Sunday, April 28, 2013

Choir Wardrobe 042813

...and a little fabric in, a little fabric out. ;-)

First, the Fabric Out:

2 yards of lavender silk charmeuse, rendered into my second go at Burda 08-2009-117.  I actually intended to get a shell top and an oblong scarf from 2 yards, but, well, I did the prewash with some rayon challis and, um, I ended up with some spots on the silk, although there is no sign anywhere of running dye on the challis.  But, if such a thing had to happen, much better that it happened while the fabric was still in a chunk; I was able to cut around the spots well enough for the blouse.  Like the first blouse, I made bias tube ties ('rouleaux' if you're in TGBSB?) for the front closure, although I did try a different technique for hemming the flounce; not sure I got much better results...the two sides still stretched out asymmetrically.  But, really, it's hardly noticeable in the flounciness so I'm not going to worry about it.

Finished that up last night so I could wear it today; this is the last day for lavender so I wanted to get it done ;-).  I teamed it up with the old RTW jacket with the funky sleeve hem alteration...someday this WILL be replaced...and some straight leg dark washed Lees.  And my birki sandals, which I'm wearing to TRY and deal with neuromas but found to be quite cold on this rainy Sunday.  The kitty is quite fuzzy looking because I really liked the photo w/o the flash better.   I used the dull side of the charmeuse...that shiny side always has a lingerie look to me...but even the dull side was pretty reflective with the flash.

And the fabric in?  Well....I wanted to show some support for the city of Boston, and decided an order from a Boston business would definitely be some support.  So I got a wee bit of fabric from my girlfriend Ann...a rayon/poly/lurex knit, some RPL suiting and some breathtakingly gorgeous silk chiffon....oh, what shall I do to showcase that??? ;-)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

If You Were a Contestant...The Fantasy American Sewing Bee

Ok, now that everyone's seen The Great British Sewing Bee all the way through, let's do a Fantasy Version.

It's really a fantasy version, because what American TV channel would host such a wholesome, feel-good show?  But let's assume HGTV or some other crafty channel is willing to take the risk.

And who wouldn't love a chance to be on the show?  Speaking for myself, I don't think my sewing would be up to that standard, but, because this is a fantasy, let's say I'm in.

The question is, who would I like to be in the sewing room with me?  Not because I can outsew them, or even come close...just because I would like to hang out and furtively watch them go even while I'm ripping out that fly zip for the 3rd time.

I'm gonna also assume that we can have 12 contestants because, well, we do everything bigger in the States. ;-)

So, in roughly alphabetical order, here are the eleven amateur American sewing enthusiasts that I would love to find in the room with me (and I'm sure there are other fabulous home sewers,  but these are the ones I know because they blog.) There are some other bloggers that I'd like to include, too, but since I know they've done a little sewing-related-work-for-income I'm not sure they'd qualify. I have included some Mood Sewing Network ladies; not sure about their amateur status, either, but, well, I'm not sure complementary fabric is counted as income so I'm gonna call it ok for my purposes.  :-)

1. Margy (somewhere I read that she pronounces that with a hard 'g' sound) of  A Fool For Fabric.  She sews from a deliberately limited palette of black, white, gray and red and has the most incredible wardrobe.  I don't know if I could ever manage such discipline myself, but she has beautiful garments that all coordinate and with her striking hair and signature sunglasses, she is very nearly a Style Icon for me.  She's also currently traveling in a internet-blackout country, so I don't know if she's even seen TGBSB to have a clue of what we're talking about.

2. Shams of Communing with Fabric.  She has such a playful approach to her sewing and is not hesitant to try something different.  I AM going to make a version of her Tablecloth Skirt one of these days; I just need to figure out how to put pockets in it. ;-).

3. Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic   If you've been around the sewing blogsphere any at all, you should be familiar with Carolyn and know why I've included her.  If you're not...go look at her blog and you'll see.

