Monday, August 25, 2014

Travel packing and livin' la vida me-made.

 Vacation in progress! Here we are in Cape Cod, MA ready to get our Yaaaay! on right before Barry and Monica began their epic walk down the aisle. Mike looked amazing in his seersucker suit and Venetian boater hat. Sometimes he tries to rebel against his hipster-inclined ways but I am usually able to cajole him into owning it. He's a beautiful man and can pull of strong colors and statement pieces. Once he takes the plunge he rocks it pretty hard. I knew he would for this trip, too.

I wore a modified version of Butterick 5748. It's the regular bodice with the notch in front. I had previously made the neck-gape adjustment to my pattern pieces and the tiny amount of leftover gape was handled beautifully by the ease created by the notch. I added an extra-full gathered skirt and in-seam pockets for this version and am pretty pleased with the results over all! This is the first time I applied a rick rack trim over the surface instead of as an edge treatment. It was also the first time I used the basted-shut zipper technique I saw here. I have done once or twice since then and will definitely be incorporating it into future garments!

Certainly I must be getting ahead of myself, though! In my last post I talked about sharing some of my me-made wardrobe travel tips and observations.

Here are a couple of shot showing my packing in-progress. I hung out all of the dresses I planned to take on this trip so that I could coordinate jewelry and shoes. I tend to gather everything up on the bed before starting to fit it into my bags. I have been traveling with a 1-bag rule for a few years now. The addition of my train case is definitely a break of tradition and I wanted to make sure I wasn't just taking along additional things for the hey of it.

When packing I come to a point that I just know that I have reached the tipping point. I prefer to leave a little extra room in my bags to allow me to bring home treats for myself and my stepdaughter.
 Mommy Dearest's line may be "No wire hangers!" but my own is, "No checked baggage!"

1- sorely dislike waiting for the carousel
2- becomes difficult to carry it all solo
3- risk of loss is too high
4- mid-trip changes increase risk of loss
5- traveling with vintage or me-made means not   being able to replace things = heartache

I've encountered a lot of drama in my travel. I have learned to cut it out wherever possible.

Because I'm a nutball I, of course, had a last dress in-progress the night before we left. I promised myself (and my boyfriend who kept eyeing my pile of dresses with trepidation and a hairy eyeball) that if I finished the new dress one of the trip dresses would come out of the pile and the new dress would get work on the plane.

I've been working on tweaking a self-drafted bodice to include a v-neck.  In the purple striped dress below it worked out quite well! After making the pink dress I think the bias is the reason is worked so well.

In any case, here's a hotel mirror shot of me at 8pm after getting up and dressed and out the door around 4am, trekking through the airport, Boston and 3 hours of driving. I think it looks damn fine. Whatever reservations I still had about the dress are gone! Especially since I shortened one of my black cardigans to pair with it (and a million other dresses!)

The last dress for this post is the purple striped number i mentioned above. If you follow me on Instagram then you've seen it already. This was my first try at pattern matching! I'm super pleased with the results. I even found that I could get in and out of this dress without inserting a zipper. I'm still on the fence about whether to go back and put one in. I mostly think it would make getting dressed easier... What do you think?

Tomorrow we are off to the City of Brotherly love for some fabric shopping, fried chicken and donuts, farm-to-table food and some general lovin' and kickin' around. I hope to get some more action-shots of my clothes. Soon! Happy Monday Blogland!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Travelin' me-made and retro style!

Hello blogland! I write you from a cozy room in Buzzards Bay, MA. We departed Home in Minneapolis at the less-than-charming hour of 5am to make our way across the country for our friends Barry and Monica's wedding! Look up #baronica2014 on Instagram for some of their awesomeness.

I am excited to be able to share some images of my entirely me-made wardrobe for this trip! It will be the first time my mom will get to see this batch of dresses. I learned my love of sewing from my mama who taught me to sew on the machine she made my baby clothes on. I am so pumped to show her the latest.

