all the things I'd like to sew in 2013.  This list will change - if there is anything that I'm not good at, it's sticking to a list of "to sew".

Sewing for my daughter:

I need to sew her some warmer items for the winter... my mom got her some DARLING denim with hot pink butterflies  - I would like to make her a skirt or jumper from that.  I was wondering if I couldn't find some dear little legwarmers to wear under her skirts.

I usually sew up an Easter dress or something of the like. 

Oh!  I owe her a nightgown.  Flannel with owls.  :)

There's the Chanel-inspired jacket in wool that I'm meaning to make for her, although honestly I'm not in a super rush to do that.  She's 9.  We live in SoCal.  She has a sweater for this year...

Sewing for my husband:

I'd really love to make DH some button-downs.  He's tall and sourcing shirts is difficult and expensive. 

I'd LOVE to make him a duster.  This may be a end-of-2013 aspiration. 

Sewing for my son:

?  I may have to try pants.  I would rather not.  He's 12.  He's growing.  Is there a point?  Perhaps I'll sew a cushion for his very spoilt cat.  :)

Sewing for myself:

Oh gracious!  The list!!!

Well, I've cut the wool for my red suit a la Gertie - so that's going to be the first thing on the list.  Not only is this going to be fun to own, I am looking forward to the learning process.  And the suit leads us to the ...

Overcoat!  I've had the overcoat fabric for years now and I'd like to sew it before the cold and rain leaves for the year.

A quick flannel petticoat to keep me warm in my new outside sewing digs.

Pretty dresses!  I didn't sew many pretty dresses this last year - I have some cute blue polkadot fabric waiting to be sewn up and I saw some wonderful rainbow seersucker plaid (say that three times fast!) at Joanne's yesterday while I was out buying thread. 

I still have some lovely silk to be sewn up into a new nightie.  Mom got me a silk nightie for my birthday, but the original silk nightie made by moi is getting rather beaten up and brownish.  I did find out today that the trick where you cut silk sandwiched between layers of tissue paper works - and works really well.

I got Gertie's book for better sewing - and I'd like to sew up about half of it.  The turquoise jumper dress.  The portrait blouse.  Blouses!  Gracious I need to sew up blouses.  I'm doing okay in the skirt department, but my shirt department requires some serious attention. 

I've been wanting to sew up a vest.

And lingerie.  Of course.  I wouldn't mind trying a corset.

This blog post makes me remember why my mantra for 2013 is "Just Do It"... and why I spend so much time flogging myself for being a lazypants.  My fingers have a terrible time keeping up with my brain.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tipping Point

I've been working to take my own advice (and the advice of every fashion book I own) about building a basic wardrobe that is flexible and works together.

The before-Christmas shopping I did finally seems to have tipped that scale, because I've had something to wear that is cute nearly every day.  

It was just a little shop - I bought a stack of utility infielders (basic colored tank tops) and a couple of sweaters in the greens I wear all the time.  But put those together with the items already in the closet, and suddenly I have outfits galore.  The greens just pick up the greens in my shamrock skirt, the ivory is the same ivory as half of my wardrobe - a good monochromatic look is a must. 

The blue skirt that I made at our last entry goes with ... well, it goes with everything.  It has an oddly Edwardian vibe to it, with the slightly wider waist and slimmer silhouette, so I paired it with my seldom-used white blouse (Folkwear 210) for Christmas Eve at my folks' house.  A bit somber for my taste, but I knew my dad would love it  - and he did. 

My wardrobe is still extremely basic, and I am still building it and finding out what really works for me and what ends up being a bit regrettable - this is absolutely a process, and a process made much slower by the sewing. 

I want to be honest with you - and share the good along with the bad.  This is the good.  When you get to a certain point, building basics and building them, a few garments can take you from "meh" to "oh, what shall I wear today?"  Of course as I process through, some of my other garments are shown up as things I don't wear very much or that don't quite please me (for instance, my white blouse is a bit big and more than a bit stodgy).  We go onward.  Onward!

But that's the fun of life, isn't it?  Going onward towards positive change?

Christmas is over... and it's time to get my sewing and blogging mojo back in gear. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Just another skirt

I know I make a lot of this skirt.  It's easy.  It looks good on me.  It's basic. 

Everyone should be so lucky, to have such a pattern.  (Or five!)

I narrowed the panels because I had a fabric problem.  I put on a wide waistband to see how it would look (my husband isn't enamored).  It's very comfortable, will go with pretty much everything - including all the jade green I have in my wardrobe right now.

So, since I showed you the insides the other day, here is the outside!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hong Kong Seam Finish

Pretty on the inside? 

I'm forever seeing this technique used in sewing blogs, and it always looks *amazing*.  So matchy!  So cute!  So tidy!

I didn't want the bulk of french seams, I didn't want to topstitch the cord, I did want to do a nice seam finish.  Hong Kong finish it is... (which is just sewing bias tape on all your seams).

My first couple of seams were kinda wonky - well, my ability to sew bias trim is always iffy.  I should make a couple dozen aprons or something to really nail it.  After that it went pretty well, but I used my odd bits of bias trim and I kept running out.  (To be fair, each seam is about a yard long).

I ended up with rainbow insides!  I used every bright color I had in my arsenal - I'll keep the baby pink for something else. 

Now, how do you cover up the interfacing at the zipper?  Uncute.... :P  But required.  You have to interface your zipper.   I don't care what your pattern says.  Interface the zipper.  (This is the inside of my skirt, if we're not totally clear on that.  Not the outside!!)

I had to take in the waist a bit so it's not done enough to show you, but this is my tried-n-true A-line skirt.  I made the panels a bit slimmer because of some issues with the cord after I'd gotten it home and washed it. 

Anyway.  Hong Kong finish?  It looks great.  It's simple.  But I used a TON of bias tape and it took a ton longer than it would have to do french seams or topstitching or just pinking and zigzagging the edge.  Not going to be a favorite in my arsenal, but this was a good time to learn a new technique and find out how it worked.  (Frankly, if I'd done one of those things, my skirt would be done right now, redoing the waistband or not).

