Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend 2008

It was a 4-day holiday weekend. There was a lot of family related running around, the neighborhood picnic, the local swimming pool opened, driving a 13 year old and his girlfriend to a movie "date" etc. I did manage to complete a shirt dress in a springy grass green color. The dress pattern was from Burda WOF July 2001. It is a slightly A line silhouette with a shaped center back seam ending in a vent. It has epaulettes, sleeve taps and flapped pockets. The fabric is a polished cotton blend I picked up from the give away pile at the ASG meeting. Since I am small on top with sloping shoulders, I like details like epaulettes, breast pockets with flaps, and turned up sleeves because they add bulk above the waist, that balance my hips. These design details may not be the best choice for well endowed, square shoulders body types, but there are many styles they can wear that look horrible on me.
I tend to wear garments one way. A jacket with its matching skirt, a blouse with a certain pair of slacks, over and over again. The "maximize your wardrobe" books recommend breaking apart suits and wearing the pieces with other tops or bottoms. And trying different combinations of tops, bottoms and accessories when you have some time and aren’t in rush to get dressed. So I decided to "style" this dress several different ways based on some pictures I had seen in magazines. I may not be original, but I am great at copying.

Look 1, The dress with casual sandals and jewelry

Look 2 - The dress cinched with a belt, with a big brass buckle. I tried to make the belt form a "V" so as not to put a straight horizontal line across my middle.

Look 3. The dress worn under a short sleeve, khaki, belted jacket with dressier, snakeskin, peep toe, wedges.

Look 4. The dress worn as a jacket over a print top and black pant. I have noticed the longer jackets over tops and slacks a lot lately. They are often called “dusters”. Sometimes the “duster” is a structured jacket, in a bold spring print and sometimes it is more casual like a shirt. Of the 4 ways I styled the dress, my favorites are look 1 and look 4, but I am determined to wear all four just to get more use out of it.

Memorial Day Weekend is significant to me for reasons unrelated to the holiday. 29 years ago on this weekend, I married my husband in a short ceremony by a Justice of the Peace in Pittsburgh, PA. I wore a white suit my mother had made for me. It is still in a closet and no, it doesn’t fit me any more. My husband-to-be had only the holiday weekend off , because he still hadn’t been working at his new job long enough to have any vacation time, and I started a summer job in the engineering dept. of the Hershey Chocolate company the following week. We didn’t want to “live in sin” so after 4 years of dating we got married. The honeymoon weekend was spent hiking on Skyline Drive around Front Royal, VA. This weekend, in addition to the normal humorous card and restaurant dinner, my predictable, non spontaneous, thrifty husband surprised the heck out of me by giving me a very unusual, custom designed ring as an anniversary present. I love it!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stuck (on) Zippers

