Friday, January 30, 2015

More To Do Than Day

The pants are not quite done. They need elastic which I'm probably inserting right now. There just weren't enough hours in yesterday to get back to finishing them. There was more to do than day which I much prefer to more day than do.


As soon as the elastic is in, I'll start working on Butterick 5891. The pattern is for a sleeveless top or a jacket. I need to reread my earlier posting - I would do that differently - to remind myself of what Iactually intended to do differently the next time I sewed it. I'm pretty sure it had to do with how the peplum was sewn on. Other than that, I'll be adding sleeves.

You can see from the line drawing that the jacket has french seams and sleeves and the sleeveless top has asymmetrical piecing in the back and a peplum. I intend to put the jacket sleeves on the top. I think it'll work great although I also intend to make the jacket another time.

I re-read the reviews and came across this new posting of the jacket sewn by Domestic Deb. It is FANTASTIC and I hope she won't mind me using the picture since it was well after ten last night when I wrote this post and I didn't have time to ask. I'm not making the jacket but I am inspired by the piecing she used to...

... perk up my fabric selection. In the picture above, the print and the solid black were going to be for the top and the grey is for the pants. In this next picture...

... I've put together a different collection of fabrics that added some color. I think this combination has a lot more energy than the earlier mix and I want a lot more energy in my top. We'll see how it actually turns out. If I'm remembering correctly, there are a lot of pieces but it's a relatively easy sew. Hopefully I'll have both it and the pants to show on Monday.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - yesterday was my other mother's birthday and today is my friend's birthday. They are both wonderful women that I'm lucky to have in my life.

The higher your energy level the more efficient your body. The more efficient your body, the better you feel and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results. 
- Anthony Robbins

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Shape Embracing

At the end of the day you have to ask yourself: Of the many different lives that can be lived, which is the one that's going to inspire you? - Angela Bassett

Years ago, when I was still creating textile art, I took a rectangular piece that I no longer wanted as a centerpiece on my dining room table and cut it into twelve equal parts that then became the front and backs of six different purses. At the start, I could pursue six of the step one ideas that occurred to me but after that, I could only explore one each of the step two or step three or step four ideas for each of the purses. Each idea taken was a journey explored.

When I read Angela's quote, it made me think of the purses. Her thought echoed my learning. Making those purses opened my eyes to the many Many MANY ideas in my life that go unexplored.  They are not necessarily wrong; they are simply ideas that don't inspire me as much as the ones that do get followed. Life is like that. We cannot do anything. We must choose... wisely... as wisely as we can.

Tuesday morning, I had coffee with a woman I first meet eighteen years ago when she was moving to town under difficult circumstances. We hadn't talked since.  I recognized her Monday morning at Starbucks and just to make sure I had the same woman, I asked if she'd been a model and did she have twins. She was surprised - rather stunned - and extremely excited. It seems that I was the only person who could complete a circle in her life and it meant a great deal to her to talk to me and to close that circle. We arranged to have coffee the next morning.

While I was walking that morning, I thought about what to wear. This woman is very beautiful and has a vivacious and outgoing personality. She exudes confidence. At first, I thought I wanted to look good and then I realized that more than anything, I wanted to feel good. I wore an emotionally flattering outfit.

We had a long conversation that went in many interesting directions including - at one point - modeling. As you know, I've been wanting to take a modeling course to feel more comfortable taking pictures for the blog. In the end, I concluded that being comfortable in front of the camera has a line much the same as looking good and feeling good. While someone may be able to tell me about lighting and photography angles and make-up and my best poses, no one - other than myself  - will be able to feel comfortable in front of the camera. That's an inside out job.

Isn't that the same with dressing our bodies - with achieving that beautiful blend of emotional and physical fit? The picture above came from this page on The Skinny Confidential that talks about transforming your body type through exercise. For the pear shape - my shape - it suggest jumping jacks, dips, fast walking no incline, biking, jumping rope, push-ups and/or pull-ups and to avoid squats, lunges, leg presses, sprinting, swimming, kick-boxing, and/or all elliptical machines. Hmm...when I think of all the different lives that I could live, the one that inspires me the most does not include shape shifting. It's beyond looking good and into feeling good. It's all about shape embracing.

Yesterday, I finished all the hand stitching on the seams and tucks of the pants I'm making. With all the changes I've made to the pattern, I've decided they are more original than not and will hereafter be referred to as The Myrna Pants. I've been patting and admiring them so much that it's taking me even longer to finish them. This seems to be the perfect blend of fabric and pattern and detail. I hope so. I can hardly wait to put the waistband on and try them on. Wear them. Feel emotionally fabulous in them. YES YES ! ! !