I'm always glad to learn something new... and hey!  My skirt is pretty on the inside.  :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Categories of Colors

I do use the seasonal colors, but they are a starting point, not a finish line.  And I don't care for the newfangled breakdowns - I think we should do our own.

Best Colors:  These are the colors, when you wear them, people tell you how amazing you look.  Time after time, these get you positive attention, from everyone from little kids to the lady in the back of the church.

Okay but not great colors:  These colors work for you, but not all that well.  I have strong coloring, so although peach and aqua are "my colors", coral and turquoise are much better.  Quiet, every day, doesn't clash.  Maybe a little too strong, maybe a little too weak, but - you wouldn't throw it out of the closet.

Colors that actively make you look ill:  Everyone has that color, if you wear it, you will hear, "you look tired".  You might feel the best you ever have.  People will try to send you home for a nap.

Colors that wear you:  These are colors that, on paper, should look good on you - but they don't.  One of the reasons I like the seasonal colors is that the other types of color analysis forever want to put me in colors that wear me - like cobalt blue.  It's not that these colors look *bad* on you, it's that people see the color before they see the you.  These colors are also known as "that shirt looks great if I wear the right shade of lipstick".

Too bright/too muted colors:  They are semi-okay, but somehow they make you look a bit hectic (if you wear muted colors) or a bit muddy (if you wear clear colors).  Autumns, even redheads, don't generally look good in orange sherbert.  You'd think they would, but they don't.  I don't look good in teal.  I can wear most other colors of blue-green, but teal is just ever-so-slightly off.  (And not Chinese blue, which wears me). 

The universe being limited, one wants to get as many as possible of one's clothes from the "great colors" bin, then get the secondary colors from the "okay" bin, eliminate the ones that make you look ill, and limit the rest severely.  People are forever wanting to wear black and/or white - but those tend to wear the people, not the other way around. 

There was a decade (we know it as the 90s) where they packed up all the color and took it away.  Not great times for Springs.  I wore a lot of charcoal, a lot of teal, a lot of oatmeal.  All of those colors are marginal colors on me... but it was as close as I could come with what was offered.   Let's be real - not everyone is going to sew, and even so, you're going to be able to get your hands on what you can get your hands on.  I did what I could, and I accessorized brightly.  But it was good to know where I was aiming!

Hope this helps a bit.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Seasonal Colors

I've spent some time this evening expanding the seasonal color boards on my pinterest site.  They're not complete (of course!) but you should certainly be able to determine the mood or "feel" of the seasons.  (See the sidebar to your right for links).

Talking to folks, I find that not everyone has the emotional relationship to color that I have, so this may or may not be helpful - but use it for what you can.

Autumn:  Earth.  You want to think nature, nature, nature.  Muted, textured, woodsy, the colors of the harvest.  Feel:  NATURAL.  Tea dying?  Yes.  Dyes made from pounded beet root?  Probably.  Leather and fur and wood?  Yes, yes, yes.

Summer:  Watercolor season.   Cold, muted - sometimes vibrant, but more often misted.  Very classic.  Navy and wine and just a bit off white. 

Spring:  Floral.  Clear, warm - delicate colors, often very specific colors.  Spring colors must have life.

Winter:  Extreme.  Intense.  The darkest darks, the brightest jewels, the whitest of white - and nothing at all in between.  Snow White... lips of blood on skin as white as snow, with hair as dark as a raven's wing...

Hope this helps - and hope, more to the point, that the expanded pinterest palettes are useful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lounging Tank

I have been looking all over tarnation for a pattern for a shirt that looks decent with or without a bra.  Yes, of course I want to look put-together on a daily basis - I also want to look decent first thing in the morning or late in the evening. 

I've had this camisole pattern for ages - it's from Folkwear - but I've done some pretty substantial changes (eliminated the waist gather, eliminated the buttons, moved the pintucks).   Since I wanted a shirt, not a cami, I went a step further and lengthened the hem substantially, front and back.

I had a lot of fun with embellishments.  Yes, I'm girly and I'm proud.  And I have a fancy schmancy sewing machine!

I started this shirt around noon and was done - including the pretties - by 4pm.    I'll be making a dress-length version in the very near future to fill a wardrobe hole - something to wear around the house after a bath.

The fabric was from the remnants pile at my favorite fabric store.  It's a quilting ish cotton, but seems a bit softer than traditional quilting cotton.  I don't much care for the beading lace, it's a little stiff and ravelly. 

Details first:

Pintucks!  Embroidery!  Ribbons!  Lace!  Yes, you *have* entered the girly zone.  :)

And now on moi.

It's cute, yes?  And very comfy.  :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tap Pants

I'm not sure that tap pants are a wardrobe staple, but they're something I've been meaning to make.  As a piece of lingerie, they function to keep your modesty when you're dancing or active in a skirt.  They also make good lounging lingerie - if your lifestyle allows for such things.

The loveliness inherent in these pants is mostly in the embellishments.  Lace insets are a must!

I self-drafted this pair... it took me one afternoon to draft the pattern and one afternoon to make the pants.

They'd also help minimize pantylines - or eliminate them if you chose to wear these instead of panties.  (Personally I think this pair works better "in addition to" - but a different cut might change that).

Little lovely things to make your step a little bouncier.  :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Other Senses

Most of the focus of a fashion and sewing blog is visual. 
But sight is not the only sense by which we are perceived, particularly by our husbands. 
Today I'd like to consider the other senses:  Touch, Smell, Taste, and Sound.

Touch:  The texture of your clothing, your skin and your hair is of primary importance in the overall loveliness of your presentation.  Even if you can't magically lose 50lb overnight, you can still wear a silk nightgown to bed - or a cashmere sweater to the mall.  When you are soft to the touch, you are more desirable to touch, which makes you lovelier. 

Not only does texture please your husband's hands, it can put a private smile on your face.  Who doesn't feel more lovely when she's wearing a silk slip or really soft stockings?  Am I the only woman who strokes fuzzy sweaters or jackets when I come across them in the mall?  Why not let yourself enjoy actually wearing the fuzzy for once?

Perhaps your tastes run harder... regardless, recognize that the texture of your clothing (and hair/skin) does convey a message.

