Monday, September 26, 2016

Yup, It's Another Bloody* Sewing Plan!

Okay, I've decided, I need to publish this before I change my mind again. I created those first two sewing plans a month ago, and either because of fabric shortage or unsuitability, I've already had to eliminate two projects and may have lost love for two others. Note: I am not allowing myself to buy any additional fabric, so I must already have what I need for the project or not. Notion purchases are allowed though.

So this is what's going on at the moment:

  • Grainline Studio Scout: A matching top for this skirt but it isn't the right shape.
  • Seamster Yellow Tail Camisole: I didn't have enough fabric to make this top.
  • New Look 6977: No more short sleeve tops.
  • Butterick 5429: A TNT top made with winter white ponte. DONE
  • New Look 6216: Only pair of shorts sewn this summer. DONE
  • New Look 6216: Made a navy and gray stripe t-shirt dress. DONE
  • McCall's 7381: Still debating on this one. I'm leery about all that fullness in the bodice?
  • Simplicity 5289: My ponte raglan dress needs a neckband, hem, and topstitching. DONE
  • New Look 6859: Planned in 2010, I need to cut another muslin, the last one was in 2011. DONE
  • Grainline Studio Morris: Scared to mess this up but need this now!
  • McCall's 7254: This new pattern will hopefully motivate me to work on the other jackets. DONE
  • Simplicity 1283: The ponte for this skirt was not thick enough and needs new lining.
  • Built By Wendy Sew U pants: Considerable alteration work needed because I don't want them to be low-riders and I am now larger than the largest size in the book.
  • Vogue 1411: I will make a muslin before I cut into the gray ponte.
  • Style Arc Barb's Stretch Pants: Already made a muslin but they were too tight. DONE
  • Style Arc Ebony: Will be made in 2017 for summer.
*I've been streaming a lot of British sitcoms lately, like Siblings, Crashing, and My Mad Fat Diary!

    Monday, September 19, 2016

    The Better Late Than Never Philly Report

    A few months ago, my older sister invited me to visit her in New Jersey sometime this summer. Well, a few weeks ago I decided to take her up on that offer. Over the 20+ years that she's lived there visits mostly revolved around my nieces and nephew so traveling into oh-so-close Philadelphia just didn't happen. The last time I went into Philly with her was over 20 years ago when she first moved up there. I took a week-long jewelry class at the Moore College of Art and stayed with her in a townhouse on South Street. Sweet, right? Well, on this trip, I vowed to get back into the city...and I did.

    I took Amtrak and of course finally read last year's big book (and this year's awaited movie) The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. I had wanted to read this on my last train trip to Florida but the paperback version wasn't available yet and it didn't feel right to have it on my Nook. When I arrived, I had about 1/4 of the book left to finish on the return trip home.

    Hard Rock Cafe on Market Street
    1st Day:

    The only plans that I made was to meet up with Kyle from Vacuuming the Lawn on the first day of my four-day trip. Kyle was one of the first blogs I read and in 2010 (!) she even sent me this fabric when I expressed that I loved it on her blog. That fabric became two of my favorite well-worn garments even though I think it's really for swimsuits or active wear. She suggested meeting at Reading Terminal Market (12th and Arch Street) for lunch.

    As soon as we walked in I saw the most delicious little cakes by the Termini Brothers. They stayed in the back of mind for the rest of the day. I bought one of their limoncello ones on the way out of the city that day and again two days later when I came back in. Sooooo goooood! Melts in your mouth and so creamy. So good, in fact, that I checked to see if they were one of the preferred vendors for my nieces wedding venue...and they are! Hmmm...wonder if the wedding couple likes lemon?

    Kyle and THAT amazing bag!

    After a great grilled cheese sandwich lunch at Meltkraft (I got the Brielle: cranberry chutney, Brie, carmelized onions, and pine nuts!), the Fabric Workshop and Museum (1214 Arch Street) was to be our first stop; however, they didn't have an exhibit going on at the time. Kyle suggested that we instead catch the Vlisco exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art instead and I said yes, please!

    Philadelphia Museum of Art


    Hero collection, season 1, 2014

    Gala Dress from Congo, 2016

    Frozen Dreams Collection, 2009

    The Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage exhibition was at the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2525 Pennsylvania Avenue) This exhibit was amazing. the clothes were amazing and I wish my camera had been better to capture all the little details. I loved how these seemingly elaborate textiles used the simplest of subjects or images and manipulated them by placement or repetition into intricate patterns and then how the use of the color combinations and layering of hues elevated them even more.


    I had a great time with Kyle, she is exactly as she seems on her blog, funny, kind, laid-back, extremely talented, and above all generous. Don't get jealous but look what she gave me at lunch! Yes, it matches that amazing leather bag that she had just finished. A bag that if I didn't read her blog I would have assumed she bought, and yes it does feel like "but-tah". I am chuffed and honored to receive this gift and it should motivate me to make myself a bag that deserves this tassel. Thank you, Kyle! Hopefully, I will see you again at PR Weekend 2017!

