Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blogiversary Giveaway

Thanks so much for all of your kind wishes on my blogiversary post!

As promised, here are the details of my giveaway. I have three sets of giveaway items:

A Style Arc Pattern

This is a gift from Style Arc!

The winner may choose a pattern priced up to $17 from the Style Arc website. I will order the pattern in your desired size, along with my own order. When it arrives, I will mail it to you. You will not receive the pattern right away, since there will be a delay while I order, then receive, then mail out.

This prize is open to folks in the U.S. only.

Thanks for this gift to my readers, Chloe and the gang at Style Arc!

Set of 3 Striped Zippers

One 24" separating black-and-white striped zipper and two 9" closed-end striped zippers. I used these in my Moto Jacket.

This prize is open to anyone.

Set of 3 Customized Black Zippers

Purchased on my visit to the zipper factory, I had these zippers customized. One 24" separating black zipper with a chunky zipper pull - it reminds me of a game piece with a silver ball in the middle - and two 7" closed-end black zippers with the same chunky zipper pull. I bought some of these to keep and one set to give away. I have plans for my set but have not gotten to that project yet.

This prize is open to anyone.


If you are interested, please enter by leaving a comment on this post. Mention which items you are interested in (Style Arc pattern, striped zipper set, black zipper set - you can select any or all). I will only accept comments entered on or before Sept 3rd. I will draw names after this date and post the results on this blog. Keep checking my blog to see if you have won. Please contact me within one week.

That's it! Good luck!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fourth Blogiversary!

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you will know that I don't do end-of-year summary posts. Usually, when the end of the year rolls around, I want to hide in the studio and sew, rather than look back and gather statistics. So I do a bit of taking stock on my blogiversary and today, August 25th, is my 4th! (If you are interested, you can see my previous blogiversary posts.)

Table of Contents


End of Year Number of Posts Number of Followers Number of Subscribers
1 125 130 Was Google Reader in use?
2 107 341 482 (GR)
3 107 505 739 (GR)
4 92 617 996 when GR was retired on 7/1. 611 in Bloglovin.

It's interesting that my number of posts was a bit down this year!

Top 10 Posts

I cannot access the list of the top 5 or 10 posts of the last year, so here are the top 10 posts of all time, four of which are from this year.

Year in Summary

The most pivotal event for me this year, other than my eldest going off to college, was attending Design Outside the Lines in Taos in late September. It was a wonderfully creative retreat and inspired me to return to healthy living. I remember the retreat, the people, and the location, very fondly.

I am grateful to both Marcy Tilton and Diane Ericson for a special and immersive creative experience and also that I was able to attend Marcy's very last Taos retreat. I am equally glad that Diane is carrying on the tradition and, next month, is holding DOL in Taos with Nancy Shriber. No one can replace Marcy, but Nancy will be an excellent addition to Diane's team!

I attended Pattern Review Weekend in San Francisco in late April and met up with some sewists I had not seen in awhile, as well as meeting new folks in the flesh. I wish I had more time to interact with people - the day sped by and was jam packed with activities. I particularly enjoyed running to Dharma Trading with Claudine, followed by a chatty dinner.

I very much enjoyed giving a talk to the Designer Details students at Canada college.

Stylistically Speaking

The big change this year was a 40lb weight loss between October and June/July. My bust shrank from an Uber Bust (G) to merely a busty bust (DD). This physical change has had a large impact on my style and I am still figuring it out. For example, I have noticed that I am making fewer knitted tops and am more drawn to woven fabrics. This realization surprised me.

I find myself looking more to mainstream trends for inspiration (hello Pinterest!!!), but I don't want to lose my funky edge, so I continue with my attempts to customize my garments to reflect my love of interesting details. I want my clothing to skim the body and am no longer interested in wearing very loosely fitted or boxy pieces that hide my hard work.

I even wore a couple dresses this year, most particularly Marcy's Shingle dress, which is a fabulous pattern.

I am still puzzling it out.

What Have I Sewn?

In the previous year I had extended bouts of flagging mojo, which is perhaps why my number of blog posts is less this year, overall. In the last few months, that has changed. I have been sewing with zeal and have so many projects planned that I sometimes have trouble deciding what to make next - it's a bounty of riches and a lot of fun.

When I look back over the year, almost everything I sew has been from a Vogue pattern, with a few Style Arc, Kwik Sew, and other independents thrown in, such as Sewing Workshop, Sewaholic, and Grainline Studios.