Smell:  Have you put on a bit of perfume lately?  The rule of thumb is that you shouldn't smell at all to anyone who isn't in hugging range, and that seems wise to me, especially in this age of allergies.  But to those who get close, isn't a little scent nice?   Part of the way we decide who we do (and do not) like is the scent of their skin, however subconscious that evaluation is.  Adding perfume - or bath oil, body powder, scented shampoo - to one's natural scent (or to camoflague it) is yet another part of the package. 

One does wish to use scent that works with one's natural fragrance - and yes, fragrances change according to body chemistry.  You also don't want to wear clashing fragrances.  No baby powder over Chanel No. 5, if you please. 

Scent, more than any other of the senses, is tied closely to memory - and to the subconscious.  Be very careful what image you evoke with the scents that you choose.  Perhaps you want more than one!

Taste:  Only your husband will ever get close enough to taste you! But there's a bit of fun to be had in bubblegum flavored lipgloss - and one should understand what the other aspects of one's presentation might bring to the flavor party.  (Scent in particular - some perfumes taste absolutely ghastly).  Chew a bit of mint gum or nibble on some fennel in the garden - allow yourself to fully inhabit the body you wear.  Allow that sensation to come forward in your smile and your laugh.

Sound:  How mellifulous is your voice?  Yes, you can make it more soothing and more pleasant.  Also, have you considered how your clothing sounds when it moves?  A soft noise makes for a very feminine presence.  Read an old book and learn about the sursurration of taffeta petticoats, or contemplate why is it that we consider ankle bells ever so slightly naughty?

Allow yourself - at least in private - to be fully present, unforgettable.  Call attention to your smallest move.  Certainly this impacts one's self-awareness, and that affects presentation.

A woman is not merely what you can see........

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Four Little Dresses, All in a Row

Remember last week, when I said that one of the things that quilting cotton *is* good for, is children's clothing?

I needed a palate cleanser, after working for a month so slowly and carefully on my jacket.  Fussing and bussing and muddling through.  So this week I tried to add some cuter options to my 8yo's closet.  Now, if only she'll choose to wear them!

Hanging next to one another, presumably you can tell that theyr'e all made from one pattern.  Hopefully that's not quite so obvious when she wears them to school.  I used different trim and different trimming methods on each dress.  Lots of bows and butterflies.  She was so happy last week when I was cutting this out - "are those for me?"  (Because I wear a lot of butterflies, lol). 

I hope she wears them and enjoys them.... she is pretty solidly behind the leggings and tunic brigade, and I get so tired of seeing the sloppy.

Even little girls should be lovely............

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I FINISHED IT: The starlet suit jacket a la Gertie

I finished it!  I was so sick of this thing by the time I was done... and at the same time I'm really looking forward to wearing it.  Of course it's about 80 outside this week... not such great weather for twill jackets.
It was so sunny in my living room that I had to go take this picture in the patio - decidedly unlovely, but at least not overexposed or fuzzy from being too well lit. 

Gratuitous lining shot. 

You know, it's not perfect, and that bums me out a little bit.  I really was very finger sore by the time I'd finished the sewing - cotton twill is not a kind fabric to push a needle through by hand and I didn't do the best job with the last few little bits and bobs.  I can go back and correct them.  But this was never meant as a be all, end all jacket.  This is my experiment.  In about a week, I'll put up a bunch of photos and let you pick on my fitting mistakes and other errors - I want to catch every last one of them before I cut into my beautiful red wool. 

This will, however, go with any number of things in my current wardrobe.  It's a great color on me, and can be worn open, closed, and with or without a shirt underneath. 

But DUDE.  This is awesome.  I made a jacket!  ME!  Pretty exciting stuff, you know?

In the meantime, totally ignore everything I said about quilting cotton... I needed some instant gratification and palette cleansing.  8yo is getting a bunch of new dresses.  But that, I shall save for another day............... bon voyage, my pretties!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Quilting Cotton

For some reason, quilting cotton is a hugely controversial topic in the land of sewing.

Most of us made our first clothing with quilting cotton.  It comes in a billion different patterns, most of them adorable, and quite a few of them hilarious. 

The thing about quilting cotton is that it *screams* homemade.  You know and I know that you're not going to find a dress that looks like this:

in the store.  You just aren't.  (Photo credit shiboridragon - home of some seriously cute quilting fabric).

Quilting cotton is awesome for a beginning seamstress.  Even though it screams homemade - it's really easy to deal with.  It doesn't slip, it doesn't slide, it stays where you put it, and it irons up like a dream.  And it's cheap!   I would recommend a beginning seamstress learn on quilting cotton.  (Well.  Start-start with old sheets from the thrift store.  But after you're up and running).

I did a lot of my first sewing with quilting cottons.  Sundresses still suit them... in fact I might make a few more, now that I know what I'm *doing*.  But you have to do some quality control....
This was my first set of darts!  I got the cloth in a discount fabric shop... didn't have a clue what I was doing or I'd never have bought it.  It was stiff with starch when I brought it home, it took about five washings to finally show its character.  But it *was* good fabric.  It held up a long time, and it was actually great for a skirt like this - it had plenty of body on its own.

I bought this fabric at a huge chain store.  You can see I've done a much better job of fitting the dress (I do learn!).  Unfortunately I didn't do a great job picking the fabric - except for the color, which *is* smashing.  Why?  Well, that glorious pattern was painted on top of the fabric (not woven in, hardly even dyed in - the back side of this fabric was almost white!) and it was put on *off grain* - with huge and weird selveges to the fabric.  Guess which dress ripped first??
If I remade this dress, would I use quilting cotton again?  Very possibly.  It's a kitchy, silly dress, and the skirt wants some body to hold properly (and there's an underskirt, so you can't really wear a petticoat).  But I'd do quality control.   I'd check that the fabric was well made and that the print was on-grain. 
Another thing that quilting cotton is great for?  Little kids' clothes.  At that point, handmade and slightly kitchy = win. 
Let your purpose determine your fabric.  Learning *about* fabric?  Well.. books and books and books to the contrary, I think that's mostly about experience.  I'm still learning and falling flat on my face. 
But this is my final word on quilting cotton:  If it suits your purpose, use it.  But use it knowing that it has a certain look and feel, and don't try to make it what it is not.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Getting Closer!

