Thursday, June 16, 2016


Color, as you can see I haven't quite succeeded in adding a lot of color to my wardrobe. I do wear red lipstick, which I've done for years.  The current color is Beso by Stila. I love this stuff.   Red lipstick is usually high maintenance but this one doesn't come off all over the place. Well, some of it does come off when you eat.  Oily foods are the worst.  But it doesn't come off in the usual course of the day and it stays on all day.  I  have added  other accents of red to my wardrobe; a red everyday handbag, red glasses, red sandals.  These are big steps for me. I've got a red pashmina too, as well as a black and red silk scarf I bought in India years ago.  I've been using them more.  

Seamwork, the monthly magazine from Colette patterns posted an article on how to find your colors.  I downloaded the recommended Sherwin and Williams app.  I took selfies of myself and ran the program.  Problem is, I didn't like most of the colors.  I don't wear pastels.  Can you really imagine me in pastels?  I can't.  There were lots of grays and some black as well as a number of different reds, yellows and golds.  These are colors I can relate to. I already have plenty of grays and blacks  in my wardrobe.  Big step for me, I ordered a red and white stylized floral for another Gypsy top.  I've got a nice gold rayon knit in the collection (thanks Caroline; a much better word than stash!) that will work with my gray, black and white neutrals. I also ordered a coral, gray and ivory knit from emmaonesock to go with gray or white pants. I have three pairs of gray pants and I'm making a pair of white linen pants.  I've got some red linen that would look pretty as a summer woven tee with white and gray and my multitude of black pants.  Baby steps for the color.  Oddly I did make some pieces a few years ago with more color but they are gone from my wardrobe due to stains or relegated to exercise clothing due to wear. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Big Style

As you can see above in Bill Cunninham's Sunday NY Times offering,  off the shoulder tops are very much in vogue right now. and there are lots of ways to wear it. I finished a blouse version of Hot Patterns Urban Gypsy Friday and wore it out to dinner with friends.  This top is in a lovely black and white stretch cotton from emmaonesock and probably as old as the fabric I used for  my dress!     Every season I make a list of sewing projects and a blouse is usually on it and until now hasn't made it to the sewing machine.  

This version uses the alternate sleeve that comes with the pattern.   It's quicker to do well, no baby hem. It's still not the original version with it's shirt tail hem.  One more would be nice, using the tie sleeves, and the original hemline.   After all, I bought a strapless bra for my dress and I wouldn't mind getting a little use out of it!   

I really enjoyed working in a nice woven cotton instead of my usual knit tops.  Knits can be finicky, and this was not in the least.  the only issue I've have with this top is that I made the elastic too short to stay further down on my arms. I think I may open it up and put longer elastic in. it's a fine line between too long and not long enough!  I would ere on the longer side if you make it.  I didn't really notice it until I sat in the car.  Because of the seating angle I think, the shoulders rose. 
One of the reasons I bought this pattern was how current it is.  But, I am not a big fan of over sized shirts or anything else for that matter.  This shirt has too much ease as drafted in my opinion.  I carefully measured the hips and even at a size smaller there was 8".  I of course then added an fba and made it worse.  It's also totally straight at the side seams. When I altered it to make the dress, in addition to narrowing it I shaped it at the side seams, in at the waist and pegged the hem a good inch on each side. I do have to shimmy into the dress a bit to get it over my hips, but it's fine once it's on.  I have to keep saying that if you are making a muslin  add Horizontal balance lines.  I could see that the one for my bust was pulling down at the sides, so I added another small dart to level it out.  I rotated it into my existing two darts and then equalized the two darts.  I almost didn't see it, but after spending a long time looking into the mirror I realized what the problem was.  Finally learning to see after all these years!

