Thursday, July 12, 2007

Channeling Audrey

I love to sew. Most of my sewing is related to work clothes since I love tailoring, but that usually requires a muslin, lots of fitting and lots of sewing both machine and hand. Sometimes I just want to sew something fun, which means no muslin & fitting. Since PR changed the rules on their contest and an accessory is now one required item, rather than count one of my jackets as the accessory, I preferred to sew a purse. Handbags are fun. They allow for creativity (even though mine leans towards a more classic, subdued approach), imagination, and use of scraps and stuff already on hand. I don't sew these very often, but really get into it when I do. They also provide much quicker gratification. I'm sure these reasons are some of Deepika's since she is the queen of purse-making.

I had scraps left over from my jackets, lots from the cotton one and a little from the black linen jacket. I also bought several yards of ribbon last winter from an on-line ribbon site--I could not stop picking out different ribbons, but managed to stop when I hit $45. Mind you I rarely use ribbon outside of gift-wrapping. But once again, I was inspired and let loose. Well the black and cream ribbon in my stash was so perfect with the scraps from these two jackets, I just had to make a purse. I still needed a lining, but thought why not a black check lining--then off to my least favorite fabric source, Joann's. Sure enough they had a great match. I also needed a pattern and did not want to spend a lot and there wasn't any sale that day, so Butterick was a good choice. I found B4474 which was just the right size of 10" x 8"--not too big. Then the search for handles--but the only ones they had that worked were bamboo, so my choices were limited. A couple weeks later I was at Fabric Place and they had totally different handles to choose from. I found the perfect little black ones. I'll just have to save the bamboo for another purse.

Last Saturday was a great time to start this fun project. I cut out the pattern and fabric, fused two layers of interfacing to the body of the purse even though the instructions only required one layer and off I went. I'm also glad I fused two layers, because it really gave the bag more structure. In fact I could have used a stiffer interfacing, but I used what I had on hand, since I did not want to drive 20 minutes to Joann's or Fabric Place just for a piece of interfacing. The pattern was well drafted, but the instructions were so-so. They really did not skip any steps, but I question if the bags on the envelope were made using the same instructions. The two major complaints about the instructions were that, first, the lining bottom should be sewn with a very wide opening to allow for the cardboard to pass through after the lining is attached to the bag. The illustration showed a small opening which would not work if you don't want to bend the cardboard. I used two layers of cardboard for more stability. Then the other problem was that after the lining was attached and turned right-side out with the bag, you are expected to understitch all around the top of the bag. This is a nearly impossible feat. I found top-stitching around the top to be a much easier way to go. Besides, the instructions had already had you top-stitch the loops for the handles and the tab for the snap. It just made sense to top-stitch again. I had recently purchased some sew-on magnetic purse snaps from Sawyer Brook which worked perfectly and found a button in the button stash which was a close match to the handles, just the right touch to finish this bag. Here's my PR review on this pattern.

Now I'm on the lookout for great fabric to go with those bamboo handles.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Burda 8433

This jacket has been cut out since Memorial Day, but I did not have a chance to work on it until late June. The muslin for this was made prior to Memorial Day and fitting this was fairly easy. Anyway, I posted my review on Pattern Review. This jacket did not give me any problems and I was very happy with the drafting, especially the sleeves. I made some changes to this pattern leaving off the cuffs and just finishing the slits at the wrist. Once again I decided to underline this jacket with silk organza. This stuff is really easy to work with and provided just enough body so that the linen of this jacket doesn't go limp. I finished off the seams with rayon seam binding which turned out much easier to do that I had originally thought. Yeah!--I'll definitely use this technique again. Well I have already worn this to work since it fits in quite well with what I already own. Anyway, a black jacket usually works most of the time. No inside pictures since the details just won't show up. Maybe I'll make one up in a lighter fabric and post that.

One thing that held me up was that my sister-in-law, Nadine, came to visit with her boyfriend on their way to Ireland. They live in Phoenix, so Boston is a definite vacation destination for them since it is so different than the desert. They stayed with us for four days during which time we visited the annual crafts fair in Cohasset (where the very well-to-do live by the ocean), ate out most nights and spent Sunday along the Coastal Wine Trail. My husband, Ken, and I first followed this last year and just loved it. The wineries on this trail are very much like the one in the Finger Lakes, New York.

