Friday, May 30, 2014

Life Update: Updated

Yesterday was the all-day orientation - still don't know what the job really entails. Have another day of testing before I even step foot in my department. I am so discombobulated right now.

Luckily, I will start volunteering on Sunday for the Hampton History Museum during the annual Blackbeard Pirate street festival*. It's pretty cool, for them, the fact that I'm an Art History major is actually a coup. Whaddaya know?  Made two new tops (details to come soon) thinking I would wear one but now the temperature's done a drastic turn and I'm wearing warm layers again!

*Funny thing, if the weather stays cool I could actually put together a decent pirate-y outfit just from stuff in my closet (yes, I know!). But would that be too much for a first-time volunteer? Maybe after my shift I'll change then and come back to see the museum's Steampunk exhibit? Of course, in that environment the outfit might seem lame.

Monday, May 26, 2014

They Are NOT Pajamas!* Pants - New Look 6216

Pattern: New Look 6216 c. 2013

Pattern Description: Misses' pull-on pants with drawstring waist and easy knit top with scoop neck and short all-in-one sleeves or higher neckline with 3/4 dolman sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: Size A (8-18) I chose size 14. 
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it? Yes, though I did eliminate the drawstring detail.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very much.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I was searching for a pant designed with an elastic waistband that didn't look like yoga or pajama pants. There are many similar patterns out there right now but the final versions that I saw on convinced me to try this one. Plus, cute tops with cut-on sleeves!

Fabric Used: 2 yards stretch cotton poplin in Claret from Fabric Mart ($1.99 a yard), thread, and two yards 1/2" elastic.


Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made? I decided to cut this pair as is, no alterations. I ended up liking the pattern, especially the quick and dirty installation for the slash pockets. So simple, so smart. (see pic)

Since I was sewing from the stash, I had to zigzag two lengths of elastic together to make the 1 in wide needed for the pattern. That was a mistake, the elastic tends to fold over itself. I will replace it when possible.

When I make these again, in order to fit my particular body, I will slash and spread to add 1" to the back crotch length and eliminate the same amount on the front by dipping the front waistline. Surprisingly, it seems the trousers were designed to sit just below the natural waistline but they are too tall in the front for me.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I will definitely make this pattern again. I love how simple the pockets are and the width of the entire pant leg is exactly what I was looking for in order to copy my inspiration pants.


Zara, Madewell, Kensie, these Nordstrom Halogens

Conclusion: A great pair of casual pants, a perfectly simple design that will look great in a slinkier patterned fabric. These came together quick, in about three hours.

*Said in Vector's voice from "Despicable Me".

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Life Update: Employed Again

I just got a job. It is my first time in a full-time retail position since the 1990s and it is with a national company. I know my pay rate* and title, but not really what the job is all about yet. I have never been hired for a job before without an actual sit-down interview. It all came down to my online application, a drug test, and I guess the fact that when I arrived at the store I had no visible tattoos, piercings, and could be understood when I answered some basic questions that were not really work related. I am used to corporate and government hiring practices and this struck me as such a strange way to hire someone, but from what I observed it was the way it is done. Mysteries abound. Before I start, I will attend an all-day orientation where I will find out exactly what the job entails. Well, I hope so.

The funniest thing is for the first time I will be wearing a uniform of sorts, a solid color shirt and khaki pants. I get to choose them myself so be assured they will fit well and have some style to them. However, my already existing wardrobe and all my future sewing projects will not be seen on a daily basis. :(

Unrelated, and not just as a way to wear cute clothes (and justify my stash) but I am also volunteering with a local history museum and a cultural arts organization. So that is how and where I will express my sartorial joy. Whew!

*Why am I consistently making less money the older I get? This, I do not like.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pull-on Ponte Skirt - New Look 6977

Pattern: New Look 6977 c. 2010

Pattern Description: Misses' pull-on slim/full skirts, pants, and raglan-sleeve top. A Just4Knits pattern.

Pattern Sizing: Size A (6-16) I cut between a 12 and a 14 according to finished garment measurements.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very much. There isn't much to them but I did appreciate that the pattern begins with some tips on sewing knits. Therefore, I used a combination of straight and zigzag stitches.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The shape seemed very flattering. I chose it because it would not result in a highly noticeable and thickly gathered waistband.

Fabric Used: Approximately 7/8” yards green double knit* from VA/DC/MD swap, Dritz 2" wide elastic, and Gutermann 100% polyester thread in Spruce, #784.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Looking at the finished measurements, the pattern allowed for 2' wearing ease, which is too much for a knit pattern. As my double knit has decent stretch and I had a limited amount of fabric I cut the skirt piece as size 14 to eliminate the ease and save fabric. Since I was working from a remnant, I folded 1/2' horizontally out of the waistband piece, making it possible to cut the two I needed out of the remaining fabric.

After basting the skirt together, I re-cut the skirt at a size 12 at the waist grading out to a 14 at the hips and below. I then shortened the waistband piece to size 12 also.

