Monday, November 28, 2011

My Style Arcs Arrived!

I cannot believe how fast my Style Arc order arrived from Australia.  I was really thinking it would take a few more days.  Can't wait to dig in to the pile.  Not sure which one will be first, but I am leaning toward the Linda Pants.  I've been wanting to sew them since the first review I read.  The note with the patterns said that their "aim is to give you an industry based pattern that is easy to follow but has the look of a ready to wear garment.

On the top of the pile is the *free pattern, the Adele top, which Shams just made recently.  Her Adele top is so cute, and I love the fabric she chose.  I like the idea of the free pattern - it lessens the pain of the shipping cost to the US from Australia.   I have been hearing such good things about Style Arc, so I took the plunge.  I love the way they are packaged in sheet protectors.  They will fit nicely into a 3 ring binder.

I've got stuff to do before I can sew, so.... until next time!

Be well,

Andrea

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Trees and Christmas Presents

I am striving to get all my gift making and shopping done ASAP, so I can relax and enjoy the season. And sew pour moi! And bake cookies! I love to bake. :D

Tonight I made three college fabric pillows to go with the fleece college blanket I recently made and posted about. They color is weird because I was playing with a new (to me) iPhone app.

We got two Christmas trees up this weekend - the two artificial trees. We typically do three, with a live one in the family room. I love having a live tree, as does my daughter. The Mr. Thinks we are insane. The live tree gets all the ornaments we've collected over the years, many from our childhoods, and will go up next weekend.

The big one, I think it's about 10 or 11 feet, gets ornaments that are more formal. The tree upstairs - the reflection of which is pictured - I'm not sure how we will decorate it this year. But I have an idea...

Oh, I forgot, there is a fourth very small tree. DD has it in her bedroom, decorated with beautiful Asian themed ornaments.

I love the decorating, and enjoy the lights all over my house. And the music, the yummy food, mmmm.

I'm off to an early bedtime with a book. 6am after a 5 day weekend comes mighty early. But it was a wonderful 5 days, so it's all good.

Have a great week!

Andrea

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Ruminations

I have not posted much lately, as life has been busy.  But this evening, after the relatives have gone home, the dishes have been washed and the family has settled in for a quiet evening, I sat in my living room just listening to the quiet.  And the crickets.

This has been a most challenging couple of weeks.  For starters, I had a brief stint in the hospital getting 'reconstituted' as I like to call it, and although exhausting, all is ok.

The elderly relatives that have presented some very difficult challenges over the last year made the last couple of weeks a challenge emotionally for my entire family.  They have peaks and valleys, and they have been in a valley.  We feel the weight of their troubles, and while we are often in rescue mode with them, we try to always be kind and understanding, and above all, handle the situation with grace.  "Try" being the operative word in that sentence.

Yesterday, a very dear friend of ours, who is my age - and never gets sick - ended up being admitted to the hospital.  She was quite ill, and gave us a scare.  She is on the mend, but it will be a while before she is 100%.  As fate would have it, her husband was home, thank goodness.  He flies to another city during the week for work and comes home on weekends, but he was already home for Thanksgiving. I am so thankful she will get better.

Jilly Be wrote a most insightful today about challenges and gifts.  Michael J. Fox said about his challenge with Parkinson's, "For everything this disease has taken, something with greater value has been given.."  Good reminders that the hard stuff of life, the "bad" stuff is rarely all bad.


Today I spoke to several family and friends who all live up north.  I spoke with Anna, my daughter's "Comara" (Godmother) and my dearest, lifelong friend (we walked to Kindergarten together!), and her parents, Lena and Frank, half in English, half in Italian.  God bless Lena and Frank, I love them dearly.  Lena, who is in her mid 80's, told me today that she is thankful for every day that she wakes up and is able to get out of bed. Frank these days speaks more Italian than English, and forgets that they already had coffee and pie, and wonders out loud when it will be served.  They love they have for each other is enduring.  I am thankful for Anna and her family, that they are a part of our lives.

