Archive for January 2015

Geek Chic January: My Book of Life Dress

Friday, January 30, 2015

I am a self-professed nerd -- I guess I don't need to claim it since most people would agree with that assessment.  Combining my nerdiness with my craftiness, my new monthly series was born: Geek Chic.   This series will feature garments with a tell-tale geek theme.  Superheroes, cosplay, books, music...ah, the possibilities are limitless. New Year, new series, and, tsk, tsk, on the last day of January...

The cute animated movie The Book of Life was released to DVD in the United States this week.  
It features Zoe Saldana and Diego Luna in a tale about love and the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead.  Day of the Dead is a day in which family members remember loved ones that have died.  Traditions vary include making sugar skulls with the name of the one who has passed, sweet breads, or altars to dead loved ones.  The idea is to remember and celebrate those who have passed.  I tried making those sugar skulls and, clearly, it is not a skill that I have -- it was more like irregular sugar shapes. My sister requested for her birthday last year a Day of the Dead skirt.  I used Alexander Henry's fabric from his Folkloric collection. The moment I trimmed the final thread from my machine for her skirt I began to want one of my own.

Experiment:
Simplicity 2444
Size 8

Materials:
3 yards Day of Dead Skulls cotton
22 inch black invisible zipper
Homemade Black bias binding

Procedure:
I had scraps of the Alexander Henry fabric left but not enough to make a dress or even a skirt for myself.  A couple of weeks later during an impromptu trip to JoAnn's, I stumbled on this fabric -- not quite as stunning as AH's Folkloric fabric yet reasonably priced and colorful.   I wanted to make this for the movie release in October of 2014.  What happened!? -- Life.
Luckily for me, I saw when the DVD was being released (To know or be in the know about this kind of information is a rare thing for moi), I had my chance to sew.  I went to my TNT: Simplicity 2444.  I decided to make it sleeveless to make it a little more versatile.  That translates to wearing cardigans in the fall.  I find that when there are sleeves plus the cardigan there a a ton of bulk.  I opted to finish the sleeves with homemade black bias binding and instead of folding it under, I left the bias binding showing for contrast.
 I love the shape of this dress. The pleats on the bodice are forgiving and make for an easy sew.  Although it would be an easy sew when you sew it as much as I have!
Cardigans are one of my favorite accessories.  I really should invest in Muse Patterns' Jenna cardi.  Isn't this silly but I haven't purchased the pattern because I am nervous of a button placket on knits!?!
There is not much to say about the construction of this dress that I haven't written before.  The highlight here is the fabric! I am a sucker for animated movies -- The Book of Life received two thumbs up in my family.  Dress nerdy, pop some popcorn, watch a movie, and have fun!

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Winter Blues Chased Away

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Whew!  I love a holiday weekend -- here in the States we had a bank holiday this past Monday to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr's birthday.  Having a mixed family, we spent some time learning about MLK, social impacts, and how influential he was in the civil rights movement.  Chatting about civil rights with a 7 year-old is interesting and hilarious -- people treated differently for the color of their skin is a concept difficult for him to understand (What a blessing!). My son was most impressed that MLK was born in Atlanta: "Mom, he was born the same city I was!"  In spite of the amusing discussion, we ended yesterday listening to MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech.  My little family still gets the occasional stares but we openly talk with Jules about how very special and blessed our family is.  

We started the long weekend going to dinner -- Italian per my son's request -- to celebrate the amazing grades on his latest report card.  I tried a new wine from South Africa -- Ngumu.  The next morning, still proud of his marks, Jules requested beignets for breakfast and I happily obliged -- can't resist fried dough doused in confectioner's sugar!  The sun shined and we took full advantage of it!  The weekend went by quickly with several long bike rides, reading in the park, practice fielding with Jules on the baseball field, watching the last few episodes of the Legend of Korra, and of course, I slipped in some sewing.  I finally tried a Sewaholic pattern and I am smitten.