4.  Lori from Girls in the Garden.  Lori is a Midwest girl like me, although she still lives on the farm and I've moved away to a city lot in the South...the backgrounds of her photos always make me just a little homesick.  But she is a prolific and excellent seamstress, sewing for herself, her daughters and now her brand new grandson.

5. Sarah from Goodbye Valentino.  She started blogging in 2011, when she decided to give up expensive RTW and make her entire wardrobe for a year.  Her sewing skills advanced very quickly and she made some  really wonderful garments. Her enthusiasm for home sewing is contagious.

6. Kathryn of I Made This!  I 'knew' Kathyrn from sewing discussion boards before she started blogging; she is an amazing seamstress and generous with her knowledge; she is also currently one of the moderators (another is TGBSB champ Ann Rowley!) on Stitcher's Guild, where you will find her encouraging new folks regularly as 'fzxdoc'.

8. Cidell, who writes Miss Celie's Pants.  She's another one who's sewing skills have matured as she blogged and now she's one of the Mood Sewing Network bloggers making lovely things.  I especially love her subtitle... 'I sew, I cook, I travel. But, I do not clean.'  We are Kindred Spirits...except I don't get much travel time...

9. Angie, from Quality Time.  Teacher and Single Mom and lover of vintage styles, Angie not only sews beautifully but would be a hoot to hang out with.

10. Beth, from The Rusty Bobbin, was probably the first sewing blogger I followed. She has been through a lot since then, but still sews and still turns out fabulous garments.  Her fitting skills, honed through much work w/ home-sewing pattern making software, are among the best of the bloggers.

11.  Elaine, from The Selfish Seamstress , who could challenge us all to steel our nerve to turn down those requests for curtains, jeans hemming and garment mending from friends/acquaintances as we are stitching away.  She would, of course, be wearing a lovely garment that she made for herself during the time that she was NOT sewing for someone else.

Ok, I got to 11 before I got all the way through my blog roll, so I'll pick some alternates, just in case, you know, one of the 11 couldn't make the filming. ;-)

Alternate:  Linda of Danville Girl Sewing Diary.  Linda always has a project in the works, and she's always working on a project.  Lots of finished garments show up on her opposed to someone like me, who is just not able to get into the sewing room as much as I'd like.

Alternate: KID, from Kadiddlehopper.  She's a doctor...who also sews. Be handy  if someone in the sewing room accidentally ran a needle through a finger or had a rotary cutter mishap, eh? ;-)  Seriously, she makes clothes for herself and for her kids AND for  her hubby and does a great job.  No puzzling over how to put in a fly zipper here.

Alternate: Lindsay, who used to blog at Lidsay T Sews but gave it up some time ago.  Nevertheless, I'd love for her to be one of the folks in the room; her clothes were always fabulous and she KNOWS the NYC Garment District.

I just hope that by the time my fantasy show would become a reality, the producers would develop a cumulative points system rather than elimination, so that I could spend the entire run of the show with all the fabulous folks!

I know there are other excellent home sewing enthusiasts out there who would make marvelous contestants...who would you put on YOUR fantasy sewing bee? You can answer in the comments, or put it on your blog and link up in the comments.... have fun!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Were You Inspired?

I know I was.  Such a delightful series.  Not perfect, too short, but delightful just the same.

I know everyone has probably already encountered the links on the web, but I wanted to put it up so my mom could find it.

So...for Mom and the few others who may not have seen the Finale yet, here it now, we'll discuss later. ;-)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Choir Wardrobe 042113

Finally made it back to choir AND got a photo... April colors are navy, lavendar, yellow and gray; good ol' CWC knit bootcuts with a navy rayon/lycra jersey Jalie  2556 T (I gotta review the T one of these days...) worn with the stretchy poly satin can-I-get-something-wearable-from-this-icky-fabric Burda 05-2009-108  vest, which is actually gray but has enough purple tones that it looks kinda lavendary.  Which is either way. ;-).

