Sunday, April 29, 2012

Work wardrobe and Sewing with novelty knits

Since returning from my holiday I have been focusing on how to add to my work wardrobe. When I did the great closet clean out 3 weeks ago I was left with a minuscule work wardrobe. Good thing I work remotely and travel to see customers so. No one knows I am wearing the same several outfits over and over!!! If I worked in an office I would be toast.

I did a critical evaluation of what I have for work and decided to build off of what I have so I can bulk up on choices.

I have 3 pairs of pants. One brown twill and 2 black in various fabrics and weights. And for tops it is almost worse. I have only one usable outfit to make out of the brown pants.
I decided to stop there and just jump in and make some top to go with the brown pants.

I decided on a basic twin set out of this very nice textured knit with some weight and sponginess to it.

I started out by doing a test run on my sewing machine using the regular foot and it was disastrous. It did not feed nicely the stitches were uneven and wonky and things were just as bad on the serger, even playing with the diff feed did not make things much better. So I broke out the walking foot, my stash of fusible tapes and got busy. It also meant this project was going to take me much longer than expected!

- stitches on left without walking foot, right with walking foot. Both set for a 3.0 length.

- walking foot, all my seams taped, pins and every seam basted on sewing machine before heading to the serger!

- basted seams with 5.0 stitch length and then lined this basting line up to the left needle on my serger foot.

- cardigan front and hem fused with 1 1/4 in knit tape other seams with 1/2 tape.

Going thought all the trouble of fusing all the seams gave me better control and the final product is beautiful and I don't have to worry about any growing or sagging seams.

- the cardigan fronts were finished with the serger, folded in half on the tape and then cover stitched. The result is beautiful, even on the inside!

Now I just need to decided on closures. I have decided not to put button holes down the entire front. I NEVER wear my twinsets buttoned up. I only ever button them at the top and/or over the chest. I like the way this looks on me best.

So I left the project unfinished over night to ponder the buttons. This is where I think I am headed....

Stay tuned for the finished project!

Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Lisle, IL

Friday, April 27, 2012

Swimming with the Dolphins!

While in Jamaica I had the opportunity to go swimming with dolphins. Can I say how excited I was!!! I was not the only one to be excited... must be a girl thing because the other 3 ladies on the trip with me were just as excited! Our men on the other hand, they decided to let us have a girls excursions and they stayed back at the resort.

Ever since I was a young girl and read Madeleine L'Engle's A Ring of Endless Light I have dreamed of  swimming with dolphins.

And now it has come true! I get to mark that off of my bucket list :)

It was very exciting, I had butterflies in my stomach and I literally felt like I was 13 again. We had a little over 30 mins in the water with the dolphins and got to touch, pet, dance, sing and swim with them. we got to ride along with them holding onto the dorsal fins and we also got a 'push' where you lie on your stomach in the water and the 2 dolphins come up and push you from the bottom of your feet and you go like superman through the water. Very cool.

The 2 males that we interacted with were each around 300lbs but so gentle and they have such kind and intelligent eyes.

Such a blessed experience that I am sure to never forget!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Jamaican Vacation

My vacation holiday to Negril, Jamaica was completely amazing.

If I could just convey the pure feeling of contentment as all my worries just slipped away for 7 blissful nights.

We came back late on Sunday and I felt so rejuvenated. Ready to tackle reality once again.

I had every intention of having my hubby or one of my friends snap a picture of me each day so I could share how good my vacation sewing efforts paid off. But, did I mention how relaxed I was. I did not even want to worry about making it happen.

Suffice it to say that I got many nice compliments on my new tops, outfits and beach coverups that I created. That was good enough for me!

I would like to share several pictures that highlighted my trip. I still need to upload my favorite pictures... I got to swim with the dolphins and it was wonderful! Those pics get to have a post of their own :)

Now time to ponder the pile of fabric on my work table and decide what to make next...

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Top # 5, my last for this challenge

For my last top of the challenge I decided to 'challenge' myself a little more and do a bottom down blouse.

The pattern, fabric and buttons are all from my stash.

