Thursday, August 30, 2007

Elaray's Sewing Room! Grand Re-Opening!

My hiatus is over – I'm back in the sewing room! After doing some much needed housework – clearing away the figurative and literal clutter – I am ready to get back to sewing. As much as I would like to, I can't always shut out the world and sew. When I'm distracted, it's best to stay out of the sewing room. I make stupid decisions and mistakes. Several things were distracting me, not the least of which was the disorder in my house. But now that my house is clean and my mind is clear, I'm ready to get back to sewing! Once I go back to work next week, I won't have uninterrupted hours to spend in the sewing room and I'm happy to take advantage of these last few days of summer vacation.

I'm working on BWOF 01/2006 #130 pants. It's impossible to see in the photograph, but the pants have some interesting details: the shaped hip yoke pockets and side panels on the front and back. Summerset said she actually "loved" BWOF's fly front zipper instructions. Because of my bad experiences with BWOF instructions in general, I've never even read their instructions for fly front zippers. I'm skeptical, but because I admire Summerset's work and based on her recommendation, I'm willing to give BWOF's method a try. (This way, I can blame her if it doesn't work out! Tee-hee! ) I'll probably practice first on some scraps. I'm up for learning something new.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

If It Wasn't for Bad Luck I Wouldn't Have No Luck At All

My Sewing Mojo has abandoned me. I finished a knit top before my trip to Virginia, but I haven’t made it into the sewing room since I returned; possibly, because I’ve been trying to prepare myself for going back to work. My Sewing Mojo and my Work Mojo cannot exist in the same space. My mojos are like that.

I did visit the fabric store I researched (see previous post). It was a nice little store, but I didn’t buy anything.

I was hoping to buy a new sewing machine at the end of the summer. I decided on the Bernina Aurora 430. Unfortunately, I had some major automobile expenses and that plan had to be abandoned.

To quote the old spiritual "I'm so glad trouble don't last always". The best thing for me to do is to ride out this little storm and wait for my luck to change. I’ve got tons of housework and back-to-school preparations to keep me busy until then.
But, I'd rather be sewing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good

My daughter and I are going out of town to visit yet another college campus. Am I making lists and packing? Am I doing housework I won’t want to do when we return? Am I getting nostalgic thinking about what it will be like when she leaves for college next year? No, I am not. I am online looking for any fabric stores near our destination. I got it bad. I’ll tell you how bad I’ve got it: DD is considering a college in near Washington, DC. Yes, I’m concerned about campus safety, tuition costs and scary roommates. But, the campus is about 30 minutes from G-Street Fabrics! If she decides to go there, I can shop at G-Street every time I pick her up or visit!! I’m trembling!

Now that I’ve found a fabric store in our destination city, I must go clean, pack and get nostalgic.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Body! Oy!

I really like this dress (BWOF 09/07 #129). It looks like it would be easy to make and to wear. It's a popular style - I'm seeing it everywhere- and I would feel very "current" wearing it. The problem? My body! I see styles I really like but I'm not sure how my body will look in them, and, frankly, I get a little depressed. I know I shouldn't, but I do. The problem is I can't decide if I'm an inverted triangle or a rectangle. If I'm an inverted triangle, I should be "balancing out my figure with full skirts". * If I'm a rectangle, I should be choosing "body skimming styles with minimum shaping".* According to these descriptions, I should be able to wear this dress in either case, right? Maybe I can wear it without the belt. It's all so confusing! I'll do some snoop shopping and try on a dress like this. If it looks good on me, I'll make the dress and feel very smug and satisfied because I made it and it cost much less that the RTW dress I tried on. If it looks bad, I'll be depressed and probably go to the nearest Baskin-Robbins or Friendly's for ice cream and do even more damage to my inverted triangle/rectangle figure!

*Source: Vogue Patterns Fashion Workshop

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My First Copied Pattern

After several months, I finally made my nephew's barber smock. The delay was in getting NFL (Oakland Raiders) and NBA (LA Lakers) fabric. So far, I've only been able to get my hands on the NFL fabric.

I copied the pattern using methods described in two sources: The Haas Method (as described in Threads Magazine Aug/Sept 2005) and The Doyle Method (Patterns From Finished Clothes by Tracey Doyle). (The methods are described in a previous blog post.) Working with the copied pattern was easy because the design was so simple. The only pieces needed were front, back, collar and sleeves. I should have walked the pattern pieces together to check that the seam allowances were the same length. The sleeves went in easily, but the back was slightly longer than the front. I eased in the chest area and called it a fitting detail. Before I make the NBA smock, I'll just cut off some of the back. It this had been anything other than a barber smock, it might have been a problem. But I seriously doubt that my nephew or his customers will notice the easing in the chest area. My smock is made better than the smock I copied. I added a fold over facing on the front and interfaced the front and collar. Believe it or not, the original didn't have either of those features. It's amazing how some things are so cheaply made. The original smock had pockets with zippers in the bottom. I couldn't imagine why zippers would be needed in the bottom of a pocket. They are there so the barber can easily remove the hair that accumulates in the pockets. Live and learn!

