Oct 30, 2010

Princesses, Burda Picks, and a Runway Rant

My sewing mojo (or, rather, my 'sewjo') seems to have gone AWOL.  I did finally finish the second princess costume, with only hours to spare before our neighborhood Trick-or-Treat. She looked absolutely adorable and although I was beaming every time someone said, "What a cute costume!" I never once interjected with an, "I made it!"... I just said thanks and kept going.  You don't want to seem needy for praise from strangers, right? Anyway - here she is in full Halloween glory:

Both of my beauties :)
Previous princess costume posts are here, here and here.

But after all that, I just can't seem to motivate myself. I'm definitely more than ready to selfishly sew for myself again, but what? I need inspiration!

So what happens to be in my mailbox this afternoon? That's right - my very first issue of Burda. After swooning for a few minutes about the mere fact that I now actually have my own Burda subscription, I decided I probably should open it. Here are a few of my favorites:

 Maybe this is the Scottish girl in me, but I just can't get enough of plaid. I'm so excited that it's 'in' this year. When they showed this little number, in all its plaidness, on a fair complected, dark haired girl in a green meadow, I knew it was meant to be.

 I'm in love with the bodice pleating on this one and the sleeves are perfect. I may do without the velvet hemline - unless I go for a Christmas look.
 I liked the look (what you could see of it) on the magazine model, so I think I might give it a go - even though this headless portrayal of it looks a little bit like it belongs on a high class line cook. We'll see.
 I love that there are some 20s inspired pieces in this issue! I liked the low waisted wrap dresses, but they don't do my 5'2"ness justice in real life. This, however, I think I could pull off.

 And this is just love. I made my husband promise to take me somewhere worthy of making this. Hands down, my favorite.

So, there ya have it. AND my coat fabric has arrived from Mood. It's anxiously awaiting a trip to the dry cleaners for a steam press. So many new projects and beautiful things await me... now I just need to restore my sewjo. Perhaps a few days away from pink and purple tulle will do the trick. ;)

Oh, and just for the record, I am SO ticked at the Project Runway finale. I'm sure you've all been reading ad-nauseum about the big upset so I won't rant. It's just a shame that the talented get shafted so that the bitchy can take home $100 grand. I'm just sayin'.

Oct 19, 2010

Mood Swings of the Fast and Tiny

Can it possibly have been a week since I've been down in my sewing room!? Gosh, some weeks just get so busy that the time disappears. This was just one of them... work 'things', a little bit of travel, cranky teething baby, sniffly sickness, and complete exhaustion.

I made myself work on the second princess costume a little bit last night. I got the bodice and lining cut and sewed together. It's a start!
Trying to 'fit' a 15-month-old is, um... difficult. Here's the progression:

 Cutie Evie playing it up for the camera.
Running and giggling - I chase her around the kitchen table trying to get a photo.
 Deciding she doesn't like the camera flash. More running ensues - this time with screaming.
Yelling at me (it's gibberish, but I quite easily understood that it was a tongue-lashing)
"Okay, Mom. Enough is enough. I'm pissed!"

The End. :)

Oct 12, 2010

One down, one to go!

It's finished! Well, the first one at least. And she LOVES it! She won't take it off.

Notice the little silver trim around the neckline. Just a little something to tie in the silver from the peplum belt. The directions actually wanted me to glue that on! After all the headache of putting the rest of it together, there was no way I was settling for glue on my beautiful princess dress. I hand sewed it, and made sure the stitches were hidden between the fabric and the lining. She decided against the pointy hat, so I may even add some on the sleeves, too.
 Simplicity 2569
Just being silly :)
 And extra silly. But, that's my girl!
The silver lame was surprisingly easy to work with. And wouldn't you know that the first project I've ever had to stitch-in-the-ditch would be a little girl's Halloween costume? Just goes to show that you can learn something (or LOTS of things!) from any project. Any of you attempting costumes this year?


So, as the weather cools off here in the mid-Atlantic area, I find myself pulling out my very old and sad looking winter coat. I got it as a Christmas gift from my mom (I picked it out) probably 6 years ago. It's lasted through several rough winters, 3 jobs, and 2 pregnancies (poor thing!). It's done it's duty and is falling apart. So, amidst my other many projects, I'm going to slowly piece together a new coat. I'm in no major hurry - it's still early in the cool season and I have another jacket that can suffice until the big snows. But I really want to take my time and create a beautiful, well-made, lasting piece a-la-Gertie. I have no desire to do the Lady Grey (as beautiful as it is), it's just not my style. I'm picking another pattern, but using the same techniques. I found a really beautiful wool blend from Mood. What do you think?
And  I love, love, love these horn buttons to go with it.