Yesterday I put the facings in and attached the collar.  We have a jacket... but we're not done.

Today I hope to put the backsides of the buttonholes into the facing and maybe? do the lining.  I have a feeling the lining process will be more than a couple of hours worth of work, so we'll see how that goes.  Putting the buttonholes in should be relatively painless.

Almost there!

(I had just steamed it when I took this pic, so those are just water droplets).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Quick link

I'd never really thought about socks as a part of the overall loveliness category.  I don't wear socks very often, certainly not wool socks.  I live in SoCal, you're lucky if I wear shoes inside the house.

Tasia had a great post about how hand-made socks are just like fine lingerie - a touch of beauty that no one knows about except you.  Those little touches can make all the difference in how we carry ourselves.

So, I give you a link.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vest thing

Today I got the shoulder and side seams completed, so I have a vest-thing at the moment.

Someone hit the power-pole by my house, so I didn't have electricity all morning, which slowed my life down considerably.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Today I did the welt pockets, which came out okay.  Being detail oriented (which I am **not**) is important in this sort of sewing.  Character building opportunities!!

I'm pretty proud of them, regardless.  They're very twee.

A peek inside the first finished pocket

The outside of the pocket.  Yes, it's right-side up.  That's a welt, not a flap.  :D
The pockets are seriously tiny - just big enough for a key or credit card or hanky.  Which is fine.  I mostly wanted to do them to do them, to learn. 
I also sewed the back together and ran out to Joanne's at 8pm for some twill tape, so tomorrow I can sew the fronts to the back & sides and possibly do sleeves.  Very exciting!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fusible Tailoring

Today I did the fusible tailoring for the jacket and sewed the front seams together.

The latter was far more time-consuming than the former - I made quite a few adjustments to that seam so it wasn't obvious where the side fronts should attach to the front-fronts.  A few rip-outs and we were in good shape.  Well worth the time.

I would move along and work on the welt pockets, but the fronts are steaming - so I probably should leave them alone.  :)

Tomorrow pockets and then?  We'll see how far we get.  I have a lot of RL stuff to do tomorrow, so I might not do much more than pockets.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bound Buttonholes

I made a sample set on scrap fabric... but these are the first set of bound buttonholes I've ever made to use on a garment.  They aren't perfect, but they're cute! (And slightly damp, since you're supposed to steam them after, and this is cotton, not wool).

On Thursday I cut the fabric for the suit, which I didn't bother blogging about or taking pictures of (at least here) because really... how exciting is a big pile of fabric?

Took Friday and Saturday off, and today I did the bound buttonholes.  Next up, the tailoring for the front of the jacket - fusible version.  (No, I'm not breaking out the hair canvas for a cotton twill jacket!)

This feels slow, but I'm churning away, and slow is okay so long as we get to a good place in the end.  Right?  Right!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day Three: Fitting Muslin

Shocked.  Overjoyed.  My first fitting muslin... fits.  Yes, I have a tweak or two to apply to the wearable muslin that I'll be making next - but *it fits*.   I spent weeks working on a princess-seamed sloper ... those weeks are paying off. 

First I decided that I needed to size down my overall size for the jacket.  I'm overweight and busty - but I'm also only 5'2".  I don't need the jacket as a whole scaled up - I just need room in certain spots.  Based on my waist measurement, I'm a size 10 in Gertie-land.  So I traced the pattern  - in the places that didn't need changes - as a size 10.

Then I took my fitting sloper (it's tissue paper so it's a bit hard to see) and transferred the curves and proportions to the pattern pieces.  This is the whole point of having a sloper - being able to use your work elsewhere, and not having to cry and rip and cry and rip every time you sew something new.

Nailed it.  :D  The upper arm could use a squink more room, the lower arm could use a squink less - and I might give myself a tad more in the center front to play with.  But we are in a *very* happy place, and I feel totally ready to cut into my (inexpensive) fashion fabric. 

Note on the negative reviews.... I read that the jacket wasn't drafted well.  From what Gertie was saying on the video (everyone is watching the video before doing the real work, right?  Just like you read the printed instructions first?) she drafted the jacket based on her own proportions.  That means you look at Gertie and you have a fair idea of what you're going to have to work with.  I haven't done the lining yet (obviously) so I'll report back when I do.  So far, so good.  I like how this jacket looks, very much, and the fitting changes are far less radical than from a Big Four pattern.

So far, so great.  :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day Two: Suit Adventures

Today I marked the hem on my ivory skirt, said "eep" because I'd made it a twitch too tight, and went to the fabric store for materials for my wearable muslin version of the Starlet Suit Jacket. 

I like this bright green - it will go with most of my skirts (or at least clash usefully) and it's a good color on yours truly.  The buttons are a warm silver - it reflects silver if you're wearing silver and looks warm if you're wearing gold (I held it up to other buttons at the store).  The lining will be ivory, straight from the remnants pile.  (The local chain has a ridiculously large remnant section, which I surf through regularly - it's well worth my time).

This is a picture of my hands putting in my waist stay on the ivory skirt (which turned out to be totally redundant).  It was a pretty picture and showed off one of the things I enjoy about the sewing process, which is just chilling out of an evening with something useful in my hands. (BTW:  It's tricky to take a picture of your own hands).

Yes, I have white ribbon, but I like pink and ivory together... and no one will be able to see the ribbon on the inside of my waistband, so it's really just my eyes that need to be pleased by this sewing.  I even used lavender thread.  Because I could.  It makes me happy, so why not?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Starlet Suit: Day 1

Day One of my Starlet Suit Adventure....

I taped 56 pieces of paper together, very carefully (with trimming).

Then I rough-cut the individual pattern pieces out.

This sounds relatively simple - and it was - but it took *hours*.  If I have the choice between buying a pattern for less than say, $10 and doing this again?  I'm buying a proper paper pattern.

