Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bring on the Rain!

Well, I don't know about y'all, but my "sewing life" has been way less about sewing, and way more about working. But way back in June, my mom requested a raincoat. One that I make for her. One that matches some rain boots she has. I've been sewing every spare minute since Thanksgiving!

It wasn't until her visit to Atlanta in October that she chose her fabric, and well, it won't match the rain boots. I used the Amy Butler raincoat pattern that I made for myself and for Laura. She tried on mine, and while she really isn't any larger than me, she wanted it bigger, because she wants to be able to wear a sweatshirt underneath. People. She lives in Texas. It's hot there (recent ice storm notwithstanding). Oh, well... I think she'll be able to wear a sweatshirt.

Since I've already made this twice and blogged about it each time (click on the links for the posts), there's not much left to say. Gonna bullet-point it...

  • I used laminate this time. A first. Wasn't too hard, but occasionally gave me problems.
  • The sleeves were still a bitch. And not just because Mom wanted them looser and bigger.
  • My sleeves were too short. Hers are extra long because she wants to roll them up to show off the lining.

  • I used some of my previously traced pieces, and traced some from scratch, and had some weird things happen. They were fixed in the muslin stage.
  • I was nervous about making the buttons with the laminate, but they went together like a charm.
  • Don't worry about my mom seeing this ahead of Christmas... she never reads my blog. :/

And that's about it. No more sewing planned for 2013... the cutting table has been transformed into the wrapping table. If you celebrate Christmas, then you know what I'm talking about!

Happy Holidays and Happy 2014!

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Vintage Pattern Sale

Are you looking for a CyberMonday deal on vintage patterns? Denise, of the Blue Gardenia, is holding a sale that could be considered more of a CyberDecember kind of deal. Her website will be having a Grand Re-Opening January 1, 2014, but until then, you can still shop. And more importantly, the more you buy, the more you'll save!

The details:
Spend $100 (before the discount) and get 20% off.
Spend $200 (before the discount) and get 30% off.
Spend $300 (before the discount) and get 40% off.
Spend $400 or more (before the discount) and get a whopping 50% off.

Sounds great! She's only accepting Paypal during this sale, and you can also buy gift certificates with the sale rates that will be honored during January.

Head over to the Blue Gardenia now! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Avocado Project Lives!

I know I've been scarce around here, but, like a broken record, this full time job is kicking my butt. Anyway, without any help from me aside from a little water now and then, those avocado seeds that I encouraged to take root, are all still alive and well.
I had almost given up on the little one in the middle, but it looks like it's going to pull through and give me a few leaves!

In sewing news, I have just finished a red tulle skirt to wear .to a Christmas party, pictures to come. Roland totally rolled his eyes at the floof-i-ness of the thing, and I may have to tone it down a little. And I'm making a raincoat for my mom for Christmas, at her request. I'm just waiting for the muslin I made for her to make it's way back to me so I can get started. Sewing long distance can be a challenge.

I'm so far behind in my blog reading, I may never catch up, but I do hope all is well with everyone. Have a wonderful December!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Vintage Wedding Gown

Thirty years ago today, at 2pm CST, I walked down the aisle of Perkins Chapel, on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and married my college sweetheart, Roland. In a vintage wedding gown.

Well, back in those days, I didn't call it a vintage wedding gown, but I was wearing my mother's wedding dress.

We were so young!

30 years later, we have made it through the better and the worse. We have lived in 9 different houses in 5 different cities (including 3 houses in Prague, Czech Republic). We have 2 beautiful children, Laura and Kyle, and now one fantastic son-in-law, Thomas. No grandchildren yet, but 2 grandpuppies. Do they count? We have had 5 pets: 2 cats and 1 dog, all deceased, and 2 great rescue dogs now. I'm not counting the fish OR the hamster (thank you, Laura, for that wonderful experience, lol), but we had those, too.

But, really, you cannot simply quantify 30 years of marriage. It is time passing, and life being lived, doing the best that you can do.

Here's to 30 more!

Finally, a picture of my mother, Corinne, the original owner of the beautiful gown I wore. We did have to make some modifications, the most significant was replacing the yellowed lace on the bodice with new. Leftovers of that lace were used on Laura's wedding gown she wore in 2010.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Knitted Minion

Do you love the minions from Despicable Me? Who doesn't?!! So when I saw this free minion pattern that someone pinned, I instantly repinned! But I didn't just repin! I actually knitted, and made one for Laura's birthday that was Monday, the 9th.

If you click on the pattern link above, you'll notice that I made some changes. Some were intentional, some were probably a knitting gauge thing, or knitting inexperience thing. Like I'm not sure why his feet look like he's wearing elf shoes.