We only had an hour drive from our house to the first stop, Westport River Winery. We arrived a hour before they opened so we went off looking for a place to have a quick lunch. We found a place on Main Street, which was more of a rural road than the name suggested and found a place named someone or other's dry good and kitchen. There were two young women (the cooks) in the rear of this gift shop who served wonderful homemade sandwiches, soups and all types of dessert goodies. Of course, we all had dessert. When we arrived back at the winery, they were open and we decided to take a tour which took an hour. At the end of the tour, we did our tasting outside overlooking the vineyards. This winery specialized in champagne since it grows so well in this part of the country. The tour brought back all hat Ken and I had learned when we visited Moet & Chandon back in 2001. Anyway, it was a perfect day for tasting, around 75 and sunny.

Then off to Sakonnet Vineyard which was about a 20 minute drive down windy back roads. This place is also in a lovely setting, but I guess we were so absorbed in the tasting we forgot to take pictures. Sakonnet has been around for a while. Ken and I remember buying their wine back home before we had kids (and they are now both Marines, so it was quite a while ago). Anyway, it is worth the stop.

Our last stop was Greenvale Vineyards. They have one of the prettiest barns I have ever seen. All tasting takes place in the barn. This was the most low-key, less crowded place of the three we visited. When I retire, I want to work here pouring wine. What a life!!

Needlesstosay, we did also buy. We have a wine rack in our cellar which holds 126 bottles and it was getting a little bare, especially lacking in white wines. So this little adventure helped us stock up until we go off to the Finger Lakes for our annual wine gathering trip.

After Greenvale, we headed for Newport, RI. Nadine and Vic had never been there, even though I have been trying to talk them into visiting this place. Once there, they loved it. We spent our entire time on the waterfront looking at the small shops and taking in the views. We had dinner at a restaurant on the water, and of course, had wine with our meal. Sounds like our day was a big drunk, but trust me, it really wasn't. Everything was spread out over the entire 10 hour period and we really did not drink that much at each winery since they give out only a couple sips of each wine. Anyway, at least Ken and I have learned after a taste to dump our wine into the vessel provided at each winery. Did you see Sideways? Remember towards the end of the movie when Miles (Paul G) was at a winery tasting room and drank out of a pitcher--that was the wine leftovers everyone dumped. Mind you, we only drink from wine glasses.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Thoughts on SWAP changes

While I totally understand why Deepika changed the rules of this SWAP, I feel that the person who initiated the changes did more damage to herself and her company than she did to the PR SWAP (and I will continue to call it a SWAP, not a Wardrobe Contest). First of all this did not start until after the yearly SWAP was over, voting was completed and the winners were declared. The PR SWAP was initiated by PR members, not Deepika. D was just following the wishes of her members with no intent of stepping on anyone's toes. There was a momentum started because of the earlier SWAP on Stitcher's Guild--people who were not part of the first one, like myself, decided it would be fun to finally get one going now that we were inspired by the earlier one. For goodness sakes, the PR SWAP was nearly six weeks old and half over when this bomb was dropped--at least she should have discussed this with Deepika before blasting the contest on her site. Deepika is very easy to deal with and I am sure that she would have been happy to reach some compromise without everything being made so public by the offender. The majority of us are participating in the PR SWAP to get some coordinating clothes, the prizes are nice, but they are not the inspiration. Had there not been any prizes, I wonder if there would have been such a stink. Competition with the other contest was not the intent--just having fun sewing. I will continue to support Deepika. She has a great site which I have been following since day one.

Besides, the idea of a coordinating wardrobe did not begin with a SWAP. It has been around ever since I can remember. In the early 1980's it was published in Working Wardrobe by Janet Wallach when she introduced the concept of wardrobe capsules where all pieces worked together. I love this book because it is such an inspiration even if it is a little dated with the big shoulder jackets.

Slow Progress

Of course, life never goes according to plan. My long weekend was not as progressive as I had wanted. I ended up spending my Sunday helping my husband (Mr. Train Brain) putting up a hung ceiling over his model railroad layout in the basement. It was only fair since he put one in over my sewing area in the basement over 10 years ago. I owed it to him. I did get both jackets fitted, cut out, and basted the underlining to them.

I spent the past two weeks working on the first jacket Simplicity 4328. I have a tendency to make projects more complicated then they need to be. This jacket pattern is pretty straight-forward, is lined and has no buttons. I chose not to line it and had originally planned to extend the front and include buttons, but this was not to be. My muslin allowed for the buttons, but evidently, I had not thought this out enough and used a looser weave fabric for my muslin than I used for the finished jacket. Once I started sewing the jacket, I discovered that it fit tighter than the muslin. Eliminating the buttons gave me the room I needed. This did sew together quite well. I underlined the body and sleeves in silk organza, covered small shoulder pads and finished the seams with rayon seam tape. I interfaced the facings with fusible light-weight interfacing that I purchased on-line for The Sewing Workshop. I really like this interfacing and plan to buy more. It is woven and I think it would work well in tailored shirts and lighter jackets. Saturday night I managed to write a review on PR .