Then I caught up on my big stack of ironing (the perils of wearing clothing from linen and cotton).  Now I shall sew on a button, while watching Gertie's next video in the "how to" series.  And then I shall go to bed.

Starlet Suit Jacket a la Gertie

I signed up for Gertie's Starlet Suit Jacket class on Craftsy this Spring.  I took one look at the ultra-feminine suit and fell in love. (The images from pinterest won't upload directly, so just take a look if you are interested).

There is nothing about a nipped-waist, full skirted, fitted suit with 3/4 sleeves that *isn't* totally me. 

I had the opportunity to participate in a Garment District bus tour... and so I went up to LA and picked up the sexiest silk charmeuse lining (the pink) and a geranium colored wool melton for the jacket itself - along with all the tailoring goodies.  ( 

I have been looking forward to taking this course because I want to learn to hand-tailor - I also have fabric for a full-length wool coat in my stash that needs sewing up (and I need a good coat!). 

I spent this morning surfing the web and reading the reviews... and oh dear.  They aren't that great.  I'll have to use some of my other books and resources to pad out the craftsy instructions, from the sound of things. 

But that's okay.  It did tell me one thing - I'm going to need to not only make a fitting muslin (which should be straightforward, with all the work I did on my princess sloper) but a wearable muslin.  That means I'm going to need to find some inexpensive fabric to make a sample with, so I can see what works and doesn't - IRL.  After the fiasco with my buttondown blouse ( I know that sometimes the finishing details change "great fit" to "what happened here".    So I'll be making the fusible interfaced version in a cotton (?) and trying to figure out what sort of little jacket is desperately needed in my wardrobe.

I have a basic ivory skirt to put the finishing touches on today (after I do my chores) and then I'm off to the muslining process.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My week of super feminine dress

I had an odd experience on a trip last weekend, so I decided to up my normal girly-dressing to a whole new level.  I also decided to up my normal level of interaction - bump up the smiles, bump up the cheer.  I wanted to see what would happen...

I am definitely not in Oz anymore!  No one freaked out, in fact mostly people were a little bit nicer to me than they usually are.  I got a lot of compliments. 

Day One:  I broke out the girly stops on Tuesday.  Pink skirt.  Petticoat.  Makeup.  Perfume.   The only thing I'm missing for full-out Edwardian glory is a higher neck on my blouse and a corset.  The lady at the bath store said I looked "very fifties" and she loved the color. 

Day Two:  My cute perky dress.  Everyone was very nice.  The man at the shoestore, veryVERY nice.  DH later informed me that my effort to dress-down the dress with my overshirt didn't work at all, and I needed to pick something opaque next time.  Oops....

Day Three:  Everyone, still very nice.  DH isn't wild about this outfit, but I changed before he got home.  LOL.  Show your teeth!

Day Four:  I was told "how cute" my skirt was and how nice and feminine it is.  I gave a big toothy grin to one of the tough guys at kid pickup, and was rewarded by an actual SMILE.  -shocking-
What did I learn?  Well, I learned that 1) the town that freaked me out by being freaked out by me was a anomaly and that 2) people in SoCal like it when you dress femininely and in bright colors.   I also learned that for an introvert like yours truly, it's a real effort to to on high-perk all the time.

Oh, and I learned that I feel awesome when I really turn it out in the morning, much more powerful and focused.

If you want to have people treat you nicely... wearing girly clothes is a good way to get that done. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dressing Like a Grown Up

This is going to be a theme on this blog... because dressing like a grown up seems to be one of those lovely ideas that has passed into the mists of history. 

Once upon a time, a certain sophistication was expected from your wardrobe as you aged.  Those clothes paid the investment back, as more sophisticated fabrics and structured lines look better on bodies that aren't young and tight and factory fresh. 

I give you... the resort look.  Beach pajamas.  This was all the rage in the 1930s, and why did we give it up?  Probably because we wanted to be tan.  But since tanning is no longer de rigeur (especially if you speak to my doctor) why not return to the elegant clothing that we wore once upon a time?

(image credit:
Does this woman look frumpy?  No, she does not.
Does this woman expose more than is appropriate for a woman at the beach?  No.
Does this woman look terribly uncomfortable?  No.

What this woman looks is elegant, rich, and ready for the resort.  Since I live in a resort area - I see nothing not to love about this look, except perhaps to add a light jacket to keep the sun from her shoulders after she's soaked in enough Vitamin D. 

Dressing like a grown up:  Beach Pajamas (Resort Wear)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Super Feminine Dress Week

You've heard of the "feminine dress week" idea before, I'm sure.  Many a conservative female blogger has urged her readers to ramp it up and wear a dress or a skirt for a week.  I want to take that a step further.  Not merely do I want skirts and dresses, but I want clothing that is unabashedly feminine in nature.  (I don't wear pants anyway).

I can break out the denim skirts any old day... but they mostly call out "conservative Christian lady".  Nothing wrong with that, that's who I am.  But I have had some interesting social interactions lately, and I want to run a little experiment. 

Lace.  Pink.  Clothing that swishes and moves.  Makeup.  Perfume.  Jewelry.  The whole shebang.  Not necessarily dressed up - most of my clothing is cotton and linen anyway, it's not dressy.  But feminine.  VERY feminine. 

Why?  Because I've noticed the oddest reactions when I break out my pink skirt.  You wouldn't think that a skirt to my ankles could tick anyone off.  But it seems to.  So I don't want to dress in that sort of thing randomly - it has to be intentional, and I have to pay attention to the people around me and what sort of reactions I get.  I also don't want to dilute my message. 

Break out the pink - and if you do, let me know how it goes. 

Slightly New Blog Direction

Because this blog was started as a how-to-dress-more-beautifully and why-that-matters blog, I've kept it very separate from my sewing and daily thoughts.  I think this has been somewhat of a mistake, since this is the blog that I have on all my blogging profiles, and I'd like more blog traffic.  I'll still have clothing philosophy posts up, how-to posts... but I'll be including more outfit posts, more sewing trials, and more of "me" here.

I am really proud of the TBL blog, and I'd like to make better use of it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A pretty dress

Every woman on this earth needs one dress that she can pull off the hanger and *know* that she's going to look great.

