Archive for July 2015

Sunday Sevens #14 on a Monday

Monday, July 27, 2015

I encountered cats last night at a going-away dinner for a colleague of my husband.  Cats and I do not mix as I am highly allergic to them.  I got home from the dinner and crawled into bed with puffy eyes, scratchy throat, and stuffy nose.  Good excuse as to why I didn't get my Sunday Sevens post out on Sunday.

1.  Early in the morning before the heat sets in for the day, we set up a rather complicated croquet course.  It was a fierce battle between my son and husband. I do not have their croquet skills.
2.  Chewie had to go the vet for some shots.  Poor baby was not happy afterwards....
3.  There is a new Middle Eastern market in town and I was able to get Syrian cheese and Za'ttar.  Mmmmmm.  Wonderful with olive oil, pita, and yogurt.

4.  I spent a lot of time sewing this week but not for me.  I am continuing to help my friend learn to sew.  

5. Dentist visit for the us.  We try to schedule all the obligatory appointments before school begins.
6.  The mailman brought me this...
7.  We celebrate my husband's birthday at a steak restaurant.  Delicious.


Hope you have a great week!
xx


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Be a Goddess of Calm and Light

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I will channel my best Bridget Jones for this post as she coined the phrase for this title.  And just like Bridget Jones whose intentions are always good but disaster strikes, then calamity ensues, followed by a neatly wrapped ending.  That was the Zeena dress for me.  Pleats drive me bonkers and thus that is where this tale begins...

Experiment:
By Hand London Zeena Dress
Size: 4
View: Variation 2 Bodice and Variation 1 Skirt

Materials:
3 yards of my precious polka-dot Robert Kauffman chambray
22" invisible zip
Sully light gray thread

Procedure:
Why I like the Zeena?
  • Kimono Sleeves.
  • Gorgeous pink version on BHL website (what perfect photography and styling).
  • Long or short sleeves -- good for a variety of seasons.
  • Girly
  • Pockets
  • This version with neckline pleats from Rach Against the Machine and this version from Grey's Fabric

The above reasons albeit not very concrete convinced me that I had to have this pattern.  Ooohhh-so-easy to purchase (Patterns that immediately flow through cyberspace to my computer) and put together.  What could go wrong?  I mean, what a perfect project to use that precious chambray I have been saving.
I'll admit it: I am gutted that I used my chambray and that I am not over-the-moon with the dress.  While it works and I have worn it out several times with many compliments, the bodice is very loose, sort of poofy --  a belt helps (see the picture below).   The waist of the bodice features a pleat -- I ended up tacking it down and sewing about an inch from the base of the bodice to create a more flattering look for me.  The neckline was rather large (I know that Rach Against the Machine experienced something similar and she solved it by adding lovely pleats at the neckline.) I ran another stitch on the shoulder seams, another 1/2 inch.  
IMHO, the chambray is a little to drapey for the pleats and the pockets, at least for me.  Don't get me wrong this dress works but it just feels flimsy to me. I have this drive to try Zeena in a stiffer fabric with drape like a linen-poly blend, cotton, or a cotton-blend.   Because pleats and I have a love hate relationship, I tend to steer away from pleats.  When I look in the mirror and see myself in pleats, it does not thrill me.  So what did I do?  I added more pleats (a la the smaller double pleat above). I did not work very hard to line up the pleats in skirt with the bodice.
Pockets!  I do not like garments without pockets.  I need a place to stash things, especially when I am running across campus.
Just like Bridget Jones, I encountered several comical issues that were easily solved with a MacGyver-like attitude and a dirty vodka martini.  For all the work, I really do like the final product, including the pleats.  I have to list my drama as she would in her diary:

Leena Problems and Solutions, 23 July 2015, 20:15

  • 1 large glass of Cabernet (Third glass this week!)
  • Bag of microwave popcorn (Buttered, lots of butter.)
  • Large Neckline  -- take in the shoulder seam by a 1/2 inch
  • Waist Pleat -- sew from waist up for about an inch
  • Poofy bodice -- use belt (note to self: buy more belts)
  • Skirt Pleats -- as many as you want just be careful about pleat placement on the behind. You don't want a pleat-tail!
  • Fabric tragedy -- not solved until a new dress
Here is the Zeena in action -- I wore it to a welcome to freshman dinner.   In order to get to know the other students in this bootcamp,  there was a mixer game.  I am always a good sport so I had Miss Piggy pinned to my back for the evening.  Quite fun -- I had to find Kermit by just asking questions.