I'm at a loss for what sort of lining to use. What kind of fabric should I use? Should I go with a solid or a print? With a medium weight wool blend, should I bother interlining for warmth? I've never attempted outerwear before, so I could use a little advice and encouragement from those of you who have. Thoughts, advice, and cautionary tales would be appreciated!


As mentioned in my other post, I've started thinking about my winter wardrobe (or sad, sad lack thereof) and planning my attack strategy for a new one. Since I still have to finish 2 very fluffy, tulle covered princess Halloween costumes, I'm thinking of waiting until the Pattern Review contest Endless Combinations.

Since the rules of this contest are such that every one of your finished items must coordinate with at least one of the previous, it will literally force me to create something cohesive and inerchangeable. Because I'm dying to have my WVU inspired shirtdress before football season is completely over (GO Mountaineers!) I'm going to start there. I've got a jacket pattern that I'm going to make in navy to go with it. And so it begins! From there, I've got a plan (and a large pattern stash) to work with. I still have to choose fabrics, but since the contest doesn't start until mid-November, I've got plenty of time for that. I'll probably order most of it, since I'm stuck with only a Joann Fabrics locally. Boo.

This is my only slightly organized plan. It goes right to left -- Why? *shrugs* I don't know.

Oct 8, 2010

Hometown Retro!

My hometown Facebook page is boasting this amazing event this weekend! A WWII all-things-retro event including re-enactors (we're a VERY big Civil War community -- with Antietam Battlefield right here and Gettysburg less than an hour away), military displays, a USO dance featureing big band style live performances, and a RETRO FASHION SHOW!

Look closely: the tickets for the play are only 50¢! As retro as you can get, right?

In an attempt to revitalize our very small town, the council has been trying to promote lots of fun activities to draw in crowds and thus showcase how awesome our little town actually is. We are the town of Williamsport, Maryland, located right on the Potomac River in western Maryland - "famous" for the C&O Canal and being the original considered site of the nation's capital. (Oh yes, it's true!) In recent years our little town has become, well, sort of run down and seemingly un-loved. So, they have been attempting to grow town awareness by sponsoring super fun activities. Last month was (a personal favorite of mine!) Pirate's Plunder, which celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th.

** side note ** One of my best friends from college, Byron, and I have been celebrating this silly holiday for nearly 10 years... I was DELIGHTED when I found out that my town, of all places, was going to celebrate with us! And now THIS!

I expect it will be fairly small (as most small town events are) but I will enjoy it nonetheless, just as I did using my awesome pirate-speak last month (ARGH! Avast me hearties... keep yer pillagin' scallywags upon yer own lest ye be forced to walk the plank, yeh stinkin' bilge rat!).

Yes, it's a talent most of my friends didn't even know I possessed. ;)

Inceredibly sadly, I won't be able to attend. *collective groan of disappointment* I will be out of town visiting my in-laws and wishing my neice a happy 6th birthday. But I'll be there in spirit and hoping it's such a success that they decide to do it again next year. *sigh*

Oct 6, 2010

Lame, Satin and Tulle... Oh my!

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate tulle? I hate the way it feels, the way it looks, the way it smells. I hate the way it bunches in my machine, and I hate the way I can never see the edges of it clearly. In a word: Loathe. So, what did my daughter decide she *had* to be for Halloween? A tulle-drowned fairy princess.

The bodice called for satin, which isn't the worst thing ever but it ravels like mad. The bodice was easy enough. Lilly chose a glittery hot pink color and I picked a light pink for the lining and underskirt.
From the beginning, the sleeve directions were incomprehensible. I had to read them a few times before I understood what they were going for. Maybe I'm just dense. It's a distinct possibility. There is a whole sleeve piece, and then an extra - what looks just lie a short, puffy sleeve - piece. The idea is to puff the small sleeve and then put it on top of the regular sleeve piece. This, I assume, is to keep the sleeve from going flat at the 'puff' under its own weight. Clever design? Yes. Easy to do? Not so much. The "placement line" is not for the raw edge of the fabric, but matches up with some imaginary line drawn between the large dots on the smaller piece. Took me 3 tries sewing that seam before I finally got it to match up properly! I'm surprised the fabric didn't just fall apart. Thankfully, it didn't. The result:

Side seams/underarm seams aren't closed until a later step (and this is my dress form) but you get the idea, right?

With said side and underarm seams finished - this is the completed bodice minus the zipper in the back.

 The underskirt was a piece of cake. 3 pieces - a front and 2 back pieces - all rectangles. But then the tulle. *shudders* Each piece of that was probably 52" and there are FOUR of them! In each color! Then they must be basted together! AAHH! I spent all of last night and most of this afternoon swimming in tulle. Did I mention I hate tulle? Yeah, all I can say is that she better love this dress so much she sleeps in it. Did I also mention I have another one to do after this is finished? With even MORE tulle? It's a good thing I'm already going grey! :)

The full skirt, lining and both layers of tulle, are finished and attached to the bodice. Lilly got a much anticipated fitting. She's in heaven, so I guess it's worth it.

