Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's Always Nice To Have Choices

Yesterday was one of those days when it feels like you're going backward instead of forward. I didn't get nearly as much accomplished as I would have liked but I did fit in a walk with Ms. Chloe in the sunshine that was quite delightful. The sun sparkled and the sky was blue and the air warm.




In the studio, I finished up the third outfit for Sew Expo. The first is the jeans with paisley t-shirt and the cardigan I showed yesterday. The second is the turquoise print pants with the grey top and turquoise scarf. AND... the third is...





... the McCall's 6515 pants with a black t-shirt, a black cardigan, and a scarf. I have two choices. First I sewed print with pink pair at left and knit the pink scarf to go with and I like the pants but it feels like they are demanding a lot of attention. I think a light colored t-shirt could help to detract from the busyness below. SO, just in case that feels too uncomfortable on the day, I sewed the blue pair - which are not nearly as blue in real life - and knit the blue-green scarf to go with. I may be more comfortable in this outfit but it really does depend on how I wake up that day. It's always nice to have choices.





Both pant fabrics are knit. The print is what I think is called scuba knit. Both it and the blue have lovely drape. The blue is a ribbed knit with a black background. It's the same fabric that I sewed the cardigan from and a pink dress last year. LOVE it. I should have bought a whole lot more.

I've sewn all of the garments for my three outfits except for the black cardigan and t-shirt shown above. I did sew a black t-shirt and when I washed it and hung it up to dry, it dried significantly larger. I have no idea what's up with that but it's currently in the dryer and if it comes out wearable, I will wear it and if it's too big, I won't and if it's too small, definitely not. I have another black t-shirt in the works but doubt if I'll get it finished before I go... but you never know. I have my hour this morning and that may be enough. It's mostly together.

Today is errands, laundry, and packing and tomorrow morning bright and early I'll be off. I need to be at the Seattle airport by mid afternoon to pick up my friend Caroline which shouldn't be a problem unless there are complications along the route. I won't be posting again until I get home. I'll take lots of pictures and get Caroline to take a few of me in my outfits and will "see you" next week. Probably Tuesday.

If you're at Sew Expo and see me wandering around, please say hi. I'd love to connect. Remember that my brain will be paddling a million miles an hour trying to figure out how we know each other so please help me out and clue me in on the connection. Thanks - LOL.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - one more sleep

Every decision leads somewhere... the excitement of the journey is watching what unfolds. 
- Michael R. Krozer

Monday, February 23, 2015

Between Comfortable And Uncomfortable

On the surface, these last few weeks appear to be about "trivial" things like clothing and yet clothing is not trivial; it's our second skin. We are born and immediately wrapped in cloth and remain - for the most part - wrapped in cloth until the day we die.

I have always been interested in how cloth wraps our bodies. I loved dress-up and Barbies not for the playing house aspect but for the clothing, the outfits, the looks I could create and the person I could be inside those clothes. Back then, it was outside in. Put on a princess dress and be a princess. Now, it's inside out. My goal is to put on the clothes that represent me because the cloth that we wrap ourselves in is our inner essence expressed outward. Far more than superficial coverings, our clothing is how we want the world to see and know the real us. It's how we see and know ourselves and when the inside and the outside don't match, there is confusion.

It's a spiral. At least, it is for me. I'm comfortable in my clothes and then I'm not and between comfortable and uncomfortable there is typically a shift in circumstances. A significant one for me was when I went from working outside the home to working from home. I shifted both away from office wear and away from sewing fashions toward work-from-home jeans and sewing quilts. LOL - both at the same time was probably not good timing.





This weekend, I re-read Nothing To Wear? by Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo and Staging Your Comeback by Christopher Hopkins. Both contain quizzes to determine your fashion personality. In the first book, I was an Avante Garde and in the second a Dramatic which are basically the same thing, different title.

The description in Nothing To Wear reads: This is an ultramodern style that uses fashion as an extension of the wearer's creativity. It often seeks to make a dramatic statement. Typically, the foundation for this wardrobe is black. 