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Sunday Sevens #13

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I ended the week on a good note: teaching a friend how to sew.  She wants to sew her daughter an outfit for her first birthday.  Because she is brand new to sewing, we worked on sewing a simple elastic skirt.  It was so small and cute!  This was my first time sewing all week since I spent a portion of the week in the great state of Texas visiting my in-laws.  Here is my round-up:

1.  Snapped this picture when we just crossed over into Texas on our way to my in-laws.  A quick three-hour drive and we were there.
2.  We are under a heat advisory (and will be for some time -- no rain in sight and temperatures feel around 110F).  What better way to cool off than eating gelato.
3.  The All-Star baseball game was in my hometown of Cincinnati this year!  I was in Texas watching it, wishing I was there.
4. We visited a Lego art exhibit that featured the work of Nathan Swaya.  It was ah-mazing.  Very cool to see how creative you can get with Legos.  My son was immediately inspired.
5.   Date night at a fundraiser for the local public radio station which featured craft beers from around the area.  I wore my polka-dot Simplicity 2444 to beat the oppressive heat and sampled some good brews.
6.   The weekend featured a bbq with giant Jenga!  It was so. much. fun. Giant Jenga!!
7.   Afternoon science fun with Jules and a friend.  Volcano style.  The boys couldn't resist making it erupt...over and over and over again.  At least it was on the patio where it was easy to clean up!

Sunday Sevens is the brain child of Natalie at Threads and Bobbins.  The idea is that each week you may not have enough for a full blog post but you do have interesting stories or pictures to blog.  Capture seven things and share!  It is also a great way to get to know bloggers better.   Come on, what are you waiting for?  Join in!

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A Graceful Summer Cardi

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

ITY knit.  I really didn't know what it was exactly. I knew it was a knit but was unsure of the texture or weight although it is described as a medium weight knit.  Interlock twist yarn.  That's ITY.   It's that polyester that travels perfectly.  You know, the shirt or dress that can be stuffed into the tiniest corner of a piece of luggage and look amazing when you pull it out.   In my quest to try new fabrics, I bought and stashed some ITY.  Turns out that ITY it is not a fiber or texture I normally wear.

Experiment: Grace Cardigan
Size: XX-Small

Materials:
2 Yards ITY Knit
Serger Thread
Clear Elastic

Procedure:
A summer cardigan to throw over a variety of sleeveless tops when one goes in and out of air conditioned buildings is a must.  In the south here, buildings are kept cold - the transition to the outside world is a shock to your body since the inside of a building is roughly 70F (21C) and outside is 95F(30C) or more... When Kaysie of Kzjo Studio's was looking for testers for a summer pattern line, I happily obliged plotting to use the ITY for a fun colorful cardi.
This pattern was one of the easiest I have tested.  In a blink or, rather, a glass of sauvignon blanc, this cardigan came together.   No finnicky problems or frantic emails to the designer wondering if I have messed up or if its the pattern.  Nope this was smooth.   My favorite part was that the sleeves were a breeze to set in the flat.   Sometimes with knits I have to pull and massage to set the sleeve in the flat but Grace didn't need any massaging.
I deviated a tad from the suggested hemline finish.  I used my serger to make a lettuce hem.  I attempted to fold the fabric and pin it for a traditional hem but blah! -it felt stuffy.  With such a fun print on the fabric, it needed something extra.  I had been wanting to try a lettuce hem for no other reason than the hell of it!  What better time than now.  I love YouTube especially when it comes to serger knowledge (mine is lacking and YouTube provides a good fix).  Costuming diary.com had an excellent video on how to serge a rolled hem.  I just stretched the fabric as I went along to get the wavy edge.

