The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

Fancy Funky Flower Fun

Greetings!  I am in full-on Christmas making mode, but I thought I'd take a quick break to show off a flower pin I made recently:

It is made with upholstery-weight fabric scraps that I was given by a fantastic furniture consignment store in Oak Park called Divine Consign.  The women who runs the shop has that rare combination of elegance and friendliness.  She graciously gives me the scraps from their re-upholstery projects.  I plan to make another slightly smaller flower with these same scraps to give her as a thank you gift.

Speaking of, if any of you are looking for last minute holidays gifts, I just stocked up my Etsy shop with items that didn't sell in the Western Springs pop-up store I mentioned a few weeks back.  And if you are in the Berwyn/Oak Park area, please feel free to use my free shipping code (FREESHIP) and I'll drive it over!

Seven Bags in Seven Days

It sounds like a competition, doesn't it?  If only, because now I would get some kind of prize!!  Instead, I got this on my thumb:

The little round whole in my thumb came from pinning and unpinning around a thousand pins.  I guess I must use the same part of my thumb to do that each time!

But enough about my sacrifice; here are the seven bags:

Or do I get to say that I made fourteen bags since they are all reversible?

Thus ends my largest order to date - a total of nine bags for Devon's Aunt's Christmas list.  She bought the fabric and mailed it to me (and she included extra yardage so my stash has grown!) and I got to mail a big box of handmade handbags back to her.  It was great to have so many to do because I found a new way of sewing the MaiseyBelle that saves about three hours of time per bag and I discovered some new ways to make fabric flowers, like this one:

and this:

Whew!  Not a bad week's work for a naptime/night-time worker!  I have one last order to finish up and then I'll be making five pairs of kids' pajamas, four little zipper bags, three fabric flowers, two clutches, one party dress . . . . and a partridge in a pear tree.

Style v. Fashion

One of the blogs I follow is called Advanced Style.  Ari Seth Cohen photographs and writes about stylish older men and women and he discusses Style broadly - it's not just what you wear, but how you live and how you think.  There are tons of interesting interviews that you can watch on his blog, and  he has a book coming out soon.  One of my favorite comments is from Lynn Dell, a 78-year-old boutique owner in New York:

Fashion says, "Me, too," and Style says, "Only me."

And Lynn has plenty of Style:

[Photos Ari Seth Cohen/Text Maayan Zilberman]

If you have 3 extra minutes today, watch the video of Lynn in this post

I've been thinking about style the past couple days because a good friend pointed out that she's gotten a better sense of my aesthetic from reading my blog, and that it's different than what she expected.  She summed it up this way: "It's edgier than I thought it was (your aesthetic) ... you like flowers but they're made of metal and coordinate well with tattoos."  And it was helpful to hear her say it, because while I've gotten better instinctively at recognizing what I like, I didn't have a definition for it.

The the edgy/sweet, sugar/salt combination is what I like for myself, what I feel most happy in, what makes me feel me when I'm wearing it.  Does it matter?  I used to think it didn't - that it was frivolous or shallow to try to dress well, to think about style.  But sometime in the last decade I changed my mind.  I think that bringing creative elements to each day matters.  I think that what we wear affects how we feel, how we carry ourselves, how people see us.  I think it is one of the ways that you live more fully, because it fills out who you are.  And I know I'm less likely to think about what I'm wearing and worry about what people think of me if I'm wearing something I love.

So here are some things that I love.  If I'm wearing one of these pairs of shoes, I feel great almost no matter what else I have on.  Why?  Because these shoes are me:

My husband gave me the pink/brown cowboy boot, I wore the red Fluevog
heels to my wedding, and I found the furry kitten heels in a Boden sale.

And I want to do this in my sewing/consulting work - help people create something that they love because it is uniquely personal.  And what an adventure to try to figure this out!

Door #2 v. Door #1 . . . The Dilemma

So this is the other personal project I've had on my hit list.  This one is a BurdaStyle pattern for a high-waist deep V-neck dress I found on their website.  It's not as much of a challenge as the Bombshell dress but I might be able to finish it by New Year's Eve, and then show it off.  I do love the bodice and neckline on this one.


Here's another version of it by a BurdaStyle member:

from here

I would make it with plain black wool crepe fabric on the bodice and waist, with this black/silver ruffle knit I wrote about here on the skirt.

