Wednesday, October 20, 2010

my very own torso block!

I've started down a new sewing garden path in a 3-class course called Pattern Construction at the local fab store. finally found an excellent teacher who talks about clothing construction and is trendy, who walks the talk. She is a young up and coming independent designer in Seattle, check her out at Kelly Flynn. She is quite talented. anyways i am slowly making my own torso block - this is so greek to me so thanks for your patience and my not figuring out or finding this all out before. But we do things as we are ready, countless things, life things. Light bulbs were going on all over the place with talk of moving darts around... different shapes for practically every part on the torso for each person... and creating each bodice piece simply by draping muslin - ultimately creating the same pieces I've unfurled and stared at countless times in commercial patterns. It's easy but it's not so easy, ya know? I keep having to back up and re-do steps, but I can get this. I have to finish the bodice portion before I move on to the sleeve, and completing my very own torso block. YAY!!!


I am petite on top so the bust and front darts are small; seems like more curvy shaped girls can play with the dart placement more but I am still lucky. I need to work on my neck and armhole shapes, and I was short on the side seams so I added 1.5" strips of muslin but I am not sure that will work, and may have to cut out a new front piece.


I also have a small back and small waist so we went with 2 smaller darts on
either side of center back rather than 2 huge darts

Saturday, August 7, 2010

one sleepy bird

Last night, sugar wanted to hit the sack before the six o'clock news... before thoughts of sleep or rest or weighty lids had even entered penny's mind... before the sun had yawned or dimmed or sunk even a bit. Last nite sugar said enough is enough for a single day, to be continued in the morn. she'd listened to classical music since dawn, chewed perches, jumped, hopped, and flown, and she desired no more. no more tightly banked flights around a small living room... no more preening, bickering and negotiating with her roommate... no more nagging pangs tempting her to hop and sidestep perches and rungs down to a yellow dish to crack more seeds. Sugar was pooped and her bed was beckoning. As was her nightly ritual she first jumped into her swing, as the cage was wiped down and new sheets of newspaper laid below. But tonight she and her swing leaned to one side, she simply closed her little eyes asleep, with fairy's dust sprinkled about

i was amazed and surprised to see my last post was April 1st!!! our new house and yard have been taking all my free time and energy for 4 months it seems! but lately i've been wanting to get back to my old routine. this photo of sugar was so cute i wanted to write a little bit about her. she actually hasn't been her usual self the past few days, but she just has a little bug and was back to her noisy demanding queen-like ways shortly...

Monday, April 5, 2010

From an island, nearly

Well, we have moved just 15 mins south of our previous residence in seattle. this is west seattle... and i write from an island, nearly. it is a large peninsula that sits well out into Puget Sound. one can take a very pleasant drive around the perimeter right at the water's edge, and feel as if you're in a small oceanside town. from the south and the airport west seattle is ez access. but from all other directions it can get interesting. on the waterside you will arrive by ferry, maybe from vashon island or bainbridge, and a walk-on only ferry gently takes people w seattle to downtown waterfront full-on view of downtown seattle. To arrive from the north and the east, you must cross the west seattle bridge

on arrival in west seattle one must not expect life to be as it was in seattle, as I did. it is just a 5 minute drive to downtown seattle, but you don't realize this phenomena until you live here. somehow residents - and there are a lot of people here - have kept hungry developers who would eat it alive out of their hair for the most part. miles and miles of alki beach are still amazingly as they were decades ago. the cutest houses you'll ever see populate this peninsula, each different from the two on either side. people are pleasant. i would wager some money that there is someone who has not left the peninsula in their whole life. it is an island. the flip side is that the remoteness also means that my familiar gym, hair salon, pharmacist and all kinds of shopping are no longer available. it is simply not practical to leave w seattle and venture far. however, the one district that is very accessible is the industrial area of seattle called georgetown, just south of downtown so some call it SODO. In sodo resides one of my fave places, starbucks headqtrs. we can even see starbuck herself peeking above their hdqtrs from our new house, which is such fun b/c I love starbucks and have since the 80s

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We're in!