Since I had shortened the depth of the waistband piece, I had to change the waist seam allowance to 1/4" in order to still use the 2" elastic. For durability, I sewed another line of stitching 1/8" away from that one. The elastic measurement I used was decided by trial and error and not by the elastic guide provided by the pattern. I ended up cutting off more than four inches smaller than the size 14 marking to get the fit that I wanted because of the excess fabric. When I make this next, I think I will use the size 10 pieces for both the waistband, elastic, and possibly go smaller on the skirt piece too. For the elastic I could also use the rule of "minimum stretch" as explained here on the Madalynne blog.

Yes, sir, that is a truly blind hem!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, with my adapted pattern. I am quite happy with my skirt. I suggest you always check the finished garment measurements for any Simplicity and New Look patterns meant for knits, as they usually allow too much wearing ease, if anything there should be none or some negative ease. According to my measurements I would have made a size 16 while I ended up with a skirt two sizes smaller at the waist and one size  smaller at the hips.

Conclusion: An easy simple pull-on skirt in a lovely color. What more can you ask for?

* This is a remnant left over from making the Simplicity 5289 dress.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Benny Cumberbatch at 2014 Met Ball!!!

Tonight is the 2014 Met Gala, also known as the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala, in celebration of designer Charles James.

Best Dressed Man: Benedict Cumberbatch in Ralph Lauren

Best Dressed Woman: Hailee Steinfeld in Prabal Gurung

Honorable Mention: Liu Wen

Liu Wen looked gorgeous too in Zac Posen, but her dess was too on-the-nose (as was Posen's dress for Dita Von Teese) in terms of cribbing either the dress design or specific details directly from a Charles James gown. (see also Katie Couric). The Prabal Gurung above was clearly inspired by James but still is fresh, modern, and most importantly, includes pockets!

Also well done:

Anna Kendrick in J. Mendel

Sarah Silverman in Zac Posen

Anne Hathaway in Calvin Klein

However, what were these women thinking?

Katie Holmes in Marchesa
Kate Upton in Dolce Gabbana
Naomi Watts in Givenchy Couture
Lily Allen in Chanel Haute Couture

Additional Met Gala coverage:

New York Magazine's The Cut
Huffington Post coverage
New York Post

Friday, May 02, 2014

Simple Low Tech Wardrobe Plan Tutorial

Since I’m about to put together my wardrobe plans for Fall-Winter 2014, I thought I would show you how I made my previous storyboards.

I had looked on the Internet at different ways to create one including one with color and fabric swatches. It didn't work for me but I still loved the idea of have the pattern sketches along with their fabric or color swatches. I thought about how I had created my Etsy shop banner using PowerPoint, so I started there.

What You Need:

  1. PowerPoint - Luckily for you, if you have any version of Microsoft Office you probably have PowerPoint and if you don’t have a home business you probably don’t even use it. Well, now you have a reason to!
  2. Image software/program - Photoshop (you can use the cheaper Photoshop Elements), MS Paint, etc. Basically, you need a program that will allow you to view image files, crop, and resize your images. That’s all.
  3. Images - you will be using the pattern sketches from pattern company websites and online stores for scanned images of your fabric.

First you must accumulate your images. You probably know what you want on this board, so you need to go to any of the pattern sites and right click on the outline sketches of the patterns that you want and save them. They will sometimes come up as an image showing all of the pattern's views. This is where PowerPoint comes in. I did mine with a 2007 version of PowerPoint; however, the steps should be the same.

Open up these images in your image editing software and crop out any part of the image that you don’t want. I try to leave as little a border as I can so I can fit more images onto one page storyboards. After you alter each image you will get a chance to save it as a  jpeg file.

If you are going to use fabric swatches, right click and save the images from the online store that you purchased the fabric, if possible. If not possible and you have access to a scanner, scan a section of your fabric and crop down to a usable size. Save as a  jpeg. It neither of these are possible you can save an image from the web that includes a large enough swatch of your fabric color and follow the steps.
Once you have all of your images created, all you have to do is bring them into the presentation document. The cool thing about using PowerPoint is that you can move these images anywhere you want or you can use the handy grid to line them up.

Open up PowerPoint. The program should open up on a blank slide. This is your storyboard ground.
If you want to create a title use the title bar already there and size it with the toggle switches, move it up and make it narrower. Type in your title. To change color or size of type, highlight the text and use the Font tools. Click on the subtitle box and hit delete.

To attach your first image, click on Insert and select Picture and insert image from file. I opened up my file and selected my first image. Once the image is on the slide page you can use those same toggle tools to reduce or enlarge the picture. I made all my images the same size, as if they could be worn by the same size croquis.

After you have arranged your images on the board first save it as either a .pptx or .ppt file.
Then to save it as a jpg file, on the Save dropdown box select Other Formats. Find jpeg on the dropdown list and click Save.

Once you click on jpeg, a dialog box will ask you if you want to export every slide in the presentation or just the current slide.

Select Current Slide Only. Once you have it as a jpeg, it can not be changed but the original PowerPoint file (pptx/ppt) can. At any time, you can go in and move things around, switch one pattern for another, or add different fabrics. I hope this helps! Good luck!