The Wiz has closed, the stage is struck and the sewing machine is riding in the van until I drop it off for servicing.  I have one photo, taken by the Costume Mistress herself, of the poppies on stage.  Just to give you an idea of how they looked ;-) (Photo  Credit Charla Atkins Smith).  I will post a few more photos after the official CD arrives. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Following the Title...Random Coming at You...

with some truly random sewing thoughts...

'Swhat happens when I go too long with out posting...I have a mishmash of things I'd like to talk about and try to cram them all into one post. ye warned.  Cramming ahead...

* My Sweet Babboo, The Princess and I all attended last night's performance of The Wiz.  Let me tell you, there are some mighty talented kids in the performing arts magnet programs...Dance, Choral Performance, Theater Performance and Tech Theater magnets all worked on this show.  It was just fun all the way through, with strong performances by multiple cast members.  I have ordered the show photo cd; I'm just going to wait to post the final poppy pictures from those...the poppies looked better on stage than I expected, and my camera would not do them justice.

*The quality of old sewing machines vs. new sewing machines was truly apparent in the costume shop.  My 30+ year old basic Kenmore, which has had one sudden meet up with pavement and still hasn't managed to get in to the shop for a check up,  was out sewing several new or nearly new machines. One lady threatened to carry it home with her...but as it weighs a TON, it was still sitting there when I went in to pack it up last night.  It is currently still  in the car; my plan is to take it in to the shop for that check up before I bring it home.

*My serger needs to get into the shop as well...for the first time since I bought the machine in 1989, I serged over a pin.  Or tried to, anyway; it came to a loud and ugly stop.  The pin was snagged in the nylon net on the underside of the petal to which I was attaching the lining; I didn't see it there.  It was rather scary for the next few minutes...I had only two more petals to do and I was afraid the machine was Done For.  The cutting was rather ragged for just a bit, then it seemed to adjust itself somewhat and I managed to get through the rest of the petals AND the ECC dress.  But...true confession has YET to go in for any kind of service since I brought it; I kinda get panicky when I think about it being unavailable for a week or two.  However,  I'm afraid that's just going to have to move up the priority.  The knives (I've replaced the upper one once) are beginning to get a little dull anyway, and the hex nuts that hold the spool pins in have somehow fallen out and disappeared.  So, yeah.  That needs to go in to the shop ASAP too....

*Like everyone else (well, maybe mostly everyone else...) in the sewing blogsphere, I am enchanted by The Great British Sewing Bee (do a You Tube search if you have not stumbled across the links already...).  So nice to see people who genuinely love to create sewn garments working on real-life projects, even if those projects really aren't played out in a real-life time frame. The general consensus seems to be that the winner will be either Ann or Lauren... with the likely winner being Ann for her impeccable sewing skills honed over a lifetime, but Lauren possibly coming out on top for her risk taking and blossoming technical ability.  I have to say that Sandra is probably the contestant with whom I identify the most.  She makes mistakes; some of which she manages to work through with a modification and some of which she's just had to put on a bold face and own.  I have SO been there and done that!  She got points off for not following the pattern directions to a T; she straight up admitted to the hostess that  she knew she wasn't following the guidelines, but she didn't have time to learn to do what was requested.  That, she said in so many words, is part of sewing...sometimes you ignore the pattern guide and do what works for you.  Hurrah!  That didn't earn her points w/the judges (although they have tut-tutted over what they feel is her inclination to play it safe...), but it earned her points with me.  She talks of sewing multiples of a garment for her three daughters as they were growing up... 'You're all excited about sewing the first one, and the second one is not too bad, but by the third one you just want to get it done!'  I totally get that, too. ;-)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Unplanned Down Time

I hoped to show some photos of the Poppies all lined up from dress rehearsal; figured I'd be at school sewing up until the last minute.

What I didn't expect was for the Flute Player to come down with a pukey bug Tuesday night...or that that same bug would hit me Thursday night.