I made his goggles removable, and one change was to make the eyes out of felt with painted eyes instead of knitting them.
His overalls also come off, so theoretically, I could knit him more outfits. Or maybe I'll sew him some... that would definitely be faster.

The birthday girl was happy!

She named him Frank.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Witches and Widows and Bad Guys, Oh My

Or... how I feel about wearing all black to work...

It feels negative and stifling. Keep in mind these are my feelings, and one could certainly make an argument for slimming and chic, but that's just not what I'm feeling.

Our dress code is pretty straight forward. All black. No print, polka dots or stripes. We can get away with some color in our accessories, i.e., scarves, necklaces, belts and shoes.

It is definitely a unifying look, and customers can find us without having to do that embarrassing "excuse me, do you work here?" thing. We stay reasonably clean. I spilled my lunch all over my skirt one day, and after just a little dabbing and wiping, you couldn't even tell.

And the bad guys?
Suffice it to say that I do not like the dress code. It's a pretty common one for some retail and restaurant workers. It's practical on many levels. And while I've made a handful of things to wear, but there's not a lot of creativity involved and that's what I love about sewing. And that's why you'll be seeing my creative side coming out in a few other mediums. Maybe even a little sewing. ;)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Avocado Project Continues

The 3 avocado seedlings are continuing to grow. The first, Buck, has been planted and is probably almost 2 feet tall now! (I haven't actually measured... that would be too scientific of me!)

The second one, Austin 2, has finally sprouted a root.

And the 3rd seed, Austin2, is going like gangbusters. I'm going to try HGTV's method. This method instructs you to pinch off the stem about halfway when it reaches 6".
I've tried this pinching off thing twice before, but each time once the tree had already been planted. The first time was a success, though, like all things avocado, I had to be very patient and endure a summer of the stick plant. The second time resulted in death. Yeah. That wasn't really the plan. Let's hope this time it results in a bushier, less stick-like plant.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Little Painting

I haven't been sewing lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been creating. Sometimes, I fear that I am afflicted with what I like to call "crafter's ADD". Always dabbling, never perfecting. Maybe that should be my motto.

Last year about this time, I took a painting class. It was called something like landscape painting with acrylics and collage. It was really fun, but shortly thereafter I found myself to be employed (you know that story), and, well, no more painting. But I've had a couple of ideas floating around my head, and had to get them out!

I did 2 last week. Both with acrylic paints, and photographs (personal or otherwise noted) printed on tracing paper. Mixed media. The first was based on this personal photograph (I don't remember where it was taken):
And this drawing, scanned from an original drawing that my father made in 1952. (I happened on a stack of these on a recent visit to my mom's):
And here is my interpretation:
A collaboration of sorts. The red was drawn with a marker which ran when I decided to top the whole thing with an acrylic glazing liquid. Oops. I'm leaving it for now.

The second one was based on this photo of my dad (photographer unknown).
And my collage:
You can see these and the other paintings that I did in my class here on flickr.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Picture of the Week

I've written a post every day. Apparently, that's only happened in my mind. We're back to Thursday, so I thought I'd share a quaint little thing I did back when my kids were babies. When Laura was born way back in 1987, someone (my mom?) gave us a Polaroid camera, and it was decided (a request perhaps?) that I would send both my mom and mother-in-law a "picture of the week". Oh, and then I would mail these pictures.

Quaint, right? In this day of digital photography, I suspect grandparents are now inundated with photos on facebook, instagram, and in their email inbox on a daily basis.

But, you know, back in the old days, we had this stuff called film that had to be developed and frankly, sometimes you just didn't know what you were getting. The first commercial "instant" camera was unveiled in 1948, so they had been around for awhile. One of the great things about these pictures, is that the frame around them can be written on.

Anyway, last year, I brought home my mother's collection, and scanned them, primarily to preserve them. Some were fading quite a bit. And now, on throwback Thursday, I'm going to share one of them. Yep, just one.

On this day in 1989, Laura was taking a train ride in Wheaton Regional Park in Wheaton, Maryland, not far from our house. She's wearing an adorable shorts outfit, that I made her. Those objects in the cotton print are cows.

Hope you had a wonderful Thursday today and back in 1989!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Throw Back Thursday

I bet y'all know all about this "throw back Thursday". It's all over the twitterverse, instagram and facebook. Don't know when or how it started, but hey! Better late than never. Today is the perfect day for me to start because yesterday, I spent a little time scanning slides. What?