Finally.  Finally.  I have a dress like that.

I combined a ready made princess-seamed flirty dress pattern with my own princess sloper (I used my sloper from the waist up, and the dress pattern from the waist down).  All those tears and all that frustration with getting things fit?  Finally.  Finally it's paid off.  I'm really thrilled. 

Properly accessorized with a very fluffy petticoat and a little shrug - I look my best.  I'm comfortable, I feel amazing, it's a very good day.

Someone should PROBABLY keep me out of the fabric store so I don't make fifteen of them! 

Anyway.  Everyone should have a dress that makes them as happy as this dress makes me.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sheer White Overshirt

I had higher hopes for this blouse. 

Carefully, I scaled up my princess seamed sloper so that it would have a bit more wearing ease in order to translate into a buttondown shirt.  I combined it with a collarless shirt pattern, using the button placet, collar and sleeves from the pattern.  I basted it, tried it on... it was good.  Plenty of room and looked cute.  I sewed it together.  It looked good.  I made flat-felled seams out of every single seam, put on the collar, put on the button placket - and suddenly I had weirdness.

I was pretty frustrated at that point, so I put it away for a month or so.  This week I pulled it out and ripped out the offending seams (the princess seams, front and back) took it in on all four of the seams, sewed it back up and... well.  It's still not perfect. 

I'm not sure what to do about it at this point - I don't think perfect is going to happen.  BUT.  I live in Southern California, land of everpresent sunshine.  A buttondown white overshirt is *never* a bad idea - particularly a long-sleeved version.  I will get a great deal of wear out of this shirt, even if it's not the sort of wear I had in mind.

(And in every picture I tried to take of it, it was completely uncooperative.  This is the best of about ten - and I had my eyes closed).

Sometimes, you just have to call pax and move forward.  I'll use this shirt, even if I'm a little disappointed.  And hey - the topstitched french seams DO look awesome.  :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Steph at 3 hours Past and Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch have both written excellent articles about wardrobing this week ( and and I was inspired to do a little wardrobing of my own.

I've gotten a fairly decent skirt wardrobe at this point - I've only one more skirt to sew up from stash, and it's going to be a workhorse, but also very straight forward.  TNT all the way - beige linen.  So, I pulled the skirts from my closet and took some pictures, to do a little wardrobe planning analysis.  (I also took a picture of my lone "this doesn't match anything" shirt).

Sage/soft cornflower/charcoal/ivory skirt; baby blues skirt, forest green skirt (wool), ivory lace skirt.

Denim skirt (see last post), hot pink skirt, old straight denim skirt, beige skirt (here to represent the next beige skirt - this one is beaten up and I just tossed it), wool plaid in aqua & greys.

The color on this blouse is jade green, not the bluish turquoise it appears on my computer screen. 

I have achieved neutrality with the new denim skirt, the ivory lace skirt, and the beige skirt.  They will go with very nearly everything.  The old denim skirt probably shouldn't be in this pictoral, but it goes with my mom tshirts, so hey.

I was going to go all analysis on you, but just staring at this I can see that in addition to the ivory shirt that I have in my sewing pile, I could dearly use a pale (but bright) blue shirt, a coral/red shirt, a fitted blouse that picks up the aqua in my blue plaid skirt, a light (but bright) green shirt, and a charcoal grey shirt if I can find the right one.  (Grey is a difficult color on me - it has to be just right, or don't bother). 

As for the jade green blouse - the beige skirt will go with it, and I could do with a charcoal grey skirt in my collection ... something that suits my crayon colored sweater collection wouldn't go amiss.  I quite like this shirt, but even though it's made of thin fabrics, they're layerd and it's *warm*.  Plus it looks great with a denim jacket over it... again, warm warm warm. 

So.  I need something pink-coral, something blue, something perfectly aqua, a light green, and some charcoal... in shirts, with stash sewing (beige) and charcoal for my skirt needs. 

I think this calls for a pinterest board.  :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wardrobe Basic: Denim

All your wardrobe basics should be made as beautifully as possible, should fit as well as possible, and should be items that last!  That means that if you're buying, it's worth spending a bit more money to get quality (make sure that you are getting quality for your money - you don't always) or if you're making your own, that you spend a bit more time on the details.

Today I added a beautiful basic denim skirt to my wardrobe.  It's made off of a pattern I know to be quite flattering.  I'm pleased to announce that I did my own resketching of the pattern pieces - I made the original two-piece skirt into a six-gore skirt.  It's nice - it uses a great deal less fabric, the subtle vertical seams are slimming, and it gives me the option of adding topstitching.

I'm mad for topstitching right now - I find that it adds a very professional touch, and makes your garments look much less homemade. 

I also added ornamental stitching at the hem.  It has some function*  because I find that my homemade denim skirts have an unfortunate tendency to flip up at the edge, and I'm hoping a bit of stitching will hold it down where it belongs.  But you can see the subtle look even on the picture above...

All in all, I'm very pleased  - and I intend to wear this basic for some years to come.

* The function of the topstitching (in addition to beauty) is seam finishing - I flipped the seams under and got rid of any pesky raw edges, so I can be as proud of the inside of my skirt as I am of the outside.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hemming Jeans: Tutorial

This is a quick tutorial for how to hem jeans - this is pretty much just for shorter hem-jobs.  If you were going to cut off more than 5" or so, you'll want to also taper the leg of the pants (use the side that doesn't have the topstitching - I did that last year for my son).

First, get your victim to put on their jeans, and mark the desired hem.  I'm hemming jeans for a 12yo boy - so I want them to be as long as possible while not getting walked on.  I figure he's going to grow, you know?

Having marked the hem....

I then measured the distance between the bottom of the pre-made hem and the fold line, and cut off the pre-made hem.  (I might have been persuaded to seam-rip this out if it was very close or a fine bit of fabric - but I'm shortening them quite a bit and they're jeans).

After I trimmed off the unwanted bits, I put a quick faux-serged hem finish on my raw edge. 

