Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Colors & Cuts

Several months ago, I read that there are over a million different ways in which people individually process thought which means that even when we think we're on the same page, going in the same direction, we're not. We're on our own page, going in our own direction, with some similar but not identical pages nearby.

Add to individual thought processing the fact that we all see through our own experiences and paradigms - meaning that whatever experience someone else is having is layered over and coloring the experience that I am having - and we're definitely not having the same conversation. Even though it looks like it. No matter how I explain it, I cannot explain my experience in someone else's language in a way that they will completely and totally understand on every level.

Put that way, it's amazing that anyone understands themselves never mind another person. I find quizzes around how we think, our personality type, or our fashion personality, or information about people born on our birth day or in our birth month all of great interest. They always contain elements of the truth. Some are closer than others to what I perceive as the real me but none are ever exact.

While I was sewing for Jessica, a number of people (not just on the blog) referred to me as a perfectionist. I was discussing this with my friend Patti the other day because I don't view myself as a perfectionist and yet many people do. She, on the other hand, does view herself a perfectionist and I don't see her that way at all which means that we each define ourselves - or not - as a perfectionist based on what we think a perfectionist is. Oh dear... where's the dictionary and... do we all interpret it the same anyway - LOL.

What I think is that some of my characteristics contribute to the perfectionist impression when they are actually quite separate and not at all the same thing. For instance, I'm extremely organized and highly efficient. Systems come to me easily and I typically finish a task in about a third of the time it takes other people. Doing things quickly gives you a lot more free time comparatively.

I'm also a minimalist and less stuff means less to look after and requires less space to store and less time to maintain which equals more free time and less visible clutter all of which somehow lead to the impression that I'm constantly cleaning and polishing which is SO NOT TRUE. I cleaned yesterday for the first time in three weeks. I just fake it well !

It's not perfectionism. It's an ongoing thirst for knowledge and a fascination with puzzles and challenges. I like to figure out how things work and then make them work even better which is why I'll sew the same thing - say a fitting shell - over and over until it fits exactly the way I want. It's a quest to know and understand AND THEN...

... I love to pass that learning on or to utilize it in new ways. When I measured my daughter, I knew right away that she needed similar alterations to me through the upper chest, waist, and back hip. What took me 3 1/2 years to learn about myself, too two minutes to apply to her. I saw it and organized her information around that fact.

She called yesterday.

The tops and skirt arrived. They all fit. They are all wearable. They could all use a bit of fine-tuning and that's the best case scenario we'd hoped for. How exciting. I told her the blog would like a few pictures and she's thinking it over. Like me, she's not very comfortable in front of a camera which is interesting because on many, many levels, I understand my daughter, I recognize ways in which we think alike and behave similarly and yet, she's completely and totally her own woman. There are things she does that I can't even imagine doing and yet she excels at and is challenged by them. It fascinates me.

As does the question who am I? This week, I've been wondering if I'll ever be dressed in a way that I think reflects who I truly am and if I do somehow manage to get dressed, will I be able to maintain the look? I don't seem to ever meet my goal of how I want to express myself and how I want other to see me but I've met people that I imagine have it all figured out. Perhaps they do. Perhaps they don't. Have you managed to consistently dress you? If so, how?

I know it's all in the details... and the packaging... which has me still thinking about the quote below from Bobbie Thomas' book - The Power of Style.  How many times have you had someone tell you that a garment looks "just like you" and you think, oh my gosh, really, please God no, they can't possibly think that's me.

So when I talk about style, I'm talking about an image that feels real to you and resonates as genuine to others. When there is incongruence, you may find you are not saying what you want, which can result in your not getting what you want from life..... So if the mirrors in your life are showing you a person who isn't who you think you are or who you want to be, there's a good chance you're projecting a style that isn't your own, or at least not your most desired.

My friend Barb took these garment pictures while we were out snoop shopping. My daughter thinks the leopard print top I'm wearing is simply ghastly, that it looks like an old woman trying too hard. I think it's fun - just like I think my new purple zebra print pajama pants will be fun and - even so - I wouldn't classify myself as a animal print kind of person. Just a touch now and then when it appeals to me in some interesting way and yet, someone noting that I have two or three animal print garments might think I'm an animal print person and it wouldn't be true. And if they bought me an animal print gift because of what they believed about me, I'd be stuck with it and that seems the way in which we become someone we're not.

The key to not having this happen seems to be consistent packaging. Why does that sound boring?