My version is not a 'warm' cardigan.  It is a throw-over-your-tank-top-to-keep-from-freezing kind.  I have stuffed it into my purse, worn it over my swimsuit to the pool, and thrown it over equally as loud fabric.  It works because this is a simple pattern that could be a staple in many wardrobes.  I want to make it in french terry with a little belt for a curling-hair-or-eyebrow-plucking cardigan.  The Grace Summer Cardigan can be made in knit or woven.  Kaysie has a lace version that I am lusting after.  Check her out here!

The above reflects my own personal opinion of the pattern and directions (I really do like the pattern.).  Please note that I tested the pattern before it was released and did not receive any compensation.

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Sunday Sevens #12

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Sevens is the brain child of Natalie at Threads and Bobbins.  The idea is that each week you may not have enough for a full blog post but you do have interesting stories or pictures to blog.  Capture seven things and share!  It is also a great way to get to know bloggers better.

Here are seven highlights from my week:

1.   Started the week waiting in the after hours clinic after a case of hives probably from a chance peanut encounter at the pool (well, actually the pool house where there are ping pong and foosball tables where lots of kids hang out and eat candy)....no fun!
2. After the above drama, the week calmed down.  I was gifted the Zeena pattern for my birthday so I used my precious polka-dot chambray.
3.   Made salsa with three different kinds of chilies.
4.  Sleepy Chewie.  He takes after his name.  He chews everything...potty training going well...chewing is nonstop!
5.  Science camp all week.  He dissected owl pellets and found shrew and mole skulls! ..loved camp and this shirt.  Can you stop the typo??
6. Date night at our local Irish pub.  Jules went to see the Minon movie with a friend so Mr. Chemist and I went for a drink.

7.  I had to go to a dinner for new students who were participating in a summer camp.  There was a mixer game in which we had something taped to our back and we had to figure out what our 'tag' was and find the matching partner.  My tag was Miss Piggy and I wore my Zeena dress.

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Seamingly Shrug: A Failure of Size

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I started subscribing to Seamwork about a month after it started.  I was hesitant since I adore Colette patterns but they do not work for my body type (well, they work ....just with too much work!).  Logic dictated that for $6/month it was a decent investment.  I sewed the Florence bralette but did not have the cojones to photograph myself.  I have printed the Astoria sweater but have not laid eyes on the right fabric.  I then focused my attention to the Sydney Shrug.

Experiment:
Seamwork's Sydney Shrug
Size: S

Materials:
1.25 Yards of Blue Linen
Navy Blue Mettler Thread
Yellow Bias tape
Yellow Coats and Clark Thread

Procedure:
I was intrigued by the idea of a summer cover up.  You know, not quite a cardigan or jacket but something stylish. Something that would keep me warm in the arctic air conditioned buildings in the south.  That was Sydney in a nutshell.   The Sydney pattern conjured up images of Maria from The Sound of Music in my head.  Queue the leftover blue linen from my mother's Tessuti dress, a summer soundtrack with a few Sound of Music songs (High on the hill stood a lonely goatherd...) to match, and the Sydney was sewn.
After cutting the blue linen and french seaming the side seams, I realized that it was boring!  I finished the edges with yellow bias tape to give a pop of color.  The pop of color didn't add the pizazz I was looking for... I then busted out some crazy stitch on my machine that I have never used -- little kites or maybe they are supposed to be bows...who knows!? I change to yellow thread and affixed a border.  Adding that yellow decorative stitch gave the shrug some oomph and character!
I am never really sure what size best suits me with the Colette patterns (Many patterns I have been completely different sizes).  I reasoned that if I size up, it will be a tad roomy.
Roomy in an understatement.  In fact, it slides off my shoulders kind-of-roomy.  Sometimes experiments go awry.  The actual construction of the garment was stratight-forward (procedure followed correctly, check!).  My biggest blunder was choosing a wrong size (bad decision, darn!).   If I focus on the positive then the garment is sewn impeccably.   It's just not me.  This surely doesn't belong in a 'few of my favorite things' -- maybe someone else will like it.

