Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Another Simple Top and August Angst

This is the other piece of fabric that I bought at the same time as this and I did the same thing with it except with a V-neck this time. (Headless shot this time because I'm feeling too lazy this morning to take 50 photos so I can maybe get one in which I'm not making a weird face.)

I love it. Like the other one, it is so comfortable.

Oh, by the way, did you want to see progress on the house? We now have floor joists, including the front porch.

It feels like things are moving along faster lately. It's starting to feel like we might actually manage to finish this crazy project.

* * * * *

This is that time of year when I go, "Nooooooo! It can't be August already! I'm not ready for summer to be over!" I like warm weather, I love wearing cool, breezy summer dresses. I haven't sewn as many dresses for myself this year as I had planned to. One reason is that I sewed a lot for my granddaughter and that's great. It's so fun to have a little girl to sew for. But there are other reasons. My closet is full! So far I can always manage to stuff one more dress or blouse or tunic into it but it's so hard to find anything in it I keep wearing the same half dozen dresses.

This summer has been weird. It was hot for a little while but we have also had a lot of days that are almost like fall. And then there's our air conditioner situation. Late last summer our central AC stopped cooling. I wanted to get it fixed one more time but my husband said no, let's just get three window air conditioners and we can donate them after we move into the new house. They work okay but they're very inconsistent. Sometimes it's 78F so I turn it down just one degree then half an hour later it will be 72F, which feels very cold to me. So I haven't been wearing my dresses as much this year, which makes me sad and not very motivated to make more.

The spare room where my cutting table is didn't get one of the air conditioners so most days it's too hot to be in except very early in the morning so I haven't been cutting as much. And that's just purely a matter of motivation. I do wake up early and I could force myself to stop wasting time in the morning and get to the cutting before it gets too hot but the main thing is the lack of motivation to make more dresses that I probably won't wear much if at all.

I did take a few things to Goodwill about a month ago. While I was going through the closet to find things I could get rid of I found a blouse that I thought I had taken to Goodwill years ago. Now the logical thing to do would have been to add it to the things going to Goodwill this time since I didn't even know I still had it but I was so surprised and happy to find it. I have actually thought about it a few times and wished I hadn't given it away so to find that I hadn't... Well, of course I kept it.

My closet in the new house will be twice as big but no doubt I will over-fill that one within a year. [sigh]

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Wearing the Tropics

It came to my attention a while back that I did not have a dress with flamingos on it; that is, I saw a dress with flamingos that another sewing blogger was showing off and had to have one myself. (I can't remember where or exactly when I saw it; it was at least a year ago.) So I took my time looking and eventually found the most awesome fabric with flamingos, big tropical flowers and leaves and even a few pineapples, and this is what I ended up with:

It's a lovely, lightweight 100% cotton. I used Simplicity 1803, view C, as the starting point for my creating because I have been fussing with these princess seams forever and have almost got them right. I eliminated the front bodice seam and used a plain skirt from a different pattern because the one in S1803 has too many seams. Who needs all those extra seams when you have a big beautiful print? I completely changed the front neckline and, as always, it has pockets and a side zipper.

Here's the back. I love these scoop backs in the summer.

I didn't even attempt pattern matching because I was a little short of fabric. In fact, I had to use a solid light blue fabric for the facings. But I really don't mind all that much. I'm not quite that OCD about matching.

This is one of the kind of dresses that make me smile all day long when I'm wearing it so here's another pic of me showing off.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Amazing Colors

A few months ago I had some less than enthusiastic thoughts about Girl Charlee fabrics. So why did I go shopping there again? Well, here's the thing. We're building a house. Now when most people say, "We're building a house," they mean, "We hired a contractor to build us a house," but we, my husband and I with occasional help from sons and brothers, are hands-on, DIY, literally building a house ourselves. And it's getting close to 100F these days so I need some more cool clothes to work in. I have plenty of old t-shirts but it is too hot for anything with any sleeve at all or a high neckline and I have only two sleeveless knit tops that I have been wearing for working on the house which is, honestly, enough but I thought it would be nice to have a couple more in case I wanted to put off doing laundry for another day or two.