In their book 10 Steps To Fashion Freedom: Discover Your Personal Style From The Inside Out, authors Malcolm Levene and Kate Mayfield teach wearing an extremely limited number of colors - somewhere in the range of three to five although I'd need to reread the book to confirm that number - and by colors, I mean a specific shade of a hue as in primrose blue and not just blue. 

When I first read the book, I contacted them and booked an opportunity to work together and then I cancelled it because there was no way that I could ever maintain wearing the same colors always. It felt like a prison and yet isn't it interesting that I wear predominately black, denim blue, and a specific shade of my three favorite colors along with statement jewelry. I'm practically doing what they suggest only I arrived at that "formula" through my own evolution and thought processing.

Years later, long after declining the opportunity, I can see some applicable wisdom in their teachings and yet, I still don't want that prison. I want room to move and evolve and I've come to believe that the reason I've never managed to feel like I'm completely expressing myself is because the self I'm trying to express is a moving target, always changing, always learning more about and re-inventing herself. Some things remain consistent; others always shift.

The back cover of Bobbie's book says that along with other practical advice, I'll learn to discover my six best colors and why they matter and the twelve most flattering cuts for my body type. That wouldn't be new information. I've read a lot of these books. I've discovered that information already. Several times. What I seem to be looking for now is ways to make those colors and cuts more fun, more experimental, more chic-avant-garde, more me.

When I'm out snoop shopping, it's the details that intrigue me. The shirt detail above is on a classic, princess seamed, button up shirt with a collar. What's different is the way it's put together... with a twist... that's not at all basic. How many trial tops do you think it would take me to figure out those twists? I can totally see myself making sample after sample to figure it out and - LOL - it wouldn't be perfectionism. It would the challenge and the uniqueness and the opportunity to express myself in a way that resonates more clearly. THAT's where I'm at - at individuality and creativity and uniqueness. All I hope is that I can somehow sew and wear and express that image consistently onward from some point in my life... or... VBG... at least enjoy the journey - because - it seems to be a long one.

Elements that help are knowing the colors that work for me, knowing the shapes and styles that work for me, and a willingness to push the envelope. You can push the envelope once and find out that you're wrong, this style won't work for you or you can push it that same one time and discover a shape you'd never contemplated before and that discovery will lead you to other similar shapes.

Marcy's Vogue 8499 skirt was one of those experiments. I liked the shape and I believed it would make me look all hips and I tried it anyway and it turned out to be a favourite skirt. Since then, I've come to adore that belled shape which is why I tried her V8876 dress and why I'll be trying her Vogue 8934 coat.  Risking just a little can lead us on exciting adventures. It's nicely coincidental that I would like more coats in my collection.

I was thinking about that the other day. It's not my personality to have a lot of anything but I'm not sure if that's because of who I am or because of how I grew up which was not in poverty but also not with a lot of excess. I never had a lot of multiples whether it was pants, dresses, coats, shoes, and so on and I don't now... and I don't want excess... but I would like more choices and variety. I'm so not used to them though that sometimes I'll sew another coat and then forget to wear it. It's interesting to try and change in such an engrained area - like this year's attempt to sew a collection of summer dresses.

I finished my zebra pants yesterday - sort of. When I tried them on, the width is perfect but the crotch length is still too long. I've sewn this pattern a gazillion times as is and now I'm fine tuning it which - I believe - shows growth and learning in my sewing. I'd also like the elastic tighter so I'll take it off, cut the top an inch lower, and then reapply a smaller elastic. The velvet ribbon is to mark the back. It's soft against the skin and a fun touch that makes it easier to define the front and back. See the organization and efficiency? It shows up everywhere. Details. Love them.

The image of the dress in the first pictures shows the back. Hmm... bustle material. The tricks that pleats can play are quite intriguing. The top is sewn from a lace that reminds me of a fabric in my stash and a Katherine Tilton pattern. The possibility of combining those two tickles. And the twists - aren't those fabulous ! ! ! ! ! ! ...... I definitely want to experiment with those only later... right now...

... I'm on mess maintenance. When I cleaned the studio on Sunday, I just threw everything into the bottom of the closet which added more to the pile that was already there after a severe case of chuckitis. I need to sort and clean. And I have a reason.

