It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Plaids and Tablecloths and Skirts..oh YES!

My first adventure back into sewingland after my recent hiatus = my version of sham's popular (with GOOD reason) Tablecloth Skirt.   How appropriate, since I've actually had the pleasure of getting together with her THREE times in the past week - too much fun! (but watch it...she's an Enabler have been warned......)  Since she has detailed the drafting so well here, and has a fabulous gallery of numerous versions of the skirt made by sewists everywhere, I won't go into those details, other than to say this is SO simple to make, and SO much fun to wear....just make one of your own already, ok?
In honor of shams, I'll start with a twirling shot ;-)
I'm not normally that much of a plaid person, but I knew this yummy silk/cotton blend would be perfection for this skirt, so I went for it!   Here's my entire pattern (biggify for the details):
I ended up (after some "how did I manage to do that???" mistakes, which I blame on my brain not being completely back in my body yet) with a 39" square, and 14"x39" rectangles (this doesn't include S.A's).  I meant to start with a larger square, but with my 5'4" height and way short legs, that would not have worked at all!   The smaller the inner square, the more dramatic the points are - next time (oh yes, there will be a next time!) I'll make the square smaller.

I did make a couple of additions.  The length of my skirt is great for heels, but I thought it would be nice to be able to shorten it.  A quick addition of 4 buttons - one at each "point" at the hemline (note:  these are not really "points" - when you've sewn up the seams joining the short ends of each rectangle, you have a straight hem - they just fall into rounded points when you're wearing it - it's magic!).  Then I sewed buttonhole loops with round elastic at the real points - where the rectangle seams and the corners of the square meet.
(if you haven't made the skirt yet, this will make sense when you sew it together, trust me!)
Button at the hemline; elastic loop at the point.

Buttoned up!
When the skirt is buttoned up, the hemline is not only shorter, but falls more evenly - I think it gives a more casual look.

The other addition I made was a little patch pocket (I get nervous when I leave the house with no pockets in my garment - I've accepted this as a fact of my life; apparently I'm not only a bit of a button addict, but I'm a bit of a pocket addict as well.   I'm covered with this skirt.  ;-D   I first made a pocket so that the plaids were angled crosswise to the body of the skirt so that they stood out; I thought I would like the look, but I didn't.   So I matched the plaids so that pocket blends in.  I cut an oval-ish shape, folded it right sides together and stitched the edges, then turned it right side out.  In order to make the pocket lay a bit flatter & make it more secure, I also added a casing & a strip of elastic at the top:

Here's the completed pocket:

A couple of looks:

Full length, just a little bit dressy, just a little bit vintage-y
The blouse, btw, is Decades of Style Collar Confection.  
I made this blouse pre-blogging life, but it's reviewed here on Pattern Review
Striking a pose...

I think I could go square dancing with this look! 
Or maybe to a country BBQ? ;D
Hem is buttoned up here
Amazingly enough, I think I can pull off a variety of looks with this skirt using tops I already have - who knew that plaid could be so versatile!  (I still need more shoes though......)

Things I learned, and what I would do differently next time:

  • Make a wider waistband.  1" doesn't quite do it for a skirt with this much fabric.   Even though this is a lightweight fabric, it tends to pull the waistband off kilter.  I probably used elastic that was too wimpy, and cut it too long, but I'll live with it.   (I sewed the elastic onto the fabric, so changing it out would be a BEAR!)
  • Cut the square a bit smaller, for more dramatic points.
  • For a more flattering look, I would consider cutting the waist hole smaller & adding a zipper.   Or maybe darts.
  • This particular fabric is a bit crinkley in one direction.  In one of those 20/20 hindsight moments, I discovered that ripping a crinkley fabric does not equate evenness with the stripes on a plaid.  I had to choose between keeping the grain straight, or the stripes straight.  I chose to cut with the stripes, since the hemline is naturally uneven anyway.  Crinkle plaid fabric could be an issue in a different pattern (note to self:  remember this when working with crinkles!!!)
A Great BIG Thank You to shams for her excellent work and generous sharing with this pattern - I'm loving it!