My blue jacket is still not finished. I have a bad case of zipper indecision. I ordered a 2 way, #5, bottom separating zipper from Stans Sewing Supplies (along with a dozen bottom separating invisible zippers). But when it came, it was too heavy for the jacket fabric. So I order a YKK Formal Fashions separating zipper from Zipper Store. These zippers are light weight and designed for use in wedding dresses. My local Hancock’s used to stock these zippers until they went into bankruptcy and YKK refused to supply them any more (this info. came from the store manager). I am waiting for the YKK zipper to arrive. I hate to lose momentum when I am working on a garment. It is always hard to go back later, remember where I was in the process, and get started again.
Last weekend, my guys were off camping, so I was able to spend a lot of time looking through my stash of summer fabrics. I made lots of groups of coordinating fabrics. The group that inspired me the most was an expansion on the khaki and green color scheme mentioned in the last post.
I found quite a few of what I call sorbet colors, cool frosty shades of green, yellow and blue. One fabric had all the colors. It was a cotton rayon woven with muted stripe in khaki, aqua, chartreuse and pale yellow. I purchased this fabric specifically to make jacket 116 from the April 2005 of BWOF magazine The jacket was shown in a variegated green striped fabric. I loved everything about that fabric, the colors, pattern, and texture. But could never find anything close until recently. Because my fabric was very soft and raveled profusely, I backed all the garment pieces with fusible tricot. My favorite fabrics for summer jackets are silk matka, and silk or cotton blend suitings. I almost always fuse interfacing to all the garment pieces to give them some body and prevent raveling. I use fusible Armo Weft (60% poly, 40% rayon) most of the time. My choice of tricot(100%nylon) this time was based solely on coming across it first in my search for a fusible interfacing. I think I will stick with the Armo in the future. I originally hemmed the sleeves too short. When I took out the hem and attempted to press out the original hem fold, I had a heck of a time. It was like the fold was permanently formed in the tricot. Excessive use of steam and heat on the right side of the fabric got rid of the fold line, but caused the tricot to un fuse and bubble.
I did make modifications to the sleeve. The sleeve pattern was very long and flared out at the bottom edge. You can see this if you look closely at the line drawing. In the magazine picture the model has the sleeves shoved up at the elbow. I didn’t feel the extra length and flaring added to the silhouette, so I removed both. I really like the style of this jacket and will definitely make it again, maybe in the longer version. I am not sure these paler colors are good ones to wear near my face with my coloring. Especially the yellow and khaki. But aqua blue and some greens work for me. So inspired by the mini wardrobe contest going on over at PatternReview, I think I will challenge myself to make a mini wardrobe using some of the other fabrics in this group.
Thanks to Shannon and Sigrid for the link to the archived BWOF pattern magazines. It enabled me to put the picture of the line drawing and magazine photo in this post.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers Day

Today was Mothers Day: a holiday I feel is highly publicized for the main purpose of encouraging the spending of money on presents, cards or restaurant meals to honor mothers. A hug is more meaningful to me. But this day always prompts me to think about how thankful I am for the medical technology that made it possible for me to be a mother. My husband and I were very fortunate that 16 years ago, we lived in a large urban area with state of the art infertility centers, and had enough of our own money to pay for invitro-fertilization, deemed "experimental" by our health insurance companies. I wish everyone had as much success with it as we did.

My MIL came over for a visit today and I made a nice dinner of something I knew she doesn't get in the assisted living facility where she resides; crab cakes, shrimp, roasted potatoes, sauteed spinach and a decadent chocolate pie that had a crust made of crushed pretzels. The pie was a new recipe. I liked the crust, the filling was entirely too rich.

I have been in a bit of a sewing doldrum. But I am so proud of myself. During this time, I did a massive closet clean out. I can’t believe I still had suits and clothes from 16+ years ago. I know why I kept them; they were some of the most expensive RTW clothes I had ever purchased. I just couldn't bring myself to part with them until now. The fabrics and workmanship were excellent, but I haven’t worn them in years and the styles are really dated. It took this long to break the emotional ties.

For spring and summer, the trends I want to incorporate in my wardrobe are

1. A bright blue jacket worn with taupe tops and bottoms, like this.

2. A dress or jacket with safari style details like epaulets and patch pockets, maybe in taupe or khaki, but rust or black are other color options.

3. I also like the look of khaki and chartreuse green as a new, different color scheme. Like this.

4. A red sleeveless double breasted shirt dress with trench coat details like this Lauren by Ralph Lauren dress . BWOF 4/06 # 109 is almost an exact duplicate.

5. Sleeveless tops that work under jackets for the temperature fluctuations of the workplace. It is my first summer in a new office. It faces dead east, and the east facing wall is all glass. It is stunningly bright and hot in the mornings, dark and cold in the afternoon and it is only spring.

The arrival of the May Burda WOF last weekend jump started my sewing again. I am nearing completion on jacket number 101 in a bright blue silk suiting. I am trying to decide on the closure, The magazine shows a separating zipper attached with the zipper tapes on the outside of the garment. While I find this an interesting design detail, it won't be understood in the office environment where I work. And I can't find a matching blue separating zipper. Dress number 116 is next. I have a stretch twill that is denim blue on one side and a lighter blue on the other. I think I will do some color blocking using both sides of the fabric, and I probably won't make the belt.