My friend Caroline is not at all judgmental. She's a through thick and thin, I'll take you as you are, kind of friend BUT... having her come to stay for a week and knowing that we'll be cooking together and that she'll want to look at my fabric and pattern stash is great incentive to get things cleaned up. It's always nice to have motivation. Yesterday, I did the fridge. Today, it's the stash closet and - hopefully - the pattern drawer. I have two appointments as well.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - wearable muslins for Jessica

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back In The Dinosaur Days Of Sewing

Since the only two things that I absolutely have to do today are clean house and make dinner for the "boys", I didn't bother with the alarm and slept until I woke up. It's so lovely to do that every once in a while.

My sleep wardrobe desperately needs some attention. I've mentioned it a few times but I don't seem to get to actually doing something about it - until yesterday. I cut out a pair of pajama pants from this purple with black, cotton, zebra print. Look at the paper pattern. That's not something I do any more, use the actual pattern. I trace everything. I've been sewing this pattern for so long it's from back in the dinosaur days of sewing - VBG. This time - knowing what I now know about my body - I cut the front a size smaller than the back and shaved an inch off the top casing to sew the elastic in differently. Progress.

The pattern is McCall's 3445 which is out of print. No surprise there. McCall's 4979 seems like an updated alternative with shaping through the pant leg.

I sewed on the new Pfaff. Look at where the stitching guide is - way behind the needle. When I called Charlene at the shop, she said oh, but there are a 10 and a 20 metric marking further forward. I have to say it took me forever to see those. I'm not twenty. My eyes have to work harder than that and those lines are much clearer in this image than they are with purple zebra print sliding over them plus... I don't sew in metric. That and no reverse in zigzag are enough to drive me crazy... which is why... it's going back.

One thing I like about dealing with this particular shop is my relationship with the owner. We've been talking sewing together for over thirty years. We trust each other. The other is their policy around machines. When you buy a machine, you have a year to exchange it at the same value for any reason. Say, you hate the stitch guide...

When we talked, I told her I wanted a non-computerized, solid, preferably metal, basic machine, without bells and whistles. Something like this Janome that looks a lot like my Bernina. I don't need  fancy tricks. I need a great straight stitch, an adjustable and reversible zigzag, a fabulous satin stitch, a professional looking button hole, good free motion tension, and an adjustable needle position. That's all.

I'm the same way with cars, computers, cell phones, appliances, just about anything. I don't need two million flavors of toothpaste. Just one that works. Apparently, I'm a dinosaur. EVERYONE wants bells and whistles. Not - LOL. Make it simple. Make it work. She's going to call me when she gets back from the fall show because there's a new model coming out that might be what I'm looking for. I have until November to exchange this one.

I've decided not to do too much sewing this week. Although, I'm feeling somewhat better, I'm not feeling fabulous and I don't want to push things so I'll do a bit but not a lot. I had a headache yesterday but - mostly - wasn't shaking. When it started, I stopped sewing and went outside and read  Super Immunity, the book that Alexandra recommended. They had it at Chapters. I'll read it while waiting for Pamela's recommendation to arrive - Solving The Puzzle of Your Hard-To-Raise Child. Luckily, there was a seller in British Columbia that had a used copy so it shouldn't be too long getting here.

I realized reading Super Immunity that this is the same author - and probably a similar program - as the book Eat To Live that Shams of Communing with Fabric mentioned in her posting Weight Loss And Health where she shared her successful journey. If you haven't read that posting, it's quite inspiring. For me, weight loss would be a welcome bonus but it's all about my over reaction to foods and smells PLUS... not being able to sew is a highly motivating factor for making significant changes.

Another reason I'm not going to sew so much this week is because next week my friend Caroline is coming for five days. The boys are heading off on their yearly retreat and Caroline and I plan to spend the entire week in the studio sewing our hearts out and talking out the "stuff" of our lives. She was recently diagnosed with extensive allergies. I'm not surprised. We're the same age and this seems to be happening with greater frequency to women I know. All my issues have come with hormone shifts.

THANK YOU so much for the support and encouragement yesterday. I really Really REALLY appreciated it. Dealing with something like this can feel very isolating and lonely. The comments made it feel significantly less so. I'm thankful.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - book recommendations, shared advice, support

Monday, July 29, 2013

My New Partner

The rest of my house is a mess and I have absolutely no intention of cleaning it until tomorrow but yesterday, I cleaned the studio from top to bottom wiping down all the surfaces including the blinds, window sills and baseboards, and moving the furniture to vacuum in every nook and cranny including the desk chairs, the love seat, and the fabric dust on the serger and sewing machine. And then, I set up my new partner - an air purifier - right next to the sewing machine.

