Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trip Souvenirs--Part 2

Following my recent post about fabric souvenirs in Nice, I thought it would be fun  to talk about some other places where I have acquired fabric in my travels.  After all, there's always a story behind the purchase.:))

In 2008 Mr D and I took a river cruise in the Netherlands starting from Amsterdam.  We like this type of cruising because the boats all make stops in little towns that are  historically preserved.  They all have weekly outdoor markets that have been going on in the same town square for a thousand years. Hard to grasp for us Americans, huh?  I LOVE the markets--the sights, the smells, the music.  It's always quite festive.  Anyway, we came into a small town called Middleburg and into the town square with its stalls of vegetables and fruits and what did I see?  A FABRIC DISPLAY!! I'm telling you, I was speechless for about 5 seconds. Mr D said, "What, what?" and I could only point. Now my overreaction might have been due to jetlag but, honestly, it was the last thing I expected.

I immediately started pawing through the piles and could see that it was good quality.  I spoke with another customer, a local woman, who said she came there every week and had been doing so for years. She wanted to know if I was from England and seemed surprised when I told her that I was from the USA.  My biggest problem was (and always is) how much could I fit into the suitcase?  We always take carryons only when we travel and they're pretty full.  Mr D stood by patiently while I came up with this:

These are all cotton, about 1 3/4 yards and were 6 euros per piece.  The middle photo shows the details of the top one.  I had to work fast so went for color only. I haven't made either of them up yet, afraid to screw up, I guess.

It just goes to show that you never know what could be just around the corner.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Love My Purple Tights!

Although I am a Fashion Challenged person, I have embraced the colorful tights trend.  It has seemed  to be a reasonably safe thing to do and I hope it's not over yet but I was watching on our recent trip to France and saw only black tights.

These purple ones that I bought have been finding more and more a place in my wardrobe since I wear a lot of purple.  My daughters say, "Gee, Mom...purple?" But I find them comfortable and a little bit of a fashion statement.  So this is how I incorporated them into my dancing outfit this week:
The skirt is a refashion from a dress originally made withSimplicity 4074, kind of a mock wrap, which was ok but I found the fabric too dull when close to the face.  I looked kinda zombie-like actually.  I just cut off the top and turned it into a flared skirt.  The top is another Jalie 2806,  number 5, I think.  With this last one I raised the neckline a little, which turned out to be a PITA, had to do it about 4 times.  Both of these garments are rayon/lycra and the skirt fabric is from Christine Jonson.

I forgot to say that the tights were a special souvenir from France last year, bought at the Monoprix, which is a common store there, kind of mid-price range.  On that trip I hadn't found any fabric stores (sob!) but was glad to find something that I could wear often that reminded me of that trip.

Wearing purple always makes me happy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Trip Souvenirs

We have just returned from a lovely trip to Southern France as I mentioned in my last post and of course no trip is complete without a side jaunt to the fabric district, am I right? Unfortunately, Nice is more laid-back, I guess, and so I could only find a couple of places in the city center that sold fabric.  Possibly the outskirts would have more but we weren't driving.  So there were a couple of places: one, called Etamine, had outrageously (for me ) high prices, like 50 euros per meter for wool, that sort of thing.  This I discovered while looking in the window, so didn't even attempt to go in the store (Mr. D heaves a sigh of relief).  The second was a Toto outlet.  In Paris, Toto is a very well-known name for cheap household goods, kind of like the old 10-cent stores that I grew up with.  Not like Wal-mart exactly, because they're small.
Nevertheless, definitely of lesser quality.

But you gotta get a souvenir, right?  As I walked into the store, I saw the magic words-- coupons(cuttings) by the pound in the basement. Excitement mounted.  Mr. D. groaned.  It was slim pickins' but this is what I came up with after a great deal of digging:

The one on the left is a voile, quiet print but good color and the one on the right is a rayon challis, great color but proper placement of the BIG flowers will be crucial.  I got about 6 yards for 10 euros or $12.50 or so.  Not bad.  Since I was kind of "hurried" I just went for the color.

Anyway, these will be good for next summer either for myself or daughter C and will bring lovely memories of our trip as they're made up.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Under a Rock

So, we're back from a week in Europe, had a very lovely time , thank you very much.  You'd think I would have been looking at the sites, but no.  What was I seeing?  SKINNY JEANS!  Everywhere!