So Door #2 certainly is tempting.  But then there's Door #1, The Bombshell (in case you missed it):
Gertie herself - see more here

I found some great fabric options for this dress today at EmmaOneSock and Gorgeous Fabrics:
Pre-Fused Brocade - Royal Purple/Peacock
Royal Purple/Peacock Brocade from Gorgeous Fabrics

French purple/turqouise jacquard from EmmaOneSock

French 3-D Graphic Jacquard Larkspur from EmmaOneSock

So do you see my dilemma?  How do I decide?  I need some help, Readers!  Which dress/fabric do you like best???  If this were you, which dress would you wear?  Comments, please!

Door #1: The Va-va-va Bombshell!

I am trying to form a plan.  This week I will be finishing up a large handbag order (I've completed 5 and I have 4 still to go by Friday), then next week I'll be working on my last skirt order for 2011 and starting on my Christmas presents.  But off in the horizon I can see some time to do one or two personal projects over Christmas and New Year's.  And I want to be ready to go (materials, fabric, patterns), so I'm trying to figure out what project(s) I'll make.

Here is Option #1: The Bombshell Dress from Gertie's Sew Retro online Crafty course.  I purchased the course when it was on sale over Thanksgiving after having my eye on it for months.  Gertie Hirsch is one of my sewing heroes and anyone interested in sewing should check out her fabulous blog, Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing.   I have a bit of a girl crush on her, so I am excited to take the class:

Gertie herself - see more here

I like this dress for obvious reasons:  it's super sexy and while it has a retro style, it's not too retro (I still ned to blog about my take on this - I like retro but not full-retro).

I would learn a ton in this class - boning, horse-hair hem lining, new lining techniques, new hand stitches, bodice fitting - so it's very tempting.  Here's some completed projects from ladies who have taken the class:


See here

Peacock version here

Alice in Wonderland - here
And here

I like the sarong style skirt best, and the halter neck (strapless dresses tend to make me look like a body builder since I have broad shoulders).  But for once I have no idea about fabric.  Shantung? Crepe? Medium-weight cotton? Linen?  They would all work because they have structure and drape without being too slippery.  I guess this means more fabric ogling to see if I see something I like!

Ooo! New Gadget!!


So I had to buy these nifty little bias tape makers this week.  That's right: I absolutely had to.  And that's because I needed to make this funky bias tape:

To go on this super cool skirt for my client Eileen:

See what I mean? 

And I'm very excited about it because just imagine the possibilities now that I'm not limited to store bought bias tape!!  With homemade bias tape I can use better quality fabric in an endless range of colors and prints.  And the best thing is that I can use this bias tape to cover piping so my piped skirts and dresses (see here) just got a whole lot more interesting!  Not to mention that it's just fun to add to my sewing gadget collection . . . .

The Good Stuff

I haven't posted anything about fabric in a while.  This might make you think I have taken a break from pouring over fabric websites.  You would be wrong.  Not only am I still at it, but I have found a whole new source: companies that buy leftover apparel fabrics from designers and then sell it to people like me (Midwestern sewists who only dream of strolling through the Garment District), giving us giddy access to an abundance of beautiful fabrics!  Dangerous stuff to a fabric addict.  I've actually started flipping quickly to a different screen when my husband comes into the room so that he can't catch me ogling fabric swatches.

Here's what I've found:

1)  The aptly named Gorgeous Fabrics.  The lady who runs this place has an interesting story, and some lovely lovely fabrics.  Here's just a taste of what you can find there:

Hawt! NY Designer Feathery Abstraction Silk Twill - Multi on Bla Sausalito Evenings Tye-Dye Rayon Challis - Blues Abstract Floral Silk Twill - Pink/Black/White

Catlin, if you are reading this, you should check on her rayon challis selections!

2) Mood Fabrics.  Yes, the Project Runway Mood Fabrics.  Yes, the store that has this beauty:

FP21399 Peacock Damask Jacquard
3) And then there's EmmaOneSock.  I do usually restrain myself to just ogling, but I just purchased these beauties from EmmaOneSock:

This one is a black on black matelasse, a fabric I had never even heard of three days ago, but my fabric guide assures me it's real.  It's like tapestry where the design is woven into the fabric instead of printed on, and the matelasse is a dress weight fabric.  Here's what EmmaOneSock says about it:

An absolutely stunning matelasse weave from a top French mill, made for a very famous designer... The design of this fabric is modern, fashion forward, and the quality SUPERB. The weave has a beautiful pointed circle graphic design with some reflective and some matte areas in a black on black. The fabric has a puckery textured surface, and is a light suiting weight with lovely drape, but also with body for tailoring. Perfect for a suit, jacket, sheath, mod tunic to wear with leggings and boots, skirt, etc. Dry cleaning recommended.