I hope I've helped encourage a few of my readers to try this pattern out, if you haven't already - how about you?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"....the conventionally pretty need not apply." - Gaultier

How lucky can a blogging sewist get?  In one of those serendipitous good fortune days, I not only met with shams and margy, but....well...more about the rest of the day later....let's back up to the beginning of the day....

I met margy & shams at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco.  Just in case we didn't recognize each other (uh huh....) we all showed up guessed it...Trippens!
The Trippen Triplets...all in similar, but different, boots.
And yes, they did indeed garner comments and compliments from complete strangers :)
Want to meet some new people?   Get yourself a pair of Trippens!

The plan for the morning was to see the extravaganza known as the Jean-Paul Gaultier Exhibit.   After hugs & giggles over our shoes, we headed in to the exhibit.  The first outfit you're greeted with is possibly my very favorite ever use of recycled blue jeans:
This is a jacket & pants, with painted on imagery.
The denim is part of the jacket.  Love!
On the wall next to this mannequin is this quote:

This leads you into a show with THE most innovative mannequins ever!  The talking faces are so mesmerizing that it takes awhile before you can even focus on the clothing designs.   Which are unique eye candy indeed - this is a man who got his first job in fashion design at age 18 - with Calvin Klein, no less.   And I believe his creative mind has been working non-stop, inspired by muses who come from a different stratosphere than the rest of us, ever since.  My eyeballs were ready to bleed by the time I'd reached the end.   In a good way!

I won't even attempt to describe the exhibit in detail - if you get a chance, just go see it!   Here are a few images (non-flash photography is allowed)
Every Mermaid should have walking sticks for land travel, right?

Never-ending ribbon cascade - quite gorgeous!

I believe this was pret-a-porter -
wouldn't you wear it?
Millions of Feathers overlaying a punky, spikey metal base
The mannequin was a singing diva.
And sometimes there are no words......

We sat to rest our eyes & discuss what we had seen (& invited a friendly stranger to take a few pics....)

When who should we spy, but two more fabulously creative sewists, Ann at Stitch Me Up and the (as yet) blogless (but we need to change that) Barbara V, who posts her beautiful creations at Pattern Review:

This was the serendipitous luck I mentioned earlier - Margy and Shams were headed off to points south, while Ann and Barbara were going to go to the Cult of Beauty exhibit at the Legion of Honor, so I continued my blogger-meetup day with them, especially nice since you get a discounted ticket if you see both exhibits on the same day :)

The Cult of Beauty exhibit was MUCH calmer than Gaultier, but very interesting from an art and fashion history view.  I loved seeing the examples of how William Morris, Christopher Dresser, Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley, and the "Aesthetes" of the day influenced such dramatic changes in the art world...and the way we lived.
I think that Barbara & Ann still looked pretty fresh here;
I was ready to head home by then!

Such a delightful day!   It's back to the work world for me tomorrow, but I may sneak in another bit of blogger meetup time if I can....stay tuned.....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Still Obsessed With Neckties...

I'm happy to report that I am continuing to find uses for my extensive necktie collection, while also expanding my meager belt collection.   

This tie, in all of its gaudy glory, was the unlikely perfect combo of colors and swirls to tie together an outift (to be revealed in the near future)

I'll start with the finish, so you don't need to wonder what the heck I'm doing with all of my silly little folds & buttons & stuff:
Yes, it's a belt!

I started by making a few folds,
and tacking them in place with a button, using heavy-duty thread

Close-up of button and folds

I tacked down the folds on the back side....

added some velcro
(for the variable waistline & layers of clothing, you know....)
The velcro under the button area is hand sewn;
the strip of velcro on the flat end is sewn by machine

And that's all there is to it!

