Thursday, April 24, 2008

JoAnn, My New BFF

I've done my share of JoAnn bashing in the past, but lately I've been able to find several usable pieces there. No, the fabrics were not from prestigious designers and fashion houses, but they were exactly what I needed at the time. For me, practicality always trumps prestige. Most recently, I'd decided I wanted to wear a skirt and blouse combination to my daughter's high school graduation ceremony in early June. I wanted something summery and festive, but not dressy. I did a quick search of the shops on (Philadelphia's) Fabric Row. Even Kincus, my favorite Fabric Row store, let me down. In fairness to Fabric Row, I was rushed and I really wasn't in the mood to search in dark, cramped shops on that particular day. I found the fabric pictured at JoAnn. It's a linen cotton blend and it was 50% off - $4.99 a yard! I think it says "proud, happy mother" quite clearly. I can top it with a plain white linen blouse, probably from, and I'll be set.

I've learned my lesson. I will never bad-mouth JoAnn fabrics again. (Well, I will continue to publicly question all than darn FLEECE!) I will not look down my nose at humble JoAnn, but I will keep my fabric-buying options open and consider every fabric-buying possibility. The way fabric stores are closing, I need to support every fabric merchant I possibly can.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Next: Burda Plus Spring 08 #403B Pants & #406B Shirt

Judging from my blog, one would think I haven't been doing any sewing at all. That is not the case. I finished the outfit I began at the end of March and I finished DDs prom dress. I wasn't able to get usable pictures of my outfit, and the prom dress is at the cleaners for a professional pressing. It's not likely I would get DD to do a photo shoot anyway. My sister and my two nieces visited during their spring break and I had to change my sewing room into a guest room. I postponed changing it back into a sewing room because reassembling the cutting table is best done by two people and only one person (me!) is ever available when I feel like putting it back together. (Funny, DD always knows when to disappear on some important errand! I must be unknowingly telegraphing my intentions). Then, I decided indulge my other hobby and make some soap. Making the soap further distracted me from reclaiming my sewing room. But finally, the cutting table is up and I am more than ready to get back to sewing.

My next project is from the Spring/Summer 2008 issue of Burda Plus Fashion. That's 2008! This may be the first time I've made and outfit from an issue before the next issue comes out. Sure, I know Burda Plus comes out every six months, but I will not be robbed of this victory. I'm undecided about the pleats/tucks at the knee. Something tells me to trust the Burda designers. Maybe those pleats/tucks serve a purpose; like allowing me to bend my knees. See how gracefully and comfortably the model bends her knees. But when I'm standing upright, pleats at the knees may look like wrinkles. Just another example of Burda being fashion forward, I guess. I'll probably make a muslin. After my last fiasco, I'm a little concerned about the fit.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Prom Dress Progress: Nancy v. Sandra

My favorite method of pattern alteration has always been Pivot & Slide from Nancy Zeiman's Fitting Finesse. But, for the first time, pivot and slide didn't work for me. What's a mother to do?

My "otherwise perfect" daughter has a difficult body to fit. She has always been an athlete. She's played soccer, basketball and currently runs track. Her body is well developed in some places and over-developed in other places. Her back is broad, but she barely fills an A-cup. This made the strapless bodice a fitting nightmare. There was just enough room in the back of the dress and too much room in the bust area. If I'd used the pivot and slide technique as described in Fitting Finesse to decrease the bust, I would have decreased the entire circumference of the bodice, including the back. So, I turned to Sandra Betzina's Fast Fit. Betzina presented a method that specifically addressed a small bust in a princess seamed dress. The changes are applied to the bust area in the front of the dress and not the back. It's a good thing I had Fast Fit and an alternative method for altering the pattern. (Another reason to buy all the sewing books you possibly can.) I got a much better fit in the bust area, but I still may have to include the straps to hold the top closer to her chest.

Now, more about the "otherwise perfect" daughter. Her Senior Prom is less than a month away. I'm in a panic because I desperately wish I had more time to work on the dress. In the past, getting her to cooperate and try on anything has always been a challenge. After she tried on the first muslin, I finished the alterations and made the second muslin of only the bodice. I needed DD to try on the second muslin. She had the nerve to ask me, "Can we limit these fittings to one a night?" I have less than a month to finish the dress and she wants to establish limits! BUZZZ! Sorry, that's wrong! Teens must be the most self-centered beings on earth. Even more self-centered than panicky, stressed-out mothers!

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Search is Over!

My daughter is a high school senior and we've been in the midst of the Great College Search for over a year. It's been stressful, yet exciting. There are many things to consider when choosing a university - security and safety, tuition, financial aid, available majors, tuition, programs for study abroad, tuition, co-ed dormitories, tuition, and room and board costs. There were two schools on DD's A-List -- University of Virginia and Cornell University, and two schools on her B-List -- University of Maryland and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to the aforementioned important considerations (did I include tuition in that list?), I was looking for independent fabric stores in the cities and towns we visited. Yes. I really was.

UNC was the first campus we visited and at that time, I was too inexperienced to look for independent fabric stores in Chapel Hill or Durham. Silly me, I was only interested in my daughter's needs. University of Maryland had G-Street Fabrics about 30 minutes away (or 90 minutes, depending on the horrific Beltway traffic). But Maryland wasn't on the A-List, no matter how much I loved G-Street. My brother lives 30 minutes away from Cornell , and I got too involved in family fun to visit Homespun Boutique, although it sounds like I would have liked it. By the time we got to UVA, I wised up and made a point to visit Les Fabriques in Charlottesville, but I wasn't crazy about it.

Only a truly twisted avid sewist would throw fabric stores into an already dizzying mix of college criteria. My daughter made her decision without even considering the local fabric stores. (Did I bring the wrong baby home from the hospital?) Thanks to a generous partial scholarship (God is good!-- All the time!) it looks like she'll be going to Les Fabriques, I mean University of Virginia!