I have the Epson Perfection V330 Photo scanner that I bought a couple of years ago to easily scan the pattern envelopes for my Etsy shop. It's great! I highly recommend it. Of course, you would now have to buy the newer model. The scanner also came with this weird little holder device thingie which, if used correctly, scans slides (positive film) and negatives. I haven't given it a test run of the negatives, but even if doing moderately correctly, does a great job of scanning the slides. Like when you have the slide in the projector and the words are backwards and upside down... if you only guess when you put the slides in the thingie, sometimes your scans come out that way too.

Here's what the thingie looks like:
The long, narrow part on the left is where you would put a negative in.

And, if it has been decades that you took any photos with slide film, this is what might turn up (the first 2 had what appeared to be a 1985 date stamp on the frame):

What? Something you would now delete if you were using a digital camera! Unretouched, by the way.

 Elliott (I think). Photo only cropped.

And finally, a stray slide that I scanned, with a 1970 date stamp, truly a throwback!

It appears to be me on the left, but I do not remember that jacket or that haircut, and you think you might remember something like that. It is definitely my sister on the right. Those are some groovy sunglasses!

It takes about 4 minutes to scan 4 slides, so this isn't a super quick process, but the discovery is fun. Unless I unearth a few more boxes of slides, I only have about 5 more rolls to scan.

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Avocado Project - Still Growing

I'm a little behind in the avocado update, and there has been some significant growing!! Buck was ready to plant when we last left the little seedlings, and look at him now:
Apologies for the lack of focus... my cell phone camera apparently doesn't view the tall, skinny stick as a worthy focal point. Apparently, according to HGTV and this post, I have actually done it wrong. I quote:

Here’s how to start:
  1. Remove the large pit (seed) from inside an avocado, rinse well, and dry (a wet seed will be slippery!).
  2. Push three or four toothpicks into the seed at its widest part so that you can suspend the pit over a glass of water with the pointy end sticking up. The water should cover about an inch of the seed.
  3. Put in a warm place and make sure to maintain the water level.
  4. In 2-6 weeks, roots and a stem will sprout from the seed. When the stem is about six inches long, trim it in half.
  5. When the stem leafs again, transplant the seedling to a pot with loose, sandy soil. Plant the seedling root down, leaving the top half of the pit sticking out of the soil.
  6. Give your plant frequent, light watering and keep it in a sunny place to encourage growth.
  7. Pinch back the newest top leaves every time the stems grow another six inches or so to encourage more growth and a fuller plant.
- See more at:

Yep, I totally missed step 4. I think I'll carry on, but perhaps for one of the Austins I will actually follow the above steps.

Ah, but what about the Austins? The first Austin is proceeding at an astonishingly glacial pace with only minimal visual markers to give us any optimism at all.

Honestly, I'm kinda ready to just chuck this one, but I'll give it a couple more weeks.

Austin2 is showing more progress, but then he started out progressing in fruito, as it were.
I've never seen one with a double root, so that's cool. And the crack is large enough that the stem development is also quite interesting. Something that would be great for kids to watch. Besides plant growth, it would be quite a lesson in patience.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A New Style of Posting

Hi Friends! Not quite sure where to begin, so I'll just jump right in. You may have noticed less sewing posts. I mentioned some "fitness goals", and those goals are still on the table. But really, my life has taken a new trajectory at the moment, and for me, working full time means way less sewing. I'm not sure if it's an exhaustion thing, or a lack of desire thing what with having to wear only black at work, but I'm just not feeling it.

(For the record, a phrase that you won't ever read here is sewing mojo. I don't mind reading it in, but for whatever reason, it does kind of give me the heebie jeebies. While I'm at it, you also won't see me substitute the word "sew" for "so". No criticism of those who do, but it's just not for me.... ok, back to the post.)

So if you come here just for the sewing posts, which from a critic's standpoint had actually become more of a "here is what I made" rather than a "here is the process", you'll be out of luck. There will definitely still be some sewing posts, but just not as frequently.

But, there will be posts on the avocado project (still going strong--update soon), other creative outlets, vintage sewing patterns (still selling 'em), life in general, and the wedding industry specifically (my opinion of it, at least).

Oh, yeah... I'm still reading your blogs, too, admittedly in more of a lurking style than participatory.

Bottom line... the goal here is to post more often because sometimes there is just stuff I gotta write about, but the content will be broader. I will try to label appropriately (wink!). I would love your feedback and comments!

Have a great Monday!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Little Knitting

Thanks for the fitness goal encouragement. That little "project" is coming along. And thanks for the other sewing suggestions... I'm not opposed to sewing for others, and actually have something planned for my mom that she requested a little later this year. And home dec... my home is pretty much "dec-ed" out right now. I actually don't mind "recharging" breaks from sewing, as I have other creative outlets.

