Sunday, February 10, 2013

Banana Peels and Patterns

The Banana Story
Two summers ago I made a quick LBD for the funeral of my MIL.  I used Vogue 1100 and used a beautiful Armani wool from my dear friend, Darrell (Darrell Thomas Textiles.).  The dress went together extremley easy, with the standard FBA and some extra at the SS for a fuller skirt.  Later that year, while looking for a dress for Christmas I fell in love with a dress at Banana Republic.  I felt I could easily knock it off.  It had a slight Aline skirt with a banded waist in a wool look fabric and a satin bodice that had a twist located on the bias not the horizontal line.

I duly traced my trust Vogue 1100 and then hacked and slashed until I achieved the look I wanted.   Bodice Muslin #1 was OK, but needed work.  Bodice Muslin #2 worked better as I used a poly fabric that was slightly heavier than the charmeuse I had planned for.  I still did not like the results.  Too lightweight without going through the hassles of interfacing or interlining.  This Banana dress was starting to wear on my nerves. Enough slipping on the banana peel.  I gave up on the knock off bodice style and went back to the original pattern design and used the charmeuse.  The pattern recommended the fabric, so I felt confident it would work out.  I morphed on a sleeve from a pattern I like and have used before and then cut and basted away.  This is where I think the spirit of the Banana was haunting me.  I did not like the pleating in the silk, it did not seem to lie right, so I converted to soft gathers.  I kept in the bust dart and then added the skirt and waist band (made from a coord slubbed silk remnant from one of Darrell's Cat Rescue sales).  Put the dress on the form and almost cried.  It was that awful.

Overnight it sat and then I woke up, inspired by a new show on TLC (Something Borrowed Something New).  The premise is that a bride has to choose between a new RTW gown or a reworked and redesigned version of her mother's gown.  While watching rugby with the Pilot, I sat and ripped seams.  I peeled that Banana apart and started over.

The Aline skirt is now cut into the HP Moneypenny Trumpet Skirt. Knowing and accepting that I have added to my waistline and hips, I duly added to the seamlines.  This afternoon I will finish the edges, baste front and for fit and then draft a waist facing (will try to use the Banana Band).  Once I add the lining, voila - new skirt!

The bodice is a right off.  Using a silk charmeuse for a top did not work, IMO.  The fabric is too soft and looked way to pouffy on my body.  The tailored look of the Armani is what I wanted.  And the silk was not going to give me that.  An expensive lesson to learn as there is not enough in the leftovers to toss together anything except maybe a scarf..

When I was working on this project, seeing it sink deeper into oblivion, my confidence in my skills and in my desire to continue plummeted.  I looked back over the past few years of sewing and realized that I have been progressing further into laziness.  As I revelled in the fact that there are patterns out there are that are designed on a sloper that is almost me, I stopped adjusting for me.

As I pulled out one of my Palmer Pletsch books, a slip of paper fell out.  It was from my first fit seminar, back almost 20 years ago in Halifax, when Patti introduced me to FBA's, broad and high round backs and forward shoulders.  All adjustment I needed and that she diagrammed out for me on a bodice sloper picture.  I cannot remember the last time that I performed any of those back adjustments.  Good enough had become my philosophy, but deep down I knew good enough was not sufficient to cut into the wools and silk suitings in the stash, let alone the Chanel sitting there.  working with the silk remnants made me want to work with the aging stash.  It is calling to me.  Remembering the weeks of fitting and adjusting it took to perfect the dupioni cocktail dress, the fun I had in the process.  I want that feeling back.

This all started because I needed clothes for a new job and had little time to sew what I wanted.  So I accepted RTW and good enough.  Not anymore.  I am worth more than good enough.  If I can't give 100% effort to myself, then who should I be giving it to?

I am going downstairs to ponder patterns for a new top to go with the skirt.  The one I was thinking of using I am going to toss.  It was a compromise that I am no longer willing to make.  Then I am going to work to the level of my ability and push beyond.  Because I. Am. Worth. It.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Returns

Thanks for hanging in there over the past week of silence!  We got back into town two nights ago and are still catching up on sleep lost due to time zone shift and then there is the catch up at work after a week's unexpected absence.