Overall I am very happy with this jacket and it fits in quite well with the whole SWAP.

I am now progressing on the next jacket which is black linen, also underlined with bound seams. This week is pretty full during the evenings and my sister-in-law is coming to town with her boyfriend for the weekend, so there will be more partying than sewing. Maybe I should post pictures of us having a good time. Yeah!

Friday, May 25, 2007

It's the Long Weekend!!

Yeah, I'll have time to really get going on this SWAP. Tonight I plan to sew up the two jacket muslins I have cut out. If time permits, I will fit them, if not then that will be done tomorrow afternoon and hopefully, I will also be able to cut them out in the fashion fabric, too. I don't plan to line my two jackets, but rather I want to underline them in silk organza to cut down on the wrinkling, but still keep them cool. I also want to finish the seams with rayon seam tape which will give the insides a more finished look.

Ideas in my head are to topstitch the living daylights out of both of them, possibly eliminate the pocket flaps and the cuffs on the black linen jacket on the left (Burda 8483), just lengthen the sleeves a bit and finish them off with a slit. On the light mustard cotton jacket on the right (Simplicity 4328) I plan to have 3/4 sleeves and have added to the front of the jacket to allow me to button it. I have buttons already picked out for the Simplicity jacket since I had originally planned to make this last summer. I will have to go through my button stash to see what I have for the Burda black linen--since I have a whole box of various black buttons, I'm sure there is something that will call out to me.

Hopefully, I will be able to get these two out of the way by the end of the weekend. I need to complete these first in order to see how they work with the other pieces, especially the necklines and sleeves of the other garments.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I have been working on trying to download my storyboard from MSWord which was created on an IMac. Since I'm not very computer literate, this has been totally done through trial and error. Today I have finally had success. I have spent more time on this endeavor than I have on my SWAP. I would have my first jacket done by now if I knew what I was doing with these downloads.

But so much for my problems--on with the SWAP sewing. I have traced off the two jacket patterns, the two HP blouses and the MT blouse. Hopefully, I will at least fit one of the jackets this weekend. To top fitting problems off, I have been following Weight Watchers since January and am down 18 lbs to date-hoping to lose at least another 20 by year end. Because I carry most of my weight in my hips, I have started with the tops since these will be least affected by any weight loss and my shoulder fit should not be impacted at all. Nothing I am sewing is tight fitting anyway. I will work on the bottoms towards the end of this project.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Got No Time

This past week work was crazy as usual, but at least I haven't been putting in extra hours. Jeff is here, so we have been enjoying his company when he is not out with his friends. Right now at 9 o'clock at night, he is out fishing with his friends. It appears that there is a dock at Hough's Neck jutting out into the ocean. He plans to be there all night on the dock attempting to fish and socializing. If I can ever figure out how to upload old photos, I'll post pictures of him with the big fish he caught when he was 5 and 11.

Last night we had our Cub Scout finale banquet. This was the first time in the past 10 years that I was not part of the planning--I'm loving it--it's about time others started taking over the planning. Maybe they got sick of my agenda, which is fine with me--I'm burnt out anyway. The Cubs had a great time and I wasn't stuck in the kitchen this year.

In spite of going out to dinner three times this week, plus spaghetti with the Cubs, I lost 1 lb when I weighed in at Weight Watchers this week. Positive thinking and being good the rest of the week sure helped. Ken reached his 10% this week, too.

Oh, the SWAP, well I certainly have been thinking about it. I spent too much time trying to convert a file to jpeg so I can upload it onto my photo site. The problem is we have a Apple computer, which complicates things, since jpeg is not an option in the files I used to create my storyboard. If I had spent the time working on a jacket instead of the storyboard, I would have one piece done for the SWAP. I did wash and prepare my fabrics and they came out great--thankfully. Hopefully, next week this will get off the ground--out of the planning stage and into action.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, I'm giving my brain a rest. We are off to New Hampshire to visit my mother and the rest of the clan. I'm in charge of appetizers. Jeff suggested shrimp cocktail. Yes!! Yes!! Expensive, but easy--I need easy these days. I also picked up smoked salmon spread (this is a culinary orgasm, I tell you) and will make a grapes with cheese & crackers plate.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

2007 PR SWAP

I'm up and running with the SWAP. First here are my fabric choices:

I spent last Sunday night figuring this out. What fun this was to go through my stash figuring combinations, editing and planning for future sewing. I still haven't figured out how to set up a storyboard, but here are my choices for my SWAP :

Simplicity 4328 view D (light mustard cotton pique)
Burda 8483 view B (black linen)