It was difficult to choose, but here are my top 5 favorite garments I have made this year in terms of what I am loving to wear and wearing a lot (click the pic to take you to the corresponding blog post):

Marcy's Shingle Wiggle Dress Geisha Faces Duster Geisha Faces Duster Black Fitted Sandra Betzina coat Style Arc Barb pants Eggplant Pleather Moto Jacket

But, to be honest, I shouldn't restrict myself to only 5! (And some of my projects are so recently completed that they haven't had their chance yet, such as my pleated pewter raincoat and my latest Marcy pants.)

The Coming Year

I am not sure what I have planned for the coming year. I am not very good at planning. As soon as I announce that I'm going to do something, I usually end up doing something else. Suffice it to say that I have a long list of projects I'd like to work on, including more coats and jackets. This year both of my daughters will be away, so it's good that I have lots to distract me.

I will say that, now that my weight has stabilized, I want to sew more Style Arc patterns this year!

Celebratory Giveaway

I am very grateful for YOU, my blog readers, and my blogging sisters (many of whom are listed in the sidebar blog roll gadget)! Blogging has been a transformative activity for me and has improved my life in immeasurable ways. To celebrate my blogiversary, I will be hosting a giveaway, but not today. I have purchased a few items for a giveaway, but I'm still mulling it over. Stay tuned!

And, because I love you guys, how about this for some eye candy!

Visible Monday Addendum

It's another Visible Monday!

This has been a mostly-sewing weekend for me, but sometimes I need to get out among people. I work at home, I sew at home... sometimes it's nice to have some human contact! So, today I decided to take a walk to the nearby shopping area, to buy some fresh berries for my kale smoothie and to take in the sights. (I also stopped at a very nice thrift store, but didn't find anything that called my name.)

I am wearing one of my skirts formerly known as the Tablecloth Skirt. Rhonda Buss generously gifted me with this hand dyed African fabric.

I am also wearing a Uniqlo t-shirt. (I wear these all the time!) Over that is a jacket that I bought at a designer discount sale. I made the ball necklace and the lacy, rose gold cuff is purchased (but doesn't show up that well in the pics).

Finally, I am wearing the Trippen boots I bought in Santa Fe last fall. I have been wearing these often, as they are so comfy and I have no trouble walking miles in them, though today it was only one mile. I want to wear these so much that they cost one cent per wearing. ;)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Have You Heard of Zady?

Have you heard of Zady?

Evidently it's similar to Etsy, where you can buy items from the folks who make them, but I'm not completely sure how it works. It launches in two days, give or take.

If you've heard more than that, I'd be curious to hear about it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fall Buttericks 2013

This is a first! It's the first time I have posted about the Butterick releases, but there are several patterns that I like in this fall batch.

First up is this stunning long coat from Katherine Tilton, Butterick 5960. It's very elegant and the version on the envelope looks like maybe the fabric was painted. If you live in a really cold climate, you might want to add a closure to it.

Someone mentioned on Stitcher's Guild that Katherine stenciled the coat, so I went and found the silk screens that she used on Marcy's site. They are gorgeous! Just the sort of thing that would make a great Christmas gift, if my kids ever bothered to read my blog. ;)

Set of 3 Enso Stencils

Next is another pattern from Katherine Tilton, Butterick 5961, a top and pants. The top has a sweatshirt-sort of vibe, and features an angled armscye and a stand-up collar. The pants feature vertical seams and are slim fitting.

I quite like this Very Easy tunic, Butterick 5954, with it's overlapped front and uneven hem. It might need a little tacking to keep the front in place, especiallly over a full bust, but it's cute.

Some time ago, one of my e-friends was admiring a Lafayette 148 top. This pattern, Butterick 5955, reminds me of that top, with it's shoulder seam detail, color blocking, and loose fit. (The top she admired was color blocked in white and black.) I also quite like the modified mandarin collar on view A (and shown in the pic).

I am always looking for new jacket and coat patterns, and Butterick 5958 looks very promising. A short jacket that features armscye princess seams, front and back, asymmetric closure, and both a zippered and buttoned option. There is also a collared and collar-less version, and a version without sleeves for those who want a vest. Yes, I like this very much!

This might seem to be a mundane pattern, but it's difficult to find patterns for workout-type wear that have style and panache. Most such patterns are not that interesting. This pattern has a very RTW feel to me with it's shoulder yoke, side panels, exposed zipper, in-seam pockets. I definitely like this one.