First off, I DID manage to exercise while away. I took my TRX for self inflicted torture and set it up in the walk out under the BIL's back deck.  Nice and cool in the shade and those floor joists were definitely sturdy enough!  Top that off with an hour long brisk hike in the hills with the Pilot in tow and  making really good choices for food, I think I did great considering I had almost no control over where we ate and when!  What did you do over the past week?

The dress was finished onsite.  I had to finish hand stitching the hem and the lining to the zipper once I arrifved, but really that only took about 30 minutes to do while listening to all the chater going on around us.  I used Vogue 1100 and some wonderful stretch wool crepe from Darrell.  Lots of complements on the dress.  It was classy with a modern twist with the neckline treatment.  The fabric made all the difference in this one.  The wool didn't wrinkle, it was a perfect weight and the lycra made motion easier.  Unlike some reviewers, I didn't have any armhole issues, but that could be due to the FBA I always do changing the curveof the armhole.  I also adjusted the vertical pleats, lengthening them as well as widening them for a closer fit and shortened the V opening.  A funeral is not the place to flash the twins, especially when one is doing a reading at the Mass!

Having made this in wool, I do not think I would make it in charmeuse (which is the original reason for buying the pattern).  I think the fabric would be too light for the fit of the pattern and I don't think it would move as well on me, anyway.  It has been done by another reviewer who had great success, but for me, this is now my LBD.  Ellen would be proud of the handwork and that I honoured her by sewing the dress.

I have some of the wool left as I had bought enough to do a princess seamed dress.  Now I have to decide if I want to do a skirt or if I have enough to do a jacket to go with the LBD.  I don't think I have enough for a jacket, (and that would be too much black I think) but maybe I can make a snazzy vest/waistcoat?  Hmm .... time to go browsing for pattern ideas!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Daily Dose of Diva - Part 3

Just a short post today was PJ bottoms day.  She decided to do shorts for summer out of another batik from MaryBeth.  She loves how soft it is!  The top will come later on, I think.  Tomorrow is her last day at camp, but not the last day sewing.  This was a great opportunity for her.  If she wants, I may sign her up for some of the weekend classes in the winter if Darrell runs any follow ups (like maybe a jeans course to go with all that great denim you have in stock???  What do you think about that idea, Darrell!  Great for the teens and tweens!).

It was TRX torture day.  It is getting easier each week.  The muscle memory is coming back.  I am able to do more for longer now on some of the harder moves.  I would be better if I did more at home with my own TRX, though.

The dress is ready to put together.  The lining is done as is the dress.  Tomorrow I have to finish.  I have run out of time.  I may leave the neckband off for expediency at this point.  Will see how things progress tomorrow.  I have only a half day of work, so I will be able to do more when I get home.  I also have to add a modesty panel to a tunic that was given to the Diva by a friend.  She can't wear it as is at this point.

I know that I just stated posting again, but I am giving fair warning that I may be intermittant over the next week.  We are going out of town as of Saturday for at least a week. I am unsure of what access I will have.

Stay sewing and start exercising ... See you soon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dose of Diva ... Part 2

First of all, a correction.  Last post I said I was pre-treating a wool gab. I mis-spoke.  It is a dress weight stretch wool crepe.  It is in the dryer now as my bed was too comfy this morning to get up early enough to toss it in.  I should be able to get at it to cut tonight as it is still early.

Now for the Daily Dose of Diva Part 2!

Diva finished her lined tote bag today.  There are two more pockets inside.  It looks great!  MB, you would approve of the use of the batik and LOVE the slightly heavier cotton she lined it with!  Today's project was a simple bib apron with a bound edge.  Nothing unusual except hat it was an exercise in patience and careful pinning and top stitching as she bound the entire edge and extended the edge into the ties and the neckband.  She did really well for all that!  Nice straight stitching and a cute little apron.  More of the batik gone, MB!  Tomorrow she is starting her PJ's in another cotton batik!  You, MB are a partner in her camp happiness this week.  Which is just what we need at this point.  Some good memories to look back on.  She is unsure if she wants to have pics taken or not, so I leave it to her.