Pattern: Simplicity 3684, Threads Collection, misses button shirt.
Fabric: white cotton embroidered lawn from Mood
Buttons: polished stone bought at a fair some years ago.

I spent 2 days working on this shirt and am in love with it! It is soft and lovely and drapey and is everything I was wanting it to be!

It is a little bit oversized, I did this on purpose so I could wear it open over a tank or bathing suit. Or as a relaxed button up. The fabric was lovely to work with and is so soft. The pattern fit great except for the sleeve which size I altered quite a bit, tapering down 5 sizes to the wrist. The wrist would still be too large if this was to be used as a dress shirt! Other than that alteration I used the pattern as is using the C cup front tissue.

A Great big THANK YOU to Faye for holding this challenge!

It has been fun and I added 5 new shirts to my wardrobe, all of which are packed in my suitcase for our trip to Jamaica!!

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Lisle, IL

Thursday, April 12, 2012

More thoughts on Style

My last work trip before vacation! I am itching to get back home, I have one more shirt that I want to finish prior to getting on the plane to Jamaica Sunday morning.

A oversized, comfy white cotton button down. It's cut out and sitting on the work table!

I have had some more thoughts on style. I actually took some time to look through some fashion mags and websites, really look at different designers and just take it all in. With my closet standing somewhat empty I need to organize my thoughts and make a game plan. I love the idea of making lists but don't want to box myself in to anything.

I have decided that if I had to describe my style:
Polished yet unexpected with a bit of the unusual and well made and comfortable and of course unique!

Yup, that describes me and many other sewers, self designers that I know. It's nice to be part of a really good group of people.

So once I get back from vacation... I know that I really have to work on my 'work wardrobe'. It is really lacking, I have many wonderful patterns and fabric in the stash for work appropriate clothes. Now I just need to get working.

3 areas of work clothes:
- tops
- blazers/jackets
- pants

I may continue with the tops roll I have been on, Thanks to Faye and her Starting at the Top Challenge, I have several tops for spring and summer casual wear. I am leaning towards spending a couple more weeks concentrating on work tops. Hmm much to ponder!

Happy sewing.

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Philadelphia, PA

Friday, April 6, 2012

Figuring out my style

I have been doing some thinking while on this work trip about what I am going to to about my empty closet.

In reality this is probably the first time in my life that I have had so little clothes and the opportunity to rebuild it in the way that I want to. I started thinking about what I want to sew which led me to thinking about what style I want to portray. And then had a very clear thought that I just don't know what style I am!

The questions then started popping up left and right in my head!
- did I even have a defined style before the great closet purge?
- or did I just willy nilly shop for what fit and make some pieces here and there?
Then I started thinking about other people.
- Do most people have a clearly defined style?
- Does one even need to have a clearly defined style?

And then if you google fashion styles it just gets even worse! Because then some fashionista media magazines are trying to put every one into clearly defined little boxes of style. I hate boxes and labels!
You could be:
- classic
- chic
- whimsical
- bohemian
- avant-garde

According to said fashion media you can only be one of those or possibly a mixture of two. But that is it... Hmmmmm, seriously? I think not.

I think I like 'Stephanie' style.... Even though I'm not 100% sure exactly what that is!

Time for me to do some style exploring. Figuring out best colors, shapes, fit and ease. I want clothes that look good on me, make me feel confident and portray me. The best part about the entire thing is that I get to make it all :)

Do you have a style all your own?

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Portland, OR and Seattle, WA airports

Thursday, April 5, 2012

So much for shopping in Portland

Yesterday was just one of those days that you just would not mind leaving behind!

The bad storms in Dallas on Tuesday caused American Airlines to cancel tons of flights due to aircraft damage. I woke up yesterday to a lovely text message saying your flight has been canceled, call to reschedule. Sigh...

After spending some time on the phone with our travel agent I was rebooked to get to Portland, OR through a connection in Phoenix, AZ. Really? Oh well. Long day traveling.

