Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Update on My Bloglovin' Havin' Self

Well, I will still miss Google Reader, just like I missed Bloglines before. However, I must say I’ve become used to bloglovin’ pretty quickly. I don’t feel that anything is missing because I never asked much from Google Reader. I want to see any new feeds and be able to read them one after another easily, that's all.  
Google Reader

Well, I get that with bloglovin’ and more, now I can cycle through my website feeds not as simple text/picture excerpts but as full pages with the authors blog design, headers, and all (see below).You click on the first entry on the main page and it opens up in a separate window. There appears on top, toggle switches that take you to the next blog feed or back to the last one you read. There is also a handy counter next to those that let you know where you are in the unread posts queue.

So I’m happy…well, until someone decides to take my new reader away from me, which unfortunately, is always a possibility. I just hope we get a chance to save it next time.

Here’s a question for those who have been on the Bloglovin’ for some time: On the main page, even before you log in, it seems they have picked blogs that I might be interested in, unless everyone else sees fashion and beauty blogs too? Is there a way to have them focus on other types of sites? I love suggestions and fashion but those blogs aren’t really me, I’m more into reuse and making my own rather than buying in mass. I feel that if they can target us this way then there must be some way to alter the criteria, or as Don and Peggy would say, “If you don’t like what they’re [showing], change the conversation.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Great British Sewing Bee!

Makower London Collection Icons
Okay, has everyone been watching the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC Two? I have and I love it. I know there has been some controversy on other blogs about certain aspects but I'd rather not get into that.* The most important point is that there is a TV program/programme about sewing where technique and knowledge are paramount and ornamentation is second. The show is very unlike the Project Runway franchise where the contestants are meant to be more focused on design and flash instead of quality of construction.
  • What I like about GBSB is that the challenge projects were selected by an actual professional sewer, Claire-Louise Hardie of The Thrifty Stitcher. She also timed all of the projects to make sure that the time limits were do-able. She is currently writing on her blog about the GBSB: from the preparations made before filming to episode commentary once the latest episode has aired. 
  • I love the fact that they acknowledged the many types of sewing; dressmaking, menswear, alteration of ready-to-wear, home decorative arts, and costume. One doesn't have to be able to drafting their own patterns to be considered skilled in the art. 
  • The sewing history bits were great and informative. How many people outside of Great Britain knew about all the sewing-related street names that exist in England?
  • Love that it focuses on details we might not be as aware of now, such as menswear's traditional rules, while ready-to-wear womenswear has become less strict, ex. the direction of men's flys and shirt button plackets.
Having seen the episode 3 semi-finals, it is clearly down to Ann and Lauren for the win. I adore and respect Ann Rowley, administrator of the Stitchers Guild forum on Artisan Square, and would love to hang out in her sewing room and pick her memories. I am also increasingly impressed by Lauren Guthrie, now the owner of fabric shop Guthrie & Ghani. She is great news for the future of personal sewing. Though very young, she is knowledgeable and technically proficient in the art and has a great attention to detail. She understand the patience it takes to create a quality product. Those rouleau ties she constructed were amazing! I absolutely hate turning fabric tubes inside out and I can't believe she was able to turn those incredibly teeny ones. Impressive, indeed.

If you are in the US, the official show website will not allow you to view full episodes. Instead, they can be viewed on YouTube: Episode 1Episode 2, and Episode 3. Here is Episode 4 - The Final.

*The show does have problems: the judging format and those silly sewing project segments. Seriously, if they are meant for beginning sewers/sewists, then the instructions are given too fast and are far too vague to actually help.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Do You Remember TV's "Philly Justice"?

If you don't remember that 2003 TV show starring Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Kathryn Hahn, (and Paul Rudd, in the pilot only) don't worry. No one does, not even its stars. However, ask the cast and crew of Parks and Recreation about it. I've been watching past PaleyFest panel sessions with the crew and this video had me laughing out loud and gasping for breath this morning. Enjoy the madness.

Also, check out Philly Justice Confessions.

Watch Parks & Recreation Thursdays on NBC.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Now On the Bloglovin' Train

Just a reminder: In light of Google Reader's stupid demise I have signed up over at bloglovin'. If you like coming here; which I hope you do, please sign up to follow my blog through them.

Follow on Bloglovin

Thank you!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Music To Swoon To...


Jamie Woon

Does anyone know what happened to him? The last information I found was from 2012 and that was on his official website!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Enough, I Give Up...on the Pastille

Whew, it took two years for me to make that decision, but my last go at alterations got me so upset. It is to the point where I doubt I could ever enjoy wearing this dress even if I got the fit perfectly. So, I have taken the entire bodice apart, saving the faced neckline, and will use it to cut out a bodice from another pattern. Here are the gory details:

Pattern: Colette Patterns Pastille* from the Colette Sewing Handbook (2011)

Pattern Description: Fitted sheath dress with sweetheart neckline and unique cap sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: I cut out a size 6 above the waist and a size 10 and 8 below.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. The Colette patterns' instructions take you through each step and have helpful illustrations.

crisp facing edges

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I loved the shape of the neckline and how well the facings for both the neck and sleeves gave a professional finish to the dress and hid the raw workings. Unfortunately, I had other problems with the dress. The back was both too long and wide resulting in excessive fabric in the upper back. The skirt was too wide right below the widest part of my body, basically saddle-bag height. Not good.

Fabric Used: 2 1/4 yards black and white patterned spring suiting (64% polyester, 34% rayon, and 2% spandex) from Jo-Ann for $11.23 (at $4.49 per yard, orig. $5.99), 20" black regular zipper, and Pellon Sheer-Knit fusible interfacing (my new favorite notion!).