Girl Charlee always has good prices on knits and given my purpose for these it doesn't really matter a lot if they come out less than presentable. The fabric I chose is a cotton/modal blend. I have had no idea what modal is but that's what Google and Wikipedia are for. It's a type of rayon. (groan) What is it with Girl Charlee and rayon? They need to rename the company Girl Rayon. But anyway, this is different. It turns out, it's a very nice, smooth, surprisingly stable, easy to sew knit.

Well, I have babbled enough. Here it is, finally.

OMG! Look at those colors! And the fit is good. It's not twisty or wonky in any way. Now I'm thinking this is way too nice for construction work. I almost exclusively wear dresses in the summer (except for working on the house or in the yard, obviously) but this would go great with a cardigan for cooler weather and there are so many colors I could pair it with.

I used a t-shirt pattern, Butterick 5215, left off the sleeves and adjusted the arm holes so they wouldn't be so gaping, and lowered the neckline. (I could have lowered it even more.) I made narrow facings for both the neckline and arm holes.

So now what am I going to wear for working on the house? Well, screw it. I'm going to go buy several modest sports bras and just work in those and cargo capris. Did I mention that it's been getting up to nearly 100F here? (It's supposed to be above 100 this weekend.)

* * * * *

BTW, the house is post frame construction, which is more tornado and earthquake resistant than conventional construction. We have both here. It might look like not much has been done since the last picture I posted of it (back in January, I think it was) but we have actually done a lot of work. Most of the work so far has been up above, on the roof and the second floor. You wouldn't believe all the little details of roof construction!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Oh look! Chickens!

Hey everyone; I used a new pattern! "New" meaning bought ages ago and never used. It's Simplicity 1459. The fabric is also some that I bought several years ago so this addresses both of my two sewing goals for 2018.

I wish you could see all the subtle background colors of the chicken fabric. The basic color is ivory but there are irregular splotches of a peachy color. That's why I chose peach colored buttons. I think it turned out pretty good for a first try. The darts are not quite in the right place but overall I'm happy with it.

I didn't have quite enough of the dark fabric for both the wide skirt border and the large collar so I made the under collar that you can't see out of the chicken fabric. Also, as you can see, I eliminated the notch. Here's a pic of the back.

I did take a couple of back pictures outside but when I uploaded them I saw that the collar was folded under. This is something I'm going to have to be aware of when I wear it. I'm tempted to tack it down but I'm afraid that might cause it to look wonky so I'm going to leave it alone.

I am definitely going to use this pattern again. I already have two, maybe three, future Simplicity 1459s in mind.

Goal: Sew fabric that I have had for 2+ years at least once a month (or 12 times this year) 7/12
Goal: Use unused patterns from my stash: 1

Monday, July 9, 2018

Little Things

I have started and completed several sewing projects in the last two weeks. I feel like I have really been accomplishing things. I will start with a couple of little things I have made for the granddaughter and I will try sometime this week to get around to photographing the two things I have made for myself.

First, this cute little dress is Simplicity 1453.

This was the first time I had used this pattern. It has a lot of little details but it wasn't difficult. I specifically wanted to make her something with cats on it and I found this adorable kitten fabric at eQuilter. The trim fabric is a subtle tumbling blocks print.

Next is this t-shirt.

This is not among my best work but considering how difficult to work with the main fabric was, it turned out better than I expected. It's very soft and drapey and kept trying to run away while I was sewing it. But it's fine for a 4-year-old's play clothes. She likes shiny things so I'm pretty sure she will love it.

* * * * *

Now it's time to start something else but I haven't decided what yet and I'm feeling sort of anxious being between projects. Maybe take a break from sewing for a couple of days; maybe do some of the altering and re-fashioning that I've been putting off; maybe grab something randomly and just get started? What do you do when you have indecisive days?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

And the bad news is now I have to order all my bras from India

NOTE: This might especially be of interest to vintage and retro fashion enthusiasts.

