Friday, July 25, 2014

Away A Week & The Unfinished Dress

The dress is mostly but not quite finished. All the pieces are together. What's left is the binding around the armholes and neck and the false placket at the front HOWEVER... I'm not in a rush to finish it because I've decided it's just a little too different from my usual style to wear to a party. I'm not quite comfortable in it so I'll finish it for around home and see if it starts to feel more comfortable before I sew the pattern again. Howard says it doesn't make you look bad. Hmm... is that man talk for a compliment or... ?

Before I sew it again, I need to fine tune the pattern pieces. With the underdress, I merged over three sizes from the waist to the hemline. With the upper dress pieces, I knew the underarm and the hem were correct and I merged that line just before sewing the side seam. It...

... turned out just fine but for next time, I'd prefer to fix it first. I love when a pattern is clean and trued and I can just cut, sew, and thoroughly enjoy the rhythm of putting the pieces together.

Even with a smooth fit through the sides, I can take the dress on and off over my head without needing an opening so I plan to baste the placket opening to the under dress and then sew a false placket on top wrapping it over the neck binding and around to the back to give a tab look.

Here's how the front looks unfinished. I'm disappointed that the angles on the skirt aren't more obvious. Perhaps it's the striped look of the fabric influencing the affect, but they look more like a mistake than a design element on my dress as compared to the pattern envelope. Next time, I'd be tempted to make the angle more obvious and...

... I'd lower the elastic shirring closer to my actual waist. It feels annoying up this high - so annoying that I might actually...

... lower it on this dress once I finish everything else and see how I feel about it. Right now, it's only OK, not fabulous... which leaves room for improvement... and this is good.

Howard is working until noon tomorrow and then we're off to our friend's retirement party about three hours away, spending the night, and returning Sunday. While I'm gone, my house is going to fill up with young men and next week the guys are away on their annual trip to Creationfest and I am taking a sewcation to work on some new ideas. I won't be blogging. I'll be sleeping in, moving slow, and doing whatever I want to do. I will be back the week after.

Today, it's blog, run, breakfast out with my other Dad, journal, and a few errands and then I'll clean my studio, tidy things up, touch my stash, look at all the notions and embellishments, bits and pieces that are stored here, there, and everywhere, decide what stays and what goes, pull out what I want to work on next, and get ready for my sewcation. YES YES. I'm really looking forward to playing.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the learning and encouragement of experimentation

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Something For The Blog

Apparently, there were storm warnings on the radio all yesterday morning only I don't listen to the radio so didn't hear them although I wasn't totally unprepared when it arrived because my husband phoned around noon to let me know that the storm was about an hour out of town and heading our way however...

... there's lots of rain and then there's LOTS of rain. The street above is very close to where I used to live and the intersection below is a key one for people making their way up and down that main road.

It was completely flooded for a long ways down the hill and there's not really any way to turn around unless the guy at the back starts backing up and away and you all turn one by one. Hmm... not likely to happen.

This area is across the valley from me, where my friend used to live. She's away on holiday and saw the flooding on Facebook and called from Quebec to see if I was okay. After her call, I looked up the images on-line. It's amazing how quickly rain can accumulate. The storm only lasted twenty-five minutes. A river ran by my place and it looked like a waterfall was coming off the roof but we didn't have any pooling like this. It all kept running downhill from here.

I was out most of yesterday morning and only got to altering the pattern - Butterick 5881 - after lunch. I was determined to finish something for the blog so I started sewing with the underdress and bottom layer. To make sure I'd have enough of the main - raspberry - rayon batik fabric, I used another lightweight stripe for the underdress.

I'm changing the instructions somewhat eliminating the little slit openings, substituting an ornamental placket at the front for the functioning one, and adding binding at the neck and armhole edges instead of sewing the neck and armhole seams right sides together and flipping the underdress to the inside. That way - with binding - I'll make sure that the visible edge is entirely in the batik although I may look for a contrast fabric before I commit to that - possibly a black silk dupioni that would showcase top-stitching and buttons.

The underdress is basically a slip. I pressed the side and shoulder sleeves toward the front so they'd be in the opposite direction of the seams on the fashion layer and planned to place the layers seams together instead of both to the inside. Except for the bottom. Just in case that seam would be visible in the wind or with sitting, I sewed it seam toward the inside.