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Unfortunately, this pattern unaltered did not work for my body at all. The back had far too much fabric in the upper back. After becoming increasingly frustrated with trying to fit my dress in the fashion fabric version (I even had my sister pin fit me at the holidays to no avail) I finally made the muslin that I should have made months before! After taking my full body measurements, I had discovered that the back neck to waist measurement of a misses pattern  is around 16" while mine is almost 1.5 inches shorter. Therefore, I had to take almost 2" out of the back piece (see below). I found that the back pattern piece was already longer than the front, so there was definitely too much fabric.

In the muslin, I was able to see that cutting the back pieces from the bottom or even altering the pattern at the shorten/lengthen line was never going to correct the back length. The extra length was not along the bodice side seam but in the upper back and sleeve area. When you placed the shoulder seams together, the underarm curve of the back piece was far below the front curve. After pinning up 2 inches in the area above the side seams and the start of the cap sleeve I had a corrected back which even placed the neckline lower (see above) and where it properly should lay on the body.

I used a design ruler to redraw the underarm curve. The bodice seam angled down at the sides and then back up to the middle in the back. I sewed in the darts and used a ruler to straighten the bodice seam line so that it would match the skirt. The red lines in the second photo above show where the pattern piece will be altered.

The skirt portion of the dress fit very well at the waist and over the rear, however, the curve below that was too extreme for my body, strangely reminiscent of the now popular By Hand London's Elisalex dress. However, that is not the look I had in mind. So, on the skirt I kept the waist at size 10 but had to shave off the hip curve which brought them to a size 8. Cutting out a hip size smaller than the waist size has never happened to me before since my hips are ten inches larger than my waist. It doesn't seem right.

Marking the precise pleats

However, after all of this, I decided that since I would probably not make this dress again I abandoned the muslin and decided to go ahead and make further alterations on the actual dress.

Therefore, the last alterations I subjected this fabric to were: taking the back in with two vertical tucks, essentially connecting the waist and shoulder darts and disguising them as princess seams. I cut an inch off of the back bodice length. In the front, I moved the waist darts closer to the center and used a high side bust dart to take up some more fabric. The final bodice change was an attempt to cut off the cap sleeves which were a bit awkward and didn't fit under my cardigans.

And the result? Project Fail!


All that work and it still looks like this? It's not much better than it looks here, in November 2011! Remember the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Yeah, done with that. Without recutting the back and starting all over this will not improve.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? No, I will not make this again. For some body types this pattern will not work, it is made for a full-hipped hourglass with a C-cup. So, knowing that it can make a beautiful dress and the instructions are excellent. There also have been questions about the accuracy of  the draft since the majority of the people who made this dress had the same baggy back problem that I did. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you construct a muslin first.

Conclusion: I loved this fabric, the weight was perfect for a three-season dress, it took to pressing wonderfully (check out that crisp sleeve facing above) and the 2% spandex was very much appreciated as I could put the dress on without a zipper. So, I may not have a completed Pastille, but I'm also not giving up on making a dress out of its remains.

* Was meant to be item 4 of the 2011 Palette Challenge.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

In Comes April...

An update:

I have a few projects I'm working on but this weather is messing with my progress. Trying to finish two colder weather items and now it's going to be in the 80s this week, so I feel I should jump start more of my spring/summer things. I'm also altering some older items that I no longer feel fit that great. Hopefully, I'll have some things to show you soon, but I won't rush. However, I do have another "blast from my past" dress to show you and a post on one of my favorite store bought purchases that unfortunately, may not fit (literally!) in my wardrobe anymore. : (

So, I do know I will have a completed April garment to show but if I will have more...well, I just don't know. There's a simple spring top I could whip up quick but I think I should try to finish this cold weather project first. You see, every day last week I was regretting that I couldn't just grab it and put it on and now it's so hot I can't even stand to look at it. But this is Virginia, next week will probably be scarf and glove weather again...so sew I go.

Hope you can enjoy the weather where you are!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Coming Attractions: Hollywood Is Coming!

Guess what is coming?

Woo Hoo! I am happy to announce that this fall/winter season (November to February 2014) my city’s museum, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will be the temporary home for the Hollywood Costume exhibition via the Victoria & Albert Museum. Yes, the V & A, baby!  On display will be more than 100 iconic movie costumes from movies such as Gladiator, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Titantic, My Fair Lady, Moulin RougeThe Birds, including one of my favorite costumes, the lush green silk dress* from Atonement. 

In addition to hosting Hollywood Costume, the VMFA will be the ONLY east coast location! Can you believe it, it is not stopping in New York!

Bonus: At the same time the VMFA will be hosting an exhibition of 90 vintage Hollywood portraits from 1920-1960. Also coming from across the pond, they were selected from the collection of the John Kobal Foundation in England.

Hollywood Costume 
November 2, 2013 - February 17, 2014. $20 per person, $15 each for groups of 10 or more.

Made in Hollywood: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation
November 23, 2013 - March 10, 2014.

One of the reasons I love movie costumes is expressed perfectly in this excerpt from the V&A website:

"The costume designer must know 'who' a character is before they can design their costume. No matter the era that the story takes place, the audience is asked to believe that the people in the movie are real and that they had a life prior to the start of the movie. We join our cast of characters at one moment in their life. Everything about them must resonate true, including their clothes."

So, it is not just about fashion, y'all

*See my earlier posts on this amazing dress here.

Update: I forgot to mention the VMFA is just a block from where I work!