I have a number of shirting fabrics in my stash for that planned shirt that never materialized.  I saw a gorgeous white cotton and  linen shirt from The Row in Elle magazine that I would love to replicate. (of course I have several whites to choose from) It has a large notched lapel and collar.  The Row's shirt wraps, but I'd probably add some buttons and a bit more shaping.  Now to find a pattern, or maybe I'll finally  draft it myself.  I've taken all of Suzy Furrer's drafting classes and several in person from Kenneth King.  I have Kenneth King's cd books, but I found Furrer's classes easier to understand.  I drafted a notched collar and lapel for a coat I made in late winter.  I tried to draft it using KK's book and couldn't get what I was looking for, but I did using Furrer's class and it came out exactly what I wanted.  I'll write a future post on the coat.  I love it and it's probably the best coat I've ever made. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

I'm Back

I never intended to take such a long break from blogging but time creeps up on you.  I thought about not continuing but in the end I've missed you all.

We had a wedding to attend on Sunday and I needed a dress.  I have such a difficult time finding dress patterns for my aging body that are stylish but not too exposed. That make me feel chic and not dowdy.  My arms have seen  better days but my shoulders are still fine. When I saw Hot Patterns Metropolitan Urban Gypsy Blouse I bought it immediately not thinking about making it into a dress for this wedding but thinking that it was a chic top I would wear all  summer.  Looking for an idea for a dress I looked at my favorite fashion sites and kept coming back to dress versions of this top.  I drew a couple of different dresses on my croquis and sent them to my daughter. She immediately picked the off the shoulder one. I am so glad I took her advice.  Two muslins were necessary to work out changing this to a dress and some fitting details, but it was really easy to get this to fit me.  It's a good pattern. There was too much ease even though I made it a size smaller.  I rotated the fba I made into the neckline so that I have 4 darts now in front instead of two.  Not having gathers was a big plus for me in this pattern.  Darts much more flattering to my large bust than gathers above it.  In all I think I took out about 4 "in the waist and hips. Instead of being straight the side seams now curve in at the waist and I pegged the bottom.  There was still plenty of room for the back gathers to fall gracefully.

Everything for this dress was from my stash. The print is a silk crepe de chine that was wonderful to work with.  It stayed put on my cutting table, the print was on grain and it's just great quality and a nice weight. I bought it on clearance sale from a pattern designer who was phasing out fabric and I can't think of who it was. I had 4 yards and used most of it including two samples to practice the narrow hem that I haven't done in years.  Of course I could have just used scraps but I wanted to see how hemming the opposing curves would work.  The original does not call for lining but it does have instructions for putting in a shelf bra, which I used to a point. My lining isn't stretch, it's one of the nicest Bemberg rayons I've ever worked with. It's heavier than what I see now. It was also on sale from a website that closed.  Can't remember their name either; both pieces have been in my stash for a good long time!  I attached it at the neckband and I finished the armscye openings tacking them at the underarm seam and French tacks at the lower seams.

 I used French seams for the top of the sleeve which I didn't line. Even though I lined it I  finished the side seams with my serger because of raveling.
We had to drive almost two hours to get to this wedding and I was sure I would be a mass of wrinkles by the time we got there, but there weren't any and after a whole day and more than two hours to get home there still weren't very many wrinkles.  If you ever think that you don't want to bother lining something, remember my wrinkle-less dress and think again.  I do think that the weight of the lining helped. 

I love this dress!  Was it Donna Karan who said that the last thing to go are a woman's shoulders?  

Trudy of Hot Patterns designed a fantastic pattern that's exactly  what's being sold all over the place in RTW.  I am in the process of making it in blouse form, also in black and white, but cotton.  It's a top, or in my case a dress that I think can be worn by almost any  woman. For once I'm thrilled with what I wore to a wedding. I'm also happy with my sewing. I make so many really simple knit tops and simple pants that I felt like I was losing my sewing skills. This, while not a particularly difficult dress,  was more challenging than my usual fare.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Do You Wear What You Buy?

