Friday, January 17, 2014

Allons-y!

The whole family is off to Phoenix today.  Our son, Jeff, is running in the P F Chang Rock & Roll Marathon on Sunday.  The race starts at 7:50 a.m, a little early for a marathon back here in the east.  If he finishes in three hours, he will qualify for the 2015 Boston Marathon which is his goal.  Yes, he has done it before.  Jeff has been training for the past several months and is ready.

Our son Kenny and his girlfriend, Patty, will be joining us and we all will be staying in Ken's sister, Nadine's, condo in Tempe.  It will be a little tight, but at least there are 2 bathrooms and three courtyards to take in the weather.  Nadine is putting Kenny & Patty on an air mattress in the garage with a space heater, good luck to them!  I can hear Kenny complaining already.  Temperatures are in the 70's during the day, just perfect, and down to 45 at night.

The sewing room organization is coming along.  This week I have been going through patterns, weeding, asking myself will I ever sew it, what made me buy it and discovering duplicates (which means I will definitely keep one since I liked it enough to buy it again).  I have been planning the layout of the room and checking out IKEA to see what would work.  Last Saturday, I visited IKEA for a couple hours to check out the furniture I was interested in.  I found out that the store will deliver (for a fee) the same day you purchase it, so the Saturday after our return from Phoenix, I'm off to IKEA in the morning.  I plan to pick up two Billy bookcases and the Malm desk which seems pretty sturdy and has a moveable return which will be great for my serger.
BILLY Bookcase IKEA There is plenty of storage space for large books or other objects on the deep shelf.MALM Desk with pull-out panel IKEA The pull-out panel gives you an extra work surface.  I already have a smaller bookcase in the room and will add a couple other small storage pieces which I have, but want to paint first.  Lastly, I want to add a file cabinet for my patterns.  They have been in banker's boxes for the past ten years and it's time to upgrade.  The end result of my weeding patterns will help me determine the size of the cabinet.  Staples delivers for free and within a day of ordering!  I should also check out Craig's list just in case.

So no clothes shopping while in Phoenix, but I think there will be some wine tasting somewhere in the agenda.  There are some really fabulous wineries out there believe it or not. 

Go Pats!

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 RTW Fast

RTW Fast badge 
I've revived my blog (after much trouble figuring how to get back into it) and plan to post all my sewing in 2014.  Since both of my sons have moved out of the house, I am in the process of cleaning out one of my son's room and turning it into my sewing room.  So I'm moving out of the basement into the attic.  I have gone through all 700 yards in the stash,  eliminated what I know I will never sew, stripped the closet and inserted a wired shelf rack.  All fabrics have been refolded and stored by fabric content and color.  I'll post a picture soon.  I truly love these fabrics and am not afraid to cut into them,  I just need to get back into sewing all the time.  The room has more work to be done, but my goal is to finish by the end of January and start sewing again.

Anyway,  while surfing sewing blogs, I came across the 2014 RTW Fast on http://goodbyevalentino.com/2014-rtw-fasters/ .  I was always running to the mall for pants.  I live in pants, rarely wear a dress these days.  What I should have been doing is concentrating on fitting a good sloper for pants instead.  I look at my stash and am so inspired--I just need to start using it again.  By not letting myself purchase clothes, I will be forcing myself to start sewing these lovely fabrics. 

My local ASG group is also concentrating on sewing blouses/shirts this year.  I love to sew blouses, and will be running a couple meetings on pintucks and flyfronts for blouses. 

So into this RTW Fast I dive, first to finish the jacket I cut out last year, then a shirt to go with it.  After that, I will concentrate on pants.  No more short cuts/cop-outs buying clothes.  I have the skills and fabric to make the clothes I really want to wear happen.

My best wishes and happy sewing to all of you who are part of this lovely group.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ah Wilderness Revisited

This past weekend we went back to fix the ceiling and get everything back to normal.  We arrived late Friday night and while getting ready for bed, I discovered that neither of us had used the main bathroom.  When I turned on the light, I found a new surprise.  A dead mouse in the toilet!  I wanted to flush him, but Ken decided to scoop him out and dispose of him outside.  Evidently, D-Con makes mice thirsty.  They are supposed to leave the house looking for water outside, but this guy decided to take a fatal shortcut.   We now have mousetraps set up in the house and will return next week to check them.  Say a prayer that the traps are empty and we are finished with little visitors.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ah, Wilderness!