Today is a mostly at home day. I'm hoping to get a lot more done on the dress.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - safe and dry

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater or lesser persons than yourself. 
- Max Ehemann

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Signals And The T & T

On Friday, ParisGrrl posted a comment to Imaginary Sewing along with a link to a top that she thought I might enjoy. I did. I also enjoyed the website - Signals - since it was new to me and had more than one garment I liked.

What I found really interesting was the combination of Signals and the T & T top. The garment above is the one linked to.

Can you see how it has similar lines to Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8691 - a pattern I've sewn numerous times. In fact, I was wearing a version of it in the picture with my grandson in yesterday's posting.

While the tops in this posting are not identical, you can see how they - and others at the website - could be developed from the same pattern. I've sewn Katherine's pattern as a t-shirt, a dress, and a cardigan and there are plenty of variations that could be developed using it as is without changing the seam lines and a lot more variations with a few seam line changes.

The top above eliminates the princess seam on one side while maintaining it on the other, uses exposed serged seams, grey scale fabrics, visual texture, and ruffling along the sleeve hem. It has variety in color and both visual and tactile texture.

This version also uses a variety of fabrics and exposed seams and yet it's a completely different arrangement of seams that could still be developed from the same pattern.

Here's a cardigan version using dots and stripes and "dot" buttons coupled with the high-low hem that's so popular right now. You don't have to like anything about it - although I do - to get ideas for simpler seams, brighter prints, accent fabrics, and pocket details.

Mimicking this mix of blue prints might be a place to start. I don't find this piece entirely balanced. I'd be inclined to add a bit of the darker blue to the opposite side, perhaps on the sleeve or at the shoulder. That's one of the fun aspects of color and/or print blocking - playing with what goes where and how that looks.

These medium to dark prints work together to calm a busier piece. If I were going to use Katherine's pattern to sew something similar, I'd start by breaking up the existing pattern sections and then in a second or third version begin combining those sections in new ways. Becoming very familiar with how your T & T pattern goes together and it's inherent possibilities is one of key aspects to using it as a design tool.

With raglan sleeves, this is not the same pattern but it shows how simple details like the unusual buttons and highlighting the seams can make a one fabric garment visually interesting. Turning Katherine's pattern into a cardigan by adding a button opening at center front and then highlighting the seams in a similar manner would create a calm, simple and simply fantastic piece.

Go a step further and add a collar and some pockets and you have this light jacket. Isn't that amazing? Do you see how developing a T & T pattern can open up a whole world of possibilities? Check out the Signals website for even more ideas.

Do you have - or are you developing - T & T patterns? If not, I hope this posting inspires you to think about it. Looking at all these variations just made me want to play.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - sewing time today

When we shift our inner statement from "I'd love to" to "I'm going to," we shift out of victim and into adventurer. 
- Julia Cameron

Monday, July 21, 2014

Playing With Baby

My house looks like a very small hurricane with a tremendous whirl has blown through. The chairs are on their sides so he can't climb up and fall over. The cupboards are elastic banded together. There's a baby gate across the hallway between the kitchen and the pantry which means a lot of jumping over and back. And all the lamps and ornaments are stored in our bedroom with the door closed. And it's...

... wonderful. We're enjoying having our daughter and grandson here and have spent a lot of time playing with baby. I cleaned out the potato bin and found him a low box so he'd have things to climb in and out of along with boats for the bathtubs, blocks, stacking shapes, and other toys. His favourites? The bin. The box. The pastry brush. And a water bottle one quarter full that makes bubbling shakes. Too fun.

There's something special about seeing the bond between your children and their children. Daimon is very much in a where's my Mommy stage although he didn't play strange at all. He just wants to know where she is and once he does, he's off to explore again. I couldn't begin to count the number of times he's toddled around the island in the kitchen.

Here we were playing with the self timer trying to get a picture of the two of us while Jessica made an amazing bacon wrapped meat loaf for dinner. I don't think it's the best shot of either of us but it did make us giggle and that's good.

Tomorrow afternoon, they're heading back home. I imagine I'll tidy up the living room, put away the toys, and crash on the coach and hopefully get to sewing in the evening or on Wednesday. I still haven't altered the rest of the Butterick dress pattern. There's been no time, I've been busy snuggling BUT we're going to a retirement party on the weekend and I'm going to try and finish it for then.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - baby snuggles

Friday, July 18, 2014

Imaginary Sewing

Yesterday, I cleaned house, went to two grocery stores, put away all that food, picked up baby proofing things at WalMart, and took my son to Michaels to get some hardboard for painting - because he wants to - paint that is - and I will - of course - enable art. The only kind of sewing I did was...