It's stitch #7 on my machine, but anything that covers the raw edge would be fine.  Zig zag would be fine:

After finishing the edge, turn the pants inside out and fold up the hem the desired distance. 
It was at this point that I realised that it would be terminally UN cool to have a hem that far up the pant leg - so I set my hem stitch to about 1/2" from the fold.  Of course I'd made a gold-colored bobbin, so I wouldn't give the whole thing away with the wrong color topstitching.  (Okay.  I bought the topstitching thread for my own denim project - but I'm sharing).

I then finished the jeans with a quick blind-hem to hold the top of the hem up. 

And then I realised that - although I've followed the correct procedure for pants that one might wish to re-do the hem on  (12yo boy, remember) I'm not sure about the quality of the fabric (see pictures one and two - the jeans developed frays during their first wash cycle.  Oh well, it's never a bad thing to do things the right way - it's good practice if nothing else.  And hopefully this will keep the bottom of the jeans from doing that annoying little rolling over thing that denim always does to me when I sew it myself.


Hemming two pair of jeans probably took me less than an hour, start to finish, including taking pictures.


Thank you, Elizabeth Cline.  You've given me blogging (and ranting) material for the next month. 

I just finished my copy of Overdressed:  The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion ( - no, I don't get kickback). 

I'm a little bit sick to my stomach right now, to be honest.  Obscenity is the only word I can use for the state of fashion these days.  Oh sure - I knew that the cheap shirts at Target and JCP and ... were cheap, not just inexpensive.  But I didn't understand that they were made with planned obsolescence in mind.  The environmental cost, the human cost... oh my.

I am even more committed to my sewing after reading that book - and even more committed to my ideal of building a wardrobe of beautiful, well-fitting basics that will last, filled in with butterflies that bring joy to my soul. 

You want green fashion?  Forget trying to figure out what the carbon footprint of your rayon shirt is.  Buy the best (natural fiber) you can afford.  Make it yours (if you don't sew it, have it tailored).  Take exquisite care of it (which will be easier if it's higher quality) and make it last.  When you are done with it, repurpose it.  That's green. 

Items should be useful, beautiful or both.  If it isn't  useful and/or beautiful... it should never have been made in the first place. 

My head is reeling after this book... it's not just clothes, I know it's everything we consume, and it's repulsive in the extreme. 

Read it, but be ready to be changed.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fabric Snobbery

I am a huge natural fabrics snob... I very seldom use synthetic fabrics.  I thought I was at the extreme end of the fabric snob line - turns out that's quite untrue. 

Linking a couple of articles from the Dreamstress (who should get her own link on the sidebar, for sheer coolness):
I thought the discussion about the short-term utility of synthetic fabrics was very interesting.  I think it's absolutely disgusting, the way we waste resources.  It's one thing to use something intelligently - even to use resources somewhat extravagantly... if what you produce will last and be beautiful, useful or both.  But to spray nasty chemicals into our environment, waste perfectly good water and thread... for something that will last less than a year, perhaps only months?  Awful.  And if it's something that can never be truly savored at all?  Even worse.

So then her article on gold-dyed wool was even more fascinating.  Imagine... fewer chemical side effects than a dishwasher and anti-microbial/anti-bacterial/anti-moth/and somewhat flame-retardant... NATURALLY... egads.  The mind boggles.

Always something to think about.......

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lovely Ladies

We've been talking about modesty on the Traditional Christianity board quite a lot lately.  It's something that any religious woman has to confront on a regular basis - the desire to be thought of as a lady, and not as a tart. 

But if you start making hard and fast rules for what not to wear, you back yourself into a corner very quickly.  Much better to dress, as one of our Jewish contributors offered, as not to incite lust, anger or envy.  How that works out is very individual. 

I think it would be useful to have some visual ideas of people who dress beautifully for their age and station in life.  Since these aren't entries in the Modesty Police, some of their outfits will be immodest, yes.  But overall, we're seeing an aesthetic that has something to say that isn't about sexual availability.

First up:  Casey, of Casey's Elegant Musings.  She's young, petite, and married to a Navy guy.  And her clothing *perfectly* reflects that reality.  

Bringing the thought home:  What does your clothing say about you?  Does it reflect reality?

Next:  Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic.   Heavy-set, works in an extremely conservative office setting, a grandmother with loads of time to sew. 

Bringing the thought home:  Carolyn nearly always wears the same silhouette.  Because of her figure issues, she's worked out what looks best on her, and she makes the most of it. 

Couldn't possibly ignore:  Erica of DIY Style.  A mother and grandmother, she decided to take fashion into her own hands and she works it.  A woman in her 40s, she looks her age - but she doesn't look old or out of date.  Not always modest, but always put together.

Bringing the thought home:  Do you completely own your style?  How is your accessorization?  The little details can take teenybopper style and make them read as appropriate for a woman in her later years - and vice versa, making a perfectly rational dress read as out of place.

Next:  Laura of Lilacs and Lace.  So feminine, so beautiful.  If you need to see how to work vintage into everyday without appearing costumey - check Laura out! 

Bringing the thought home:  Check her posture - it's exquisite.  Anyone can look more modest and more beautiful with a straight spine.  Hemlines in balance, and every dress is *beautiful*.  A wardrobe full of butterflies, indeed.

I'll update this list as I have time... but hopefully it helps, seeing beautiful women look beautiful without showing everything to the world. 

Why I could never be on Project Runway

Corollary:  Why I gave up my teenage dream of being a fashion designer

I have great passion for color and fabric.  I also have a great passion for making women beautiful.  You can hardly hang out with me for five minutes and I'm mentally rearranging your neckline and putting you in different colors.  One would think, with this level of intensity, and a passion that I've had from childhood, that I'd have gone into the fashion industry.

I thought so, when I was a child.  And then, one day I started paying attention to what the fashion industry was really about, and my illusions were shattered.  It wasn't about making beautiful clothing to make beautiful women ever more beautiful - it was about status and wealth, and making "fashion" something that wasn't *quite* obtainable for every woman. 

If you watch PR (and I do), you'll see that the side-avenues of fashion are where the real money is - it's not the clothing, it's the shoes and bags and "lifestyle" items.  Not that I'm adverse to a beautiful purse - but I want it to be intrinsically beautiful, not ugly with a tag.  It's not about making the prettiest garment - it's making a "statement". 