I have been excessively useless and unproductive...with a 'to do' list as long as my arm and NO energy available to do any of it.

Hopefully I'll be back more or less normal in a day or two; maybe I'll get some pictures next week.

Or I'll just have to wait until the 'official' photos are available... but I'll get  some pictures, one way or another. ;-)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Sweet Babboo Sews

The Flute Player left rehearsal last night feeling a little queasy.  Her brother had had a digestive bug over the weekend, but I hoped we were past the incubation period for that and she was just over tired.

No such luck; she got hit hard by the bug about 1:30 this morning.  So she stayed home today and, as she just has chorus parts, she was not absolutely necessary for rehearsal tonight so the director told me to keep her home in hopes of not infecting other cast members.   I haven't gotten sick (so far, anyway), but I hit a wall after pushing so hard to sew and get the data entry from Easter done; I picked up my stack of data entry at work and brought it home when I went out to restock the ginger ale, but I haven't touched it all day.  I'm going to head to bed before 10 PM tonight...and I honestly don't remember the last time I managed that.

So, some photos that have been waiting their turn for posting...that are not about ME sewing at all.  My Sweet Babboo is a recent inductee into Frontiersmen Camping Fellowship, the auxiliary service organization for Royal Rangers, the national boys ministry of the Assembly of God churches.  Our church is not AG, but we do use the curriculum and participate in the gatherings and so he found himself in need of period appropriate gear.

After his first  winter campout, one of the things that moved to the top of his 'need' list was a coat that would keep him warm and also be suitable for a  character from the late 1700's.  The garment of choice is a capote, a coat made from a wool blanket.  He managed to get a suitable blanket from ebay, a pattern from one of the other guys in FCF, and set about hand sewing it together.  I actually offered very little advice; he did this on his own over several weeks...

He used two sinew-threaded needles at a time, criss crossing the stitches on each seam.  Tedious, but correct.  He found that the sleeves were too short and had to improvise a solution  that lengthened them without being visually disruptive and figured out a way to add cuffs to the sleeves.He finished in time to use on last week's campout, which was chilly but not cold, and came back quite pleased.

I think he did well and I'm curious to see how much other sewing he's actually going to do...

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Tech Week Day 3 - Funkification

The Flute Player allowed me to take a photo of her when she put on the dress so I could trim the bottom of the sparkle knit a bit on the condition that  I ONLY put it on the is not allowed on Facebook...

But I got the dress ready...took off the lace, opened the front seam, serged the raw edges...last night and this morning before I went to work, then spent most of this evening doing it up.  About 3
yards of sparkly knit gathered under the front skirt, which was draped on either side; fabric rosettes trimmed it out and a feather boa camoflaged the marks from the removed lace.  The boa drapes down the back on either side.

So.  Definitely funky; it will fit in with the rest of the Emerald City Citizens.  She said it was much heavier; I believe it....and I came home with bits of green feather debris all over my white cotton top...

Monday, April 08, 2013

The ECC Dress

I have pretty much finished the poppy costumes; there is talk of putting some black sequins on the leotards, but it hasn't come in yet so I don't know if that will happen.

So I grabbed The Flute Player's ECC (Emerald City Citizen) dress for, um, funkification.

I wish I had some photos of some of the truly amazing ECC outfits, but the dress that she picked is very plain jane:

You can't tell from the photo, but that's rayon velvet.  It swooshes and drapes and she really likes it, but it is just NOT up to the ECC standards.  So I brought it home tonight to serge the raw edge on the bottom and  unpick that so-twee lace around the neck (WHY do folks use the TINIEST STITCH LENGTH AVAILABLE???).  I have a couple of ideas of what I can do with it, but basically I've got from 6  - 10 tomorrow night to do it as Wednesday is the first dress rehearsal.  She has a pretty cool hat that has some fabric rosettes on it; I'm thinking I'm going to make some more (assuming I can find the fabric they used) and use them on the sleeves and possibly on the skirt.  We'll see...

