Starting with the Shoes

Sometimes the best way to start a sewing plan is from the ground up.  And from the ground, I mean new shoes!  Yesterday, I was floundering about, looking at my fabrics and just couldn't settle on anything- I have too many options.  So, as I often do, I went to my favorite resale shop for inspiration.  There I found a pair of Merrell's with a pretty milk chocolate leather, trimmed in plum, in my size!  I loved the color combo, and they fit my specifications- low heel, good arch support, comfy without socks, and under $30.

So, I came home, and started checking out what fabrics would work with the shoes.  Going into September, October, I like darker, earthier shades.  First I found some rayon/lycra knit prints.  All of these were purchased while traveling. 

This first one I bought in Finland, way back in 2012.  I only have 1-1/2 yards of it, so it will have to be a top.

These next two were bought in Barcelona when we went there for Christmas in 2016. I have about 2-1/2 yards of each of these, so I'm thinking a long tunic or dress, but short sleeved, since it can still be quite hot in September/October. 

So, for bottoms to wear with the tops, I have a active wear knit in a cocoa brown, and a ponte knit in burgundy that I will make leggings out of.  I believe that these were both mystery bundle fabrics from Fabric Mart.

Then to extend the season and add some textural interest, I'll make some knit cardigans out of these two knits- a taupe patterned sweater knit and a sueded burgundy knit.  I found the sueded burgundy knit at our local re-use shop this summer.

I'm planning on visiting my daughter in Germany in October, and will be bringing this wardrobe with me.  A good travel purse is essential, and I also found this Baggallini cross body bag in taupe at the resale shop that will be ideal.

And lastly, I am a necklace girl, and had to make sure that I have enough necklaces to work with these fabrics.  The first purple one is from my mother's jewelry box, the second one was bought my daughter when she was in Argentina, and the red one with the birds was a present from my husband for our 25th anniversary.  So, all have personal meaning to me.  In contrast, I have no idea where these sunglasses came from- I don't remember buying them, but somehow  they ended up in my house, and I think they are pretty cool looking.

I can't wait to get started, but first I need to clean my house, buy some groceries, and prep some meals, cause once I get started sewing, I don't want to stop to cook or clean!  I'll keep everything in a laundry basket, so they are washed and ready to sew.  I'm sure that my patterns will be super simple- the prints are large, so I won't want a lot of seams to break things up.

Have you started sewing for fall yet?  How do you decide what to sew?

Happy Sewing!


The Making of My Dream Closet

As any seamstress knows, you can never have enough closet space!  When your hobby is making clothes, you don't want to hide them away, and you have more of an emotional attachment to them than you do store bought clothes, so you keep them longer.

After many decades of boxing up my wardrobe at the end of each season to store it and make room for the next season's clothes, I finally convinced my husband to give up his rarely used home office so that I could turn it into a walk-in closet/dressing room.  Convincing him was the hardest part- I seriously had to work on him for a good decade before he finally gave in! But, he would use his home office once a month to pay bills, and I knew that I would use the closet everyday. 

Here are my before photos.  We repainted the walls a soft blue before doing anything-its the same color as our bedroom, which is right across the hall, so it kinda of seems connected, and I don't have to go far to get dressed in the morning.   We decided to use an online closet company called Easy Closets.  They have an online design tool that you can put any measurement into and play around with various configurations.   We had to work around the window placements and doors, but they have units of all sizes, so you can do it.

"A Normal Day" Costume Design

I've had such an interesting year in regards to doing things with my sewing skills that would be considered "out of the box".  Most recently, I was asked to be the Costume Designer for a short film, A Normal Day!  The film was part of a a student screenwriting competition in our community called Pens to Lens.  Students submit screenplays, and local movie makers turn them into films.

I honestly had no idea what I would need to do to be a costume designer, but luckily, the director of our film, had worked with costume designers before, and filled me in.  Basically, anything a person is wearing is the costume designer's responsibility- so clothing, shoes, glasses, jewelry, etc., are all under the umbrella of the costume designer.  You don't have to sew everything as long as the pieces are readily available- just procure everything.  I found most of the things on ebay, amazon or thrift stores, and then added some details like the eyelet and rick rack on the waitress costume.

I only had a couple of weeks to put things together, so fortunately, our film only had a few characters to dress and the director had very specific instructions.  He wanted to combine retro elements with super modern elements, use the colors red and blue to highlight the retro elements, and grey for the modern elements.
So here you can see a retro waitress costume combined with a digital namebadge, and a tablet.  And our extras were all dressed in grey.