Material Things Fearless Shirt #106 view C (2 shirts, 1 white, 1 light mustard)
Hotpatterns Deco Vibes Tango Blouses (green bubble print)
Hotpatterns Miss Moneypenny Pussycat Blouse (black, tan, white print)

Dress: Deco Vibe Cosmopolitan Dress (black, white, green, beige print)

Burda WOF 4/2007 143 skirt (green linen)
LaFred Iris Skirt view B (black silk)
JSM Pant 1 (2 pants) (1 black silk, 1 tan cotton stretch)

I am really psyched about this SWAP. These ideas have been kicking around in my head for awhile--this contest has made me put my thoughts into action. I still have fabrics which coordinate with this SWAP, but first I have to concentrate on getting through this. I'll save them for next spring, since by the time this SWAP ends, I'll be ready to start thinking about a fall SWAP.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

My Baby is Home

My youngest son, Jeff, is home on leave until May 13. He graduated from job school (Public Affairs) at Ft. Meade Defense Information School on April 25 and will begin his assignment at Camp Pendelton on May 15. We love having him here, and it may well be over a year before he is back. He has made us proud of his accomplishments in his short life.

Jeff was always an easy kid, but that is his nature, not so much his parents' influence. We hardly ever had to punish him while growing up. His politics are different from his parents'--so we were not totally responsible for his thinking. Little did we know what an athlete he would be--he started crawling at 5 months old (how do you tell a baby that he is too young to crawl). When his older brother, Kenny, became a Cub Scout Tiger, Jeff was only 3, but loved being at our den meetings. He was the best behaved boy there. When it was his turn to be a Tiger Cub, he asked me to be his den leader. Since his dad was now the den leader for Kenny's den, this was doable. Jeff was always very interested in the outdoors and camping. So after crossing over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, Jeff rose through the ranks and became a Boy Scout. He has camped in eight states and Canada, climbed most of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire and backpacked for two weeks in New Mexico at Philmont Reservation (Boy Scout Mecca). I feel because of Scouts, he learned a great deal about leadership and also reliance upon oneself. Jeff is an Eagle Scout and thankfully, became one at 16 sparing his parents and troop the agony of trying to beat the deadline of an 18th birthday to complete all the requirements.

He also is a terrific runner. When he entered 8th grade, he changed schools. The gym teacher encouraged him to join the track team. He knew he could run and was fairly fast, so he gave it a try. He never placed while in 8th grade, but he always finished somewhere in the middle. In high school he was fortunate to have a couple great coaches his first two years. With each year came improvement in his running. He would practice during the summers getting up by 7:30 in the mornings to run rather than sleep until noon like many of his friends. People all over the city would tell me they saw him running in different locations. By Senior year in high school he was always placing in the top three in all his meets. Perseverance, strategy, lots of practice and setting goals for himself are what got him there. Evidently, his teammates liked him, too, and made him captain of cross-country, winter track and spring track that year.

Jeff looked at colleges thinking he would major in English. The Marines won out over college. He said if he went to college, from his observations of the guys he knows, all he would learn is how to goof off and drink. Profound thoughts for a 17 yr old. There will be time for college later and he would be earning credits anyway at Public Affairs school . Our older son, Kenny, is a Marine and plans to go to college when he gets out this coming December. But it appears that for now Kenny is at least getting the experience of living with a group of guys without going to college.

Jeff graduated with honors from high school and while waiting to go to boot camp at Parris Island, he got up almost every morning to run to keep up his skills. He also worked out at the gym most days, so by the time he entered the Marines, he had a perfect PT score of 300. He managed to maintain that score all through Boot Camp and graduated with honors, was an Expert in rifle and earned the Leatherneck Award for the highest physical fitness score in the class of 619 graduates. He then went to Combat School for a month, then on to Public Affairs School at Ft. Meade. Jeff did quite well and really enjoyed his time there. While at school he was tested for physical fitness and scored a perfect 300 just prior to graduation and was again honored for his physical accomplishment. A week later he was promoted to Lance Corporal. Not bad for someone who is still 18 years old.

At this moment he is off with his friends, but it is still good to know he is in this house for now. We will miss him when he is gone. He will be at Camp Pendelton until early December, then he will be deployed to Iraq. I just pray that the situation there drastically improves during the next several months.

Friday, May 4, 2007

This will be a learning experience

I need to become more computer literate. I want to communicate my ideas with more than print, I want to use pictures and links.

Sewing is my passion. I entered the Pattern SWAP contest and plan to develop a storyboard and track my progress over the next three months. But also I want to use this as a vehicle to express all my thoughts.