After one extremely negative comment regarding my over-talking about my allergies, I've avoided mentioning them on the blog. And I understand. It does get rather old rather fast but what most people don't realize is how severe and disabling they are. I can't just take a pill and they are increasingly limiting my choices not only with food but with what I can do and where I can go because I'm reacting to more and more smells. Just a whiff and I get a sudden and viscous headache, severe shaking, the urge to throw up or feeling like I'll pass out, itching all over but especially on my face, swelling in my hands and feet, a cold sweat, stomach cramps, nausea, and crying... all of which are rather embarrassing and extremely frustrating especially in public.

If you've been reading the blog for a while, you know that I quit my job at Fabricland because of my reaction to the finish on the fabrics. Crying while cutting fabric just doesn't work. It isn't pretty and it isn't professional and that was okay at the time because with my own stash, the fabrics are prewashed the minute they come into the house and - up until last week - there was no problem. And now there is.

All of the garments for my daughter were sewn from polyester spandex blends. As the week progressed, I felt worse and worse and was shaking so badly it was difficult to line up the fabric edges and pin them together. Because this had never happened to me in the studio before, I didn't start to figure it out until my son commented on Wednesday that the studio smelt funny and on Thursday, when I came down in the morning, it hit me like a wall. I think the off gassing was influenced by the predominance of synthetic fibers combined with steam and pressing. Either way, it wasn't working.

I finished the garments on Saturday and packed up all the yardage and remnants and then cleaned the studio thoroughly on Sunday. By the evening, I was starting to feel somewhat better. It's VERY scary. I can handle the thought of sewing with natural fibers only - even though they are far more expensive - and rarely in the bargain center - but I cannot handle the thought of not sewing at all. It's how I breathe so... the windows are open, my new partner is turned on, and all prayers for healing are being gratefully accepted. And then... as if that was not enough...

... my trusty Bernina - which I bought used twenty years ago - and is probably close to thirty years old - has been struggling to maintain tension and stitch length. She went to the shop a year ago and shortly after started acting up again and the situation has worsened to the point that seams are puckering and pulling up. At that time, she was gone for five long... and painful... and I never wanted to go through that again... days so I bought a back-up machine.

On Sunday, I pulled it out and set it up. I'm grateful to have it and it's not at all the machine I'm used to. The Bernina is a solid, mechanical machine with metal parts. This one is computerized with plastic parts. It feels cheaper, sounds tinny, and doesn't reverse in zigzag which is a stitch pattern I use extensively for bra work HOWEVER... it actually is a good machine and, after a long and loyal life, the Bernina needs a tune-up and to be retired to second machine status. I'm lucky to have this new one. I bought it for this exact reason. I own it, it's paid for, it works, and I imagine I'll get used to it within a few weeks.

It fits in the cabinet - sort of - I'll need to adjust the height somewhat as it's sitting about 3/8" too low but I'm glad it fits in the opening. At first, I thought I'd need to buy a new template but this one from the Janome I had years ago works great. It's broken at the back but a piece of tape will do the trick if it causes a problem. Right now, it's sitting securely without it.

My friend Lorraine sews on an industrial machine. When she was here yesterday, she told me that industrial machines are ergonomically designed for less stress on the body. They are set further back in the stand with working room in front, resting spaces for the arm, and no need to tip your neck. That makes sense.

After she got back home - 1 1/2 hours away - she emailed the measurements. Her needle is 8 1/4" from the front and mine is 8". That should be good although I might try pushing the machine even further back in the opening as I have another template that could be cut to fill a wider gap. I'll try both positions when I'm sewing this week - something for me - because I've finished all of the garments for Jessica. Along with two trial runs that didn't work out, I sewed three knit tops and a skirt. They're all going in the mail this afternoon.

I enjoyed sewing these for her and I found it stressful. There's a reason I don't sew for other people. I think from now on, when I am willing to sew for someone, someone I love very much, that someone will need to be in the studio. I definitely need a body ! ! ! !

The last piece was Simplicity 2058 using this black with green circles print. We'd intended to use it for a top but then The Slapdash Sewist posted her dress from the same fabric and we decided that such a powerful print might not work well in a top for Jessica. I'm glad. The skirt is FABULOUS. It's a shaped, flirty, silhouette that would make up beautifully in a lot of fabrics. I traced the pattern in my size too - LOL.