Next up:  one of sham's famous tablecloth skirts and a report on another blogger meetup scheduled for tomorrow (two in less than a week, how lucky am I?)

Yes indeed, I do believe I'm back :D

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I'm Back! With a few topics du jour..... :)

#1 -
Mumsy - January 2, 1915 - April 23, 2012
Yup, that's 97 full & fabulous years :)

The inevitable arrived, and my darling, precious Mother passed peacefully, in her sleep, early Monday morning on April 23.  I could write volumes; I've already spoken volumes to my incredibly supportive and amazing and healing friends, colleagues, hospice helpers ... even strangers I meet in every day life.

All I will say at the moment is that I am blessed - blessed to have been born of this gentle, honest, loving, and forgiving woman, and blessed to have been her caregiver for the past 5 years.   The challenges, the lessons, the laughter, the joy .... all of it was, and continues to be, one of the most amazing journeys of my life.

Yes, I am blessed :)

#2 - The month following Mom's death has been packed to my eyeballs with activity, grieving, healing, support, and, in short, transition on steroids!  I had been doing a TON of clutter-clearing, organizing, and gardening in the past months, and decided to go ahead with my planned yard sale a mere 2 weeks after her passing.
This was a smashing success!   Cleared out LOTS of crap-I-mean-treasures (even sold 2 of my sewing machines!) & made a bit of spending money to boot :)

#3 - I dove back into the gardening & house cleaning...
Built these steps from 4X6's & granite fines -
a great way to keep the old body in shape!
View of the backyard from my office window preparation for...

#4 - a Gathering of Gratitude/Celebration of Mom & Life & Friends, which was another delightful, and healing, success :)
Pear Tree, gifted by a special friend in memory of Mom
The tree became a very special focus during the Ceremony honoring Mom :)
#5 - After all of that intense activity, (and a few hit-the-wall-and-sleep-all-day times of much needed focused healing and rest) I feel like I have a world filled with paths of opportunities in front of me.  I'm definitely in transition, still recovering, and thoroughly enjoying the freedom of being able to go out & about & play...and stay out as long as I want...and absotively RELISH time with friends!

This weekend has been one of those times that's been filled with the freedom of flitting about hanging with people I like, doing things I love ~ like eating gourmet food, feeling up fabric, enjoying art, having heart-opening experiences and conversations, and lots of laughter!

It all began with a yummy lunch & Fabrix shopping time with the always fun-to-be-with Shams and  ReAnn, who I was delighted to finally meet during her visit here :)   Besides our love of creative sewing & fabric petting, we share a love with a certain footwear manufacturer, and by pure coincidence (yeah right...) we all showed up wearing said shoes:
Whose feet belong to which sewist?
(and for those who are not yet obsessed with these outrageously fabulous shoes, they are Trippens)
And I have to add that our footwear was admired by total strangers who stopped us in the street to comment :D
You will notice that Shams & I have similar-sized bags -
it wasn't until the following day that we discovered we each went home with the wrong bag!  
Good thing we plan on meeting again soon :)
#6 - The Big Question - What's Next on the Sewing Front????????

Here's my poor, neglected sewing room as it looks right now:
Add caption
LOADS of opportunities awaiting here:
  • Finish the Soho Raincoat?
  • Finally make a tablecloth skirt?  (I'm feeling a lack of transitional season long skirts, so this is a strong possibility, especially since I already have 3 fabrics chosen for one!)
  • Pick up on my promise-to-self to perfect pants fitting this year?
  • Make some always needed new knit tops?
  • Clean up the sewing room & just start on the first thing that sparks my fancy?  (that's kind of my style......)
Stay tuned.....I'm back!!!!

And by the way, my motto of the moment is that I'm ready to do anything & everything (within a modicum of reason) Because I Can!!!!!  (that includes a bit of blog-reading catch-up....)

Here's another little gardening shot to leave you with....
Matillija Poppies in the wind......