... imaginary. Above is the fabric I'm contemplating for the Butterick 5881 dress. The print runs selvage to selvage. It's 20" high with a 10" plain gap between and very lightweight - a cotton voile. I wouldn't want the print to be obvious or all over so I'm still debating if I'll use the fabric and how to break it up. In the end, I may not use it but for now, it's top of the list.

Libby asked yesterday about the full bust adjustment. The resource I use over and over is Fit For Real People. Above is the page with the information on altering no dart fronts like the underdress. If you don't have this book, I highly recommend it.

I didn't sew but I did buy fabric. The guest room is at the front of our house and has a big bay window that gets a lot of lovely light which the mini-blinds do very little to block, definitely not enough for a toddler to nap so...

... I bought some blackout drapery fabric regular $18.00 per meter and conveniently on sale for $7.00 and I'll cut a strip to fit each window, tape a pocket until I have time to sew it, and hang them up with a tension rod which fits behind, between the mini blinds and the window. That should do the trick.

This cartoon made me laugh. A month ago, I had my annual physical which include blood tests which I put off until just recently because I didn't want to hear what they might say. I needed to think it through on my own first and make the choices I wanted to make as opposed to someone telling me what to do and I needed to deal with the fact that the stress of the mess of the rest of my life is having an impact on my health. Frustrating or not, what is, is and now I get to choose how I want to act.

The doctor's office hasn't called yet but I know what the possibilities are and they're not pretty so I'm upping my treadmill time from 30 - 45 minutes, committing to for sure run five days a week with no excuses, and making some changes to my eating habits. Every time I see something best avoided, I remind myself that I'd much rather have my eyesight. LOL - how's that for a scare tactic. Too funny. Whatever works. SO... we'll see how this affects sewing. Should be interesting.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - having choices

Charity begins at home is not a bromide. It is a direction. It means start with being nice to yourself, your authentic self, then try being nice to everyone else. When we undervalue ourselves, we literally bury ourselves in lives not our own. Meeting the expectations of others, we may misplace our own values. Violating our true selves, we soon feel worthless and undeserving. As an artist, being nice is not nearly as important as being authentic. When we are what we truly are and say what we truly mean, we stop shouldering the responsibility for everyone else's shortfalls and become accountable to ourselves. When we do, astonishing shifts occur. We become aligned with our true higher power, and creative grace flows freely. When we stop playing God, God can play through us. 

- Julia Cameron, The Artists Way Every Day. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Just Because It Fits

My daughter and grandson are coming for a visit tomorrow till Tuesday so today - before I do anything else - is a day of cleaning and shopping and baby proofing the house since he is now walking and exploring further than the mat you sat him on. Fun but a bit more work.

And then - when everything is clean and ready - I'll do some more work on Butterick 5881. One of the great things about this pattern is the underdress. There are nineteen pieces for the entire dress, two of which are the front and back of the underdress. These can be sewn as a muslin and fitted before doing a lot of work to the other pieces.

Another great thing is the shaping through the back. It works well for a small back waist, and high hips. See how the dress fits smoothly over the model's back with no gaping under the arm. That's an important aspect to achieve especially if you want to avoid the tent look. Quite a few of the reviews talk about having to take the side seam in. To me, that means they sewed the wrong size which affects numerous other aspects.

Here's what happened when I cut the size that suggested for my bust. Not only is the armhole far too low, there's way too much ease. Below...

... I pinned in a one inch tuck on each side which removed four inches of ease and reduced the bodice two sizes. Tracing the smaller size will raise the armhole and neckline BUT... just because it fits... doesn't mean a full bust adjustment isn't required. See those diagonal lines coming from the bust point to the hip. That means a full bust adjustment so...

... I went down two sizes in the bodice, merged that line to the original hip size, and added a one inch full bust adjustment. Above you can see how the bodice hugs the underarm better and the diagonal lines are now gone. I will raise the armhole even more and then make the adjustments to the rest of the pieces and decide on the fabric. Sewing two muslins first was well worth the work. It didn't take very long and now I'm confident that the dress has the best opportunity of looking good on me.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - an underdress to muslin

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Sharon and I had a wonderful day of shopping in Kelowna. By the time we got back home again, we'd been gone thirteen hours. We were heading out of Kelowna toward home, intending to have dinner in Vernon and then carry on to Kamloops, only there was an accident so we detoured around that only to end up about five kilometers up the road in another long line-up at another accident. Thankfully one of the drivers at the front of the line made a sign and held it up as he turned around and went back to Kelowna - 2 to 3 hour wait. We turned around too, had dinner in West Kelowna, and went home the other way.