I'm happy with the results of my first attempt at copying a pattern. I'm sure my nephew will be happy, too. Maybe he'll forget that we first discussed this project in May and he didn't get his smock until August.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

It's Not a Stash Unless I Say It's a Stash

I have never been a stasher. I buy only as much fabric as I can sew. My mantra has been, "I need more clothes, not more fabric." But since my NY fabric shopping trip, I now own more fabric than I have ever owned at one time. But it's still not a stash.
Here's why:
  • Every piece is fabric has been assigned to a pattern. If I had fabric and I didn't know what I was going to do with it, that would be a stash. I have a long "Sewing To Do List", not a stash.
  • I had to move only minimal amounts of fabric and other stuff to make room for the new purchases. I just need more efficient storage space; I don't have a stash.
  • I can sew up the fabric I have in the foreseeable future. I have enough to keep me busy until Spring 2008, and I consider Spring the foreseeable future. I have my projects lined up for Fall and Winter sewing, not a stash.
  • Every piece of fabric is best suited to a particular season (Fall) and therefore has a short shelf-life. Well, one piece is a lightweight cotton, but the blouse pattern to which it is assigned calls for a lining. Since this is my future Fall wardrobe, I know I'll get it sewn. And, that's definitely not a stash.
For the reasons, outlined above, I will not call my current collection of fabric a stash. A lot of sewers stash fabric - not that there's anything wrong with that - but I'm not one of them. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! :)

PS: No, the picture is not my stash!
(Credit where credit is due)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

My New York Shopping Trip

I finally made it to NYC to shop for fabric. In spite of the heat, it was an absolutely terrific day! I met my sister, who lives in Duchess County, at Penn Station. The woman who made my sister’s wedding dress is also her friend and co-worker. She attended FIT and was going to serve as our expert guide , but she couldn’t make it at the last minute. Sis was familiar enough with Manhattan so we got along well without the expert guide.

Our first order of business was to proceed up 7th Avenue to the Fashion Center Information Kiosk. We were so busy talking, I almost forgot about the Fashion Walk of Fame. When I remembered, I happened to be standing on Willi Smith’s circle. He was one of the first African-American designers to gain worldwide acclaim and the first designer whose work I "followed".

At the Kiosk, we got a list of 45 – count ‘em, 45 – retail fabric stores in the district. The garment worker sculpture is right next to the kiosk and I had to have a picture. It looks like I’m as tall as the sculpture. People were sitting on the base of the statue. I didn’t want them in the picture; they didn’t move and I didn’t ask them to. So, I climbed up on the base of the statue to pose. I’m sure my sister and I looked like rank tourists, but I didn’t care. I was having a great time and New York is full of tourists, anyway.

We decided to start at 40th St. and zigzag between 7th and 8th Avenues as we headed south. I had three must-see places on my list: Paron, Mood and Metro Textiles. I didn't find anything at Paron. The store at 206 W. 40th St. had more clothes and purses than fabric, but a man came in and led us to a store next door (I’m guessing it was the Annex.) My sister warned me I’d wouldn’t know which way was up after going into so many fabric stores and she was absolutely right. We went into so many stores and I forgot where I made my first purchase. I bought the orange print (see below) in one of the stores we randomly wandered into.

The most memorable experiences were Mood and Metro Fabrics. Mood is HUGE! Unless you know what you want, you could get lost in there and never be seen or heard from again! Fortunately, fabrics are arranged in categories (i.e. wools, cottons, silks) and you can find what you want. The only problem was the shortage of sales staff. My sister and I wrestled a roll of fabric from the shelf by ourselves and that was no easy task! Sis said pulling out that huge roll was like giving birth and with all the groaning we did, it certainly sounded like it. I bought the rust piece (to coordinate with the orange print) at Mood. Mood’s prices were reasonable, but not great. It reminded me of G-Street Fabrics in Rockville, MD.

Our last stop was Metro Textiles. As soon as I entered, I identified myself as a member of Pattern Review and shamelessly dropped Carolyn’s (Sewing Fanatic) and Ann’s (Gorgeous Things) names. Kashi is a great salesman and really knows his inventory. I bought the most from Metro Textiles. I fell in love with tropical wool because it feels so soft. My sister found a tropical looking print that coordinated with the tropical wool so I bought them. I saw a boucle at one of the random anonymous stores and wanted to find something black to coordinate with that. At Metro, I found the black and Kashi showed me a piece of boucle that I liked better and at a better price. So I bought them. Sis found a roll of knit fabric that reminded her of the empire waist tops everyone is wearing these days. So she bought it – and she hasn’t sewn anything in years! Kashi offered to ship my purchases back to Pennsylvania for me. At first I said no because I wanted to go home and play with them. But after walking 3 feet out the door, I realized how much of a PITA it would be to schlep the heavy bags back to Pennsylvania on two commuter trains and a trolley. I let Kashi ship them.

The whole experience was wonderful and memorable because:
  • My sister and I spent "sister time" together without our children.
  • I got fabric I really love
  • I learned enough about the Fashion District so I can get around by myself if I have to.
  • I stayed within my budget (if I don't count lunch and train fare).
It was a perfect “I’m so glad I sew” day.

Here are my purchases:
Solid wool purchased at Mood
Print at random store I don't remember.
These fabrics will be either pants or skirt and blouse

Tropical Wool and poly print purchased at Metro Textiles.
The wool has a tweedy appearance with darker threads and a herringbone weave.
This will be pants and shirt.

Boucle and sateen from Metro will be a jacket and skirt.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Okay, I'll Play!

Meet Elaray Simpson! It's a little scary how much this looks like me!

Anybody else wanna play?
Simpsonize Me

I'm going to get a doughnut.