I've never cared about that.  If I were a fashion designer, I'd want to be a Madame Gres', who worked intimately with a small clientele and made them clothing that would be beautiful forever.   My perfect closet?  Would be a closet full of butterflies - each and every garment something that made me smile. 

You don't get rid of garments like that every season.  You pass them on or pass them down when they no longer suit you or delight you - but you don't forget them. 

I'd love to have a store with classic, well made forever pieces on one side and butterflies on the other.  You know, the place you could count on to have a pencil skirt, perfect slacks, and LBD... regardless of the season or what was in the magazines.  And on the other side?  Just the prettiest things you can imagine. 

That will never win Project Runway, and I'm afraid it doesn't qualify as "fashion"... but that's what I'd do, if I had the chance.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A basic

The off-white shell.  Could there be a more basic blouse to have in one's inventory?  I think not. 

Last week I gave you my jade green impractical, I'm goingtohavetosewsomethingtomatch blouse.   This week I give you its match - with a better neckline, better fabric, and a much more practical color.

I give you...

You know, we're all in process.  I'm in process.  Making things that are practical, lovely - and that fit - is not instant.  I've spent weeks fine-tuning the fit on these blouses.  I spent three hours on this blouse alone, ripping out and resewing one of the bust seams. 

The Proverbs 31 woman, who clothed her household in scarlet... I don't think she got there overnight.  I'll keep at it.  Someday everything in my wardrobe will be lovely.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jade Green Unreason

Everyone has a color that they're unreasonable about, or a texture, a flavor... something. 

Mine is jade green.  Someday I'm going to buy a snake because it's jade green.  I don't want to own a snake...

A million years ago, I bought a pile of jade green fabric.  I'd never have bought it if it were navy or ivory or coral - but in jade?  How could I resist!  It's a gauze, has to be lined, shifts around... but I love it, because it's jade green. 

My mark 1, the first properly fitted blouse - what did I choose to make it up?  My jade green fabric!  I did very good work, but it still shifted around, because it's gauze. 

Oh well, it's still lovely - if nothing else, because I worked my fingers to the bone making it craft, not just object.

This is the INSIDE of the blouse.  Because you know something is well made when the inside is fit to be seen.  :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's all in the details

There are at least two reasons to sew.  One of them is so you can have what you want to have, anything your imagination can dream up and your hands can create.  The other is so that you can have have a quality of product that you couldn't possibly afford.

Near-perfect zipper?  Check.  Metal button, with interesting detail?  Check.  Fully lined?  Absolutely.  Waist-stay, so it doesn't droop or migrate around a torso with very little hip-to-waist ratio?  You got it!

Nice materials (linen, cotton). 

And yes... it's decidedly PINK.  Not blue, not blue at all.  :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A week of outfit posts

I'm not entirely sure that I want to be "outfit post" lady.  There are plenty of other people on the web doing this, and it's not like I think that I am the hotness.  In fact, this may be a solution to vanity.  Then again, just looking at this is educational, it really goes over some basics with me and shows me exactly how much styling can make a difference.  Plus, I've made an effort every day that I've pulled out the camera.  Not always an effort with my face - sorry about some of my expressions.  Yikes.

Thursday.  I went out shopping with my kids for Father's Day presents.  Yellow isn't my best color, but I can manage it.  My favorite scarf - it goes with a lot of different outfits.

Friday.  Oh dear, this pose is dreadful.  Shopping again - we were going to go to the Safari Park and I was going to pair my boots with this, but DH wasn't up for it, so we went to the grocery store and I let the kids veg out with some videos.  Notice the all-one-color under the shirt is VERY slimming.  The cuff on the wrist completes the look.  I really hate my hair in this pic!  Lesson learned.

Saturday.  Going to go out for lunch with DH's family for BIL's birthday.  I'm wearing makeup in this picture.  Enjoy it - I don't wear it very often.  Yes, I make this little green skirt work - I was really surprised by how versatile it is.  I'm glad to have my necklace/earrings back... repaired them last weekend. 
Sunday.  Father's Day.  I'm going to be spending most of the day indoors, making yummies for my husband's tummy and doing some sewing.  I wanted to wear something cute for him - although he's mostly zoning out today, so I put on a tshirt from the juniors' department.  A fuzzy picture of this is as public as it's going to get - I had NO idea it would be this scary-tight.  That makes it the perfect thing to wear around the house on a weekend for your husband, IMO.  The skirt is about to go, but makes  a break from endless blue.  I'm trying to do more interesting things with my arms/poses.  Positive of taking the outfit picture?  I fixed a major snafu that looked fine in the mirror but not in the camera.  I'll probably add an apron later, when I bake.  Hat-tip to Alte, we're making the bisquit cake again.  :)
Monday.  DH ended up being home sick, so this is my "I've got to get out of the house for a little while, I'm sure I need SOMETHING at Joanne's" outfit. 

But really this is what I wore all afternoon - my big green apron.  Because it was housecleaning day.  (I clean once a week in a big blitz, then try to keep stuff up more or less the rest of the week).

I get a lot of compliments on the earrings I wore on Monday, so here's a closeup.  $5.  They go with virtually everything and they're fun. 

Replay?  Yes.  Tuesday.  We went to Trader Joe's to get the stuff I get there/the next couple days' worth of groceries, and then we went to the beach.  My swimsuit got giggled at by some teenagers, and I haven't made the one in my head, so swimsuit shopping is in my future.  Sigh. 

Wednesday.  I decided that today would be a good day to use the restaurant coupons that my kids earned this year with Student of the Month.  Going to go to lunch with BFF and my kids.  Not the best blouse for figure flattery, but it's a great color and very comfy/stylish. 

And now I'm done with the dreaded outfit post.  Well.  This turned out to be another tool for me.  I made sure that I dressed decently and accessorized.  I also see 1) that I wear my mom tshirts way.too.much and 2) longer is better, no matter how flirty I feel in the shorter skirts.  Or possibly "short is only for dresses, and not poofy ones". 

Your camera doesn't lie.............. what do YOU need to work on?