In addition, I am traveling with my train case for the first time and hoping to garner some insights and tips for making the most of train case travel. I have been surprised by how much I can fit inside. I've also been pleased by how easy it is to reach in frequently to grab this or that while we made our way around Boston and toward the Cape. I'll be snapping photos and gathering tidbits to share. I'd love to hear your tips and tricks, too!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Getting over the hump, a little bit on motivation

I LOVE teaching. And, I LOVE sewing. Challenge is I don't love writing my syllabus. We are about to go off on vacation to Boston, Philadelphia and New Jersey and really, really need to get my syllabus finished and my first lecture ready to go. We come home only 3 days before classes start.

I have a whole heap of fabrics just screaming at my from the cutting table to become the next wonderful thing I get to wear and so I have given myself the mandate that all of my syllabus and first week of class materials need to be ready to print before I can get back to sewing.

 So what do I do? Go buy more fabric, of course. My boss is an experienced pattern maker and we have a lunchtime pants-making chat set up this week. The first pair of pants I made were such an enormous, colossal failure that I decided I absolutely must seek out help.

Every review I have read about Butterick 5895 talks about success. Many sewers seem to have success right out of the envelope. A few needed minor tweaks. Only two reviewers have talked about them being bad in the first go. Even one of those lovely ladies just ate her words! Tasha of By Gum, By Golly looks fabulous in hers. I went to Joann's on my groceries trip today thinking I would just get what I needed to try making them.

I also found this beautiful ikat seersucker that was on sale for $7/yd and couldn't help myself. Why am I writing this blog instead of finishing my syllabus? Can't you see I am my own worst enemy! Oh, reader, encourage me to do what I need to so I can keep making fun frocks and things.

Wish me luck!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Is it truly awesome? And other vocabulary abuses.

I am a frequent user and abuser of the word "awesome". I try to inject more diversity into my daily vocabulary but I find that in my less conscientious moments I default to overuse of "awesome" to express excitement and satisfaction. I am a hypocrite.

*bespoke* will be at Fair Indie this weekend!
Oh, but you can! I dislike to overuse of words when the overuse depletes the power and meaning of a word. When a friend or coworker asks a question and I am able to give an answer? "Thanks! Awesome!" Although I appreciate the vigor of the response I doubt much of what I do on a day to day basis or what I know is truly awesome.

Things that are truly awe-some:
-taking in the view from the rim of the Grand Canyon
-my last mountain-top sunrise when I lived in Lesotho
-hearing my boyfriend's daughter speak about her body without shame, guilt or fear

Things that rock, are very exciting, make me smile:
-delicious food
-waking up next to my dude every morning
-seeing dude's daughter accomplish a new skill or take a new risk

Here is a promise to myself to keep invigorating my linguistic skills and the depth of my vocabulary. Join me!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Batter Up! daydress

During my day off last week I was very happy to spend the whole day home and sewing. And doing laundry. And cleaning the cat's water fountain, etc, etc. Still, mainly, a sewing day!

After my most recent trip to SR Harris I had a really hard time deciding which of my new fabrics to start with. Looking through my box of trim I decided to make up this fun blue dot print with some extra wide rickrack trim from my stash. I went back and forth about it since it made me think of baseball right away. I love the kinda '40's, kinda '60's pop Deco feeling of it.

I keep all of my TNT pattern pieces in their own envelopes. Separate bodice and bottom pieces. Mix and match heaven! I have a whole envelope of pocket pieces, too!

I started out with my kimono sleeve bodice block and a basic gathered skirt (I use a tapered hip line instead of a straight rectangle to reduce bulk). I laid all of my bits out and just wasn't feeling it. So I scrapped the kimono sleeve bodice and instead opted for my newly modified Butterick 5748 bodice! I made this up as a test run for a dress I am wearing to a friend's wedding later this month. With the first try there was major neck gaping and the back is so low that I can only wear it with one bra that I own. 


To eliminate the neck gape I followed the advice of berni and i . Her step-by-step was perfect for altering a one-piece bodice front with waist and bust darts. It's giving me the confidence to go back and fix some other patterns with similar problems. Don't fear the dart!

