Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Wench

Last week I secured this little baby - we named her "The Wench."

She's the one on the left.  With the red skin.  Me on the right.

The Wench is an adjustable dress form (brand name "My Double") that retails for about 5 times what I paid for it.  Sweet!  I also picked up a partial bolt of Warm & Natural for $20.  Double score!  <3 you, Craigslist.

The day that I got her, I spent the evening measuring and adjusting her and fitting her with a padded bra (which you can see in the picture has shifted around a bit to the side).  I'd say I've got her looking pretty good - I tweaked the waist a bit after taking this picture. 

Since then she's been lurking in the living room and waiting to freak people out with her scary similarity to my body.  And her headlessness, of course.   

Monday, May 24, 2010

Giveaway winner!

The winner of my Sew Mama Sew! Giveaway is comment # 189. Because of the way I made my list, this was actually one of the first comments:

Jackie suggested: "How about using some of it to make softees:-)"

Jackie chose the linen and linen/cotton blend fabrics and those will be winging their way to her shortly.

Jackie's was not the only awesome idea - all of the following have been added to my list for these upholstery scraps:

Fabric bowls
Small pillows/patchwork pillows
Place mats/pot holders/napkins
Christmas ornaments (from velvet pieces)
iPod/cell phone cozies
Covering bench/stool/small furniture with fabric using mod podge.
I might even do something like Vic's amazing patchwork upholstered chair - although probably on a smaller scale. My office chair might become really exciting pretty soon. :)
crayon rolls/art books
Slippers (awesome idea! I would never have come up with this one, but I love it)
Small framed patchwork art
Pin cushions
Fabric covered buttons
Fabric baskets
Scent pouches for drawers/shoes/etc

Perhaps Jackie will get inspiration from some of these ideas as well. :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Giveaway Day!

I got this huge stash of upholstery fabrics and it was an awesome find, but there is too much. (I know, too much fabric, who would have thought??). At the rate I'm going, I'll have to beat out Methuselah in order to use it all. And soooo when Sew Mama Sew announced another giveaway, I knew just the thing.

The giveaway winner will receive a USPS flat rate box filled with their choice from the fabric sample pieces below. Don't tell me your preferences in the comments - I want to hear something interesting. ;) I'll ask the winner for their choices via email. To enter, please give me ideas for projects to do with the rest of the samples. (I really need ideas!) You can earn an additional entry by leaving a (relevant) comment on any other post in my blog history.

Giveaway will close on May 20th at midnight. The winner will be chosen at random, and I will ship internationally.

And without further ado, on to the fabrics:

These pieces are microsuade and approximately 10" x 15".

These are silk and each approximately one foot square.

These two are linen or linen/cotton blend fabrics, all of which are washable (and have been prewashed). I do not know if any of the other fabrics can be washed. Three pieces are slightly larger, but most are 12" square.

These fabrics are a synthetic blend, and the weight is like a medium wool. The pieces vary in size from about 5" x 15" to 12" x 15". They seem like they would be nice for coin purses or other small bags.

These pieces are all velvet and they are smaller than the rest, about 6" square.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The best clothes sewing advice ever

I've been rumminating lately on the matter of sewing clothing for oneself, and I've come to the conclusion that the most important part, by far, is the pattern and fabric selection. Now, you are probably reading this and thinking... "um, duh? What were you smoking before? What did you think was the most important part?" You are thinking this because I should have said under-emphasized instead of important. I could just go back and edit it but now I've written all of this stuff and I can't be bothered.

Anyway, I got to thinking on this because I've been reading "The Pocket Stylist" by Kendall Farr, which is a guide to improving your look, mostly by selecting clothing that suits your body. Bear with me as I digress for a moment, because I can't bear to bring up this book without telling you that I recommend it, with the caveat that you need to be prepared for the number of times you will be told to throw out your sneakers and switch to a minimum two inch heel at all times. Also be ready for an entire chapter on tailoring, without even the slightest hint of a notion that you could do something like taking up a trouser leg yourself. Furthermore, anticipate that you will be very frightened by the German bodybuilder necks drawn on all of the sample silhouettes (apologies to German bodybuilders). Don't cheat and read the body shape tips for other people, because you will be disappointed to learn that many of them are the same. It's not just your body shape, she thinks dark bootleg jeans worn at the natural waist with small or no waistband is best for anybody. Er... I think that might be it. Wait, no... you also must steel yourself against an onslaught of the phrase "almighty unbroken line." Ok, now I'm good.