I've done a little messing around with painting and drawing. No real talent to speak of, but sometimes I just have to paint. Kind of weird.

The other creative outlet that I enjoy is knitting. I would still classify myself as maybe an advanced beginner, and am not really interested in knitting garments for myself. And my mom keeps me well supplied with scarves... I have more than enough for the warm climate in which I live. I do see myself knitting for babies (when the time comes). And I like knitting toys. Go figure.

My primary source for toy patterns is the book Itty-Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson, and I've shown off some earlier creations. Click on her name and you can see lots that she creates... not just the toys.

Last year I started the sock monkey, and then put him down, about 90% finished. So I finished him. I really did a terrible job on him, and didn't add his hair because I couldn't figure out the instructions, and really couldn't be bothered. But here he is, in all his weird glory.
So ugly that he's kind of cute, right? Maybe not. Anyway, I'm knitting something else right now that I'll be taking on a little semi-spontaneously planned beach vacation. Hopefully that little creation will turn out a bit more successfully.

And if you want to see some really fantastic "itty-bitty toys" knitted by a fellow sewing blogger, check out Clio's blog!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fitness Goals -- Bridesmaid Series (Sort of)

This is kind of a dual purpose post. First, just want to explain the absence of any sewing projects here on what, on first glance, might appear to be a sewing blog. I have embarked on a new diet plan. Let's call it a lifestyle eating plan rather than a diet. Really, it was either that, or amass an entire new wardrobe, because the current one was apparently shrinking. Phase 1 is 21 days, and while that sounds like a formal plan... it's not really. Just how long I'm giving it to see if it works for me, and if it does, I'll certainly tell y'all how I did it. I'm about halfway through this experiment, and am cautiously optimistic.

That means that I just don't want to start a sewing project if my measurements will be changing. Seems logical.

The Bridesmaid part of this post.

Ah, "fitness goals". That's the phrase we use in our note when a 'maid wants to order a size smaller than recommended because she is going to lose some weight, work out more, etc. Sometimes those goals are met and the dress fits like a glove, and sometimes, well, you know the end of that story.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Avocado Project - Multiplying

The avocado project is continuing -- and multiplying! Before I get into what I mean by that... let's take a look at the unexciting stuff. That would be Austin.
Sadly, no visible progress. I'm not giving up on him though.

In the meantime, you may have noticed another seed in Austin's cup... that would be Austin2, and I just couldn't resist. I mean, when I recently cut into an avocado, I noticed the seed was already cracked.
Oooh, exciting!

But the real excitement is Buck. After almost 2 months, he's ready for planting... this will be the last time we see the root (and there is even about an inch of stem at the other end, just barely visible).
I'm planting this one in dirt today. Let's reminisce...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Avocado Project - A root appears

Just a quick post, because that's all I have time for, but there has been exciting progress! Buck's root is coming along nicely!
It's just slightly shorter (and whiter) than the toothpick supports. Once it reaches about 6" in length, I'll plant it in dirt, and we'll have to watch the progress from above.

Not much to look at on Austin yet... just a potential spot where the crack may begin to appear.
I'll update the collages in 2 weeks when I have more time.

Until then...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Bridesmaid of the '80s -- Bridesmaid Series

Way back in April I wrote a post about bridesmaid dresses, and how they are, most often, just never worn again. As I am semi-between my own current sewing projects, I thought it might be fun to go back to the dark ages reminisce about the bridesmaid dresses that I wore.

Besides my own wedding, I was in 4 other weddings. My cousin's, a sorority sister's, my own sister's, and my best friend from high school. Let's start with my own wedding because each of these dear women were also in my wedding, and you can see what they wore.

Susan, Cindy, Roland, Beth and Carrie

The date: October 29, 1983 (yes, our 30th anniversary is coming up). The place: Southern Methodist University's Perkins Chapel in Dallas, TX. The lovely maids are wearing burgundy moire taffeta dirndl style skirts with a blouse made using Vogue 2805, an Oscar de la Renta designer pattern. I did wear my sister's dress to a wedding in Italy the next year. No word on if anybody else wore the outfit again.

Before I go any further, let me add that until very recently, I actually still had all of these dresses. And no, I am not a hoarder... just maybe sentimental. Or something.

Backing up a few years, I was first in my cousin Carrie's wedding in 1977 when we were really but babes.

The peasant style top has a Sakowitz label, but I seem to remember that these were also made by my mom (or someone). There is also a Liberty print short overskirt that buttoned in the front that I plan to refashion into something else. It's just as full, so there is plenty of fabric. For a long time I also still had the 3 ribbons that we tied around our waists, but those are either squirreled away, or just gone. I may have worn the top again, but I don't really think I did. This one outlasted the marriage. All that lovely blue eyelet will make an adorable dress for a future granddaughter, don't you think?