I also spoke with my cousin Bob.  His military son is currently in Afghanistan.  I am thankful he was able to speak to his dad today by satellite phone, even though the call didn't last a minute before their connection was lost.

For my many dear girlfriends, who enrich my life in countless ways, I am thankful.  I cannot imagine life without them.  My mother was blessed with many dear friends, as am I.  It is my hope for my daughter that as she ages, she too knows the love and grace that comes with those close friendships.

Every single day I am thankful beyond words for my husband and daughter. They make me laugh, every. single. day.  Even, or perhaps especially, when the going gets tough.  When I was young and fiercely independent, I couldn't imagine being married for the rest of my life.  Now on the other end of what I thought then was forever, I can't imagine life any other way.  My husband is not only the smartest man I know, but also the most altruistic, thoughtful one also.

I am thankful that my daughter still likes to hang out with her dad and me.  I am thankful that she spent the morning watching the Macy's Parade and cooking with me, without being asked.  She made the stuffing, buttered up the bird, made dessert, and set the table.  She's the best.

My intent was really just to stop in to say 'Happy Thanksgiving' to all those who celebrate the holiday.  I guess I am feeling particularly thankful (and verbose) and took the scenic route.  I hope your turkey was delicious and your day was wonderful.

Be well,

Andrea

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Silhouette #3400 Three Piece Yoga Pant (Take 2)


Today I made a second pair of the Silhouette Yoga Pant to perfect the fit. Since this was my first foray into this pattern line, and sizing takes a different approach, I made my first pair without pattern adjustments, using my 'best guess' in terms of sizing. That post is here.

When I first pulled this pattern out a couple of evenings ago, I just wanted to cut and sew, a quickie, if you will. I needed some instant gratification. The pattern envelope tells you to wrap the knit fabric around your body to get a sense of the final measurements you want. My fabric is a 'technical knit' with about 50% stretch and springy recovery. I didn't want the pants to be loose and fall down while walking/exercising, so I went for a little more stretch rather than less.

The pattern sizing all in one envelope is 4 - 18 and 14W - 28W (hip 37" - 53"), and rather than body measurements, the envelope has finished garment measurements. This is nice, because you get to decide how much ease you want in your garment. I made the decision to try a straight 14W, even though the regular 14 measurements were 2 inches larger at the waist and hip. I thought that was strange, but figured that the 14W must have a bigger crotch length to warrant it being in the 'W' category, but smaller in finished width.

After finishing my 14W, I felt they were a good fit in terms of comfort, but were too revealing in the hip and thigh area. I also felt they were high waisted, more-so than I would usually choose. I wore those pants around the house last night and this morning. Evaluating the fit during the daylight hours, I could see that the side seam at the upper thigh was pulling slightly, indicating the need for more width there. I also saw horizontal lines coming from the crotch. So, while comfortable, the fit wasn't quite right.

 I've since taken the time to look more closely at this pattern and have some observations about the fit/design and sizing. For comparison's sake, I took the time to measure the crotch length on a size 12 and a size 14W, as the size 12 was closest to the 14W measurements, which I already had cut. (Waist & hip each differed by 1/2 inch.) The 14W CL was 2 1/2 inches bigger than that of the size 12, with the 14W's CL being spot on with my own CL. Since I wanted the pants to sit below my waist, I felt that the regular sizing would work better.

Looking at the finished garment measurements and accounting for more ease in the hip & thigh area, I decided upon a regular 14 waist and a regular 18 from the hip down. I have a well defined waist and well endowed hips & thighs, so I like slacks to hang from my widest point and not taper in at all - more like a trouser fit.

The result? I really like the fit. Cutting an 18 from the hip down made the legs wider than the 14W pair, which works great for me. There are no telltale horizontal crotch lines; the side seams are straight and hang nicely. The yoga pants are very comfortable, and I will get a lot of wear out of these. I will also wear the closer fitting 14W around the house as they are so comfy.  Even though I plan to wear these pants with sneakers and a tee, the pattern envelope shows the pants styled slightly less casual.  I can easily see these 'dressed up' a bit, especially in a dressier fabric such as crepe.