Exercise - the bike ride was cancelled due to thunderstorms and the pressing need to get the dress done.  There is a function in the near future that I need it for, so I have some time issues to meet.  Tomorrow is TRX Thursday.  I will head to the Rec Centre a bit early and hit the treadmill for a bit prior to the class.  That will help me make up for today.
Friday's lunch will be a challenge menu wise.  We always bring in lunch on Friday's.  How to maintain the tradition without always going for salad?  The menu is Lebanese/Mediterranean, so I think I will try a tabouleh salad or something new like that.  I know I will like the shawarma and other meats, but I want to be a bit adventurous and healthy at the same time.

Short post tonight, life is progressing fast, so I need to get back at it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dose of Diva ... Part 1

First of all, exercise update:  Last week I accomplished my 3 one hour workouts.  Tuesday's was a brisk one hour walk with the Pilot.  Wednesday was a one hour bike ride of the walking route (done twice) with the Diva. Thursday was TRX torture Day.  Today, the Pilot and I walked a new route for another hour.  Tomorrow the Diva has already reminded me of the bike ride.  Then on to TRX again.  What have you done this week?

Now to the main topic - the daily dose of Draping Diva!  Welcome to the first in a 4 part series starring the Draping Diva herself!
Here is a photo of the Diva herself modelling the jean jacket she made last fall. She practiced slow sewing to the point of it almost becomming a UFO! By the time she finished it, the "jacket" had shortened into a crop style w/ 3/4 length sleeves! She is doing her best Charlie's Angel pose with one of the Pilot's toys.

Today she attended the first day of a Sewing Camp at store owned by my dear friend Darrell Thomas. 
Background - Since Darrell left Bank Street and moved to Little Italy, he has gained more space and added a dedicated classroom.  To that end, he decided to run a sewing camp over 4 days.  4 days of learning to sew.  What is not to love for a Junior Draping Diva?  Especially since she was gifted with some BEAUTIFUL batiks from my other dear friend MaryBeth when we met up in Toronto last month.  She now has a sewing machine of her own (My mother's old Singer), a small stash and now she has a sewing box with tools!  I decided that we will start building her "Hope Chest" with the sewing tools first! So, on the weekend we went to Darrell's and bought her the essentials so that we no longer have to share.

DAY 1 - She is the youngest in the camp by about 4 years.  The age ranges from her all the way up to the lone male university student.  The experience varies from her minimal experience to others that have none to some with more.  4 hours of sewing instruction.  What is not to love?

First project is a lined tote bag.  She had to measure, mark then cut and stitch.  She is so excited as she assembled the two side panels, two lined pockets, and the straps in class.  She came home and then finished the top stitching ont he straps even though it wasn't homework.  She was so excited that the machines at Darrell's are the same as Mine that she promptly asked if she can "practice" on my machine ... yup.  I sense a trend towards time sharing here ... Of course, this could be justification for a new machine for me :)  (I would be perfectly OK with delegating the Singer to buttonhole duty now that I have the proper attachments ... but I digress.  Back to Diva).  She is setting her alarm to get up in the summer.  To sew.  HOW COOL IS THAT??????

Tomorrow they finish the bag and then start building an apron that has bias binding (purchased for this time) then progress on to PJs on Thursday (really cool kimono style top to this Burda Kids pattern).

Projects attempted since last post: The Little Black Dress project
1. Neue Mode 22774 (no link found at this point, I may post pic, I may not see previous post) a princess sheath dress with a sweetheart neckline with a shaped front yoke inset
Status - on hold; it needs more fitting than I have time for.  All those body changes have made my TNT adjustments to be Terrible and Terrifying!  So, it is shelved for now until I have more time to get real finicky with it.
2. Vogue 1100 (the dress)
Status - in progress.  The muslin came out OK, the lining is cut and and basic fitting is complete. It is tweak time.  I need to add the vertical darts in (adding extra in the midriff area to shape the extra from the upper and lower adjustments).  Tomorrow is the final work on the lining.  Tomorrow before work I am preshrinking using the method from the blog Off the Cuff and then tomorrow night I will finish the lining and be (hopefully) able to cut the wool gab.

Tonight I took the night off as I was sewing late last night and the walk was later than planned.  Tomorrow I will get more done.