I wore the Trio pants with the Katherine top and they were really comfortable. I even got an unsolicitation from one of the sales ladies in a lovely shop called Bellisima. She was gorgeously dressed which made the compliment even more meaningful.

The outfit was an experiment. With it, I tried wearing more ease, wearing a woven top, and going sleeveless. We can get in a rut of always sewing/wearing the same things. It's hard to break out. You have to try on clothes you don't think you'll look good in to see how they actually do look and make you feel.

The short hemline allows us to see that I actually do have a smaller waist under there but the triangle shape of the top accents my own triangle shape. It might be better if the detail of the top were higher up around the neck and I can definitely see a point for sleeves besides covering the arms. They add width to narrow shoulders. I'll...

... try the jacket version of this pattern next time, perhaps with a slimmer pant or skirt. I'm also experimenting with balance between more fitted and less fitted garments and the illusions they create. What you pair together can make you look slimmer or heavier depending and when the width is too similar - like the picture of the jacket with the jeans in Friday's post - it gives the impression of less shape than I really have because it's all relatively the same width like I'm a tube. It's all fun but I do have to be daring and step away from what I know works really well to find some new looks. What new look have you tried lately?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a fun and safe trip

Our attitudes are formed by our experiences and how we chose to react to them. Therefore as long as we live, we are forming, changing, or reinforcing attitudes. 
- John Maxwell

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From The Frying Pan To The Fire Perhaps ? ? ?

The top is finished. I threw it in the wash last night to remove the chalk lines, hung it up to dry, and will give it a quick press this morning and wear it on a road trip to Kelowna (two and a half hours) today with my friend Sharon. We're celebrating our birthdays. Mine was early June and her's was this past Saturday. I've decided not to buy birthday gifts for my friends any more. We're at an age where we can get ourselves what we want when we want it so instead, we'll make a memory. I think that's a great idea.

On Saturday, I sewed another pair of The Sewing Workshop's Trio pants, this time in a black and blue print. They turned out fabulously. I'll ask Sharon to take some pictures today - hopefully - for tomorrow's posting.

A friend was telling me that she'd sewn the Origami skirt and that it was fascinating how it came together. I'd already been looking at it on The Sewing Workshop's website so I ordered it along with...

... the Tosca dress. I love the hem and the neck lines but not so much those pockets on the hips and I'm not sure if there's enough shaping or if I'd need to add more through the waist but I'm willing to give it a try. I also ordered...

... the Urban T-shirt & Pants for the pants. I'm very interested in pants with seam details and fuller legs. The jeans I showed the other day were made using a trouser style pattern. I'm far more comfortable in them than in slimmer looks. Speaking of which, I noted that there was not a single comment about the jacket or jeans. If there's something I need to know - like they don't do me any favours - please do me the favour of letting me know. That's what a friend does. AND...

... then... back to speaking of pants, I put Marcy Tilton's new pattern - Vogue 9035 - on my wish list. Both the jacket and the pants have fabulous lines.

Lynn Mizono has come out with another amazing dress. I might like this one better than the one in my header. Look at the hourglass shape it creates even with all that fullness. It's Vogue 1410.

Vogue 1408 by Donna Karan New York has multiple seams and a wonderful play on textures. One of my favourite Marcy dresses - Vogue 8876 - has very similar shaping through the waist and I love wearing it - it makes me feel slim - so I definitely want to give this one a try.

The line drawing of the Vogue 9037 jacket shows some soft shaping, an on shoulder point, and an interesting hemline. The wider collar is flattering to my narrow shoulders and three quarter sleeves are my favourite. This has potential although I'm not sure about the belt. Maybe not.

What a beautiful little girl's coat. It has similar lines to the one I normally work with and lots of potential for future little girl twirl coats and dresses. A good child's pattern can be hard to come by so I definitely want this one.