I have a friend who will buy 3 of almost anything that's on sale.  Doesn't matter if it fits her well,  or if the quality could be better, but it was on sale!  She once tried on a  dress that she'd just bought on sale, and of course non returnable, that really didn't fit her well. She wanted to know if I could fix it.  Aside from the fact that I don't sew for people, there was no way I could fix this too tight dress. There was virtually no seam allowance to use, so no way to let it out.  I can only assume that it languished in her closet unworn; I never saw it 
 I read this great blog post today  It  made me laugh.  While I no longer buy much in the way of clothing, I buy patterns I'll never make up, they were on sale, or fabric that really isn't something I'd buy if it weren't on sale!  I am much better about that  last one these days but while what I buy on sale may suit me, do I really need more basic black or gray in my stash?  Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic wrote a great post today on the spring fashion trends that she was attracted to.  Floral being one of them.  While I may love it on other people, and I love the floral dress she just made, I can't really see it on me.  White on white I'd wear but it would have to be in a fabric that can be bleached since I am a stain magnate.  I have to toss my favorite white tee since I can't get a stain out.   The one that attracted me the most was the bright mixed colors.  It looks fun and  I think that I'd wear this trend but only in work out clothing and not in 3 colors. Two is about all I can imagine myself wearing.  Bright blue and orange or red, or red and pink as long as the pink is bright enough.  
This all goes along with my desire for a small, manageable wardrobe with things I wear again and again, but isn't boring. 
My grandmother used to say that clothing you buy just for an event never gets worn again.  You bought it because you had to, not because it really suits you. She had great taste and a wonderful wardrobe.  I wish that I had that fabulous Bonnie Cashin coat I remember from my childhood.
Do you buy things on sale just because they are on sale?  Do they languish in your closet with the tags still on them?   What's in your closet that you never wear or have never worn?
How much in your fabric stash will never get sewn?   

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Color In My Wardrobe

Over the last few years color in my wardrobe has slowly been if not eliminated, then become very limited.  I buy little fabric on impulse anymore, which is  a good thing!  What I sew is less impulsive as well. Everything I sew has to be purposeful and fit within my wardrobe. Not just for economy, but because I really don't like a large wardrobe.  I made another Girogio top in December in black merino wool.  I wear that more than anything else.  I could wear it every day but that's getting kind of obsessive!  What I really need to do is find another pattern that I like as much. 
I've been reading the Vivienne Files introduced to me by Myrna at
especially the starting from scratch wardrobe building.  It's not specifically the clothes she picked, which on their own are a bit on the boring side. Then again I sew things that are kind of boring, at least lately. What I like is how she mixes 2 main neutrals with accent colors and how she balances the wardrobe. She uses the accent colors and accessories to give the wardrobe some pizzazz and style. A wardrobe is after all things that will last and work together so that you can easily get dressed in the morning! I like to think of this in a landscape analogy; you can't build a landscape out of accent or eye catching plants. It all has to work together in layers with underlying structure.  The plants together form a beautiful whole and make a garden.

 Most of us aren't building a wardrobe from scratch myself included, but I've just weeded out my closet and what's left is a good starting point.  My main neutrals are black and gray.  I need three accent colors to add to it and that is where I waffle.  Vivienne used red, white and cobalt blue for her accents.  I never think to wear red, but I bought new glasses in red and a new bright red lipstick.  It's the perfect red, neither blue nor orange. So obviously I like how red accents look on me.  I have three pieces of fabric with a nice medium blue in it.  But I also love acid green and I have two pieces of fabric in that color. Nothing in red.  Which, obviously can easily be solved!  I don't like scarves unless it's cool out, and I don't like them hiding necklaces I like to wear.   I just remembered that I have red linen pants.  Perhaps I need a list of what is already in my closet! 
I've been doing  a lot of wardrobe planning lately with lots of pinning, lists and sketches on my croquis.  It's fun, but I need to get to the sewing part.

