Monday, August 17, 2015

I Heart Vogue 8793

The best part about being underemployed is being able to spend time with my kids, especially during summer break.  I am still amazed at how unproductive I can be!

My summer sewing projects have been sparse, to say the least.  Any sewing must be accomplished within 15 minute increments, which can be frustrating, but I keep reminding myself that being interrupted by a game of cards with my son or an impromptu discussion about global economic issues with my daughter is really a gift that I will soon miss.

I did manage to clear out some clutter, which came uncharacteristically easily to me after sorting through my dad's house in May.  The weeks of nightmares following that experience gave me plenty of motivation to clear out loads of my own belongings.  Marie Kondo's book was just the ticket to get me going.

Still room for more?

Her recommendation to never stack clothes in drawers is easy to manage.  I'm happy to say that my family readily followed my lead after seeing how lovely my closet looked.  I will admit that I have not yet touched my fabric or pattern stash, however.  It is on my list, but not a high priority.

Thanks to her eye-opening philosophy, I quickly realized that most woven tops do not "spark joy," and I am most comfortable wearing knits.

My thoughts exactly!

Having plenty of space and need for more knit tops, I ordered two knits from Sawyer Brook to play with Vogue 8793.  They are both rayon jersey, but very different hands.  The feel and drape of the navy and white Milly was my favorite, so I started with it.

I like the wrong side (left) as much as the right side (right)!

It is very soft, and very drapey.  Maybe too drapey for a t-shirt, but is quite comfortable to wear. I added an inch in length at the bust line and an armhole dart after seeing the wrinkles from the first V8793.  I really love wearing this top, and the lightweight nature of the fabric was perfect for the European heatwave that we endured on our vacation.  I have plans to take it in at the side seams about 1/2"-3/4", as the drapey is crossing over into dumpy.

As seen in Brussels, paired with red capris.  My son makes a point of making silly faces in most photos.

Even though I pack light, I brought plenty of clothes for our 17 days of travel.  Most of the tops I packed were too heavy for the unusually hot weather.  Luckily, we had plenty of laundry facilities along the way, so I could wear my new tops multiple times.
I think this was during the Sound of Music Tour outside Salzburg.
I guess my son likes his green shirt as much as I like my navy one.
Knit number two turned out to be perfect for V8793.  Also a viscose jersey with Elastane, it has about 15% stretch and is fairly lightweight.  Even with 3/4 sleeves, it was comfortable in the heat and the multitude of colors on a black background gives it versatility.
Love the colors in the "Electra" print!  
Also lengthened by 1" at the bust, this time I tried my hand at the French dart.  The busy print hides the dart well, and it shapes the top perfectly. I took several pictures of the dart, but it is really hard to see.  This was my first French dart, and I am now a devotee.  I will be using it frequently!


In Brugge with black jeans and pink cashmere.  We were so relieved to get some cooler weather!
And perfect for relaxing in Bruxelles after a sweaty trip from Brugge.  Miss that North Sea breeze already.

We had a wonderful, exhausting trip, averaging 6-8 miles of walking per day, which made the comfy clothes a necessity.  We started in London then flew to Munich to meet my daughter, who flew from Paris.  After working our way around Bavaria and Tirol by car -- with me at the wheel of a stick-shift -- we headed to Belgium and the Netherlands by train. My husband and I loved it so much that we checked real estate listings in many cities along the way!  

My daughter tells me she now has "reverse homesickness" for France, and I am starting to believe I feel the same way about the places we visited, as well.  My summer is wrapping up, with my daughter moving back to college this weekend and my son returning to school tomorrow.  I should have more time for sewing, but miss them already.

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Long Dry Patch Interrupted by Vogue 8793

I rarely make New Years resolutions, other than the "get back in shape" pledge necessary after an indulgent holiday season.  This year, I privately resolved to focus my sewing energy on improving my skills.  I resolved to only spend my valuable time in 2015 creating "couture" pieces with intricate hand sewing and custom fitting.  After finishing my daughter's orchestra dress, I thought quite highly of my sewing skills.  My hubris was punished quickly, with the sewing gods dropping the most annoying projects in my lap: zipper repairs, alterations, and other mindless mending.
My first sewing project of the year was replacing the zipper
in my step-father's "Squall" jacket from the 1980s.  
Early in the spring, I finally started a muslin of a sport coat that my husband had hinted about for some time.  After a couple of fittings, it still hangs on my dress form.  I lost interest after he came home from Hong Kong with a mini-wardrobe custom made for him in one day.
Yes, it has hung on that dress form for 3 months!
It's beginning to look very sad.