Now: in our brand new cool little house with big blank slate of a yard in west seattle. 5 days of moving and shlepping boxes in rain, wind and cold, the shoulders hurt, but we've been homeowners for 5 days now. we slept 2 nites there already, with organizing, unboxing, downsizing, decorating, deciding, compromising yet to do but it's our lil piece of the rock. Rock on ~ we're in west seattle now!!!

we do have a view ~ not the serene banner view of my country dreams, but still... we look southeast, and see mt rainier and cascades when they're out. To the west, the beach is 2 mins away.

we are so proud

Sunday, March 14, 2010

drama in a dumb belt

one day a peacock, next day a feather duster

mostly i enjoy working out sewing problems. I can make things more complicated than they should be sometimes and take eons to finish sewing projects. oh well

i am making a fabric belt using vintage feedsack fabric with a small print. i was INTO collecting feedsack fabric a few yrs back.

I used 1" nylon strap for structure same fabric on both sides. i added a strip of burlap for structure in the middle but it turned out too thick for the 1" D rings i have.

the last belt i made was perfect in terms of how I think a fabric belt ought to feel. it's important to try to get that right. is that crazy? That belt was wider and had only burlap and interfacing for structure. i think maybe nylon strapping is intended for bag handles and backpack straps, and not belts ya think??!

Belt is needed for a pair of green fine wale cords found at a consignment shop. fine wale corduroy is not what I'd call robust. brand is Sitwell which i discovered is an anthropologie brand. these are crawling toward the goodwill sack, but i love them and want to help. waist sits down on on my hips and they slip down without a belt.

Long-term? Fix waist, copy pattern, toss em. no idea if I could extend the crotch length successfully.

right rear pocket, zipper opening on the right!

metal zippers add weight on pant legs so they swing

scoop pockets

short-waisted (photo closest to actual colors)

final step: D rings

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

my brilliant? career, schlepping, DIY

oivay, today i am schlepping thru my day job as a bookkeeper. It's not a brilliant career and this is not a brilliant company. it is a stepping stone as everything, and my goal was to be a bookkeeper, with the inherent independence, flexibility and QuickBooks experience, all good DIY assets. I can check these off - yep. Flexibility has slipped away 8 months in, as I work fulltime. although, i start before sunrise and finish by 3pm. So that's good. i work hard, learn every day and am grateful that my hubby and me live comfortably. i try to remember my self at work, in my tasks, and to not judge.

I saw and loved the Australian movie, My Brilliant Career" in my teens and now I can't believe the actress/actor pair were Judy Davis and Sam Neill. they had perfect chemistry ~ what a love story. today Judy Davis is thin and the character she portrayed in MBC was curvy with a big dollop of curly red hair worn either pinned to the top of her head, or loose to her waist. I guess it may have been a wig. It was a wonderful romantic movie for a headstrong teenager like me.

It's a chick flick that struck a crystal note for clueless young DIY me. I think the main reason for me is best quoted from a link about the director Gillian Anderson:

"My Brilliant Career has a strong design sense, supporting the visual telling of the story. The sets are rich with lace, wallpaper, paintings and attention to detail true to the period, all no doubt influenced by Armstrong's own experience in art departments."

I would add that the landscape scenes in the country were equally awesome.

here for more re Gillian Anderson

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

sew-ly amazing

Marimekko fabric
sewing grows on you...

share what you love about sewing. I'd love that.

Such a satisfying hobby, sewing is. truth be told it can also be maddeningly frustrating at times, filled with worm belly lows, frumpy failure, and the type of vanishing money that swirls down the tub drain and disappears with a few glug-glugs at the end. But, there are new discoveries aplenty for the adventurous and creative soul. For myself from the time I watched my mom cajole her old Singer to wondrous results - wonderful memories of things she sewed for me - to my moody pouts as I botched a project or ripped out yet another seam. But I stuck with it, turned to other activities, and returned again and again. I spent many an afternoon turning page after page of pattern books at the fabric store down the street, drooling over pictures and patterns, and knew all the Vogue models by heart. I had my favorites in the 1980s of course!


I've found a new sewing magazine simply called Stitch. It is published quarterly by a crafts publishing house in Loveland Colorado . I recommend it, the last issue focused on ethnic-inspired sewing businesses - in the u.s., japan and europe ~ i love that stuff. also a look at finland's great Marimekko fabric empire and its awesome founder Armi Ratia. More about that below!

Stitch magazine is pricey at $14 but it's a quarterly, includes lots of neat patterns and loads of style to boot to polish one's own style.