Sewing up the oldies: Kwik Sew 2762 and 3306

I have an enviable pattern collection, dating back to the 70's.  Some people might be put off by it, but it gives me a lot of joy!  One of the aspects of my pattern collection that is particularly nice is I have a lot of the old original Kwik Sew patterns.  Kwik Sew is now a part of the McCalls franchise, as is Butterick, Vogue and Simplicity, but they haven't been producing a lot of patterns as of late.  When I bought most of mine was in the 90's, early 2000's, when it was still an independent company, producing their patterns on white paper with each of the sizes drawn in a different color. They are a dream to work with!  I often stalk ebay to see if there are any of the older styles that I've missed! 

This first dress was made using Kwik Sew 2762 from 1997.  This is a t-shirt dress that can be made with or with hood and kangaroo pocket.  It's got a side slit on one side only.  I think that a lot of Kwik Sew patterns are basic designs that are timeless, and this one falls in that category.  Use whatever hem length is in style for your particular decade!  I'm thinking that longer hem lengths are coming back, so I made mine long. 

This is the perfect little sporty, run around town dress.  I made mine using a very nice cotton/linen/lycra knit from Fabric Mart.  It's breathable and opaque, with a nice enough heft that you don't see lumps and bumps through it.  I thought the solid cream would be a little too plain, so I used a black cover stitch to highlight the pocket and hems.  And I dyed a white drawstring a dark gray for accent.

The natural fibers do wrinkle, as you can see from the back, but that's okay with me- I'd rather be wrinkled than sweaty!  The Kwik Sew draft is different than the other big 4 patterns, and for me the size large fits without alterations in most cases.  Sometimes the shoulders are too wide, so I'll merge over to a smaller size on the shoulder width, but that's about it.  They are definitely drafted for taller women, yay!!!! I never have to add any length to a Kwik Sew pattern.

Another pattern that I've always wanted to make from the Kwik Sew line was Kwik Sew 3306 from 2005. This is a tank dress for wovens with two interesting hemlines. The really nice thing that you can't see in my photos is the construction of the neckline and sleeves.  It has a one piece facing that finishes the neckline and armholes, so you don't need to worry about facings flipping out on you while you are wearing it!

This was made using a black cotton gauze.  I can't say that I know alot about the construction of gauze fabric, but this one was very delicate and is literally tearable- no scissors needed.  So, I needed to be careful to not choose a style that was fitted in anyway, or else the seams might tear while wearing it!

I graded out to a larger size than I needed because of this, and I think that it really looks better with a belt. But if it's a really hot day, I'll be wearing it sans belt!

If you are a pattern collector, do you have either of these patterns in your collection?

Do you remember the Kwik Sew patterns with the white paper?

Happy Sewing!

Vogue 1586: the third time is the charm

I know that some people think that after sewing for as long as I have (I'm not going to go into how many years that is!), that I probably don't have much to learn.  LOL!  If that was the case, I would have been bored with sewing years ago.  I recently heard a woman on TV describing her husband, saying that he was better than perfect, because if he was perfect, he would always stay the same, but since he's not perfect, he becomes better every day.  I feel the same way about my sewing.  Luckily, every new project is a new challenge, and some more challenging than others.  There are the technically challenging things, like welt pockets and buttonholes which still elude me, and then there are the design challenging things, like picking the right fabric to go with the right style for the right body.  With this project, the latter was the challenge.

This is Vogue 1586, a recent release by Tracy Reese.  Isn't it beautiful on the model?  I really wasn't sure what fabric that they used for this version, as the fabric recommendations say "jacquard, crepe and matte jersey".   So, in reading that, I thought, well pretty much anything goes! 
My first version was from a stretch cotton poplin, and I cut out the size that matched my measurements.  I don't have pictures because it was a total disaster, both fit and fabric match.  The thing that you can't see unless you look very closely at the photo, is that the collar is a single layer and is narrow-hemmed.   This means that you need to choose a fabric that will lay back nicely when folded, look good from both sides, and look good narrow-hemmed.  The poplin was too stiff to fold back nicely, and it looked awful narrow hemmed.  The tie looked gigantic, and the overall size was okay, but the armholes were way too low and showed a lot of my bra.