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - reality checks

A renewed understanding of my own dignity and human limits enabled me to place loving boundaries around myself. I soon realized this was central to offering a sincere and genuine gift of love to others. Like God's love, it must be free. And the extent to which I valued and loved myself was the extent to which I was capable of loving others well. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hand Sewing Running Stitches

Yesterday ended up a lot busier than I thought. Iit was well after two o'clock before I got back to the studio to write this post and much later before I was able to start working again which means...

... that this morning I am mostly likely hand sewing running stitches. In the end, I chose The Sewing Workshop's Trio Pant pattern because I'd already traced and adjusted the pattern and knew that it fit me although with all the changes I've made, it's not much like the original. Previously, I'd eliminated the big pockets, slimmed down the ease, and added some tucks at the side hem and this time I also lengthened the pant legs to full length and added an additional seam to the front. I wanted to create strong vertical lines with seams. At first, I planned to use top-stitching to make the seams stand out and made several samples only none of them were strong enough so I tried running stitches with black pearl cotton and - LOL - naturally that's the one. Me - who isn't the fondest of hand work.

To sew the seams, I started by trimming off 1/8" while serge finishing the edges and then stitched at 1/2" and pressed the seam allowances open. I'll sew the running stitch from the wrong side stitching directly beside the serged finish which will keep it equal distance from the seam line. There are two sides of six seams - or twelve lines in total - to hand stitch. I could be at this for a while.

While I'm working on this first Sew Expo outfit, I'm thinking about the other two I'll need. One will be sewn using a paisley printed denim that I bought two years ago at an earlier event. The gold color is an orange tone and the complimentary color of that is...

... turquoise. Including the compliment, will make the design of the paisley sparkle and stand out even more. The plan is to to sew the paisley denim into a pair of Burda 8157 jeans and pair it with a simple t-shirt and a softly draping turquoise scarf. Several of the women at knitting have made the...

... Noel scarf by Paulina Popiolek. It's quite lovely with the combination of garter and eyelet stitches and the picot edge. I haven't decided what color the t-shirt will be. That's for later. First the pants and top I'm on and then the paisley jeans and scarf first and from there I can decide what they need. It suddenly feels like I need to get a move on it - Sew Expo is only a month away.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - peaceful morning walks

If you do what you love to do, then you won't do it in an average way. 
- Angela Bassett

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Outfit With Energy

Yesterday marked the beginning of the second week of my new routine. So far, it's working great. The early morning studio time is starting my day out just right and I'm learning to make appointments after lunch and keep the mornings free for me. And, I'm enjoying early morning walks without too much effort in the clothing department followed by dressing for the day. This is good. It...

... renews my enthusiasm for making creative clothing. I was slipping back into the jeans and a black t-shirt uniform-ish-look with far too much frequency. I prefer playing with what I wear which is...

... exactly what I did yesterday. Along with designing t-shirt possibilities, another assignment - from Diane - was to take the photo of me in that outfit with energy as she calls it - the one shown bottom right in the image below - and lengthen the top into a dress. I did that by cutting apart the sections of the line drawing, spacing them appropriately on the paper doll me, and filling in the missing pieces. The resulting dress could be fun to sew... especially for summer... maybe as part of my cruise collection.

While I recognize that knee length is perhaps my best length of skirt - and I really appreciate all the feedback on that topic - the bottom line is that knee length cannot be the only length I wear. I like more variety than that and really like the trumpet shape above left as well as a long pencil skirt. On the weekend, I researched dressing the pear shape both from the minimizing and the showing off your curves perspectives. Trumpet and pencil are on those lists so they're staying on mine. Figure flattering and emotionally successful dressing is in great part about what you pair together as we discussed with the 1/3 - 2/3 or 2/5 - 3/5 ratios. I'll be focusing on those ratios and on the prefect shoe. I can see it too makes a difference. Above - left to right - are the Burda OOP 8213 skirt, the Burda OOP 8157 pants, and the Butterick 5891 top with The Sewing Workshop's Trio Pants. I'm playing with these shapes right now. Today is...

... pant day. I have twelve line drawings of the Burda pants to fill in with a variety of designs, some hopefully asymmetric. The original image was taken slightly downward making me look a little more hip heavy than I am. That's okay. If I can flatter this image, I can flatter reality. Later on, I'll explore what height the tripod should be set at for the best image and measure that height so I can duplicate it easily.