My daughter is 5'6" tall with a 17 1/4" center back length. She likes her tops 24" long and her skirts 25" long which is absolutely PERFECT. Patterns are drafted to those proportions. I didn't have to make any length adjustments. With the skirt, I cut on the lines and sewed. So different from me. I'm not quite 5'4". My center back length is 15 7/8" and my top length is 23". I have to take length out above the waist and add it back below the waist which is a LOT more fiddling. If (when) she sews, she'll see how lucky she is to have her height and proportions.

This morning, my friend Patti is bringing over her latest stack of creations. I'm in awe of that woman's out put ! ! ! and so grateful to spend time with her each week. It's inspiring. After that, I'll look for natural fibers in my stash and decide what I'm going to sew next - possibly another Marcy dress in linen.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - natural fibers

Friday, July 26, 2013

Walk The Seams

At 3:30 when I woke up, I did what no one should do at that time of the morning - started to think - which leads to overthinking - which definitely does not lead to going back to sleep. It didn't help that when I went to bed last night, I was panicking (on that normal not crazy level) about these tops for my daughter. Oh the pressure we put on ourselves, the expectations.

Jessica and I have the same figure type and virtually the same set of alterations but we're not the same size and my bust is sadly lacking in comparison so I can't try on her tops to see how they look although I did tie a wad of batting around my bust yesterday to get an idea. I couldn't tell. Wads don't position themselves the way full breasts do and the difference in our upper bust sizing has an impact. I tried. 

While I want the tops that fit so she'll a) have something to wear on her holiday, b) feel pretty and feminine, and c) be encouraged to sew, reality is that it's hard to fit a body that lives nine hours away and is currently nursing a new born. You can't use tricks like cutting wide side seams and adjusting to fit when there's no one available to fit. Sigh. This is why I shake my head every time someone says they're sending their measurements to China to have a dress custom sewn. Really? That's not as easy as it sounds even from the did you measure correctly perspective never mind the fit one.

Getting back on topic - LOL - I want to view these are prototypes that we can fine tune the next time we're together in August however, I'm afraid if they don't fit, it'll dash her hopes and she won't let me keep trying. I definitely don't want to do that. Oh the joys of motherhood. They never change do they? SO...

... I have two patterns in my stash that come with DDD cup sizing - Butterick 5721 above and McCall's 6536 below. I'm going to use them for the bust and copy the style lines from the other patterns and since I'm making knit garments, it's - I hope - perhaps simpler to remove ease than to try to create the bust sizing.

I decided to try this route because I'm concerned that I'm over adjusting the bust - a discussion I had with both Jodie and Steph (both blog readers) last night, the consensus of which was erring on the side of less is probably a better choice. Prior to having her baby, my daughter was a DDD so this should work with knits. Once I post this, I'll compare patterns shapes and decide.

If you read yesterday's posting later in the day, there was a warning about the middle bodice piece of Vogue 8817. LOL - the bust point is over under the arm. NOT going to work. I have an idea that may work better. I'll let you know once I know.

At noon yesterday, I thought I had one top finished and now, I'm not so sure. It just doesn't look quite right so I'll compare pattern pieces and decide from there but even if I decide to cut it differently, I was really pleased with how it came together and will use the same process.

Vogue 8691 has points along the bottom of the hem that are finished with a ruffle in the original. I omitted the ruffle, adjusted the finished length, and hemmed each section BEFORE stitching the seams together. I started by fusing a 1/4" strip of knit interfacing to the bottom of each section. The strips were cut with the stretch running the long way.

And then I serge finished the edge to trim it evenly and give a neat appearance and then...

... I turned the serging to the wrong side and top stitched from the front about 1/8" away from the hemline.

When the seams were joined, I trimmed away the visible seam allowance, pressed, and hammered flat each point. It turned out well... except... I made a mistake...

I'd stayed up late the night before to finish drafting the patterns and forgot to walk the seams. The princess seam between the side and center fronts was out by 1 1/4". Without thinking, I trimmed to the shorter length of the center front and then realized I probably should have cut another center front with the longer length as I may have affected the full bust adjustment. I definitely lost some of the drama on the points. Oh well... mistakes happen... live and learn... and... this may be fixable once I compare pattern pieces but as I keep telling myself, these are prototypes. We'll adjust from here. I'd just like them to be wearable muslins - VBG.

The neckline turned out great. It was stayed with 3/8" strips of knit interfacing cut with the stretch running across the strip so there would be no give around the neckline. I then serged a strip of fabric around the neck with right sides together, wrapped it to the back, stitched in the ditch and then again just onto the edge of the binding, and trimmed away the excess in-behind. This is my most commonly used neck finish. I like the way the serged application creates an even and well supported edge.