Three years ago, Ken & I bought a little second home in the North Conway, NH area.  We just love our petite maison.  We stay there at least one weekend a month, often more.  Yes, it looks small, but it has five rooms, 2 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths.  All creature comforts are covered and it is located close to everything.

Thanksgiving day we went to my sisters for dinner and afterward we drove up to our little house for the rest of the weekend.  When we entered the house we were greeted with a strong stench!  We had rented the house two weekends earlier, and at first, we thought someone didn't take out the garbage when they left, but the can in the kitchen was empty.  We also found the smell very strong in the second bedroom directly under the kitchen.  This led us to the conclusion that some creature got into the house and died between the two floors. Yuck!  I thought it must be a chipmunk since they are always running around outside the house, Ken thought it might be a mouse.  We were both hoping it was nothing larger than either of those.  The smell was pretty much contained in the kitchen and one bedroom, so we closed the door to that bedroom and went to bed.  In the morning, Ken decided to rip out part of the bedroom ceiling to take a look since we could find no evidence of anything in the kitchen.  Well the smell was even stronger once the ceiling was removed.  He couldn't find the critter, but did find a lot of mouse droppings.  I got up on the ladder with a flashlight and found the varment.  I saw two little mouse ears peaking out from under an electrical wire.  The little guy had got himself stuck under the wire and couldn't get out.  He had not been there long enough to get messy, thank goodness, just stiff and flat.  Once we removed him, removed all the insulation around the area and sprayed a gallon of Lysol, the smell improved.  By the end of the day, there was no smell in the kitchen and the bedroom had a faint smell.  We decided to leave the ceiling open for now  to air it out and will repair it on our next visit.  I guess we are lucky all we had was a mouse.  We do have electronic critter repelents in the house, but this guy somehow got through.

As for sewing, I am working on a fancy evening jacket to wear with black crepe pants to a couple Christmas parties coming up in December.  I cut out the jacket and fused interfacing the weekend before Thanksgiving, sewed Sunday and Monday night and it is half finished. I had sewn this jacket before, so the fitting issue was not something to slow down the process.  The jacket is McCalls 6042 I'll post a picture when I'm finished which hopefully is next weekend since I need to wear it on December 12.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

PatternReview.com 10th Anniversary

Yesterday I attended the PR Boston Anniversary Party.  About 30 women and a few husband were there enjoying each others company while treating themselves to munchies, mocktails and cake at the PR headquarters.  There were 18 other such celebrations around the world yesterday.  PR has grown so much in the past 10 years. 

I first knew of Deepika back on Sewing World around 2001.  She was always asking questions, seeking information.  I do remember her asking if anyone knew of a site where sewing patterns were reviewed.  Although there were a few sites that posted reviews, they were limited in their scope.  Deepika decided that she would set up a site.  I thought to myself "Who is this girl?  She thinks she can set up a site for pattern reviews?  Good luck to her!"  A few days later, she pops back on Sewing World announcing her site along with a link to it.  Hey, not bad for something off the top of her head!  Little did we know at that time that she was a professional web designer.   At that time it was just reviews of patterns, but people started adding more and more reviews, then it began to expand to other areas of review, then on-line classes, message boards, get-togethers, etc.  Who knew it would become such a force in the sewing world.  Certainly not Deepika. 

I feel a major reason PR has grown so large is because Deepika is an open-minded, curious, friendly, risk-taking, always positive individual who has a strong love of sewing. I have been lucky enough to personally know Deepika over the past 10 years and have met many other members at various events including 3 trips to New York, seminars, and a few celebrations at her house (at one we celebrated PR reaching 25,000 members!). 