I've sewn four Vogue 9057, view A, tops,  The first was the pink pajama version and the second was the white and paisley version. These were the same fabric, different colorways, and I really like both of them. The third was a turquoise polyester rayon blend and it's okay. The fourth I hate. It won't get worn.  It was sewn from a 1 x 1 cotton knit rib and feels really thick on, not flattering. I'm sure there's a better use for that fabric. I'm done with t-shirts for now - at least until my Marcy order comes. I'm moving on to woven garments starting with...

... my first outfit for Sew Expo using the black, white, and grey combo above. The print will be the Butterick 5891 top with sleeves - as opposed to the jacket shown on the pattern envelope. The black is for adding details to the top. Both are cotton. The grey heavy linen is for pants, either the Trio Pants shown above or the Urban Pants. Right now, I'm leaning toward the Urban Pants for the front seam detail although that's easily added to the other pair which is already traced, sized, and read to sew. Hmm... we'll see what happens.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - twelve t-shirt designs

If you transfer even an hour a day from an activity you hate to one you like, you should see a significant improvement in your happiness.
- David Schkade

Monday, January 26, 2015

Paper Doll Me

My asymmetrical garment assignment is due next Monday so this week I plan to focus on a few simple shapes that I feel good in and explore different ways to interpret them. This takes my previous posting - Play With The Lines That Work For You - forward in a real and useful way.

I'm playing paper dolls with eight 10" high versions of myself - front and back with one arm out and one hand on my hip, front and back with both hands on my hips, front and back with both arms out, and side views with my arm down and my arm out. As I wrote Diane, I realize your role is to help me see myself more clearly but this is perhaps TOO MUCH INFORMATION and yet...

... it's also interesting info if you want to dress the real you in such flattering ways that the fine details of what's underneath are basically irrelevant. Sound good. Looking at the pictures, I learned a lot about my body in a far more non-biased way than looking in the mirror or even at a "dressed" photograph. The paper dolls removed a some of the emotion and focused me on the dressing my best task.

I started by taking pictures with the camera placed at hip level and pointed straight toward my body. Placing a mark on the floor for my feet helped to ensure that the images would be taken from relatively the same position. Standing against a light colored wall helped to define my shape. The images were cropped tightly from head to food and scaled to a height of 10" and then printed in grey scale before gluing to a file folder to create eight versions of paper doll me. All that helped to remove bias. When I cut them out, I resisted the opportunity to - LOL - perform liposuction.

Here's how it's going to work... I think... I've never done anything like this before. I took a picture of the line drawing of view C from Vogue 9057 and scaled it to equal the width of my paper doll shoulders and then printed that image. Placing the printout on the paper doll, it was immediately obvious that it was too narrow in the hips so I slide and shuffled the drawing - in much the same way I do my patterns - to match my shoulder width and my hip width. The resulting...

... top was - IMHO - too long so I folded it up to a length that I think looks better on my body. You can see that this was a substantial fold and that it created a lot more width at the waist than would be necessary or flattering.

In this image, I've shaped the top closer to my body. Try to ignore the strong white fold line and just focus on the outside edges. Normally that line wouldn't be there and it's certainly not a line I'd want to incorporate. If anything, it confirms that the better choice is as few horizontal lines as possible. LOL - at least it's at a skinny part.

At first, this assignment seemed huge and overwhelming particularly because - as I've said before - my drawing skills are more stick person than fashion friendly and because I don't think of myself as a fashion designer only playing with clothing is not much different - as I've also said in the past - from designing textile art. I needed to believe - and to heed - my own message. The t-shirt is a blank canvas and so is a skirt and so is a jacket and so is a pair of pants and so is... any number of endless options. As soon as I relaxed and reminded myself of this fact, the assignment started to feel like fun and I can see how playing paper dolls is going to open up a whole world of possibilities.

Yesterday, I spent a lot of time exploring on-line for ideas and today I'm going to draw out twelve t-shirt possibilities using my new favourite Vogue 9057. WHAT FUN!

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - fun with design

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows and the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.
- Audrey Hepburn

Friday, January 23, 2015

Just A Little Better Than Before

Yesterday, I wore my newest - black and white paisley - version of Vogue 9057 all day. It's very comfortable, a great pattern. I'm looking forward to trying the other views. I can see myself embracing this pattern as my new T & T. It's a bit easier to work with than my other favourite in that there's no easing along the side or need for a dart... possibly because the one place I did lose weight was on top.

The neck binding is wider on this version. I like the look. The length is the same as the previous pink pajama version. What do you think of these proportions? I might try an inch shorter and compare. THANK YOU for all the feedback yesterday on skirt and top lengths and proportions. It's wonderful having more eyes to evaluate.