SO... instead of doing what I thought I'd be doing today, I'm going to recheck my work, possibly recut some pieces, and basically approach this from a different perspective of comparing and using the DDD sizing that someone else has already drafted. Eventually, Jessica won't be nursing and will - hopefully - revert to her regular sizing so the tops might be tighter now and perfect later or... who knows... we'll see. It's still fun and frustrating - VBG. I'm up for the challenge. 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - originally I typed one done here but that may not be true so I'm grateful that I actually have some DDD sized patterns. They're rare and will be helpful.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dress Details

Even though I had two long appointments yesterday, it still feels like I spent the entire day tracing and altering tissue paper. And it's done. Because I refused to go to bed until it WAS done. I wanted to wake up this morning to cutting out fabric and sewing and NOT to tissue paper. Of course...

... it didn't help that part way through I changed my mind. LOL - how surprising. At first, I was tracing the same armhole intending to use the same sleeve until the thought occurred that I didn't know if that sleeve fit any better than any other one and that the odds of the sleeve that came with each pattern fitting the best would be higher so why not test a variety of sleeves? So I went back and corrected that. And it's good. And it's done. Lead on fabric.

It's also no surprise that I don't have a lot of knit prints. I think they'd be the better choice for hiding issues in any pattern I'm perfecting. For now, I've chosen these four fabrics but I may pop over to Fabricland and see what else they have on that 70% off table that might work. I'm sticking with polyester spandex prints because my daughter lives in an apartment with shared laundry facilities and the less fussy the better.

The shape above is the mid bodice piece of Vogue 8817. It took me four tries to get the full bust adjustment done in a way that added both length and width without altering the length of the top and side seams or stretching out the bottom one more than the required 3". Eventually...

... I drew a line across from center front to the bust point, over but not through the armhole seam, and down but not through the bottom seam. Then I spread the hinged sections until there was an additional 3" along the bottom seam between the previous edge and center front.

This determined the distance of the horizontal spacing. It may need fine tuning but at least the right lines were adjusted by the right amount. There's hope.

WARNING - Thought I better add this note. 4:06 pm - just finished sewing the bodice together and - duh - why didn't I realize it would end up with the bust point over at the underarm. I'm redrafting it so that the curve begins below the bust point. Sigh... another try... we'll see.

Speaking of which... Jessica sent me this picture yesterday with a note saying this is the dress that she liked the top of and could I do something like this. Well... yes... and eventually so can she... right after I finish teaching her to fish... but... Hmm... she's hoping... which is good... only I really don't want to dash her hopes with ill fitting garments. They have to be good. Better than ready to wear. If you could cross all body parts and send up a few prayers, it'd be greatly appreciated.

Next, I'm going to read blogs, and get dressed, and do my study, and eat breakfast, and then I'm going to sew all day...VBG... well... with maybe a Fabricland visit thrown in there. I'm starting with Vogue 8691 in the black print, no ruffle.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - I'm no longer drowning in tissue, progress is being made, and I'm still having fun.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fun & Frustrating

When I was at Fabricland yesterday, I learned that - after a certain date that I can't remember - they won't be carrying Simplicity and New Look patterns anymore. Other than a BMV that I need right now, those are the only patterns I buy there and while I'm not their only customer, I imagine I'm somewhat typical so that doesn't seem like the best of decisions. Oh well. No one asked me. I did buy a few yesterday though.

My daughter has very particular taste so I'm trying not to assume that she'll like something while at the same time, I'm trying to encourage her in directions I know will flatter because I've sewn that pattern and it works for our body type. She's still learning to see beyond the pattern envelope to the possibilities found in the line drawing and to realize that you can take just the parts you want and mix and match them like a Mr. Potato Man.

Yesterday was both fun and frustrating. For a while, I was drowning in pattern tissue but - thankfully - that's improved. I wanted to start with a basic t-shirt and build from there but it took me most of the day to realize that a PRINCESS seamed t-shirt would be best as she has a 5" difference between her upper and full bust. Now that I've made that decision, things are moving along more quickly.

Naturally, I made that decision after I'd bought a bunch of patterns without princess seams so I'm starting with the two Katherine Tilton patterns mentioned yesterday - both views of Vogue 8817 and Vogue 8691 without the ruffle. Jessica is having to trust me on these. She's not sure 8817 will work and doesn't think the 8691 pattern envelope looks at all attractive. I'd have to agree with her but I know from experience that it looks fabulous on.