Anyway, we had a lovely time last night along with a fashion show of stunning cocktail dresses, gifts, a slideshow which will most likely make its way onto the website, and great conversation.  Afterwards, we went to dinner together (and had real cocktails).  I did take pictures, but my camera is not cooperating by letting me download them all.  But this picture did make it through.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Resurrection

After a nearly three year break, I want to start this blog up again.  A lot has happened to my family and me during this time, most of it is positive, thankfully.  Both my sons are now out of the Marines and going to college full time--and both have moved out of the house.  I love when they are here, but an empty nest is also a good thing.

My husband, Ken, has retired, but is working part-time for two engineering firms.  He really is enjoying himself.

Three years ago, I started a business with two other gentlemen.  It is viable and for the past six months we have been paid salaries.

We have taken two trips to France and have been taking French lessons for the past three years.  We are not great at French, but can communicate.  Also we took a major wine tasting tour last April in France for five days in the Rhone area.  It was heavenly.

I have been sewing, though not quite as much as I want.  I have also taken up quilting which I had been avoiding for fear of a new addiction.  I was right, the quilting stash has 5 quilts waiting to be made.  I love planning quilts, picking out the fabrics, patterns, figuring out sizes, cutting, sewing--just everything about it.  I have only completed one so far, but another one is about a third sewn.  I'll post my progress. 

My life is good, and sewing is still a major part of it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Thoughts on Wardrobe Basics

I love reading about how to develop a wardrobe and there are so many schools of thought on this subject. SWAPs follow right along with this thinking and I feel SWAPS are more detailed than a lot of other routes. I recently fell upon this online article from Forbes which I wanted to share. It is about a basic as it gets, yet I agree with almost everything in this article except for the Hermes Kelly bag. In forty years I have gone through five Coach bags which the total cost still doesn't add up to one Kelly. To sum up the article, go for great basics, think it through, buy quality, skip the trends, don't be matchy-matchy and just be your well-dressed self. Well, in this corner, we'll sew quality and snoop shop instead.

What intrigued me most about this was the link to Eight Essential Items For a Perfect Wardrobe.

Black Pant Suit
Black Pumps
Trench Coat
LBD
White Blouse
Cashmere Sweater
Pencil Skirt
Ballet Flats

The only thing I feel that was omitted was a pair of great fitting jeans. With these essentials, just add a little color with another jacket, sweater and blouse, a couple scarves and a string of pearls then world is at your feet. Hey, you can pick up a cashmere sweater on sale right now! These eight items are pretty much in line with Tim Gunn's 10 Essential Elements with just a change here and there and Tim has no color restrictions. I guess why I'm drawn to the Forbes article is because I feel black & white basics are just a great starting point for most of us.

Since this article was in Forbes, it is aimed at business women, but the basics really apply to everyone when they are out in public. Do you ever notice the well dressed women in the grocery store look so much more sure of themselves than the ladies in baggy Patriot shirts and worn sneakers?

Friday, January 23, 2009

PR Friendship Quilt


PatternReview.com is once again trying to put a Friendship Quilt together. This time it certainly looks like it will happen. I had planned to make this square, and in fact even started it, last October. But, since the deadline was changed to January, I put my time into other areas. So, of course, I hurried to finish this quilt square and mailed it the day it was due to be postmarked. Procrastination at its finest. Luckily, it found its way to Deepika's mailbox in time.

My inspiration for this square is that it contains the colors of the majority of my wardrobe and stash. Boring, neutrals, but the wardrobe works well and I always have something to wear.

There are 36 1" squares that are surrounded by a black boarder. The original finished square without the boarder was a little small and less than the required 6.5" square, so I needed to add the boarders to qualify for the quilt. The square was a bit of a challenge for someone who does not do a lot of quilting. I should have planned it a little better, but I am still happy with it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Sewing Backstory

This topic has been circulating on the sewing blogs thanks to LindsayT. I'm a little late, but here's my story which has been brewing in my head since I started this blog.