It was sometime in the mid 1970s, when I was a teenager, that I first saw an ad for a modern "natural" shape bra. My mom and I both agreed that we hated it. Before long though that became the normal bra shape and in one sense, I got used to it but in another sense I never did. It came to be what I expected to find and I practically forgot that bras had ever been designed any other way but I have always had a lot of trouble finding the right bra and I was always a little dissatisfied with what I ended up with, without really knowing what I wanted.

By the early 90s I had gained two dress sizes and gained one more before I settled into what seems to be my permanent size 14. (16 in pants) I went through a phase of thinking I had to wear shapeless clothes so the shape of my bra really didn't matter a whole lot. But then I discovered sewing blogs on which beautiful women of all sizes proudly show off their creations. I was inspired to find my own style.

It turns out my style is sort of a hybrid of retro and timeless. I don't go full on retro with the hair and makeup and shoes and all but I like the basic 40s - 50s style with close fitting bodices and full(ish) skirts that fall at mid-calf or a little below. Suddenly, finding the right bra was a problem again. A close fitting bodice requires just the right bra or it will never fit correctly. And so the search began.

"Retro" shaped bras do exist but my search was complicated by the fact that I was used to seamless cups and for a while was not willing to give up that feature. But I did find two seamless cup bras that were acceptable, though far from ideal.

The first one I found was a Playtex 18 Hour. That's an Amazon link but I actually bought my first one of these at Walmart. When I first tried it on I actually freaked out a little, like OMG it makes the girls look so pointy! But wait, I told myself, isn't this what you wanted? So I put clothes on over it and it made the clothes look fabulous. Best fit ever. However, there are problems with it. The pictures are not at all accurate. It comes up freakishly high in front and the back is about twice as wide as shown in the picture. I later ordered a couple of these from Amazon, thinking I was getting something different based on the pictures, and got the exact same bra I had previously purchased at Walmart. I really wish I could find that bra - the one in the pictures. Being too high in front and too thick in back is a problem for summer dresses but it also just feels weird and wrong.

Next I discovered the Playtex foam lined Cross Your Heart Bra. I knew I would not like the foam lining but I tried it anyway and it's actually almost perfect. It works under all my summer dresses, It's low enough for V-neck fronts and low scoop backs. The cup shape is something in between retro cone shaped and modern rounded. It's a shape that works well enough with all my dresses but there's that foam lining. I'm all for modesty but who wants to trap the girls in foam when it's 100F outside? Of course, like most people I'm in air conditioned spaces most of the time but three minutes outside and the bra has soaked up twice its own weight in sweat. Still, this has been my bra of choice for several years.

Finally though, a couple of months ago I decided to start the search again. And to learn to live with seams. I searched all the bras at Amazon, not just the prime eligible ones, and discovered Sona bras. Yes, that is spelled correctly - Sona with an N. The first was this Delicate Super Everyday. I was skeptical but decided to take a chance anyway because in one of the pictures it looked like it might be the right shape. And my size was available in pink!

Well, I like it and I don't. The lace is very rough and bumpy and tends to show through and it doesn't really support all that well. It's especially lacking in side support so if you have a problem with underarm boob this is not the bra for you. But it is amazingly comfortable so I decided to search for other styles in the same brand. That's when I discovered that Amazon does not want you to find Sona bras. You search for Sona and it gives you Soma. But fortunately there is a "Dammit I said SONA, show me what I asked for!" link. It doesn't really say that but it should. And I found two more that I wanted to try and ordered two of each.

The appropriately named Perfecto turned out to be The One! Ahhhhhh! [Choir of angels, ray light from Heaven] It has that perfect retro shape (I like to call it classic) excellent support even on the sides and it's cool and comfortable unlined cotton. Sadly, my size is only available in white and beige right now but it also comes in black, red, and pink in some sizes.