I swooned when I saw it.  And then there's this black with silver streaks ruffle knit:

Preach it, Emma:
From a well-known NY designer, this is another trendy and current version of the ruffled knits seen so much in RTW these days. The base fabric is a black mesh knit with "flaps" forming a second layer of free-flowing ruffles that move and dance with the body for a feminine and flirty look. It's printed with silver streaks that add to its festive look! Just a teeny bit sheer and very drapey, and although with the two layers there is more coverage, you would still want to line a skirt or dress. Would be fabulous for any number of knit tops, pullover, cardigan, tunic, dress or skirt. Please test first if you wish to hand wash at home.

Don't these sound/look gorgeous? I hope so as I spent more per yard than I ever have before! I'm going out with the husband for New Year's Eve and I thought that the first would make a good dress with the second as a wrap (or an alternate dress, depending on what I think when they arrive).

Oh my, oh my.  And I get the glorious feeling that there's more . . . which means that I guess I'll be doing more flipping of screens when Devon comes into the room!

The Clutches are Coming!!!!

Remember to vote for PoldaPop in Threads' Ultimate Sewing Challenge! You can vote everyday until Nov. 30th!

My friend Viki hooked me up with Passing Fancy, a pop-up store in Western Springs that sells handmade crafts at the holidays.  I brought a couple of things to the shop last week and was then inspired to crank out some clutch bags this week.  Here they are, ready for their marching orders!

This clutch is an Ali Foster design that I first made for Kandy, a lady I met at the skirt party.  I think it is a perfect size for a night out on the town or for going to the movies.  These bags are all made out of scraps from other projects, or small pieces purchased from The Economy Shop.  Some have zippered inside pockets, some have inside pockets that close with a magnetic snap. There are two themes at play here - animal prints and mustard yellow.  Each bag has one or the other elements, if not both. My favorite is this one:

It's a combination of faux fur (and it's very furry!) and hot pink material from The Economy Shop.  If it doesn't sell, I think I can find a place for it in my wardrobe!

Here's the rest of the line-up:

Passing Fancy has a ton of other great stuff from local crafters and artists.  The store is located at 1052 Hillgrove Ave in Western Springs and is open Thurs-Sat, 11am-5pm, until December 10th.  I love all of the knitted scarves and hats that Tracy, the organizer, has created.  There is also some beautiful glass jewelery.  There will be an Open House with wine and goodies on Thursday, December 2nd, from 6-9pm.  The reception is free, and local artists are welcome to bring in their work that night for showing.  There's a $10 charge per artist to cover the cost of the reception.

Here are some pics of the shop:

I love these cowls! Great colors!

Go check it out!

Who's wearing wool?

Remember to vote for PoldaPop in Threads' Ultimate Sewing Challenge!  You can vote everyday until Nov. 30th!

A number of weeks back I previewed this skirt as I was drafting the pattern and preparing the fabric.  I'd worked with wool before but this one was tricky as the fabric had a somewhat loose weave that wanted to stretch and unravel when I worked with it.  Thanks to Claire Schaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide, I held it all together!  Here's the finished product:

CB was one of the guests at my first skirt party, and she managed to pick out two beautiful fabric pieces that I found hidden in thrift shops.  The dark/light mauve herringbone came from The Economy Shop in Oak Park, and I uncovered this thick black/slate herringbone in the Goodwill Shop on Harlem Ave:

AS, a new client, ordered a couple of yoked skirts, one in Heather Bailey's PopGarden Red (my third skirt with this fabric!) and one in a more conservative black/slate herringbone wool.  She added some personality to the wool by choosing these buttons:

This is the same style that I made for my friend Malinda (Christmas present) last year:

I must have wool on my mind (is that called wool-ly brain?) because this pattern caught my eye as I was reading the Threads pattern reviews:

Butterick B5707

The review recommends using wool crepe.  I picture the draped neck version with a shorter length (at/above knee) and a bright wool fabric like one of these.  What do you think?  Which reminds me that I have more to say on these retro designs for a later post . . .



FW11314C Oxidized Copper Solid Suiting
Oxidized Copper Wool Crepe
FW11291C Fuchsia Solid Crepe
Fuchsia Wool Crepe