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Tech Week - Day 1

Didn't even get to stand still long enough for a choir wardrobe photo today...but, nothing new; you've seen it before, so I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

I don't have any sleep left to lose...

Anyway, after a day full of church stuff, I went over to the costume shop whilst I waited for rehearsal to end and I got all but one of the poppy skirts fitted (one of the girls wasn't there) and nearly got all of them vecroed and hooked up.  So all they need now is the painting...but I don't know who's going to be doing that...

However, I remembered my camera and I did get a photo...the hats are done!  And they are fabulous!  And I had very little to do with the actual construction; I drafted the petal pattern and did maybe 15% of the sewing of the petals.  Other people did all the rest...but, don't they look cool? 

Very happy. 

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Costume Parade Today!

... and I forgot my camera.

Which shouldn't be surprising, since I locked myself out of the house...barefooted, in my PJ' about 1 AM, and had to be up at 5:15 AM to take the janitorial keys to the team coming in to work at the church, as my son the janitor contracted a stomach virus and was up all night doing the purge stage; I wasn't about to let him try to drive in to work for any reason and My Sweet Babboo is off on a camping trip.

But, since he was actually up being miserable at 1:30, he heard me banging away in the sunroom and let me back into the house.

I'd just finished the last three poppy skirts to the hand sewing and went to bed about half-past twelve, then suddenly remembered that we'd left the screen door on the porch open for ventilation, since the Flute Player had to spray paint a pair of cheap shoes green.

So I went down to shut the door and did not notice at the crucial moment that the door  into the house was locked;  I was trying to keep the kitty from following me onto the porch.  I got out just fine...but couldn't get back in.

And I really did not want to walk around the house in my jammies, barefoot, at one AM, to ring the doorbell.

But all's well that end's well, and I got back into the house after a mere 20 minutes or so of banging and yelling and got a wee bit of sleep.

And now that it's less than a week to opening night and all the costumes have been approved,  I have liberty to post photos that I couldn't take today.

So I will substitute photos that I took earlier and couldn't post... ;-)

When last we left our heroine, she had just reassembled the first skirt with wire around the edges of the top layer of petals.  The wire (22 gauge floral wire) was couched around the seam allowance with a zig zag stitch; I broke a total of 9 needles wiring these, poppies...

The wired skirt  in doughnut form:

The skirt was then taken to school, where it was placed on one of the actual Poppy actresses/dancers, along with the as-yet-un-painted fernery that will also be part of the costume.  The crinoline underneath made the skirt beautifully poufy, however, obtaining more square-dance-costume crinolines in the proper green turned out to be prohibitively expensive, so the decision was made to use the existing red crinolines from the wardrobe and just make them work as best we can.  This was the go-ahead to proceed with this plan.

So I took a break from sewing the skirts to develop the prototype hat petal pattern, modeled here with great anticipation; based on email-viewing of this photo, the prototype was approved and mass cutting/assembly of the hat petals commenced.  We used almost 40 yards of interfacing in the 60 hat petals; a crew of ladies came in Thursday night and we got all of them made and handed off to the Hat  World crew.

 So, today, for the first time, I saw the skirts with the red crinolines, green tights, painted fernery, black leotards and the Hats.  O Mi Gosh.  The Hats...fabulous, just fabulous.  Only three were done, the skirts were more pinned than finished and some of the tights came in too small; we still need to add some sparkly something to the plain black leotards, and the skirts will be painted a bit, so it's still not the finished product.  The crinolines were too long and not full enough, so we paired them up, putting one inside another...and two or three amazing ladies  pinned the skirts all up so they would be bunchy and shorter and still not be altered. I'm guessing they used about 60 - 100 teeny safety pins per crinoline...but we're going to get that pouffy look that we need.

The director was delighted.  The girls were twirling.  And I don't think I've ever done teamwork quite like this before. 

And... I have NO POPPIES at home now!  I could sew something for myself...if I could find some energy...I'm just a little short on sleee....zzzzzz....