Finally, there is the Bee-Heart which is the weirdest bra I have ever seen. To start with, it is 100% non-stretch cotton except for short pieces of elastic in the back on each side of the fasteners. The band, the straps, everything, is non-stretch cotton. When I took it out of the package I immediately thought, "There is no way this is going to work," but it's actually more comfortable than I expected and stays in place and keeps the girls in place very well. I wore it all day yesterday and never once had the urge to rip it off and burn it. But the downside? The cups are a very weird shape even if you're looking for pointy, which they definitely are. The center (the in between cups area) forms kind of a concave curve. Like I said, weird. It doesn't look too terrible under clothes though as long as it's not something clingy.

The weird bra has inspired me though. One of the things (not the only thing) that has kept me from trying to make my own bras is the difficulty in finding the right materials. I have found online retailers that sell a limited selection of bra supplies but I've been procrastinating because, even though I buy fabric online all the time, in this case I want to be able to handle it first, especially the elastic. Bra elastic is not like other elastic. Anyway, handling and wearing that last bra, I realized I can just make one out of cotton! So my plan is to take apart one of the second Platex bras mentioned above. Although the outer cups are seamless the innermost lining has a seam so it should work as a pattern. And of course I will try other patterns.

Oh, almost forgot! Sona bras are made in and ship from India. I have to wait a little longer to get them but both times I ordered they shipped in less that 48 hours and it didn't take a terribly long time to get all the way here to Oklahoma - about two and a half weeks total. I will definitely order again.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Must Have Ladybugs!

You might remember late last summer I accidentally destroyed my old ladybug dress and used the remains to make a dress for the granddaughter. (It was big on her then but she has grown into it and it's still one of her favorites.) I immediately started looking for ladybug fabric to make a new and better ladybug dress for myself and I eventually found this:

And made this:

It's a Vogue 8789 but without the extra full skirt (as usual) and with pockets. (of course) I could point out about half a dozen things wrong with it but I'm not going to because I actually love it. It's imperfectly perfect.

As I have discovered only fairly recently* rick-rack is somewhat controversial but I like it and I'm not ashamed to use it. This is actually not what I started out to do though. I was going to wind two colors, yellow and white, together like this...

... but the rick-rack was not cooperating. It got extremely twisty. Funny, I don't remember it being that difficult before when I did it. It was a little twisty but not so bad. Anyway, after several inches I decided this wasn't going to work and gave up and used just yellow. As I was sewing it I questioned my decision: "Should I have kept trying? Should I have used white instead? Wait! I could have used white eyelet instead of rick-rack!" But as soon as it was done I was completely satisfied with it just the way it is.

I finished it a little over a week ago and today I'm wearing it for the second time. It's a cool, fun everyday dress and I am going to love it to death.

(*When you're my age anything up to 10 years ago is "fairly recent".)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Another One For the Granddaughter

Meet my friend Jacqueline - Jacqueline the Ripper.

An evil looking thing isn't she? But I couldn't get much sewing done without her. Most recently she helped me finish this adorable little dress.

It's another McCall's 9227, view B this time. It's not that it was a difficult pattern; I just kept making stupid mistakes - really hair-brained. But we got through it and in the end it turned out great. The only changes I made this time were leaving off the tie belt and adding elastic at the back waistline and adding side seam pockets. Granddaughter is just like her Nana when comes to pockets. They are a must.

I haven't had the chance to give it to her yet but I know she will love it. It's a style of dress she really likes and this is such a fun colorful print. Click on the pic to make it larger and have a better look at all the crazy stuff going on - little deer, birds, giant butterflies and I'm not even sure what some of this stuff is. So much fun.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Dinosaur Story

My grandson was about 6 or 7, I think, and in the middle of a serious dinosaur obsession. (Also a shark obsession and an alligator and crocodile obsession; pretty much anything that can kill you horribly he loved) He's a teenager now so this was a while back. I was looking around the fabric department at Walmart, because fabric, and I found a dinosaur print flannel. The background was different size rectangles in red, blue and, if I remember correctly, tan or brown and the dinosaurs were green and brown. Now a normal grandmother would have bought some and made her grandson some pajamas but I'm not normal. My first thought was to make a shirt for myself so I could be the cool grandmother who's not too grown up to wear dinosaurs.