See you all tomorrow!  Remember ... get out and DO something so that you can SEW something!  Get the family involved ... who wouldn't love a guaranteed hour long walk with the Spouse/Partner twice a week?  I know, I have the luxury of built in childcare now that Rugby Boy is old enough, but you can get creative.  Swap walk times with a neighbour or fellow parent.  Get a rotating playgroup going where two or three sets of kids play while one of you goes for a run/walk.  Trade off works!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Tide Needs to Turn

I am back from oblivion again. I know I promised pics of projects past. I have come to terms with the fact that sewing was losing it's fun factor. Taking photos at each important step for a review that I was making myself write and then post was taking too much of my time. So, those pics are not happening any time soon. I will discuss patterns as I would chat with you across my table as we shared either a glass or a cup (the contents of which will depend highly upon whether or not I like the project we are discussing)!

I am too busy to do more. Since December last, I switched to a full time job but did not slow down on my other commitments. My sewing time is limited and precious to me. I want to maximize machine time when I can.

The biggest competition for my time right now is me. I have, over the past year put back on the inches and pounds I had lost. I let work and family become an excuse to not take care of me. The result is that the Doc has told me to drop 20-30 pounds. So, that means one hour of exercise a minimim of four times a week. So, the Pilot's workout needs don't mqtch mine so we need to do them mostly apart. Last night was a one hour brisk walk. Next time we take the uphill route as our first one was too easy. Tonight Diva and I did the same route TWICE on our bikes. She wants to do it each week. Tomorrow night I take a TRX class at a city gym. Google that if you want a new and challenging work out!! My goal is to exercise in the week ans then I can sew on the weekends.

The tide has started to turn. I am charting a new course. Does anybody want to join me? I am going to try to do short posts each night with my workouts ...
Let me know if you are going to join my journey. We can swim together.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Draping Diva!

That is her new name!  Monkey Girl is now the Draping Diva.  Three times since the last post I have gone down into the Sewing Room and found a length of fabric (usually my bamboo) wrapped, pleated and pinned in place on Mindy.  Don't know when she does it, although I suspect it is done when I think she is watching TV or playing on the family Wii.  Sometimes there is a note pinned to Mindy asking if she can use the fabric for her design (THAT WAS FOR THE OFF LIMITS BAMBOO!) or she then will join me and ask if the design is something she can wear.  Now seeing as she is draping on a form that is my size and bust and that she has not yet shown her potential for needing fitting, it is hard to tell.  But she loves to play with the fabrics, so I let her do so.  I have warned her off certain fabrics as they do not survive random pinning and being left to hang on Mindy, especially when some of it inevitably ends up being on the bias!  I need to thank Darrell for this new talent of hers.  you see, he has numerous forms throughout his shop with fabric artistically draped to showcase the fabrics to their best potential.  She fell in love with the idea when we last visited.  Makes me want to hunt down a cheap form for her to play with until she grows into mine.  Christmas is coming ...

So design divas!  I need your help and I need it fast! I have an important meeting next week with an VP of a Bank.  I need something appropriate to wear ... I want to wear a dress if I can pull it off in the next week (so the Claire Schaeffer mock wrap couture pattern is out due to time).  I have some suiting intended for a shirtdress, but again, time is a factor.  So, it will have to be either a sheath or an empire style, unless I do a surplice knit.  I have this fabric from Darrell that I bought with the intention of using it for one of the HP Three Graces tops (the cowl was the preferred), but now I am thinking of it as a dress.  Simple in doing, but it is the fabric that worries me.

It is an bias printed argyle pattern in grey, blue and black with silver thread shot through. The cowl drapes nicely according to Draping diva and Mindya doesn't look too bad in it full length, the issue is whether I will.  I want to push my envelope a bit beyond the obvious argyle top or twin set, but is a dress really the way to go?  My figure is not the most willowy and I am now in my 40's, so age appropriate is important.  I do so want to leave a good impression ...

Idea #2 was to take the top with the cross over front (the Grecian one) and use black for the cross overs and the argyle for the cowl center piece, but that would take soem creative drafting of the pattern pieces to balance the bottom off.  This really appeals to me as it will be most unique but still not be too much argyle as it would only be on the cowl and the center front.  What fabric I would use on the back is open for debate: black or full argyle?  What say you?