This book is excellent for determining your fashion personality and then figuring out how to dress in that style to project your most confident, authentic self. A lot of the book focuses on defining your style, editing your wardrobe, filling in the blanks, and nurturing the new you. I laugh every time the author mentions having so many clothes in your closet that you can't see what's in there. Hmm... that's not my problem! Although dramatic and minimalist seem to go together so it's quite possibly not the problem of most dramatics.





The description in Staging Your Comeback is similar however, the book is written for women over forty-five and adds information about aging in our styles. It reads: Aging can be a challenge for the Dramatic, for softening to you means losing a part of yourself. Yet softening the makeup and clothing will ultimately help you in your goal of looking stunning. Again, quality pieces with a "less is more" approach will keep you dramatic and appropriate. It is important as you age to not become a caricature of yourself.

The last time I did the quizzes in these books, the primary results were the same however my fashion personality was more divided with a secondary style. This time, there wasn't much waffling. I remember the last time I read these descriptions and how excited I was about what I had discovered. I remember thinking this was really going to focus my sewing and help me create a wardrobe that was truly me. And then life spiraled as life does - first away from and then back to this information.





I searched for images from the book and came up with these two. Above, Gail was fifty at the time of her make-over and below Nancy was 53 - the age I'll be on my birthday. Changes like these are inspiring. I don't need to fade away into oblivion, nor become a caricature of myself, nor look far older than my age. While my best look now will be less dramatic than it would have been years ago, it can always be an amazing outward expression of the bold, dramatic, inner me. YES YES... and true for all of us.





Normally, when celebrities are mentioned I don't have a clue who they are since I don't watch TV or movies nor pay much attention to Hollywood gossip but in this case, one of the "second act" dramatics is Oprah Winfrey. She has had a significant impact on my life. Watching her show opened my eyes to all sorts of topics and opinions that I would never have otherwise been exposed to and made me think them through from a broader perspective. It taught me to think differently and opened up a whole new way of moving through life that I'm thankful for. She's not a bad role model to have.





I'm currently reading A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech about thinking differently. It starts with some simple questions that have more than one right answer. In fact, in one of the assignments all the answers are right. The book is a discussion of the mental locks that prevent us from seeing beyond the obvious which include the right answer, that's not logical, follow the rules, be practical, play is frivolous, that's not my area, don't be foolish, avoid ambiguity, to err is wrong, and I'm not creative.I'm forty pages in and already I've learned SO MUCH. Yesterday's reading was about asking questions and how sometimes we get the wrong answer because we not only made assumptions but we asked the wrong question.

Last week, I talked about how I predominately wear simple clothing with low contrast and architectural details in a medium to dark value range along with statement accessories that add power and punch to my outfit and perhaps those are the types of clothes what I should sew while learning how to create statement accessories that would add power and punch to my outfits. It's taken me a while to come to this conclusion. I wonder if I had asked a different question - if instead of asking how can I be my most creative with fabric, I had asked something along the lines of in what way could I be my most creative - if I might have reached this place sooner. But then again, does it matter. I think we get where we're going when we're ready to be there.





Each book provides exercises and methods for defining your style and keeping those elements in mind when choosing clothes (read patterns and fabric) and those - along with a checklist - can make a tremendous difference if we let it. When I chose to make a cardigan using New Look 6273, I knew that all of the elements were there and that the only wild card might be the lapel.





I chose a firm, ribbed knit with excellent drape and tried the cardigan on before sewing the facing to the lapel. I opted to finish it as is because while I think it might be slightly too big, it's not way too big and I'll definitely sew this again and can work the basic design lines into different presentations.





I top stitched the edges of the lapel, around a portion of the hemline, and up the princess seam to hold the facings in place. The pins made me think of adding hand stitching elements on another version. It was difficult to get the facing as smooth as I'd like even though I lay it flat on the surface and pinned directly across. Next time, I may eliminate the facing and bind the edges in some way.