The lady working in the fabric department that day appeared to be about ten or more years older than I was at the time. As she was measuring out the fabric she commented about what a cute fabric it was "for a little boy." I suppose the smart thing to do would have been to just agree with her and leave it at that but I admitted that I was planning to make a shirt for myself. She laughed like that was the craziest thing she had ever heard and said something like, "You must really like dinosaurs." I told her that I like a lot of different kinds of prints and she said, "Well, I guess so," in that tone that suggested there was something definitely off about liking anything other than subdued, tasteful little florals and such.

I made the shirt and wore it for several winters but for the last three or four years I hardly wore it at all and although I still liked it I decided I needed to make some sacrifices to make room in the closet for some new things.

The point of my telling you this story is to observe that for each of us there are things we do not wear not because we ever consciously think, "I do not wear stuff like that," but because it just never occurred to us to choose it even if, in a way, we like it. But once we wear one of those things we do not wear it becomes something we do wear and the next time we come across a cool dinosaur fabric, or whatever, it's a perfectly natural thing to buy it and wear it.

So I found this really cool dinosaur fabric at eQuilter and, naturally, I bought it. It's one of the lighter weight quilting cottons, nice, light and breezy, perfect for summer.

I used McCall's 9065 again. This time, as you can see, I left off the sleeves. I only had to raise the openings about half an inch for modesty. I also made it with an unbanded collar. I had to make a back facing and change the front facing a little bit. The original only goes to the front yoke. For this version I had to make it go all the way to the shoulder seam.

I also made side vents.

You can't really see it in the photos but I used gold color thread, exactly the color of the gold dinosaurs, for the topstitching around the collar, neckline, arm holes, and hem.

I love it. I think this might be my favorite made from this pattern so far. Maybe. It's hard to say. I love them all.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Birthday Dress

It's been nearly a week since my birthday and I'm finally getting around to showing off the birthday dress, which I mentioned in the previous post.

The pattern... well, I did use the bodice from a retro Vogue pattern because I'm too cowardly to draft my own patterns but I changed it so much it's not really that anymore. The original had center front and back seams and a back V-neck. I made it without the front and back seams because I wanted as few seams as possible so as not to break up this big, fun paisley print more than necessary. And I changed the back neckline, just because. The skirt is a half circle, with pockets of course. Here's that back neckline.

It has a side zipper and it's one of the best I've ever sewed.

See the zipper? No, you don't! Sorry, anytime I manage to not mess up the zipper I'm ridiculously proud of myself for it.

The fabric has a nice stiffness, which I like. It feels sturdy so even though I sewed it as a "birthday dress" it feels like an everyday dress and that's good because I have a lot more every days than I have special occasions.

* * * * *

The birthday was one of those big, round scary ones - 60! - which doesn't seem right at all. I haven't even gotten over being freaked out about turning 50 yet. One of the things I hate about it is that when you get past a certain age people start judging you by your age. Everyone thinks they know what 60 is but they don't, but they will continue to be absolutely sure they do know no matter what you say to them.

On the other hand, when you reach 60 you suddenly have an automatic excuse for, well, senior moments. I have a good memory. Really! Unfortunately most of what I can remember is useless stuff like Kochel numbers, dialog from Star Trek, Firefly, and The Big Bang Theory, and the names and faces of actors that I haven't seen in anything for over 30 years, and if it's not completely useless it's mainly good for pissing people off, like which one of "there, they're," or "their" to use. But you know... it's always been that way. Everyone of every age is occasionally absent minded, but the older you get the more important it is to remember the right things and not screw up so people won't think you're losing your mind.

Well, anyway, the day of my birthday was nice. Nobody made a big deal out of it, which was okay. I got to eat out for both lunch and dinner and I got a small birthday cake. Small is good. And the weather was perfect and I wore the birthday dress all day. Other than being 30 again I couldn't wish for anything more.