Sewing is in my ancestry. My grandfather was a tailor, who married a dressmaker. He also had a sister who was a milliner. I never knew my grandfather since he died three weeks before my parents were to marry, but my mother and aunt kept his memory alive with many stories about him. He started his own business in Somersworth, NH around 1900. He became quite successful. He also had a brother who was a photographer, so there are lots of pictures like the one above. In the picture below, he is the one on the right with a big smile. My grandmother immigrated from Canada and ended up being employed by him. I don't know how long she worked for him before they married in 1910. Around 1920 he moved his business over to the next town in Dover and added dry cleaning as a service. During the Depression, his business did very well since it was cheaper to repair and clean clothing instead of buying new clothes. He ended up being known more as a dry cleaner, rather than a tailor as his business grew. I have his pounding block and needle board which I treasure.


Growing up, most of my dresses were made by either my mother or grandmother. Grandmaman sewed wonderful clothes and knitted lovely, perfect sweaters. As she got older, she did much more knitting than sewing, but while I was young, she made my clothes like the ones below when I was three. I was the best dressed tricycle rider in the neighborhood.


I remember the dresses my grandmother had made for me when I was around 6. At that time I was her only granddaughter, so she helped my mother out by sewing school clothes for me back when everyone wore dresses. Since both my mother and grandmother sewed, I could not understand why my little girl friends would get excited about store bought dresses when the hand sewn ones were at least as nice and usually better.

Since I was always exposed to sewing, I was allowed to hand sew with needle and thread when I was around five. I was doing hems and buttons by the time I was eight. Around that time, I really wanted to use my mother's Singer, but was not allowed to. One day when she was out and we had a babysitter watching us kids, I tried to use the machine when no one was looking. I managed to run the needle through my finger! Ouch! This kept me away from the Singer for several years. In the meantime I would hand sew clothes for my dolls. Once Barbie became popular, I had a ball making clothes for her. The pattern companies were on top of this, and that was how I learned to read a pattern, cut & layout fabric and construct clothes for Barbie. This translated very well once I was old enough to actually use the sewing machine.

When I was 15 my mother signed me up for lesson at the local Singer dealer. Two other girlfriends were signed up with me and we had a blast. I made a wool plaid skirt and a wool doubleknit top for my first project. I look back now and realize I was quite ambitious. The skirt was a simple a-line with a zipper and waistband, matching the plaids was the challenge. The top had a zipper down the back and a short zipper at the wrist of each sleeve. When I first started the lessons, I did not realize that the projects would be entered into a local competition. competition. Needless to say, I did not win the contest, but gained so much confidence in my abilities. From then on, I made most of my clothes. I would tackle anything without fear, and did not know what a wadder was--I wore everything I made. Back then I was straight as a board, so fitting was not an issue. Of course, I made my prom dress! This was the first time I made a muslin which my mother insisted upon and I'm glad she did. She also taught me to perfect my darts.


During my teens, I was fearless. One special item I remember was a flowered cotton suit that I wore to see the Beatles! That was my first attempt at a suit, I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved wearing it. I made a couple coats for Easter, back when women wore lightweight Spring coats, and many, many dresses including my high school graduation dress made from white pique with a square yoke insert and worn with white gloves.


Once in college, I sewed on my vacations and occasionally at school. I mostly made lined skirts for days and dresses for semi-formal events. I went to college at Plymouth State in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and studied business. The only place there that sold fabric was J J Newbury's. The selection was limited, but there were some decent choices among the cheap stuff (that smelled!). One dress that I remember was a green brocade empire waist mini dress that I underlined. I wore this to a Christmas party and later to a pledge dance, then lent it out to other friends who asked to borrow it. It was a popular dress.


After graduation, I sewed work clothes, mostly dresses which were more popular than suits in the early 1970's. I had moved to Boston where there were more job opportunities and adventures. For graduation from college, my parents gave me a top-of-the-line Sears Kenmore sewing machine. I was in heaven. I still have this machine and use it mostly to insert invisible zippers since it has a great foot for that. This machine did so much more than Mom's old Singer. It actually did a zigzag stitch and made great buttonholes! Now it would be easy to finish off my seams which I did and went through more thread because of this.