... I really like the way this turned out. It's a me style and matches my personality although - LOL - I don't think I'd wear it with the pointed pants, they were just what I had on in the studio that day. The picture on me is of the unfinished garment while I was testing the fit. I'll get a picture of the finished cardigan with the rest of the outfit at Sew Expo.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - confidence

You - the Dramatic - avoid trends or fads unless they can be adapted to fit your idea of attractive. Stark, clean, bold, and stylized appeals to you. You express joy in having a signature look or accessory. Simple lines with a dramatic accessory are your standby. You tend to collect interesting accessories. You like a hairstyle that makes a statement. You have a knack for being distinctive and striking. 
- from Staging Your Comeback by Christopher Hopkins

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Palette Cleanser

Wednesday, I cut out the New Look 6273 cardigan in a black ribbed knit and a t-shirt in a charcoal sweater knit. When I woke up yesterday morning, I opted for the familiar - a t-shirt as a palette cleanser. Using my T & T pattern, it takes me an hour to an hour and a half to sew a t-shirt depending on how things are flowing that day. Sometimes, I just want to buy a RTW tee but every time I'm tempted to run to the store, I remind myself that sewing it will take less time than driving there and making the rounds hoping to find what I could sew exactly.





My favourite neckline is a slightly rounded V. When I drafted the pattern, I used the French curve to draw a curve into the point of the V. It's neither round, nor scooped, nor a sharp V and it works really well for me.





Because this is a sweater knit and unlikely to be worn in summer, I chose long sleeves. Mostly I sew three quarter length.





Here's the outfit. I knit the scarf a few weeks ago and love the way it goes with the print. I plan to wear the outfit at SewExpo and will add comfy shoes and earrings. The pants are out of print Vogue 8712, another design by Marcy Tilton, one of my favourite designers.





I sewed view C with the wonderfully angled seams at front and the princess seams at back. These are what I consider architectural details. With the print fabric, you can't see the seams yet they still add structure. I sewed these pants in 2012. The fabric is a knit. It's the only piece I have with gold in it. Luckily, the turquoise was louder.






In her comments yesterday, Neufy said she feels strongly that I am a type 3 so to honor her suggestion, I looked at least a dozen type 3 pages on Pinterest. There were hundreds of pictures with only a few that resonated. I dislike the color of both of these garments above. Black would be better. I liked the V neckline front and back, the architectural details of the weave, the drama of the diagonal, and the smooth softness of the dress and I liked the perfect balance of the biker jacket and the sharp focal point of the asymmetrical zipper.





Color... color... color... and high heels. I - LOVE - HIGH - HEELS. They're something I have never stopped wearing even at my most frumpiest points in life. I love the sophistication and elegance that high heels add - never mind the height. They work great with my hips and I know how to walk in them too ! ! !






I liked the combination of texture away from and smoothness near the face of this hair cut and the clean lines and simplicity of the necklace. You could easily redesign this with a blue/green/silver toned stone on a shiny black background. In fact, I have something rather similar.





The color of the scarf for my outfit is a pure turquoise plus black with some shaded green undertones. Any pure hue plus black equals a shade. The lovely purplish color of the nails is pure purple plus black. The topaz of the necklace is orange plus black. I'd wear the first two but not the last because I look better in cool colors than in warm ones and I wear silver not gold. Warm and gold equals types 1 and 3. Cool and silver equates to types 2 and 4.

Along with the type 3 pages, I also looked at type 1 and 2 pages and my take on them goes like this. Type 1 - I hate cream, peach, and anything that smacks of beige. Type 2 - except for denim, no pastels. Type 3 - absolutely no brown or olive. Type 4 - I love deep full rich color. That's definitely oversimplification because in reality each grouping has a range of colors but it does zero in on where my interests lie.  




I saw a chart yesterday that equated  type 1 to spring, type 2 to summer, type 3 to autumn, and type 4 to winter and having looked at both programs - Dressing Your Truth and Color Me Beautiful - that makes sense to me.  I can relate to the spring, summer, fall, and winter system of Color Me Beautiful better perhaps because I learned it first and have lived with it longer. When I was tested thirty years ago, I was a summer. Above is the summer swatch set. Below is the winter chart swatch set. Both resonate with me. That may be because now they have blended groupings like a deep summer. What do you think?







Categorizing precisely is not as important to me as re-connecting the dots and moving in the right direction. This isn't new information. I've studied it off and on for over thirty years and I've been involved in artistic career most of my adult life.Yes, I'd slipped but... not completely off the map.