And the obligatory twirling photo! (It's clothes-pinned in the back until the zipper goes in)

Next up is the zipper closure and then the shiny, silver lame hip peplum belt. That oughta be fun! (Can you sense my sarcasm?) :)

Oct 4, 2010

A Winter Sewing Challenge!

So, I've been doing a lot of amazing blog reading (Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing among the many), and research and I'm getting more and more confident in my sewing skills. But I've realized that I've only been making single pieces and a few 2-piece outfits here and there. Nothing I'd consider to be cohesive. And that got me thinking - I'm challenging myself to a winter wardrobe.
You have remember me mentioning that I'm about to re-enter the working world after nearly 4 years of being a stay-at-home-mom. Mind you, when last I was a working professional was also pre-babies. So, between the span of 4 years and two rather large babies (and the accompanying hip spread-age) I'm not as little in the middle as I used to be. I'm not upset - it's a small price to pay for my little beauties... but it makes dressing for work much more difficult when you only have a wardrobe full of clothing 2 sizes too small. Thus, the challenge!
I'm going to draw from my pattern stash and attempt to create myself a winter work-worthy wardrobe. In my research, I came across an article that Tim Gunn wrote outlining the "Essential Wardrobe Elements" every woman should have. Among them are the LBD, a classic black pant, a fitted jacket, and a long coat. After compiling a few sources, I've come up with this list for myself:
  • a Little Black Dress (LBD)
  • a long winter coat
  • 2-3 pairs of dress pants (including one pair black)
  • at least 1 classic button-up shirt
  • several dress shirts (both long and short sleeved)
  • an 'Any Occasion Top'
  • 2-3 skirts (at least one neutral)
  • a long-sleeved dress
  • at least one fitted jacket (including one neutral)
  • one pair knit pants (as Tim's "sweatsuit alternative")
  • a warm, plain cardigan
  • a pant suit
Do I sound completely over ambitious? I'm going to try and tie this self-challenge in with one of the Pattern Review contests. Maybe the Endless Combinations? We'll see how far I get, but it's a goal, right? My winter wardrobe should be complete around spring! :) AND I can't really start until after the kids Halloween costumes are finished. But, hey, I'll be prepared for next winter. I'm going to sit down with the pictures of every pattern in my stash and start planning this week. Once I have an outline, I'll prioritize and make some fabric decisions and then I'm off to the races! Maybe I'll even learn something in the process! (Here's hoping!) I'll do my best to keep you all updated as I go.
So, wish me luck ladies and gents.... Here I go!

Oct 2, 2010


Both of my daughters were born in June. Lilly in 2007 and Evie in 2009. When I aked my oldest, Lilly, what king of birthday party she wanted, she immediately told me an "Alice in Wonderland" party. I should've guessed, since she'd been completely obscessed with the Disney version for the previous 6 months! But the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. I LOVE a good theme party (next blog may be a photo homage to my and my husband's combined 30th birthday last year where we sent our 20s packing in Roaring 20s style!) So I set to making the best and greatest un-birthday tea party (mad hats included) you've ever seen for a 3 and 1 year old. I started with the dressed. Lilly is adorable, with blonde curls and just an overal 'Alice-ness' so, naturally, I would make her an Alice style blue and white pinafore. Evie was a lot more difficult. There really aren't any other main female characters (other than the Queen of Hearts, but she's too sweet for that!) so it took a while to figure her costume out. I eventually decided on a Cheshire Cat inspired sundress in a purple gingham with a big, wide grin sewn on in felt.

Lilly is 'posing' and this is the best photo of the dress I could get of Evie... little bugger is so fast, all the pictures of her were blurry! :)

Here are some other photos from the party. An amazing time with some amazing memories! I'm sure I enjoyed it even more than the girls, but 4 months later and Lilly still remembers it (and asks to wear her dress... often) so I guess it was a hit!

Oct 1, 2010

Somethin' else

Although sewing has become my newest passion, I've had a crafty streak since birth. I like making things. Practical things, silly things, decorative things. If I can't find it somewhere else, or if I don't feel like waiting until I find it, I just make it. One (actually two) of those projects were my door wreaths. I couldn't find what I wanted in the right colors that didn't cost $50 apiece! So, off to Michael's craft store I went. The blue one is on my front door (you can see that my door and house are blue/white) and the red one is for my burgundy kitchen to decorate the door to the basement.Got exactly what I wanted for half the price. Can't beat that!

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