    On my way out of the city that day, after picking up my 1st limoncello cake, I stopped by their beautiful old school Macy's and then took a few pictures of the Philadelphia City Hall (1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.) and it's lovely architecture.

    2nd Day:

    My sister and my BIL told me that the new Philadelphia Pennsylvania LDS (Mormon) Temple (1739 Vine Street) was recently constructed and because it had not yet been dedicated and blessed it was available for non-members to tour until September 9. They had toured the one in Salt Lake City and wanted to see what could be seen in a temple pre-dedication. So two days later, I went back into the city for our two-hour tour.

    There was a short video presentation we were shown before the tour but surprisingly besides that, there was  no religious pressure as could be expected. The building was gorgeous and loving interior details as I do, there was always something to notice from the huge and varied floral arrangements in the halls to the fact that the cornices, millwork, and even the door hardware and handles became more elaborate while the finishes seemed more expensive as we ascended floor by floor. No interior pictures were allowed during the visit but pictures can be seen online, in particular for the baptistry and celestial room.

    Because of the newness of everything, we were required to place white protective casings over our shoes to protect the new carpet from dirt. I really wanted to get a picture of us with these on, but there just wasn't time. So, just imagine a group of twenty adults people shuffling along the staircases of this structure with basically chef hats on our feet.

    The temple as seen from the adjacent roof garden.
    After our tour as we walked from the Temple downtown we passed this unique sculpture honoring Benjamin Franklin on the highway overpass at 17th Street and Vine.

    Big Ben at Franklin Town
    We also passed through Comcast Center in order to view the Comcast Experience video wall.

    Comcast Experience video wall, at the Comcast Center.
    After a delicious lunch at at Parc Brasserie in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, we took a long walk back through the city and stopped by Reading Terminal Market so I could pick up my second Termini Bros. limoncello cake before we took the Broad Street Line back to AT&T Center and then home to New Jersey.

    As it turned out, that was the extent of my visits to the city because I decided to hang in Jersey for the rest of the visit. I had a friendly puppy to play with, good food, and excellent Wi-Fi. To be honest even though the weather was fabulous the entire time, the constant walking really took a beating on me and my out of shape legs!

    Yes, there were other sewing-related places I had planned on visiting; however, after talking to Kyle about our current and future projects I couldn't stop thinking about all the fabric and patterns I had left at home and how I shouldn't buy anything new, so these stops will wait for another trip: Jomar* (22 Jackson St and 2590 Grant Ave); Butcher's Sew Shop (800 S 8th Street); Fabric Row on South Street; or MADE Studio (305 Cherry Street).

    *So which Jomar is the best one to go to?

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016

    Put Your Feet Up #2 - Custom Ottoman Slipcover

    Ta Da!

    Goal: Custom-fitted slipcover for a 62" wide octagonal ottoman on wooden legs.

    Original condition: The original top was constructed in eight wedges and tufted in the middle with a self-fabric covered button. The wooden skirt mounted below the upholstery ends in four tapered legs connected underneath by an x-stretcher.

    Fabric: Three yards of lime green vinyl "leather" (100% PVC Face/100% polyester) for $3 per yard, originally priced as $29.99 per yard. (Purchased at the same time as four yards of green, brown, teal and orange Ikat print* heavy upholstery for $2.70 per yard, orig. $9) from Hancock Fabrics during their liquidation sale.

    Construction: The fabric was just wide enough to cover the ottoman with a few inches of overhang. I arranged it over the ottoman so that the two selvage edges hung down equal.

    Turning the fabric inside out, at each point of the octagon I pinned the fabric into a dart, creating a snug fit. I basted the darts and retried the slipcover. I re-pinned some of the darts till I liked the fit and then trimmed the length, trying to cut it all even to the shortest hanging section.

    Because I did not want to apply actual heat to the fabric I held steam above the vinyl, making sure not to get too close and then pressed the seams allowances to the side using my quilting ruler. I really must buy a clapper soon!

    After I placed the darted cover on the ottoman I realized that even though the darts fit snugly, the edges were not as snug as i wanted and were slightly sticking out from the sides. I needed a way to cinch in the cover and realized a simple horizontal band like the one on the tapestry version would not work in this more stretchy vinyl.

    Using the selvage from the remainder fabric I cut lengths of 3 inches deep using my quilting ruler and rotary cutter and cutting enough fabric to go around the sides. I measured the circumference of the ottoman and seamed the sections together to fit that measurement exactly.

    I now needed a way to cinch in the cover and realized a simple horizontal band like the one on the tapestry version would not work in this more stretchy vinyl. So I had to think of a way using elastic that would work.