The three patterns from The Sewing Workshop are on order and should be here shortly. I'll wait on these other ones from Vogue until there's another pattern sale since there's no rush as - LOL - I have lots of patterns already. Last night, I started on Katherine Tilton's Butterick 5881. Instead of fifteen pieces cut single layer, this one has nineteen pieces cut single layer. From frying pan to fire perhaps ? ? ?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - celebrations

To awaken our sense of wonder - a necessary ingredient in all creativity - we must be willing to be childlike. Christ told us that in order to have faith, we must "become as little children." Since creativity is a matter of faith, becoming childlike can help us in our creative endeavors. We must learn to explore with openness and curiosity. 
- Julia Cameron

Monday, July 14, 2014

I Would Do That Differently

Back in the early days of the resurgence of quilt making, there was a strong debate about whether machine quilted quilts were "authentic". Some firmly believed that only hand quilting really counted. And then - once machine quilting became more readily accepted - there followed the debate about whether art quilts were quilts or whether art quilts were art. It seemed that traditional quilters held one opinion while the art community held another with the result that a whole lot of textile artists struggled to find the right word to not only describe what they did but to have their work taken seriously. That's how I ended up mounting my pieces on gallery wrapped canvasses and describing myself as an artist who made contemporary abstract paintings from fabric.

Although I can't remember where, I recently read a very strong opinion on serging. The writer was quite emphatic that serging was not a professional finish. Her opinion reminded me of the hand and machine, art or not, debates and I wondered why did it matter. Most of us are not trying to be professional seamstresses. We are trying to produce garments that we ourselves will wear and that are as carefully crafted as we are able to make them with our current set of skills. As we improve our abilities, our output will improve also. That seems good and enough without expectations around professionalism. Do good work works for me.

As egotistical as it might sound, over the past month I have been keeping track of compliments received about my work. Two stand out - that my work is impeccable and that I have an eye for aesthetics. Both were a wonderful boost to my artistic soul and neither person commented on my serged seams. Considering that no one else is going to be climbing inside my clothes and that I'm not trying to garner points for posterity, it seems that neatly serged with good craftsmanship, interesting architecture, and fine details is - at least for me - the better choice. That said, I've had people more than willing to take my serged products. Apparently, they are also professional enough.

This weekend, I started working on Katherine Tilton's Butterick 5891, the sleeveless top with fifteen pattern piece, cut single layer. It took much longer than normal to trace, much longer than normal to alter, and much longer than normal to layout and cut. And that's okay. There's no rush. Just a lot of fun.

If you read the reviews, there's a mixed reaction from highly recommend to recommend with modifications. Several reviewers did not recommend the pattern for beginners. I agree in that I wouldn't recommend it for someone just starting to sew but I disagree in that I would highly recommend it for a confident beginner wanting to move to the next level. It will challenge you to think through what you want to do. Several times I thought I would do that differently. I changed some of the instructions as I went and now that I've sewn it once would do a few other things differently. I'll most likely will sew it again simply to try out those possibilities.

Whether or not you think this style would suit your body type, consider sewing the pattern. It's a fabulous learning, growing, stretching piece and I am sure you will learn a lot and have a huge sense of satisfaction when you're finished. Don't worry about whether it'll fit you. In fact, why not sew a different size so it's not even a consideration. Just enjoy the process, the evaluation, the thinking through, the contemplating, the opportunity for creativity, the outcome, and the learning. It'll be an interesting process.

And be yourself. Do what you want to do and don't worry about what other people might think. That's how you learn and how you find your own uniqueness. The image above shows the back of the top with a beautifully matched print along the off center back seam that merges the dots between two alternating fabrics. If I had a fabric like this, I would carefully match the dots too because the match shows up the seam and the seam is one of the fabulous architectural details. However...

... I don't have that fabric so I chose instead to not match the seam so that - in a different way - it would be visible. I will match a pattern when I think it's important but for the most part I choose busy patterns and don't match because I like the break in a pattern that highlights the seam lines and the way lines are interrupted and new lines are formed. This blue dotted version is my wearable muslin. I'll sew it, wear it, see what I think and how I feel and based on that quite possibly make the jacket. I have a striped linen in stash that would be excellent.

Although I do like and do plan to wear this top, I've come to accept that not every pattern I sew has to be a garment I would wear. I want to enjoy the process of sewing. I want to experiment with new to me concepts and find out what there is in that experience that could be taken forward into the next and the next garment. In-between other basic garments, I'm exploring patterns like Katherine's with lots of architectural detail and I'm learning what I like, what feels like me, and what looks good on me. And in the process, more of me is emerging. I'm finding my voice.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a positive attitude

The people whose attitude causes them to approach life from an entirely positive perspective are not always understood. They  have limitations in life. Their gifts are not so plentiful that they cannot fail. But they are determined to walk to the very edge of their potential or the potential of a project before they accept a defeat. 
- John Maxwell