I would hate to think that we all fit neatly into one box or category. I'd rather think that our boxes have similar elements and a lot of individuality.  What makes me me and you you is our individual combination of coloring, figure type, fashion personality, and life experience. And this is good. Because if you keep looking you find more pages with even more information on the same subject. LOL - it looks a lot like my stash.

My next coaching session is on Monday. I'm looking forward to talking to Diane about what I've learned. I sent her an email saying how excited I am - that I feel like I've made a shift from trying to be someone creative to being myself creatively and from trying to sew something "sparkly" to sewing what looks and feels like me and will give me authentic sparkle.

I think when we're exploring new paths - such as my return to fashion sewing and wanting to make that as creatively exciting as textile art was - that it's easy to look at other people's paths and see something you really enjoy in their expression and would love to have in your own. Although at first we might see a certain style of garment, combination of textures and colors, or their fashion personality and think that's it, what we really want is the authenticity we sense and it takes a while to figure out that our authenticity might be in a different style with different textures and different colors that can still have that creative expression we crave. At least, that seems to be how it's going for me. There's been a lot of trying this and that up until now.





Ms. Chloe has been napping in my fabrics attempting to find her own best coloring - VBG. The pink of this scarf is similar to the pink of the t-shirt I showed a few days ago only there's a LOT less of it. It's part of the next outfit I'm finishing. LOL - what looks like that pink is on the summer chart and the winter one!

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the quickness and ease of on-line research

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. 
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thursday, February 19, 2015

No Bulk No Button Less Belly

Twice in the past week, I've been asked where "all this" is going in reference to creativity coaching and to journal writing. Up until this year, I'd only thought about working with a coach. I'd read about other people's experiences but I personally didn't know anyone who had a coach. It was an experience that I thought could be useful but I wasn't sure. I've been journalling off and on for almost thirty years and every day for the past three years. This is not common but it's also not as unusual as it sounds.

Both creativity coaching and journal writing are about self-development, about being the best me possible and then sharing that knowledge in whatever way I can to support and encourage others to their best. For the past six years, life has had back-to-back tough - tremendously overwhelming - I'd really rather not deal with this - events. I haven't felt like myself for the longest time and I certainly haven't felt like the you'll get through it, you're so strong woman that many people see me as. Being strong doesn't mean you can, or should, have to handle everything on your own.

That's the brief background for why I'm so excited with the information I've been learning. As I said, it's re-connecting some dots I'd lost track of and yet, even though it's not entirely new, there's this inner joyfulness at recognizing that things are now moving forward. Not that life isn't a roller coast and not that there won't be other "stuff" that comes up, but in terms of what I am working on, I feel like I've turned a corner that just might stay turned.





We don't tend to see ourselves the way other people see us. Our vision is distorted by experiences in our past and those echoes of negativity speak loud. This month, I've had several ah ha's that have impacted me significantly. One was the surprise thought that popped into my head when I set up my new dress form. It's bigger but it's not BIG. Twenty years ago, I was very slim, even underweight. When life got stressful with my husband's illness, I started packing on the pounds which led to yo-yoing through a variety of diet plans all of which - ultimately - left me heavier. While I'd opted out of worrying about my weight, I hadn't opted out of seeing myself as heavy. That thought was the beginning of a paradigm shift.

Watching the type four information, I noticed how stunning the women were after their makeover. I saw their newfound confidence in their facial expression and posture. In some of the type four make-overs, the women went from exceedingly frumpy to definitely stunning. I observed but I - obviously - could not be a type four because I was not beautiful. It's one thing to be told you are beautiful and assume the teller is biased and it's another to truly accept the compliment.

When I realized that I was indeed a type four, I had to re-read the information from the I am as opposed to the am I perspective and it felt so right that I bought new make-up, put on earrings, wore higher heels, dressed the part, and garnered some lovely compliments. My step has more spring and I too feel that confidence. For the first time that I can remember since being a little girl playing dress-up, I looked in the mirror and thought I am beautiful. There's a whole history that I'm not going to go into about why that is such a lightening bolt moment. Trust me, it's of seismic proportion.