How do you treat color in your wardrobe?  Are you very strict or do you find yourself buying on impulse and then having nothing that works together?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Do You Pinterest?

When Pinterest first came out I really didn't get the point of it. Then  I started working on a joint project with a much more tech savvy woman, and she suggested we post images to share on Pinterest.  The project didn't work out but I was addicted.  I love the high end fashion sites and while I've snipped and saved to my computer, it's easier to just pin it to a board or more than one board if I want.  It's also easier to see the all of the images together. I get to see what other people find and think interesting too. It's better than fashion magazines which have their own point of view that  isn't usually mine.  

Generally I post clothing that I think will work for my body, sometimes I just like the look and want to remember details.  It's helps me  stay focused on the look I want for my wardrobe without those impulse buys that are still in my stash years later.  I can search out the minimalist clothing that appeals to me. Here are some things that I've pinned recently.  I love this outfit from The Row, the bottom picture is Michael Kors.  I like the jacket better than the pants, but I find the matching denim takes me back a bit.

I really like these cotton lycra pintstripe pants which are on my sewing list since I found almost identical fabric on sale at Marcy Tilton.  They are shown with a top that I will also make but don't know if I'll wear them together.  It's hard to see, but there's a welt pocket on the upper chest. Nice detail on a very simple top. 

I think  the one above is from Eileen Fisher.  You'll notice the black and white theme going on here.   I am still looking for a dress silhouette that I like. It's fun.

Contrary to what's appeared here on my blog I have been doing some sewing. I made a quite a few pieces for a trip in December and didn't bother to photograph them since all of the pieces are tnt and have appeared here many times.  My favorite piece is another Silhouette Giorgio top in a wonderful black merino wool, this one long sleeved.  How many times can I make this top?  Several pairs of pants and a couple of sweater knits, all tnt patterns.
I did make my dd a fabulous skirt in a printed faux leather with a knit top for her birthday today.  I actually managed to get it to her on time. Pictures to come when she has a 'photo shoot'.  It even fits her perfectly.   Burda fits her with almost no changes a 36 at the waist grading out to a 38 at the lower hip and taking in the waist a little.  That and she needs it shortened by about 3".  I wouldn't make pants without a good basic sloper which I may make for her when she comes in May.  She wears dresses to work though most of the year because it's too hot in Austin in the summer for pants, so a good sheath dress sloper would be good.  

Remember the raincoat?  I am about to return to that.  It's all cut out and I've made samples for topstitching.  I also changed the coat I'm knocking off. It's still Celine, but I didn't have anything comparable to the belt so I chose a different coat. 

I had  blue cotton just the color of the buttoned band and pockets.  I made some changes to the coat for practicalities sake, since mine is a raincoat. I'll add some snaps to the front and not leave the seams open..  I think that I'll lower the pockets to make them easier to use. There's another pocket out of site to the back side of the coat.  I'll move that one or leave it off I think.  I originally intended not to line this, since my fabric is bonded with a stripe on the other side. But it didn't really go with the blue accents so I cut a lining.  I have to think about the strange sleeve band placement.  What do you think?  
I'll post progress pictures as I go.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Think Pink

Or the Pantone color of the year, marsala. Does it remind anyone else of the Emperor's New Clothes?  If you don't have this color in your life, you're losing out. You don't have the latest new thing.  It's just another marketing ploy to get people to buy not only new clothes, but everything that's available in the new color as you can see in this link to Pantone.
According to Pantone it's:
"A naturally robust and earthy wine red, Marsala enriches our minds, bodies and souls."
Really?  Pantone says we should surround ourselves with this color to make our lives wonderful and complete. 
If that one doesn't do it for you there are the other colors of the season.  How many bloggers have taken these and run with them, using them to tell their readers how to use them to dress, and where they can buy pieces available in these colors?  
Ok rant done. How many of you like these colors and will wear them this season?  I'll wear the gray, but I was going to do that anyway!
Have a great weekend.