I took out the extra ease I'd added in the hips by moving the edge of the tissue paper over the one inch and then drew the new line with a French curve. This was the raw edge, not the seam line. I stitched 5/8" inside of that without cutting the excess off because I wanted to see...

... if it was truly unnecessary before doing something permanent. Some of it was and some of it wasn't. In the end, I took the extra ease out of the front and left it in the back by pinning the back to the front as shown above - one inch over. This time, I trimmed away the excess to make stitching easier. Bigger in the back is not a new discovery. It's something I've worked with before on skirts and pants - typically by going down a size in the front and up a size in the back and splitting the circumference in a way that works for me.

Remember when I said that I thought the sleeve cap needed just a smidgen more height for me. It truly was a smidgen. Above, the Vogue 9057 pattern is on the top and my T & T sleeve is underneath. The cap is slightly higher on the T & T and there is more shape as you can see by the dotted red lines. The bicep is identical in width. With the...

... underarm seam, the Vogue 9057 sleeve was longer and slimmer. I placed the curve of that seam line over my T & T 3/4 length sleeve pattern and traced more shape into it. It's slight and yet the resulting sleeve is FABULOUS. Just a little better than before. I love being able to fine-tune the fit of my clothing.

I sewed the t-shirt Wednesday evening. It took just over an hour from start to finish and will make a great addition to my wardrobe. It'd take me far longer to try to find an only okay RTW version. I am SO GLAD that I sew. Over the next couple weeks - in-between other projects - I plan to sew a few more basic t-shirts like this and then move on to more adventurous knit tops.

Yesterday morning, I started work on Diane's new Ventana jacket pattern. I've heard great reviews so far. That's good. I bought the pattern after I tried on one of Diane's samples when I was in Oregon in December. It fit well and had potential... and... even so... I'm starting with a muslin because this is a great pattern to play with and I want to know it fits exactly the way I want before I start playing.

Could I have some feedback on how the double picture format is working please? I've been placing pictures side by side so you can compare what I'm talking about in the text below but if they're not showing up on your monitor that way, I'd like to know. Also I have no idea how this looks on other formats like tablets. It just might not be the best choice. Let me know. Thanks.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a week of uninterrupted hours - YES YES

Often the best gift you can give yourself is time alone - some time to ask your questions and listen quietly for answers. 
- Katrina Mayor

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Playing With Skirt Lengths

Two days of first-thing-in-the-morning sewing and it's going great. Frankly, there aren't a lot of distractions at 5:45 in the morning and that helps. As long as I leave the computer off and don't walk over there, all is good.

Good is not how I would describe my experience at Fabricland yesterday. They're currently having a buy one, get one free sale. The sign says buy one full meter or unit and get one full meter or unit for free. One is a unit of measurement. So is a half. One is a unit. A half is a unit. A unit does not mean a package.

I asked for 1 1/2 meters and 1 1/2 meters free and had the manager and the assistant manager jump all over me about how that is not what the sign said. Actually, yes it is. By the time I left the store, I felt like dirt. I bought one full meter and got one for free and they lost $8.00 of additional revenue and gained negative exposure. That is not good math by an unit of measurement..As I drove home, I wished I'd simply put down the fabric and walked out because right now, it has ugly experience written all over it and I don't even want to sew it... no matter how lovely the drape... and the colouring.

In my opinion, the manager had a fabulous opportunity to practice - and model - good public relations, especially with a regular customer who likes to sew as much as I do. She could have said that wasn't the intent of the sign and allowed my purchase anyway and I would have gone away happy - as opposed to annoyed and feeling unappreciated and undervalued - and I wouldn't be writing about my negative experience on my blog! She especially could have told her assistant manger to be quiet because one of them speaking to me in a condescending tone from the front and the other trying to talk louder from the back felt like ganging up on the customer. This is not a good thing.

I'd love to say I'll never shop there again but it's the only game in town so that won't work but I can say I'll definitely be cutting way back. It'll take an emergency notion to get me in there next. Right now, I'd rather stock up when I'm out of town and - as you know - I'm out of town frequently. I see a lot of fabric in a lot of stores and I've had some pretty amazing customer service elsewhere. The bottom line is - I'd drive further and pay more for good customer service. The customer is not the enemy; she pays your wages.

SO... rant over...

... yesterday, I sewed for my hour in the morning and then put on my exercise clothes and went for a walk. It was just before dawn so the sky was still dim and brightened as I went. By the time I got home, the sun was up meaning I couldn't hide my bed head in the dark plus I met people along the path. I didn't quite expect that, nor the light, so I'll need to look half decent before I go out but otherwise, I prefer that order because I can get dressed for the day and then go journal and not have to come home and change. Since Miss Chloe came to live with us, I've noticed myself casual-ing down my wardrobe so I can walk the dog without changing. I like dressing up. I hate changing. Walking before getting dressed up is a good solution. I'll test that for the next few days.