For my sorority sister, Beth's wedding, we were in peach polyester taffeta.
This dress was floor length, and has since been sold in a vintage section of one of my Etsy shops. But it has been hemmed. Why, you ask? (Beth, if you happen to read this... I know we looked lovely on the day, but, well, it was just perfect for something else, too. Apologies in advance.)

Little Bo Peep and her little lost sheep, now found. Yes, Halloween.

Cindy was married in 1985 (I think) in January, which explains the burgundy velvet.

It doesn't really dip that low in the neckline... the elastic that goes over the shoulders, strap-like to hold up those great, puffy sleeves, is just shot. I wore this to a performance of the Nutcracker Suite in the late 80s, and I think that was it. I do still have it, thinking I might make some kind of holiday pencil skirt. May be time to just let this one go.

Finally, my sister, Susan's wedding. May, 1987. Again in Dallas, this time at Highland Park Presbyterian Church. Laura Ashley was very popular then, and that's what we wore. And I was 6 months pregnant. Can you tell?

I refused to let the photographer get a side shot of me. This time, I bought the dress 2-3 sizes too big, and had a friend help me make it a bit more pregnancy friendly around the middle. I never wore this dress again, and it was also sold from my Etsy shop.

Hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane! That was definitely the 80s for you... big sleeves, full skirts, bows, and that unflattering "tea" length.

Until the next bridesmaid/wedding post...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tiramisu #2, the Amex Dress

I've finished my 2nd Tiramisu knit dress, and I'm calling it the Amex dress, not because it was super expensive, but because the fabric reminds me of the green American Express card, and I won't want to leave home without it.

But when it was initially finished, it should have stayed home. It didn't, and when I wore it the first time, I was actually pretty mortified that it looked as horrible as it did.

Exhibit A, Tiramisu 2.0:
It doesn't look that bad on the dress form, although you can see the incredibly drooping hem at center front (and yes, it does that at the center back as well). You also can't see well that I added an approximately 1-1/2" band at the hem because I wanted it a little longer, and that from the midriff on down, it hung like a sack.

The bodice is a smidge short, but I can live with that. The midriff was too short (something I did on purpose and totally regret) which drove me crazy in wearing. So... how to fix these issues when I only had a small pile of scraps left over.

Introducing the Tiramisu 2.1:
I happened to have scraps of a Michael Miller interlock knit from the same colorway used in another project. Let's go to the bullet points:

  • I'm living with the too short bodice. Will print out the revised bodice pieces for my next version.
  • Cut off the skirt at the seamline between skirt and bottom of midriff.
  • Added a 2-1/2" wide strip of the "new" fabric to create a belt-like look to the bottom of the midriff. Used a 1/2" seam here.
  • Took in the side seams beginning at the midriff. A bunch. Didn't take photos, but angled down from the midriff-bodice seamline toward the waist approximately 2". That adds up to 4" per side! Maybe a little more.
  • Trying to preserve the pockets, I took extra width out of the center front and center back of the skirt, using a 2-1/2" seam allowance per seam.
  • Reattached the skirt.
  • The pockets looked terrible with the new, more snug fit. Sewed them shut, serged off the pocket bits.
  • Put the dress on the dress form, measured up from the floor to get an even hem, and used my coverstitch to hem.
End result: it's not perfect, as I would have preferred a solid color, and a bit more length both to the bodice and overall, but it is now a dress I will definitely wear. My previous experience with this fabric is that it will continue to shrink, so it probably has a limited shelf life as it is anyway, so I'll just enjoy it while I can.

With a belt:

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Avocado Project -- Meet Buck and Austin

The Avocado Project continues, and there's been a new addition. As Meg mentioned in a comment, and as I've read elsewhere on the interwebs, it's quite possible that you need 2 avocado trees to produce avocados.

The first avocado seed "toothpicked" is the one on the right, and in honor of it's growing vessel, I've named it Buck. It's obviously not readily apparent, but the cup is from a high school sporting event at Westminster, a private school in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. Ah... now of course you get it.

Here's how Buck is progressing...
Hard to see, but the crack is larger, and deep in the center, there appears to be a tiny root.

The second seed was "toothpicked" 2 days ago on Friday, almost 4 weeks after the first. I'm calling it Austin. For far more obvious reasons.

Austin hasn't made much progress...

To chronicle their progress, the previous progress pictures will be consolidated into a collage.

So the progress up til now (Buck only):


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