The winter after graduation, I took my first sewing course since the Singer lessons. I signed up for tailoring so that I could learn how to make suit jackets and chose a Vogue Anne Klein pattern. I learned so much from the woman who taught this class. She sparked my curiosity to learn more about tailoring and dressmaking. I continued to take sewing and tailoring lessons for a couple years, then signed up for pattern drafting at The School of Fashion Design in Boston. My classes were with the night school and I attended for two years taking drafting, tailoring, dressmaking, fashion drawing, and draping twice a week. I learned so much, but my second year drafting instructor was so inferior, I did not bother to return for a third year since he would also be teaching drafting to our class. I should have complained to the management, but they must of known about this guy, since most of the students in my class complained to each other about him.

Over the years I continued to take classes and attend lectures at the Fabric Place whenever the sewing gurus came to town. I was making all my work clothes, mostly suits, and became a Vogue pattern snob for several years, usually spending my lunch hour at the pattern counter of the downtown fabric stores dreaming up new wardrobes.

After my second son was born, I became a SAHM for the next eight years, did alterations and started teaching sewing at the local Joanns evenings. I learned from the alterations since I had a few high end clients with beautiful designer clothes. It was great to be able to get inside these to see how they were constructed. I really did enjoy teaching, but Joann's kept changing the rules, and it became more and more difficult for me to teach (and get paid), so I broke ties with them. I gave private lessons whenever possible and held Saturday morning classes for the neighborhood 10 yr old girls for a couple of years until they all started middle school and I couldn't stand them any longer. I haven't taught for about 10 years now, but when I retire, I'm interested in returning to teaching.

I had dreams of becoming a fashion designer, but it was hard to stop my day job (when I was working) since it paid so well and I did not want to give up my lifestyle. I realize now that I am a dressmaker/tailor, not a fashion designer, and that is the field I could have pursued. I need to work on my fitting skills, so this is the area where I need to grow and improve. I also realized that I preferred sewing just for myself and my family.

I have been reading, sewing, and dreaming about sewing forever. It will always be a part of me.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year -- Still Trying to Fulfill Last Year's Goals

Last year I vowed to limit my fabric purchases and sew more from my stash. The first half of the year was not that successful, especially with a trip to France and a couple sewing seminars offering fabric. I ended up sewing a little more than I purchased which is much better than other years, so I guess it was a semi-success. However, over the past six months I have not purchased more than 10 yards, so the fabric addiction is definitely under control now. As far as I am concerned, linings and interfacing still don't count towards to the stash. Recently the last remaining Fabric Place store closed this November. This is sad, but since I only use Joann's for thread, notions and patterns, it will be easier to keep the fabric purchases under control.

For 2009 I truly do want to sew from the stash. There is no excuse since I have enough fabric to make at least a couple dozen SWAPs plus more. I get inspired when I go through my fabrics, the problem is just getting beyond the inspiration point and actually matching fabric to pattern, then fitting, cutting, fusing & sewing. I find the sewing part easy, it's getting past the fitting stage.

I still haven't started the black suit jacket mentioned in my November 1 post, but hope to get going this month. My old black suit has seen better days since it's six years old. I need a new black suit. In fact, I really need a lot of new suits. The black one is a starting point and I want to plan from there.

As for the Great Coat Sew-along, I finished my vintage jacket, but the tweed coat is still a UFO. I actually cut out the coat & lining, and fused all the underlining and interfacing last September. It had been sitting ignored in my sewing area until last Tuesday when I actually started working on it again. My old winter coat is still serviceable, but I would truly like to finish this new coat. My plan is to spend the next two days working on it. We'll see how far I get. It will get finished eventually, since I don't like have UFOs hanging around.

In 2008, Pattern Review had a thread on the message board to set a goal of one garment a month. I managed to average sewing two a month plus a few home dec projects and Christmas gifts. If I can at least do that again this year, I will be happy. If I exceed that, I will be ecstatic.

So my goals for this year are:

1. Sew from the stash.
2. Sew two garments a month.
3. Post on this blog more often.

Also, my husband and I are planning to go to France again this April. Last year's clothes will work again since we plan to be there the exact same time as last year. But it would be nice to have a few new pieces. Now I need to go check out the stash to see what will work in April.