When I was out for a walk yesterday, I glanced down at my shadow and thought what slim hips. WHAT? I have never ever - ever, ever, ever - thought that about my hips. Typically, I look down and think yes, you are definitely hippy. And I am. But I'm not horrendously out of proportion and I have nice shape. When I cut out the waistband for my latest jeans, I thought I'd made a mistake. It looked too small. I actually remeasured everything twice because I couldn't connect what looked tiny with my body.

It's is so very strange at fifty-two to suddenly be seeing myself in a more flattering, more positive way... and very wonderful. For that, I'll pay $99.00. AND.. a lovely bonus... it's having a huge impact on sewing. The wardrobe is cleaned out. The stash is cleaned out. The pattern collection is surely next. And, I'm developing criteria for making the correct choice more often. This is good.





A little bit of knowledge can go a long way. Yesterday, I pulled out four softly structured jacket patterns and read the reviews. My focus was on the pictures. I wanted to see how structured the garment was, how it draped, and how much excess fabric was in the real garment as opposed to the illustration on the pattern envelope. The photograph above left is from LizPalmer's review of out of print Vogue 8454. Of the four jackets I reviewed, this one - and especially her photo - impressed me. This is a look I'd wear confidently and one that would be flattering with my figure. While I didn't choose to sew the jacket, the pattern did go back in stash. The others may not. I'm still debating.





There were no reviews of New Look 6273. I bought the pattern after seeing it on someone's blog - I'm not sure whose. The elements that I know will flatter me are mirrored images at center front, parallel lines, the princess seams that give shape (architecture), the soft but firm structure, and the high sleeve cap. What I need to be careful of is how much drape will that lapel have and will it fall correctly but there's room to adjust that while sewing.





Before sewing, I adjusted the length of the jacket. First I shortened above the waist so the curve would hit at the curve on my body. I'm short waisted. I removed 7/8". And then I added 3 1/8" length below the waist so the finished jacket would hit at relatively the same length as my t-shirt. I am not comfortable with waist length garments. As you can see, I have a small back waist and high hips with absolutely no room between my hips, my waist, and my ribs. My waist is basically a string around my middle. When a garment cuts across at that level, it looks - IMHO - like a beach ball on my butt which is not the impression I'm going for.





These are my latest Burda 8157 jeans. The fabric is stretch denim so I basted all the seams, pinned together center front, and wore them around the studio for two days to see how much they would stretch. At one point, I went to take them off and completely forgot to unpin the front and just pulled them over my hips. OH... that meant I didn't need a zipper and frankly no bulk, no button, less belly seemed like a way better option to me. If the fashion police have a problem, oh well.





To finish the waist, I sewed a waistband with a casing and then put 1", non roll, elastic through the casing. The elastic is only slightly smaller than the waistband and holds the jeans snuggly to my body. I wore them all day yesterday and LOVED them. I'll definitely make more like this.

Another new idea I tried was lowering the waistband an inch so that the top of the waistband is at my waist as opposed to the waistband seam. I'd noticed that I was forever adjusting waistbands down an inch after I'd worn the garment for a while and wondered if this might solve the problem. A string around the middle is not an inch wide. What took me so long ? ? ? ? As I said, they are very comfortable. I think this may be the answer to less alternations and... with this change... it doesn't look like I need to tip the waist any more. I'll explore that next.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a good week, a good month, and that's an understatement.

... after almost two decades of yo-yoing, I finally realized that being grateful for my body, whatever shape it was in, was the key to giving more love to myself. 
- Oprah Winfrey

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What The Wadder Is Going On?

Before I write anything... we have had sunshine - as in no fog - and no overcast skies - just blue plus sun with the odd fluffy object - for five days in a row. This is amazing. I love the way a little vitamin D perks up the party.





If you have the Clover brand pink magnetic pin cushion, it is almost exactly the same color as the top I was working on yesterday. Very intense. Definitely in my range.





Since my assignment with the grey knit top didn't go so well, I decided to repeat it only this time put the tucks in at the beginning before sewing the side seams. I turned up the hem and then used a chalk marker to measure parallel lines and then...