My own wardrobe requirements have become very casual, consisting of knit tops and yoga pants or jeans (I work from home).  Nothing to get me very excited about sewing for myself, especially since RTW fits me pretty well.  Why sew my own t-shirt?

Months ago I purchased the Tilton sisters' Craftsy class on "The Ultimate T-Shirt".  It was entertaining to watch the Tiltons sew a simple tee, but it took me quite a while to finally give it a go myself.

A nice piece of cotton interlock hanging in my sewing closet nudged me.  The color seemed a little "off" to me, and I spent several weeks thinking about surface design options that would make the color more pleasing.  Painting?  Overdying?  Stenciling?  Would the surface techniques work on a knit? Or will it look like a teenager's art project? After hours experimenting on the dusty purple/lilac/plum, I finally decided it was fine as-is and just sewed the shirt.

The tell tale signs of an amateur dyer.  At least the
defects were only visible at the selvages.
While cutting, I noticed  a strange color change at the selvage and realized that I must have dyed this fabric myself a few years ago.  I don't remember doing it, but I do remember buying white interlock and some fiber reactive dye as part of an aborted SWAP.  Hmm.   Shh!

I like the end product, though I should have fitted it better.  It didn't appear to need a dart before I put the sleeves in, but after the sleeves were in, it seems to need a bust dart!  I didn't put the funky neckband in my shirt per the pattern, rather I followed the flat neckband in the Craftsy class.  It's a great scoop neckline, and I can see making this shirt again (with a little more room in the bust and a dart).

The pattern seems to run big (I feel that way about most of the Big 4 patterns).  I cut a size small, even though I measured larger (I don't recall how much larger).  The small is perfect for my shoulders and waist, but more room in the bust wouldn't hurt.
An "action shot" of me walking.  I thought my son
was finished shooting, but this was actually the only
decent shot.

It came together quickly, and I can see myself making a few more of these.  I may or may not do the funky neckline, or mix colors and patterns as the Tiltons do.  I love their style, I am just not sure that it's my style.  I'd like for it to be my style, but I am shy about pattern mixing.

As for the Craftsy class, it was entertaining, but I honestly didn't learn anything new.  It is well-suited for a beginner.  I do believe that I am addicted to Craftsy.  I pledged not to buy anymore classes, and made it a few months before breaking down and buying one of Suzy Furrer's pattern making classes.

Apart from alterations and mending, this has been my only sewing project since the fleece jacket.  Life and death have gotten in the way this spring.  Sadly, my dad died in April, yet there has been little time for grieving, with all the work required to wrap up his estate and affairs.  We spent an exhausting week clearing out his house, which had previously been my grandparents' home.  It was a week in the Twilight Zone for me, finding things that belonged to my great-grandparents, as well: pictures, report cards from 1908, utility bills from 1945 and one treasure -- Spadea patterns still in the mailing envelope from 1961.
My daughter knew I would be excited to open this envelope, untouched
 and hiding in the dining room buffet since 1961.

Spadea "Dinah Shore" patterns, the sixth is a large lace collar.
Apparently Dinah Shore patterns were very popular.

We filled a large dumpster after donating all the furniture and working appliances to a domestic violence shelter and begging relatives to take some of the "keepsakes" home.  Like me, most of my cousins are in a minimalist frame of mind.  We did encounter several dumpster divers who were happy to cull through the cast-offs in search of treasure.
The three amigos, REALLY happy to be finished.  It's hard to see just how big that dumpster was.

The experience of hauling off refrigerators that haven't worked in 15 years and monogrammed bowling balls belonging to someone who died in 1969 has spurred me to think about downsizing my own junk.  I don't want my heirs to dispose of closets, cabinets and cartons full of fabric.  I own very few patterns that anyone would be excited to find in 2060.