I spent my morning hour shortening the dress to a skirt. I cut it off at the waist, removed the lining, closed the zipper opening, turned under 3/4's of an inch, stitched 1/2" from the folded edge, and inserted 3/8" elastic. It's simple and it stays up. And then...

... I experimented with pinning up the skirt in different formations.The two above were the least ugly. They're okay but nothing special so I decided to let altering the shape simmer while I...

... contemplate some other options like a slim fitting knit top, tucked in - and isn't that a shocker - with some kind of asymmetrical, jewelry-like, belt OR...


... a wrap top. Knit or woven. Perhaps in a denim if I can find a denim that goes with the mottled blue of the knit lace. Both a knit top or using denim could help it more of a casually elegant outfit. At the same time...


... I'm playing with skirt lengths. I tend to like my skirts either just above the knees or just above the ankles. I think there may be another "sweet spot" just below the knees that I should explore. One of my favourite lengths is...


... this dress of Marcy's that I wore yesterday. I like the way the skirt is pulled in by the band and the length ends just above the knee. I also think that dresses are perhaps more figure friendly on me than skirts and that if I'm going to wear a skirt, there should be a low level of contrast between the top and the bottom to avoid creating  horizontal lines across my hips - and perhaps a curved hemline to soften.

The picture above has a shorter-than-I-usually-wear top length. The t-shirt could be far more interesting than  the basic black one above but I think the length works. What do you think? I'd appreciate your in-put.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - two days of sewing. YES YES

Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.
- Lauren Hutton

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Matchy-Matchy Pajama Set

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Marcy Tilton. Having the opportunity to study with her several times has advanced my creativity significantly which makes me fond of supporting her business and yet not all of her patterns suit my figure type. But some do. And some is enough.

Vogue 9057 is one of Marcy's newest t-shirt patterns. It contains five different options of which View A - above - is a simple basic that could easily become a T & T. The t-shirt is fitted through the torso and has a curved hemline front and back. After reading the reviews, I opted to trace a medium although I added 1" to the hemline for 4" of additional hip ease - which turned out to be unnecessary however...

... as a pajama top, it added a little extra sleeping ease so I left it. The shape of the sleeve cap caused me some concern as did the narrow back and chest. There was negative and yet with the stretch factor, it fits quite well. I may add a teeny tiny bit of height to the sleeve cap just because I think it would ever so slightly improve the fit but that's just futzing.

Here is my matchy-matchy pajama set with the Butterick 5432 pants. I think the last time I had a pj top and pj pants from the same fabric was way back in my childhood. It's matchy-matchy but it's also a good use of the fabric. If you could see the neckband up close, it's covered in visible white. I need to be aware the next time I want to buy a colour printed on white fabric. No matter how fabulous the drape, just say no.

As I mentioned yesterday, The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon is a fabulous read. It's written as an easy reading novel about a businessman with a grumpy, negative outlook on life who is in danger of losing his job and his marriage and about how he ends up riding the bus to work for two weeks and learns from the driver and the other passengers how to turn his life around using the ten rules. If you've read The Wealthy Barber, it'll remind you of that style. They ten rules are stuff we all know and stuff we can benefit from hearing again. Reading them was certainly instrumental in helping me decide to change my routine which...

... went very well on day one. I sewed. I got dressed. I journaled, I walked. And then, instead of writing a blog post which would have been next, I read blogs because it was too close to my coaching time and I didn't want to interrupt one thinking thing for another. After the call, I ran errands, did chores, made dinner, ate, and went to knitting and never did get back to sewing even though the project I was working on was interesting. When I got home from knitting, I wrote this post, watched the news, and went to bed. It was a full and busy day. How it unfolded was confirmation that I'd made the right decision - to sew for an hour first - as was the positive upbeat way I felt yesterday. An hour of sewing was like a happy shot of adrenaline - vitamin-ish.

One of the things the author talks about in The Energy Bus is the thankful walk. Basically, this is taking a walk and being aware of your surroundings and of your body and of your place in the world and being thankful for as much as you can be thankful for - as in I'm thankful I can walk and I'm thankful that I have warm clothing and I'm thankful for a beautiful, new paved walkway, and I'm thankful for the neighbors I meet along the way and I'm thankful for... and on and on it goes. A thankful walk certainly picks up your energy and your mood. I was thankful for an hour of sewing. What are you thankful for?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - compliments and coaching calls

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. 
- William Arthur Ward