... used a double needle to stitch the tuck with the one row of thread right at the fold. I liked the extra body this created plus the tuck pressed down neat and flat toward the hemline and was accented by the two parallel rows of stitching that mimicked the angle of the hemline. All good and...





... an oops. When I was trimming away the excess fabric from the neckband, I accidentally cut into the body of the garment. There's certainly room to widen the neckline although it would have been nice if I'd noticed sooner, before I'd sewn up the other shoulder seam. It may not matter because...





... I'm not that thrilled with the top on me. The color may suit my features but it certainly doesn't suit my emotional mood. It's way too intense at a time when calm, quiet, and peaceful are far more appealing. It's interesting how our emotional environment can affect our clothing choices. VBG - or at least I find it interesting. What's also interesting is that when I wore my grey version of this top with the same jeans in this picture, there was less contrast between the asymmetrical hemline and the denim that was far more flattering than this higher contrast version. It seems like the only high contrast combinations I am comfortable with are black and white or navy and white.

Lately, it's been wadderville. I've had some wadders from buying the wrong piece of RTW or from choosing the wrong pattern to sew and I've had some wadders from choosing the wrong fabric or from choosing the wrong color and I've had some wadders where the pattern and the fabric and the color were all good only the plan didn't execute as well as expected. I would be wondering what the wadder is going on only I know. I've been here before.

Does this happen to you? Whenever I need a change or I'm learning (or re-learning) new information, I start pushing the edges and trying this and that just to see what would happen and I continue to enjoy that experimental state until the number of wadders starts draining my energy and makes me think I have absolutely no idea how to sew, who do I think I am, it's time to get a new hobby. As soon as I start feeling that way - which is about now - it's the pull back from the edge of the cliff point where it's best if I return to the safe and the familiar, say something like a black t-shirt. Hmm... that sounds good - LOL.

Yesterday, while driving around running errands, I was processing this run of wadders and thinking about the things that I know about myself and conveniently forget during one of these box stretching events until I get bonked over the head with them again . It seemed to me that a checklist would be helpful and I was contemplating what I'd write on it when I came home to Stephanie's comment that a check list might be helpful. And it would be BUT...

... the wild card component of sewing that isn't so easily put on a checklist is the emotional element. Then again, maybe you can get at that with a question. Something like... what mood am I in and what fabric matches that mood, did I check my checklist, do I remember all the lessons, and am I about to sew a wadder because I'm ignoring my own good advice? I think that question just might cover all the bases and work to prevent me from self sabotaging my sewing BUT...





...the thing I recognize is that the styles, lines, colors, and patterns that look best on me are low contrast with simple details and require strong technical skills to execute well. This is good only sometimes I want out of that "safe" box and somewhere a little more free form creatively speaking. Bottom line - I look far better in the pink skirt and it'd be way more fun to sew the brown. When I put the pink skirt on, I feel feminine, flirty, and fun and when I wear something like the brown skirt, it feels like I'm playing dress-up in someone else's clothing. At the store I'd oh and ah over the brown skirt and I'd most likely be wearing the pink one. More interesting info.

On Monday, when I sent the answers to my recent coaching assignment to Diane, I talked about this disconnect and how to resolve it. One of the answers to avoid mindless boredom and increase the enjoyment of sewing the simpler lines that I'll actually wear is to up my technical abilities by learning how to do sew some of clean architectural details I admire. Another might be to accept that sewing my clothes is more in the core essentials with fabulous fit department then on the "wild" side and to find another way to push the creative edge. The answer that comes to mind is accessories. This is not a new crossroad. I've been here before and the great thing about spiraling around and around through the same thoughts is that eventually you mine the truth out of them.





I predominately wear simple clothing with low contrast and architectural details in a medium to dark value range along with statement accessories that add power and punch to my outfit. Just maybe... and how crazy is this... I should sew simple clothing with low contrast and architectural details in a medium to dark value range and look at learning how to create statement accessories that would add power and punch to my outfits. It's a thought ! ! ! ! !

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - learning, re-learning, applied learning

Strategy evolves in the day-to-day topsoil of decision making. 
- Henry Mintzberg