Another coat! I have been hankering to make a trench coat, but I think I want to make a single-breasted coat, instead of the double-breasted, which is more in fashion at the moment. This coat, Butterick 5966, has some of the elements I look for in a good coat. The pattern features shoulder princess seams, a flared hem, a standing collar, and is otherwise fairly basic - a great pattern to add interesting details to or to make up in an interesting fabric. (I am showing the illustration instead of the photo because it's hard to see details in the busy fabric they choose - for a moment I thought it had a peter pan collar!)

Those are my picks! There is no BMV sale right now, which is fine with me. I have *plenty* to sew, but I plan to pick these up when there is a sale!

Irons - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

In the past, I have been a huge fan of the Reliable Digital Velocity v100 iron. Mine, which arrived in October 2010, has seen heavy use since that time. I use it almost daily, often for many hours.

Then, earlier this week, it died.


Looking back, I realized I had a clue that I wasn't paying attention to. The last few times I refilled it, I would later notice wetness on the ironing board. At first I thought I was being sloppy while pouring in the (distilled) water, but the last time I was careful and there was still quite a bit of wetness. I believe that the leak shorted out the electronics, because I can no longer get anything to display on the digital readout.

At first I was pretty irked. This is an expensive, premium iron. It should last longer than 3 years, right?

But what to replace it with? Up until it's mysterious leaking and sudden death, it behaved perfectly. It heated up fast. It produced tons of steam, even at the lowest setting. I loved that I could override the auto shutoff feature. It has a substantial weight, which I want in an iron. (Though if you have weak wrists, it may not be for you.)

I know there are many fans of gravity feed irons, but I am not ready for that investment or for the care and feeding of a gravity feed iron.

As I was mulling over this crisis (seriously, I can't sew without an iron!) I did some calculations. I had the iron for 35 months. The cost for using the iron came to less than $4 a month.

I realized that this cost is completely worth it to me. I ordered another Reliable V100 Digital Velocity Steam Iron, which will be arriving next week.

Meanwhile, I ordered something I've been wanting for awhile. I ordered a dry iron, the Continental Electric CP43001 Classic Dry Iron. This iron does not produce steam and has a perfectly flat sole plate, so it's very nice for fusing interfacings - no little "circles" of unfused interfacing where there are corresponding holes in the sole plate.

It arrived today. Within minutes I was fusing the interfacings on my current jacket project.

I love it! This is a small iron, but it has some heft to it. There are no computerized bits to break down. There is no water reservoir to leak or spit. There is no automatic shutoff. (Though I plug my irons into a power strip that also has a light, so I know right away if my iron is on.) It isn't super fast at heating up, but it did get quite hot. It also feels less stable than my Reliable, so it's extra important not to leave it on where it can tip over and start a fire.

It was so weird to use such a quiet iron! No steam means no noise. No purring, nothing. I felt very retro while using it - wearing an old-style apron over a fitted dress would have completed the "June Cleaver" effect.

This iron will be a great supplemental iron and a backup for my seam iron. (One of these days I will get a clam-shell press...)

On another note, Margy and I are participating in a little sewing challenge, in the sense that we are both sewing up the same fabric. I hope to make some major progress on my project this weekend, though my kids often derail my plans at the last moment, so we'll see!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

New Marcy Pants! - Vogue 8929

I was very excited to see Marcy Tilton's pants pattern, 8929, in the recent Fall offerings from Vogue. Unfortunately the smallest size that this pattern comes in is a size 8, which is too large, as I like my pants to be close fitting.

So I took my well fitting Style Arc Barb pants and laid the pattern on top of the size 8 Marcy pant pattern, view B. I removed a large amount from both the front and back crotch. I also removed quite a bit from the front side seam.

I am a butt-less wonder and the crotch curve that fits me is shaped like this, narrow and deep. (The pants front is the left side.)

My alterations did not affect the pants length. My horizontal alterations ended above the knee, so the pants are designed as you see them at the knee and below.

I love the front pocket!

I used a wonderful stretch woven to make these up. In fact, it's the same fabric I used to test the Barb pants. This fabric is an anthracite color (which goes equally well with blacks or browns) and it washes and wears beautifully.

I apologize that it's a bit hard to see the detail on these pants in the pics on me. We are having a rare gorgeous day, so that makes it harder to see the subtle detail. I don't have a striped bottom-weight fabric, but these would be great in stripes, as you can see on the pattern envelope. The front features a great pocket and the front and back feature a giant oval inset, once the side seams are sewn. I love this detail!