Last night, while I wasn't sleeping, I was thinking about full bust adjustments and how to go about making them for the different patterns and it occurred to me that I may have traced the wrong size. Somehow, I deducted an inch from her upper bust measurement so either I wrote it down wrong or she actually has a 6" difference which would be more in line with her bra size. Luckily, I haven't cut out or adjusted any of the tracings so it's an easy fix... right after a phone call to confirm the number. I have two appointments today but hopefully - LOL - by tonight I'm actually cutting out fabric.

I'm reading Bobbie Thomas' book The Power of Style. Since I rarely watch television or buy a magazine, I had no idea who this woman was but reading the cover, I agreed with her blend of psychology with style so I bought it and it's been really interesting. She talks about style from a marketing perspective - are you giving out the message you want to give out. On page 25, she writes...

So when I talk about style, I'm talking about an image that feels real to you and resonates as genuine to others. When there is incongruence, you may find you are not saying what you want, which can result in your not getting what you want from life..... So if the mirrors in your life are showing you a person who isn't who you think you are or who you want to be, there's a good chance you're projecting a style that isn't your own, or at least not your most desired.

Though I work in the fashion industry, for me style does not equal the latest trends or flashiest brands. Style is so much more powerful and personal. The definition of style is self-expression, so fashion and beauty are simply two of the many tools that help you communicate, through a common visual language, what you're all about - what you see in your ideal mirror. Being stylish is not about having a certain body type or bank account; it's about embracing your individuality and radiating that spirit in your work, relationships, and everywhere else.

I'm always intrigued when I meet someone who thinks clothes don't matter especially as there is often an element of pain resting just below their words as if they are trying to convince themselves that this is truth. Considering how difficult it can be to dress ourselves, I can see why someone would want to feel that way however, at the most basic level, we all get dressed every morning so why not wear something we enjoy that flatters us because how we look has a lot to do with how we feel. It takes work and I'm so glad I sew because that makes it somewhat easier, which is good because beyond the basics, we all - every single one of us - make judgments about other people based on what they are wearing so it makes sense that they in return are making judgments about us based on what we're wearing. As much as possible, I want others to come to the correct conclusions about me although - LOL - it's a bit like fitting a moving target as we age and mature and evolve through life.

It was interesting to start on the adjustments for Jessica's t-shirts. As I suspected, I am making virtually the same changes I make for myself. She's taller than me and often the center back length is correct but she has the same upper bodice adjustments as me with a narrower chest, wider bicep, and higher sleeve cap. It is WONDERFUL to recognize and make these adjustments with a degree of confidence. It's radically different from the work I went through years ago trying to create a computer generated pattern for both our bodies. That was frustrating and NOT fun. Although these t-shirts may need tweaking, I'm quite sure they will be better than RTW and hopefully an encouragement for her.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the decision to change to princess seams

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Six Hundred And Fifty Dollar Thread

My studio is a mess. Normally when I leave on a trip, the studio is tidy so I come back to possibilities not cleaning. I guess this mess is a reminder of why BUT... I wouldn't have had coffee with my friend otherwise and friends are better than cleaning up messes.

LOL - and so are grandbabies. I'm glad I didn't delay leaving for cleaning. It's hard to capture a smile but I managed to get a few just so you can see who has Grandma wrapped around his little finger. Oh... there she is... that lady who entertains me. Grandma... over here... Grandma... pick me up. I missed the smiles and giggles this morning and even so it's nice to be in my own home.

On the way back, I stopped for breakfast in Banff. It's a little further off the highway than my typical stop of Canmore and has grown considerably since the last time I was there. At eight in the morning, the many... many... many... shops were not open yet but the clicking cameras were still out in full force.

Banff is a tourist town. There are shops and restaurants and street side cafes and while I wouldn't have minded spending an hour or so looking at a limited selection of stores - say at the details on some high end clothing - I am so not a wandering shopper any more or one for large crowds. LOL - I can see how one becomes more fuddy dudddy as they age. The mountain views are more beautiful in Canmore so next time, back to having breakfast there ! ! !

Kyle and Howard looked at me like I was crazy when - as I was showing them what I bought - I said I liked fabric. Oh? Really? LOL.

I also like searching for a good deal. On Saturday, Jodie (a blog reader) and I met at one Fabricland, shopped, went for lunch, and then went to another Fabricland for more shopping. It was a wonderful day and I came home with some good finds. Above is a heavier check knit in denim and black - $4.00 a meter. It would make a lovely Vogue 1312 dress or Vogue 8712 pant as it has nice weight and drape.