Despite the weird bits, I did take a lot away from the book, including a list of specific style shirts to look out for and some good guidelines on pants. Everything that she said about clothes for my body type had me nodding my head and thinking "yeah, like that one shirt that I have" or "yeah, I've noticed that those look pretty good." It had never really cemented in my mind, though, and now I have a very clear list of styles to look for on the rack. Better than that, I have a good idea of how to evaluate items that don't fall in those specific categories. The last really valuable piece of advice from the book is to judge each item as you consider purchasing it and know EXACTLY how it will fit into your wardrobe. (Also to take a measuring tape with you when you shop for jeans so that you can measure the inseam and thigh width, etc, and sort through the vanity sizing so you don't waste your time in the fitting room.)

At the same time that I've been reading the Pocket Stylist, I've also seen some things in blogland that have made me consider how this advice relates to sewing your own clothes. Amy a la Mode (fellow Bay Area Modern Quilt Guild member) wrote about a shirt that she made using Simplicity 3825:

Now, when I looked at this pattern I thought, “That doesn’t look like something I would wear.” But I kept reminding myself that everyone loves this pattern, and it was only $1.99 on sale, so I bought it... I think I should remind myself of my own rules, about not sewing something that you wouldn’t buy off the rack. I knew I would never pick this up in a store, and yet I tried to make it anyhow.

And from my new blog crush Selfish Seamstress (regarding a super cute cream dress that she has never worn):

That cream dress is just wrong for everything. Too fancy for work, too white for wedding guest garb, and for any occasion in between I’d just sooner go for something in my closet that is more chic and less garden party.

Sometimes I've been known to get the hint when it's smashed in my face enough times - and I'm happy to say that I've put this one together. If the pattern doesn't flatter my body shape, it's never going to look good. If the fabric and pattern don't work together to make something that I will actually wear, it's not good. The four handmade skirts hanging in my closet are failures because I never wear them, and I'm not going to start. They don't fit my lifestyle. So here's my new rule: Before I commit my hours of labor to sewing something, I will envision the completed garment with my fabric and pattern and figure out where I'm going to wear it. I will not assume that once I have sewn myself a new party dress, I will start going to parties. I will consider that the sleeveless top I am making is only going to be wearable 2/7 days because it's not appropriate for work. I will do this because I enjoy making things, not wasting my time.

Ok, if you've made it with me this far, you probably have got the picture, but this is really important, so let's do a little quiz to check your understanding. Which of these is an acceptable reason to sew a new garment?

a) Omg, that dress is so gorgeous, I must have it!
b) That model looks so elegant when she wears that. I should make one for myself.
c) That dress looks like it would really flatter my waist. I think I can shorten it to a shirt that would be appropriate for work.
d) That sun dress would be so perfect! I can see myself walking to the farmer's market in that next week.

(hint: The farmer's market is a mile from my house and there is no way that I'm walking there in anything but sneakers.)

If you selected option c, congratulations! You have graduated to a new level of sewing expertise where you will not make any sewing mistakes because you know exactly what you are doing. If you did not select option c, you probably cannot be helped.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sewing crush...

Today I came across a new-to-me blog The Selfish Seamstress. Entranced after seeing a few of her creations, I proceeded to read her entire blog history. She makes gorgeous home-sewn garments, mostly dresses and shirts, and I find her both highly inspirational and hilarious - I particularly enjoyed her nemesis posts. I'm in deep envy of her clearly articulated bloggy voice - I feel like my own blog tends toward overly formal (and boring) descriptions of projects. Oh, and also has about one post for each 6 of hers...

Thanks to her impecible taste:

Excellent eye for drafting and improving patterns:

And the attractive and interesting photos that actually show you what the finished product looks like:

I now have a new blog to follow and a huuuuge list of clothes to sew. Not that I'm going to make all of those dresses - I hardly ever wear dresses - but my crazed brain thinks that they can all be transformed into magnificent tops. Using my nearly non-existent experience sewing clothing. And no patterns. It's gonna be awesome.