I LOVE these pants! The length is perfect, so if you are taller than 5'5", you may need to lengthen. They taper at the ankle, but are not super tight - they lightly skim the body. It's a wonderful pattern and I will be making them again, especially when I find the right fabric!

I include this pic only because a) it shows that I am still quite busty as a DD, though maybe not uber busty as when I was a G, and b) I am still plagued by a tummy I have not been able to get rid of.

On Thursday it was a typical summer day in San Francisco: cold and foggy. I ran some errands and wore my NYDJ jeans (cheetah print), and my new-ish Sandra Betzina coat. Fall in San Francisco often has gorgeous weather, and we are starting to have some, as you can see in today's photos where I am wearing my Marcy pants and Burberry-inspired shirt!

I have started my next project. It's a top and I have spent hours altering the pattern, as I want to retain elements of the pattern, but I want a different shape, not unlike the changes I made to the recent Mizono top. I was recently musing to some friends, wondering if my extensive changes affect the integrity of the design, and one (highly creative) friend said she changes every pattern she makes; she sees the commercial pattern as a starting point, only. I like that interpretation!

Today I wore this outfit to my wonderfully funky church and then to a blogger meetup. I am also entering it into Visible Monday, so no sewing for me today. Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Swamp Green Mizono Top - Vogue 1246

It's not a coat!

I had an interesting double-sided fabric in a murky green color (swamp green!) that is, roughly, the color of my eyes. It features thin blue and burgundy ribbons inserted in rows. On one side of the fabric, the ribbons appear inside the circles; on the other side of the fabric, the ribbons appear in the background. I'm not sure which side is intended to be the right side and I can't figure out how this fabric was made. It was a fairly crisp fabric, until I washed and dried it, when it became wrinkled and gauze-like. It's a fairly fragile fabric and, I think that it is all (or mostly) costton.

Closeup of both sides of the fabric

It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do with it, but I finally decided to make it into this Lynn Mizono pattern, Vogue 1246, view A. Views A and B are quite different. View A has a modified-mandarin neckline that appealed to me, and sleeves have a very cool hem detail where there is a slit and one pointy corner is pulled up and over the other and fastened with a button and buttonhole. It is designed to be a wrap top with ties and it has an A-line shape that is quite wide through waist and even wider through the hips and hem. There are deep, asymmetric slits in both side seams. There are 8 mitered corners - four at the side seam hems and 2 on each sleeve hem.

Because I am busty, I find wrap tops annoying to wear, so I decided to convert the pattern to a button front. The size 8 (the smallest size) has a finished bust measurement of 44", so I cut out a size 8 (smaller than my usual size 10) and did a vertical-only FBA of 1-1/4", as I didn't need additional width.

Before removing 8" through the waist and 12" through the hips. (I am also wearing some older Style Arc pants that are now too big, but are sooo comfy that I kept them for knocking around.)

Once the top was mostly constructed, I decided I didn't like how loose it was through the torso, so I cut it down. From the side seams, I removed 8" at the waist and 12" at the hips which results, I think, in a more flattering look on me. Other than that, I didn't make any changes.

I also had an issue with the collar. The collar didn't lay as well on my neck as I would like. It needed to flare out a tad, but I would have had to deconstruct the top to replace the collar, so I decided to play with the styling. It lays well when folded down. It also lays better when the top is worn open, over a shell. If I make this pattern again (and I may) I will tweak the shape of the collar.

The pattern did not call for any interfacing, but I interfaced the collar and front facings. Another feature of this pattern is that all raw edges are finished. The shoulder seams are sewn with French seams. The side seams are folded under and stitched down, which I did by hand. The neckline and armscye seams are covered with self made bias binding. It makes for a very nice finish.

The top closes with 7 chunky, burgundy-colored buttons from Britex - 5 down the front, and one on each sleeve.

I like this top! I especially like the fit through the upper chest, which required almost no tweaking. I narrowed the shoulders by 5/8" which is far less than usual for a Vogue pattern. And I didn't shorten the sleeves at all, and they are perfect, also unusual for a Vogue. I wonder if it's because I made a size 8 and I am usually making a larger size...

I also love the sleeves with the unusual hem. The pattern is worth buying for the sleeve alone.

Here's a question for you. I have styled it differently in the next three photos. Which do you think is the best way for me to wear it?

Worn open over a shell
Worn closed, collar up
Worn closed, collar folded down. (It was breezy and foggy!)

Thanks for all of your feedback on my old, but classic, Montana jacket! I can't say what I will be making next, because I often change my mind at the last minute, but maybe a skirt or pants!