Experiment: 
Sewaholic's Belcarra Blouse, View C
Size 0

Materials:
Maroon fabric 
Black Gutermann thread

Procedure:
The Belcarra and the Renfrew came to me in a moment of pattern weakness -- I splurged, reckoning I needed -- no, couldn't live without -- functional blouses in my wardrobe.  Belcarra for warmer weather and Renfrew for the cold. I had the patterns cut and, in no time, I whipped up a Renfrew for my mother in red ponte.  The Belcarra pattern, however, sat on my work table ever since the polar cold crept into Louisiana several weeks ago.
In my stash was maroon fabric, two and half yards; it came from an estate sale and if I had to venture a guess, it feels like a cotton-poly blend.  It has a good bit of drape -- blouse material.  The warm weather this weekend motivated me to sew up the Belcarra and dream of spring.  I chose View A to feature the fabric -- the pleating details and pocket on the other views would get lost.  
All comments about this blouse told me that the neckline was wide but I needed to try it for myself to understand how much I would need to adjust -- probably less than a half of inch but I'll need to play.  
While writing my post on the last year's sewing, I realized I could sum up my style in a couple of words: simple, classic.  This doesn't surprise me since I gravitate towards simplicity so why would I need complicated clothes with details, bells, and whistles?  The Belcarra has a classic silhouette -- I wore the Belcarra to work today -- loved it (minus the wide neckline which I could deal with...) and it fits into my existing wardrobe.  I am trying to avoid those makes for the sake of making or trying the latest pattern. 
Since I love my Belcarra, I cannot wait to make the Renfrew. I am also thinking about getting Tasia's newest pattern the Oakridge.  I love the bow detail but since I do not wear very many button-up shirts -- I am petite and they always feel boxy -- I am on the fence.  I really want to try my hand at the Robson trench.  Too many times, I get inspired and purchase several patterns to have them sit.  Soooooo, I will have a cuppa tea, look through my stash, and honestly think about what I am going to sew next.

Till next time!

Happy Sewing --
Annie

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It's Like a Chocolate Dipped Oreo

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I like to reserve a little time each day to sew.  It's a miracle that I am getting something done this week as it has been a hectic blur.  We (Mr. Chemist, Julian, and I) all started back to our respective schools.  Gone were the lazy pajama days of the holiday break.  The familiar routine returned along with a crabby seven year-old (How I wish I could be crabby and demanding when I have to get up extra early!).  Knowing that pace is going to increase day by day, week by week, I spent the past Sunday afternoon cutting several patterns (New Look 6289, Sewaholic’s Belcarra, Simplicity 1530).   A week later, viola my dear readers, I do have a finished project to share:

Experiment:
Anna-Emery Dress Hack

Materials:
1.5 yards of Native American Inspired cotton
1.25 yards burnt orange cotton blend
Gutterman Thread: Light Gray colored
22" Invisible zip (Ecru colored from stash)


Procedure:
I have professed my love for By Hand London’s Anna dress and Christine Haynes’ Emery dress.  A marriage of these splendid patterns (-- like a chocolate dipped Oreo, pure goodness) along with a slight adjustment in the skirt wrapped up the last of my holiday sewing.  I wanted to make my Anna maxi with the Native American inspired fabric

but Mr. Chemist squawked, “Too much.”  I begrudgingly admit it: he was right  -- the fabric is lovely and a whole maxi dress would’ve have been a hideous-couch-cushion-nightmare.  Problem was that I had already cut all the pieces of the pattern and sewn the bodice.  I tossed the bodice aside promising myself I would revisit.  Wweeelllll, cleaning up my stash I found a burnt orange cotton blend and it was just enough for an Emery skirt. 

I put the bodice up on the Brain (my dress form) and began to play.  The dress looked drabbed with an orange skirt – a foreign color in my wardrobe   I retraced the Emery skirt and drafted a color-block skirt with a bottom band of about 3 inches.   This broke up the orange and tied it into the bodice with mere fabric scrapes.  Check out the pocket pop:
If I have to find any fault with Anna, it is that she is hard to wear with a cardigan or sweater.  Her bodice does not want to be covered!  The latest round of chilly air has me reaching for oversized sweaters and fleece.  I’ll have to wait a bit to wear my Annery or Emena out.

Happy Sewing!
Annie

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