As a side note, I generally don't pre-wash my fabrics unless I am sure that the sizing is corn-based (I have an allergy). I find that most fabrics are so much easier to cut and fit in their fresh-off-the-bolt state. Plus, my ironing and pressing time is greatly reduced and my washing machine is saved the trouble of loose yarns tumbling around the center holding my towels and underpants hostage. 

In the future I hope to share additional tidbits about organization, pattern tracing, storage and modifications. I love reading about other bloggers organization and tips and tricks. 

Next up: pictures of the finished dress! And some Bakelite love. 

Happy sewing!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Day off, new sewing space!

Ok, so it's not a totally new sewing space. We moved into our duplex about 2 months ago and although we are settled in many ways I am still getting used to the new space and it's quirks. We've just combined households and finding just the right way to put each of our belongings into the best use is the kind of challenge I love. Fortunately for us both my boyfriend likes my flair for organization and design. 

Here's the new layout!

I really should have taken some before/after photos since there is an enormous red, sculptural chair that is now hidden away in our Enormous Closet. I was getting pretty frustrated with my workspace flow before. I have a small ironing board and it would have to be used on top of the worktable. The serger felt crammed in at the far end when the giant chair was in the place of the sewing machine. Now, I have usurped a bookshelf for my ironing station (and lego storage for the kiddo!) and we have a lot more open floor space. Woo! I keep other supplies tucked away in our Enormous Closet.

Now, with the sewing space on its way to glory I have a couple of other things that need resolving. I'm pumped to hang these wine boxes for some additional storage/keeping junk off the workspace over my sewing machine. It'll be great to be able to keep thread and bobbins close at hand without having them on the work surface! Other items include: additional light for sewing machine area (perhaps), additional thread rack for overflow (absolutely!), hairpin legs for the worktable (when I can stop myself from blowing my candy money on Bakelite...rrrrright.)    

For now, I am off to spend the day with my stepdaughter. This will be her first time coming thrifting and antiquing with me. On the lookout for: Bakelite bangles, quilted hosiery boxes, end tables and cloth napkins. Future post on our day of spoils and also my approach to antiquing and thrifting, for sure!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A day to play

It's been a quiet week at work. The sort that finds me reaching out to coworkers to see what I can help with and compiling mental checklists of all the things I would like to get done at home. So I am super excited to be taking a personal day tomorrow!

On my to-do list:

   -Work on the Butterick 5748 for a friend's wedding
   -cut out fabric for two other dresses
   -draft pockets/trim plans for the two dresses

-antique mall?
   -in Hopkins, Antiques on Main
   -look for: bakelite, cloth napkins, satin organizers! Like these:
   I have seen a bunch of folks storing bangles this way and I truly love it!

Happy almost Friday!

Great fabric in Minnesota

When I moved to Minnesota I really did not know where to go for good fabric. I knew there were a number of Jo-Ann stores in the metro but Ho-Ann is not my usual cup of tea. So you can certainly see why I was super excited to start learning about the less commercial options available! Two places in particular have become my regular stomping grounds: S.R. Harris and Crafty Planet.

S.R. HIMG_2699arris is an enormous, 30,000sq.ft. warehouse fill in every square inch with all manner of apparel and home fabrics and cut rate prices. Their typical set up is to offer 50% off of all shelf prices with occasional additional sales on specific categories (linen, silks, upholstery, etc). I had lived here more than 2 years before I went the first time. I has little knowledge of what I was getting myself into. I spent HOURS there. I know now to set a budget (usually about $100) for a visit and to go in with my little book of swatches and a plan. Otherwise I'll just go bonkers. These two fun projects came from quilting cottons I found there.
Crafty Planet is a small, independently-owned fabric and yarn store that specializes in all manner of sweet, novelty prints and unique quilting weight cottons. I got my stepdaughter this amazing KABOOM fabric for a circle skirt of her own!  They are a little on the spendy side but it does my heart good to support local businesses that support our enthusiastic maker/sewist community around these parts. If you happen to be in Minnesota I strongly encourage you to hit these spots up. It'll stoke your stitching fire!