Seriously, we spent ,most of our time in the fairly large city of Nice and I'd say probably about 99% of women had on skinny jeans, all ages 1-100. I  got the impression that there was all there was in the stores.

Lucky for me, with no skinny jeans in my wardrobe at this time, I took three pencil skirts with a variety of tops and these worked out well.  Here is a typical outfit:
The skirt was a Christine Jonson pencil skirt, quite ubiquitous in my closet, and a Jalie 2908 R/L top with fabric from EOS, a pattern that I have made several times and really like.  These were comfortable outfits even for the plane and train.  I also wore tights or nylons, depending on the weather, and comfortable shoes with heels.  I felt polished...I guess, but spent a great deal of time thinking how I could achieve a more "of the moment" look in a flattering way.

The thing is, I don't get out too much to see how "real" people are dressing, although I do look at a lot of fashion sites. And, when sewing, one has all the freedom in the world to create a garment exactly as envisioned.  I have just perfected my Jalie jean pattern to be bootcut but now feel like I'm out of the loop.

So, back to the drawing board and maybe back to the mall.

By the way, we did have a wonderful time, very romantic.  And I did find a small fabric store for my (ahem) souvenir.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What Do You Do About Your Sewing Urges While Traveling?

Hmm...sounds slightly pornographic, doesn't it?  But Tanit-Isis describes it so well as "itchy fingers" that I really have to hand it to her.  Anyway, Mr D and I are leaving for vacation today and will be gone over a week. Usually I spend the time getting there by researching fabric shopping ahead of time (Mr D LOVES that-ha, ha) and the time coming home by making lists of upcoming projects.

While I enjoy looking at other sewers' storyboards and recaps of vacation wardrobes, I will only briefly describe mine here:  to me, it always starts with the coat or jacket.  That determines the rest, depending on other factors such as weather or type of trip.  This upcoming trip will be to Europe with a focus on cities and small towns.  I am wearing a gray wool coat, which will match with just about anything of course, along with sensible walking shoes and knit skirts/tops.  We do not wear jeans and sneakers in Europe to avoid looking like tourists, although we find that more and more Europeans are doing just that, for comfort I suppose.

I debated about pants versus skirts for the long plane ride and decided on a gray knit skirt and tights.  I really do not like starting the day in the city with wrinkled, rumply pants that have been obviously slept in. Although it's impossible to look fresh as a daisy, I try and at least look somewhat alert.

I will show my latest little travel bags made from a downloadable pattern from

The first is the jewelry roll (sorry for the unedited photos here).  I used some home dec for the maroon part and the base was made from a cute little travel print which I had originally bought to make my grandson some overalls when he was a baby.  Daughter T didn't approve of that plan so it gets a new life.  The case opened is really symmetrical and not distorted as you might think--it's just a quick lousy photo. It's bound with some packaged binding that I had on hand.  This is a quick pattern and I have used it, but the next time I would make the pockets divided more OR use clear vinyl instead.

Next is the travel case.  There are two sizes and I chose to make the smaller one, again just as an experiment.  It's really small though.  I used a zip from my stash that had a ring on it; this is very helpful when opening and closing the case.

Here's a picture of it inside-out and I am not happy with the fact that the instructions called for no finishing of inside edges.  I pinked them but it's kinda sloppy, I think.  However, the lining fabric was of special significance for me because it came from my grandmother's scrap bag and is probably from the 1940's or 1950's.  It gives me a little connection to home when traveling. I'll be using this case for the time being but I have similar patterns to try in the future with better finishing techniques.

So we'll be away for a while but when I come back I'll be having a few give-aways--very nice quality fabric from EOS and Christine Jonson, as well as a few Burda magazines.  Hopefully it will give me some feedback since I haven't had any comments on posts yet.  Speaking of which, I've been doing more commenting myself lately on other peoples' blogs, just to get more in the habit.

A bientot!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

This Week's Sunday Outfit

Oops, a little late with the posting but thought I would show what I wore to church this past Sunday: yet another Kwik Sew 2875 in a brown boucle from EOS, a Burda pattern pencil skirt, quite old, out of a very nice cotton from Christine Jonson and a top from ribbed knit from Sew Baby. I really like these boucle sweater jackets because they look dressier than a sweater but not so formal as a jacket, also quicker to construct!