    My elastic sample

    I used another piece of the fabric and created a channel that would just fit 1-inch wide elastic. I found it would be the best choice visually.

    I also wanted a way to attach the band to the base cover and allow me to add the elastic in a way I could then hand sew the opening closed easily. I decided to create an opening in one of the seams that would allow me to pull the elastic through and then out of the "keyhole".

     There is a keyhole opening near the top of this topstitched seam.

    I connected the strips of vinyl into a loop that matched the circumference of the ottoman and attached one side of it to the base cover.

    Then I thought to make it easier, I could stitch one end of the elastic into the seam so I could place the elastic into the seam before I finished sewing the band to the cover. This way I wouldn't have to thread the elastic through the channel at all.

    Folding the other side of the band up, enclosing the elastic.
    I then stitched the other side of the band to the base and started to gather the band by pulling on the unattached end of the elastic.
    Band attached: inside.
    Band attached: outside.

    As I pulled the elastic more and more, I started to get disillusioned as the bunchy mess I was looking at was not going to work and looked atrocious. But I kept pulling and pushing the gathers along, bit by bit, until the covered band started to naturally pull and curve under the wooden apron lip. Basically it's like a mushroom cap and I'm pretty proud of how the finished product looks.

    *Note: I couldn't get the colors to come out accurate on these photos. But the fabric is amazing and coordinates with the existing sofa, loveseat, and throw pillows even though I chose the fabric purely from instinct and memory. Hurrah!

    Friday, September 09, 2016

    Fashion in Film: Laurel Healy Is BrainDead (2016)

    Creators: Michelle and Robert King
    Actors: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Tony Shalhoub, Aaron Tveit, Danny Pino,
    Music: David Buckley
    Costume Design: Daniel Lawson, David Brooks

    Courtesy of CBS

    Laurel Healy is the main character of CBS's BrainDead, a new show from the creators of The Good Wife. Played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (PBS' Mercy Street, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) Laurel is currently my work wardrobe inspiration. Her clothes are sharp, professional, and comfortable, usually sleek skirts with eye catching tops and either a patterned blazer or an attractive all-purpose coat. Her color palette consists of shades of black, white, blue (from navy to cornflower) and neutral earth tones. It may be a simple palette but she shakes it up with graphic patterns, textured fabric, and interesting embellishments.

    I tried to get this out ASAP so that you could check BrainDead out Sunday at 10 before the season ends but you can still stream it at

     Work separates:

    Love this wine-colored sweater tunic worn in episode 3, especially the nubby texture and the slightly too-long sleeves.

    Yes, please! I want episode 5's wine colored soft leather jacket with patterned silky shirt and stretch woven green pencil skirt. I believe she even wore this one with knee high boots. Love that huge gold belt buckle.

    This one, also from episode 5, I think of as a "poor boy" sweater, because it looks as if it was made up of remnants of various other sweaters.

    This chunky graphic sweater in episode 9 is so sweet with the rolled collar and the wide black cuffs.

    Both of these are from episode 12, which hasn't aired yet! It is more of that color blocking of sweater knits and I want it for my own!

    Image courtesy of Nordstrom

    Love this Akris Punto jacket worn in episode 4. I can totally understand why this designer has shown up both on this show and The Good Wife, just look at all this!

    Unfortunately, I could find no information on this jacket from episode 10 anywhere. But just look at that texture and pattern!

    More texture courtesy of Oscar de la Renta in episode 7 and this one is worn with a unique white blouse that shows that the blouse underneath doesn't have to be plain and let the patterned jacket shine; both pieces can be "statements."

    Laurel owns at least five overcoats, primarily trenches that are decidedly distinctive from each other; a typical khaki, a subtle grey plaid, a plain pale pink, a cornflower blue one, and the most noticeable one from the first episode, a graphic leopard print with bias bound seams visible on the coat's exterior.

    Photo: Macall Polay/CBS

    After work:

    A earth tone and black dress combination; however, the shade of the background fabric on this Alexander McQueen dress in episode 6 gives the impression of nudity from a distance. Pretty sly with the subliminal messaging on a date with your crush, Laurel!

    (Photo: Michael Parmelee/CBS)

    This dress worn in the first episode is also in shades of earth and black but it's definitely not boring or staid, is it? I love the floral applique with the black border and how the shape of the flowers dictate the shape of the sleeves.

    Oh, and how about her sexy midnight blue velvet dress from the Tax Ball, a low cut front and back!

    Here's an article on the show's style in The Observer from Emma Frazier of the blog, TV Ate My Wardrobe, another blog you should read.

    This post would not be possible without the work of the great website WornOnTV. Clicking on most of the clothing photos should take you to the corresponding page on WOT that gives specific info on that item. They don't have everything, but I've also tried to track down details on the outfits pictured above. You must check out their site!

    Credit: All images courtesy of CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images if not specifically noted above.