Somehow along the way I lost my jacket and then they forgot to Tell me that my short connection time in Phoenix was further complicated by my having to leave terminal 4 and walk a mile to Terminal 2 and go through security again. Jeez, I just made that flight and realized I was sans jacket. Buggers.

Good thing I had the foresight to download some movies to my iPad before going . Phoenix to Portland had me sitting in a middle seat somewhere in the back. HUGO on my iPad saved the day for me.

Now I am sitting in my hotel with a gloomy, wet, chilly day looking back at me. No jacket, no motivation to step out for a quick trip to the button shop. Oh well, I console myself with the thought that I have thousands of awesome buttons in my stash at home. Plus it gave me time to peruse some new to me sewing blogs.

My week in Jamaica can not come soon enough!

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Portland, OR

Starting at The Top- 2012. A top challenge and closet clean out!

A quick update on what I have been up to. My very first challenge... I know I sound a bit geeky getting excited over a challenge but, I don't care. It's fun and inspiring!

It is a fun and easy challenge that lasts for 15 days and is all about tops.

A funny thing happened on my way to this challenge. I decided to go through my closet and see what kind of tops I really needed. This led me to taking every single thing I own out of my closet, trying each and every piece on AND Filling up 4 large black garbage bags to go to the goodwill. WOW. My closet now has maybe 1/3 of its original contents.

And now I need a challenge for every sort of clothing!! It is actually kind of liberating reducing my closet clutter like that.

My criteria were pretty simple. If it did not fit or did not look good it went out. I kept a few pieces that were one dress size smaller than I am now but only because they are nice pieces and I like them. Many of the items were just too small and my body shape has changed. The breaking of my leg two years ago is still having a rippling number of changes upon my life.

I have decided that I will re-sew my wardrobe. Unless it is something that I need emergently!

Anyway... Onto the Starting at the Top challenge.

This week I have sewn 3 tops. All from the Silhouette Pattern line and all for summer/ vacation.

The first is another version of #450 Nancy's blouse. This is in the same light weight cotton dancing print fabric as the tank top I made last week. The only change to the pattern was to change the sleeve to a wide angled bell shape and I lowered the points on the facing where so that they hit just below the collar bone. This cotton is so light weight that again I just did a nice rolled edge for the bodice and sleeves hem.

I can envision myself wearing this out for a walk on cool summer night.

The next 2 are from the same pattern, Silhouettes #195 The Sweater Set. Although I did not make a sweater set! Not yet anyway.

This is the same pattern that I used a couple weeks ago at the fitting class I took at the sewing expo. Which was great, it was the first time to use the pattern and all the guess work was gone I knew exactly what I needed to do for the perfect fit.

The first one I made I lengthened about 8 inches from the original pattern and just slightly changed the angle of the French dart. To keep the fun flows look of the vertical ruffles going I placed the bodice and sleeve hem on the selvedge. Love it when the selvedge is usable like that! I also stabilized the side and shoulder seams with some knit tape and the neckline as well. I think it was necessary to stabilize since I used this knit fabric on the crosswise grain the most stretch is now going up and down and I did not want to end up with sag.

I fell in love with this long shirt the second I put it on! The knit is very light weight and soft the ruffles are fun and move with the slightest breeze. I can see myself wearing this out with a pair of black Capri leggings, cute sandals and maybe a big black belt. Looks cute belted and unbelted.

The last shirt is just the sleeveless t-shirt part from the sweater set. This one was made to the pattern length. Again it was using this ruffle knit fabric from vogue, only in black. I did not want to run the ruffles horizontally because it would have the same effect as stripes, and on a plus size gal that is not so flattering. S instead I cut this out on the bias. This time I did not have the luxury of the selvedge for my hems! So I used a 1 1/4 in wide knit tape for the lower hem and a narrow knit tape at the neck, shoulder and armholes. The hems were a pain to do, painstakingly slow to make sure that all the ruffles were caught going in the proper direction. Very, very worth it. This fabric is very forgiving on the body and feels wonderful.

And now I am off to Portland, Oregon for the rest of the week for work.... I saw online that there is a fabulous looking button store just a couple blocks from my hotel...

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Lisle, IL