The top, hmm... Simplicity 2369, a best pattern of 2010 on Pattern Review.  This is a crossover top, very promising, which I cut with an 8 in the shoulders, widening out to a 12 below the bust.  This resulted in some very strange twisting, with the center back seam going diagonally across my body.  Not a good look and I assume had something to do with my gradual change in sizes.  I thought maybe I had cut it off grain but in checking found that was not the case.  Anyway, I cut it over so that it would not be a total loss. Here in the back photo you can see a good example of the sloping shoulder problem associated with the "mature" figure.
Fitting shoulders was never an issue for me when I was younger but now I am sensitive about this and often use shoulder pads to compensate.  I like this pattern and may revisit it at some point.

I really like a combination of turquoise and brown and was quite satisfied with this outfit.

Monday, October 8, 2012

What Would You Have Done?

We're all familiar with Goodwill and Salvation Army, right?  And right now "refashioning" is quite popular. I have already described on a previous post about making tee shirts for my grandson out of men's tees from the Goodwill.

Daughter C and I recently discovered the "Pound", a place that I describe as "last-chance motel" for Goodwill buys.  This is a huge warehouse near Portland where items get brought out on large moveable tables for people to paw through before being baled up and sent overseas.  Everything is sold by the pound, hence the nickname. While pawing through on my own I discovered this:

This is a beautiful handknit sweater that was made for someone.  It has quite a lot of complicated stitching and lovely buttons.  Although I cannot wear this color, I was so sad that I just had to take it and will at least repurpose the buttons.  It's quite common to see afghans and baby sweaters at these second-hand places, which makes me feel bad too but why this particular sweater?  Personally I have saved handknit baby items and similar things given to me like blankets and afghans.  I still have a sweater that my grandmother made me when I was 12 years old (and it still fits).

So the mystery of this beautiful sweater will never be solved, I guess, but I can appreciate the workmanship for a little while.

Would you have taken it?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

KS 3267 Men's Pants=5 # Temporary Weight Gain By Wife

This Kwik Sew pattern for Men's dress pants was something I had been wanting to try for a while for Mr.D.  The Dilemma in this case was the fabric: what would be appropriate yet not too expensive in case it was a total wadder?  I have made Kwik Sew shirts many (many, many) times for my husband and know that those work well (obviously) and so was fairly confident about the pants.

Enter my Marden's mystery stash.  Marden's is a surplus/salvage store here in Maine and kind of an institution, which I will be talking about in an upcoming post.  The fabric I chose is (I think) a men's suiting, maybe a tropical wool or poly/rayon with no tag but COST ONLY $3 PER YARD.  You gotta know your stuff at Mardens'.

I cut a size medium for Mr D who informed me that he had a 32" waist (ha, ha) and allowed for some expansion.  For the waistband interfacing I used some pro-weft medium supreme from Pam Erny, which she very kindly helped me with by email and for the pockets I used some cotton from my quilting stash, something quite tightly woven.  For the next go-around, I decided, I would order supplies from Sew True  or Atlanta Sewing Supply.

Here are a couple of construction photos showing the inside waistband bound with rayon seam binding, only color I had but blended well, and then the back welt pockets with ONE buttonhole as requested by the Wearer.  These welts are not perfect but not bad and accounted for 4 of the 5 pounds gained by me during the process as well as the temporary loss of some sanity.  I have to give Kwik Sew high marks for their excellent instructions on the pockets as well as the fly.  I always use their fly instructions for all pants.

And   here are the pants worn with as many views as I could get before the model lost patience; please ignore the background interest.  As a couple of reviewers noted on Pattern Review, these pants run BIG in the legs--I had to take them in considerably, going by a well-fitting pair of RTWs.

I will be making more since he wears these quite a bit and finds them comfortable, which he probably just says to quiet my anxiety.  I think they look good on though and I'm satisfied.

We never got back to talking about the waist size however.:))

Friday, October 5, 2012

Petite Refashioning

I bought this beautiful scarf in Paris several years ago as a souvenir and had always received questions and compliments when I wore it as it was nothing like what we have here in Maine.  But, it's BIG and difficult to wear for a short person.  I gave it quite a bit of thought before refashioning it since it was unique.  However, I took the plunge an cut it over to match the dimensions of another favorite scarf that I wear often.

This is the result and a much more wearable piece.  Phew!  I feel 10 pounds lighter!