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Sunday Sevens #11

Sunday, July 5, 2015

My seven from a fantastic week!

1.  I spent a whole evening putting together a couple of patterns:  The Seamwork Astoria and Megan Nielson's Veronica Skirt.  Cute circle skirt with a neat little sweater -- I am thinking fall already (actually just praying for a little cooler weather).
2. It was my birthday!  My boys spoiled me with fabric, patterns, a homemade dinner and coconut cream pie from my favorite spot.
3. The day after my birthday we drove to pick up a puppy for my son.  Meet Chewie, our newest family member.  I am sure he will be featured in more Sunday Seven posts -- he is just too cute.
4.  After an exhausting night with a new puppy, we decided to grab beer and burgers on the bayou. I was so tired after getting up what seemed like every hour, I just could not muster the energy to cook.
5.  I tried a new wine and picked this because of the intricate label...and of course the name!
6.  I am very thankful to have some time to relax this summer.  Enjoying the flowers, the sun, and my family!

7.  Our dear friends had us over for a July 4th celebration.  We had smoke pork loin and bbq beans.  I made some homemade twin bars.

Sunday Sevens is the brain child of Natalie at Threads and Bobbins.  The idea is that each week you may not have enough for a full blog post but you do have interesting stories or pictures to blog.  Capture seven things and share!  It is also a great way to get to know bloggers better. 


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Does a Tropical Dress Require a Holiday?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I've been daydreaming about a holiday.  Probably because I have read a string of summer books.  The latest was Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy.  Total mind candy books.  Back to my daydream, I want somewhere far away.  Lush. A place that serves exotic drinks and scrumptious food.  It is already starting to feel like a 100F (37C) here; it is the kind of heat that causes everything to ooze a sticky sheen.  A tropical holiday is not in my immediate future therefore I channeled all those vibes into making a sundress worthy of a holiday.

Experiment:
Simplicity 1873
Size 8
View C
Materials:
2.5 yards of tropical cotton
Black Mettler Thread
Black Bias Tape
22" Red Zipper

Procedure:
*Sigh* Another Cynthia Rowley pattern.  Of which, I love all the views.  I decided on View C because I wanted a summer neckline.   I made significant changes.  In fact, my garment really doesn't look anything like the line drawing or the photo on the pattern.  Let's start with the skirt: I did the obligatory Pattern Review stalking.  Most comments I found said that the final View C was very short.  I nixed the skirt for View C and opted for the A/B version. Short dresses or skirts are not my thang.   Further, after pleating the whole skirt and basting it to the bodice, I scraped it.  It looked hideous and circus-tent-like on me.  Too many panels.  I remove some of the pleats and reduced the skirt.  Same look, more work! Gah! I concluded a simple gathered skirt would probably be the least amount of work after two pleating tragedies.
The dress is meant to be fully lined.  While I love this feature, with the temperature nudging closer to triple digits everyday, I would sweat several liters in a lined-sundress.  I opted not to walk around looking as if I just pulled the dress out of the washer.  The armholes and neckline were completed with black bias tape. Ahh, now the dress can breathe. Feels cooler and tropical already.
I tried a new technique to insert a zipper.  This is nothing epic or anything but I was pretty jazzed that I did it.  I inserted an exposed zip!!  Thank the cosmos for You Tube and the web for all the amazing tutorials.  I didn't have a long enough or fancy enough metal zip so I used a standard red one.  It adds an element of charm.
I am more excited about the exposed zip than I am about the finished dress.  I could list all the flaws but why?  I'll focus on the positive and I can't help thinking I am Miss Fancy Dress now.

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