Fall 2009 issue

Tricia Waddell, the magazine's editor, writes a terrific article in the issue though I can't remember which one darnit. ha, I remembered. It's a pretty duvet and sham set - she is good at color. she made the duvet using an Indian silk sheet, with a contrast silk square in the center. i found some Indian sheets on the internet that ran about $90.

Tricia Waddell

More about Armi. Her look in this photo sears right thru the camera lens and makes you feel like you screwed up something doesn't it? But she's awfully impressive looking. Marimekko was founded in 1951 by Armi and her husband Viljo when Armi asked some of her artist friends to apply their mojo to textiles.

Armi Ratia

To show the bold, colorful fabric's possibilities, she designed some simple dresses using the fabric. Hugely influential company - scandinavians still follow and love the style vibe of Marimekko, personally witnessed in Amsterdam :)

Today's Marimekko is found at

vintage Marimekko dresses

Thursday, February 25, 2010


i've so badly needed some new shorts for bedtime. i am a cute shorts and tank wearer. everyone was tired of my nightly comfy yet a little worn lightweight red cotton pants and cuter tank tops, and I don't blame them. i took one nightie barely used (bought for a weekend with my honey) in pale green and tiny rosebuds, then fingered thru my stash and found one of my fave ebay purchases - a sheer pale pink with tiny retro cowboys and their lassoes. had to be judicious as i cut into both fabrics. i didn't have large pieces in the green knit. lightbulb? i decided to use the 2 fabrics together and try to swap each front and back. visions can drive you nuts, no? after 1/2 hour of pinning and unpinning and repinning and staring at the layout, then looking down at my own pants, i finally figured out how to put them together using my noodle without resorting to a McCall's or Vogue pants pattern ... for instruction. yay, major victory! here's the fabric as currently laid out. I think i will try a different pocket - i mean what do you pockets for when you're sleeping??!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Claire McCardell American Sportswear

Designer Claire McCardell: 1940's American Sportswear Hero

Have you heard of her?
I had not until very recently and she was amazing!

Claire McCardell had a comfortable sophistication

If you can find one of her swimsuits... buy it!
They are worth good money

Details she liked - wrap ties, interesting necklines, gathers for comfort and flattering fit

Claire designed under the Townley label for a time

This ad is super cool isn't it??!!

A pretty dress - her clothes still so modern!
Note the neckline, cool stripes, and small button closure on left bodice

McCardell loved draping and jersey

This dress reflects her other life in the country on her farm
Pretty neckline and in her day, new and fresh

Again lines and angles

left: the diaper bathing suit - kinda cute, definitely looks comfortable
right: the apron/cleaning wrap that actually came with a rag in the pocket!

Claire designed beautiful simple eveningwear

at her sketchpad - so cute with her pretty hair up

Saturday, January 16, 2010

coco before chanel, before the movie

review of Coco Before Chanel: This movie with french subtitles has sewing and fashion scenes too fun for words that left me wanting much more, but worth seeing the movie (maybe again). The drama and party scenes not so much but Coco's life was very interesting and provided a wonderful subject and plot.... as in, you can't make this stuff up!!! The french actress who played coco, audrey tatou (photo below), portrayed the icon to the hilt, rail thin and pretty and tough, as the real coco chanel, she resembled Coco and could certainly carry the fashions. It was interesting that Coco was an orphan along with her sister. The beautiful scenery, historical costumes, and all french aspects were really fun. coco's dashing boyfriend was very handsome (photo below)! I found this a very entertaining movie. Of 5 stitches, rick gave it 3 and I gave it 4.

shots from the movie:
Scenes of Coco cutting fabric were my absolute faves

Coco's gorgeous coat with scroll shoulder and cuff detail, and her sister by contrast, in neck to ankles lace at the races

Coco and her British boyfriend walk on beach

Coco in signature strands of pearls hemming

Coco in menswear, and her sister by contrast, not

Coco hems a floor length velvet dress, in a beautifully tailored appropriate dress

Altering clothes with her sister, her day job

Coco smokes and pins a sleeve to the bodice

happy Coco in a little black dress

cute actress audrey tatou, in an adorable dress with amazing lines


Some images of coco herself

Coco in one of her classic suits