This is a polyester satin. When I picked it, I thought it was $4.00 per meter and once it was cut, realized it was $5.00. Oh well. Still okay but not as great. My intention was a nightgown or some pajama pants. I need to upgrade my nightwear as it's getting a bit grungy and worn out BUT... it would also make a lovely version of Marcy's Vogue 8876 dress similar to one of the views.

There was just over two meters of this denim-ish colored linen for $2.00 per meter. It has a rougher feel that I thought might have been wool only it didn't smell like wool when wet and it's heavier, like upholstery grade. It washed up nicely and with a lining would make a fabulous coat - say a shorter version of the Vogue 8346 that I sewed in June. View A takes 2.30 meters so I may just have enough.

This is a mesh knit... in the bargain center... for $4.00 per meter... which is amazing for such an "in" fabric. I bought three meters although I intend to give some to two friends who are working on t-shirts.

I only sew for other people when I want to and only for people who are very special to me. My daughter lost sixty pounds over her pregnancy so none of her before the baby clothes fit her and she's having a difficult time finding clothing. Her wardrobe makes mine look substantial and - if you remember - it isn't so I'm going to fine tune some patterns for her, sew a selection of garments, and give her the adapted patterns so she can sew for herself.

A few years ago when I started back into sewing fashions, I had a week at home alone that I wanted to maximize making myself some clothes. My serger had just been in for a tune-up because the thread kept snapping and breaking. I was excited about my week only when I sat down to sew, I serged a few inches, the thread snapped, it broke, and I stood up, went to the store, and bought a new serger. 

While I was in Oregon, I left the old serger at the shop to see what was wrong with it. They sewed on it for the week and when I returned, they said nothing was wrong and encouraged me to try stitching right there and then. I did. The thread did not snap. The serger sewed great. As I finished experimenting, one of the sales women reached across, cut off the thread, and said she needed it and for some reason that "clicked" with me. At that time, I had been using old thread - thread that was in the range of 15-20 years since that was how long it had been since I'd sewn any amount of clothing - and perhaps my problem had been old thread. If so, that was six hundred and fifty dollar thread - VBG. I sewed on the old serger for two weeks prior to going to my daughters with no snapping thread so...

... I took the new one with me to give to her. It has differential feed and the older one doesn't and it seemed she should start out with the better machine. If she doesn't like it or use it, she'll return it but hopefully, a new sewing machine, a slightly used serger, and a set of good tools along with some adapted to fit you patterns will help her get into sewing. It'll certainly lower the frustration levels and she's very capable. The romper she sewed for her son is near to perfect and that's without sewing in the past twelve years SO... I'm viewing this from the "teach a woman to fish" perspective.

When I talked to her yesterday, she said she doesn't want "normal" t-shirts. She wants details. I went through my pattern collection to see what I have in her size. I'll start with New Look 6735 which is my T & T pattern to get a basic t-shirt I can adjust the fit from. That's essential for moving forward and can be morphed quite easily into a version of Vogue 8390. I came home with a list of measurements so whatever we start with is going to fit way better than RTW. This is good.

I'm debating Vogue 8817 - both versions - because it's incredibly flattering on me and we have similar figure types and Vogue 8691 without the ruffle for the same reason. Vogue 8856 is also a possibility. If she likes these three. Our sizes are in the same package so I'm going to order Vogue 8906 and Vogue 8651 which I think have potential for both of us.

Do you ever wonder about how things would have turned out if you'd taken a different path? We can't. Life's not like that and if we had, there are many good things on our own path that we would have missed... BUT... one of the things I often think about is how much decisions impact my children's lives. I'm excited that my daughter is talking about sewing. If she decides to sew, I think she'll be amazing. I wonder how sewing will change the way she views clothes and dressing. Right now, it's a struggle to find flattering clothes in her size and she tends to give up and make do. What if she learns to sew clothes that fit and flatter?

Clothes have such an impact on how we feel about ourselves and on how others see us. How would my daughter's life have been different, if I'd sewn for her all along instead of detouring into textile art and how could her life be different if she takes this "sewing" path? These are questions that can't be answered and I find them fascinating none-the-less.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - yesterday, seven of the windows along the back of our house were replaced due to broken seals. The street noise is noticeably less, more like what we expected when we moved in. YES YES!