Monday, April 01, 2013

Choir Wardrobe: The Easter Weekend edition 2013

7 services spread over 3 days.  Over 5,000 in attendance and, well, can I just say that it really is a blessing to ME to be able to be part of it?  It seems silly to talk about what I wore...really, it always seems silly to come home from church and talk about what I wore, and periodically I have to give my little disclaimer that it really ISN'T about what I, you know, it's just because the choir wardrobe is the driving force behind so much of my sewing.

Like this weekend.  In the midst of all the poppy production, I found that my interpretation of 'emerald green' has been far too, um, green. We had samples at rehearsal Thursday night, and the 'emerald green' was an almost dead match for the 'jade green' that I wore back around 1990.  Still have the earrings I wore to prove it.

But the earrings were the only thing in my wardrobe that were the right green.  So I pulled a piece of rayon out of the stash that I'd gotten last year when the color was 'seafoam'...but didn't have time to sew.  It was close enough to what was being worn as 'grayed jade', even though it looks aqua in the photos.  Took Saturday off from poppies, threw the rayon on the cutting table Saturday morning, and, well...

Friday night, though, I didn't have any green available.  So Friday I went with cream/beige and navy, although you can't see the little beige/navy made-ages-ago-from-a-remnant square scarf that's lost in the hair.  A pieced lace/eyelet/knit RTW top, blue jeans (yes, blue jeans are the base pretty much year round, although we got an OK for khaki pants, since that was more or less in the color palette for the month) and the stretch khaki sateen McCalls 5860 jacket.  And I resolved to try and stand more straight on to the camera; I just had no idea how sideways I turned...

By Saturday night, I'd cut out a sleeveless top and, by arranging the pieces end-to-end instead of side-by-side, I got a nice long scarf from the rayon.  And I found a RTW jacket hanging in the laundry room that I'd purchased on mad clearance late last summer and totally forgotten about.  Halfway through the night, I remembered that the reason it was hanging in the laundry was because the button thread was unraveling...but it worked.   A navy viscose/lycra Jalie 2566 cap sleeved t is the bottom layer, with the new scarf.

And I stayed up and finished the top I'd cut out, Simplicity 2599.  I modified the pattern a bit, using bias binding on the neckline and armholes rather than a facing, and I made it entirely on the standard sewing machine, not wanting to unthread the red on the serger.  So that meant french seams.  I'd kinda botched the first version, the one in the review, and I wanted to make the top up un-botched and see what I really had to work with.'s just ok.  It will need to be worn under a jacket at all times; there just isn't enough ease in it.  Not the pattern's fault, I fear; I underestimated my size.  And I used 5/8" seams...I may have used 1/4" seams in the first one (ETA:  I went back and read my review...and I DID use 1/4" seams in that first top.  So, um, yeah.  It would be helpful to pay attention to my own documentation, eh?).  That will be a simple adjustment: the biggest problem is that it really is too wide in the front upper chest and shoulders; I need to work that out.  But it is a GREAT basic pattern and will be a wardrobe workhorse once I get the fitting tweaked.  Almost instant clothes.  Perfect for last minute choir needs. ;-)  Oh...khaki stretch cotton sateen Daphne Pants and, since I didn't wear blue jeans, I could wear  my denim Vogue 8045 jacket...close enough to navy blue.  The scarf was a really cheap thing I picked up while sock shopping last week...really pretty pitiful up close but it worked great, color-wise.  And it was only five bucks. That photo was taken after being at church from 8 AM - 7 ish PM....and moments before I switched to comfy stretchy loungy clothes for banana splits and the inaugural viewing of  'The Rise of the Guardians'....which may just become the new Easter tradition.

Still finishing the data entry after the weekend; made one milestone before I left the building last night, stayed at work extra today to make the next one.  The next milestone is finishing it altogether...aiming for close of business tomorrow, then I can take the rest of the week off and focus on poppies...