A Question of Quality

Karen over at Sewing by the Seat of My Pants had a post recently that I gave a great deal of thought to while working on my latest project.  Daughter T requested a couple of quickie quilts for the grandchildren: one for grandson C to match one that I made for his sister a couple of years ago and another for granddaughter B to give to a friend.  Karen's quandary was over the quality of items made for oneself as opposed to those sold or maybe given away.  How much effort and expertise should the sewer put into one or the other?

Now when making clothing for children one knows that they are either going to be quickly outgrown if not stained or torn before that.  With quilts it can be even  worse--you know that they're going to immediately take them outside to build an fort (didn't everyone besides my brother and I rip the blankets off our beds to make an outdoor tent?) or else let the family dog urinate on them.  This made me wonder as I whirled them through the sewing machine just how precise I should be.  My grandson is 5 so I have an idea about how long his will last but the one to give away....Who would see it?  What would they think if I did a sloppy job?  I don't even know this little girl's family but my pride kept surfacing, I'm afraid, as I ripped out and redid the quilting.  I did make them to be easily washable and didn't spend much money on materials, mostly using big scraps from my quilting stash (yes, I have a quilting stash AND an apparel stash--taking up a lot of room in a small ranch).

I guess I haven't yet come up with an answer to this particular dilemma yet but it's certainly something to think about.

Here are front and back of the boy quilt and you can see that his name is Chase.  Thank God it's only five letters, huh?  I used 2" alphabet stencils that are from a hardware store and an applique product from Sew Baby called Sure Stick that they don't seem to carry anymore.  Anyway, it allows for great accuracy.  The front fabric is jungle-y and the back is wolves.  All left over and more boyish, I thought.

I had asked my granddaughter to design the quilt to be given to her friend in order for her to be more involved in the process and this is basically what she came up with.  Both girls are 9 and these symbols are pretty big in their world these days.  When I brought the quilt for her to see she seemed surprised that it would come out as she envisioned it.  I also put a small inscription area on the back for a personalized message, to be done with a laundry pen.  This gave her a little more ownership as well.

The quilt sizes were about 50 X 60--lap size.  Great for a sleepover! says daughter T. We'll see how long they last.:))

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Update On Jalie#2918 Boys' Tee Shirt

Here are a couple more tees I've made for my grandson using Jalie#2918. Both of these were made using good quality cotton/lycra that I had on hand, unlike the last one, which was from a Goodwill find.

I was surprised, however, to find that the neckbands that I cut out of the same C/L did NOT fit over the head and I had to go back to the ribbing I had been using.  Reading the reviews on PR, I did not find any mention of this.  The navy ribbing I have had on hand for several years and it worked fine but I found that I did not have the exact match on the red and so was forced to go to Joann's to pick up some ribbing there.  I didn't realize there could be that much of a variation in quality of ribbing but apparently there is: the Joann's ribbing fit over the head only with some difficulty and I don't know how it will last in the long run.  Most of the ribbing I use comes from Sew Baby and the quality is wonderful.  In fact, they used to have three different assortments totalling 45 colors and I splurged and got them all.  Their current assortment is only 9 colors.

Oh well, Joann's only has about 6 colors and I won't be getting anymore.  A word to the wise....

Monday, October 1, 2012

And Now For Something Slightly More Exciting (with apologies to Monty Python)

Lest you think that all I do is go to church and to meetings, this post will show that I do have a social life of sorts.  On a weekly basis Mr. D and I go out and do a little dancing.  It's helpful in practicing what we've learned plus it's great exercise as well.

Now one cannot wear constricting clothing while whirling across the floor and so it's best to wear a skirt with 6 or 8 gores. This one is a rayon/lycra from Christine Jonson (big surprise) and is so old I honestly can't remember the pattern.  The top is McCall's 4517, now OOP.

It's got a sweetheart neckline with ruching although you can't see it in my picture.This top is cotton/lycra with the sleeves made out of a lighter weight cotton. I modified the sleeves for the "cold-shoulder" look currently popular which in my case adds a little drama without revealing my "mature" underarms.  Although they're not obvious when the lights are low, no one wants any unwelcome surprises during the breaks!

I did take off my watch for the dance, since it looks a little too business-like but because it's getting cold here in Maine I did wear tights.
Finally, just for a little extra fun, I did wear my favorite red jockey slip, which is really needed when wearing tights, and just let it peek out at the neckline and the hem.  Daughter C gave this to me for Christmas last year and I wear it quite frequently.

See?  I'm actually mixing red and lavender--I'm not always as boring as I appear to be. (ha, ha).