In spending time with this pattern measuring the pieces and looking at the shape, crotch length, etc., I feel that these pants really seem to be drafted to a more mature figure such as my own. That's not to say it wouldn't work for someone with a more youthful figure, it's just that these fit my body without having to stand on my head with my nose pointing to the east while redrawing the crotch line and changing the waistband. It's nice to have a pattern fit will little intervention to the flat pattern.  If I were to make these for my daughter, for example, I would most likely have to do a short waist adjustment.  Not only is she short waisted, but prefers to wear her pants at a lower rise than I do.

I sewed these 100% on my serger. For the hems, I used Heat 'n Bond Light to secure the hems, then sewed using a wide coverstitch setting on my Babylock serger. I definitely intend to use this pattern again.

Unhemmed, checking fit.

Finished with coverstitch hem.  Nice width to the straight leg.


In parting, I leave you with a gratuitous adorable Goldie shot and pet product review.  My sweet assistant is getting older, and this past several months we have noticed she is awfully stiff when she gets up.  We splurged on an Orvis memory foam bed for upstairs.  This shot was taken as soon as we took it out of the delivery box.  She immediately knew it was for her.  She came over with her "baby" (see it under her head?) and stepped on, circled three times and laid down like it was an old friend.

The bed was pricey, although not as pricey as the Tempur-Pedic brand name beds.  Being the frugal one in the family, I was at first doubtful that it would be worth the money, and was fully prepared to return the bed if I didn't feel it was worth the $$.  I have purchased from Orvis in the past, and have never been disappointed.  Additionally, we all sleep on Tempur-Pedic mattresses, and are firm believers, so I made the purchase.  I am glad I did.  It is clearly well made, sumptuously soft, and Crystal loves it.  The fabric on this bed just so happens to be a near perfect match for the upholstery on the sectional in the game room upstairs, the room for which the bed is intended.  For her existing downstairs bed, I plan to purchase a piece of memory foam, cut it to size and shape, cover it, and sandwich it between the existing layers, out of sight.

I offered my pet bed review here because I originally considered sewing one.  I certainly could have, although by the time I sourced and purchased the memory foam and fabric, and added in precious sewing time of which there is not enough these days,  I don't think I would have come out ahead cost-wise.

That's all for now.  I'm off to pre-wash some fabric and get some chores out of the way to start on my next sewing venture, a shoulder princess blouse OR a long sleeved tee with an empire waist - depends on which way the wind is blowing in the studio!

Be well and have a lovely weekend,

Andrea

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Silhouette #3400 Three Piece Yoga Pant

Sewing time has been limited lately, so I pulled this quickie out of the line up of 'patterns I really want to sew and have fabric matched to the pattern' pile. I retreated to the studio to cut and sew after a late dinner and dishes were done (urgh...broken dishwasher..). It was maybe 8:30 when I pulled out the pattern and fabric. I'd say from that point to try on it took 2 hours, including a couple loads of laundry and some minor interruptions. So, a quickie.

This was my very first Silhouette pattern. I've been wanting to make these yoga pants for a while - I love this type of pant. I was a bit perplexed by the garment measurements on this pattern, and maybe I'll post about that tomorrow in the light of day with the pattern in front of me.

Anyhow I chose to make a 14w. I made them 100% by serger using wooly nylon in the upper looper. My fabric - 'Performance fabric' from Hancock's with about 50% stretch. Typically for pants I would go for a weightier fabric, but this was on sale a while back, and it's good enough to try the pattern out.

I loved the ease of construction, easy, larger print directions, good diagrams, and clear instructions.

No particular dislikes.

The fit: I found on the 14w that the pant waist was high - about an inch above my waist. I didn't measure the crotch depth in the pattern, but tomorrow hopefully I'll have time to take some measurements. The crotch length seemed perfect for me with no adjustments at all.
I'd say the pants fit quite well overall, but a little too well. Ahem. As in show every bump well. So, there will be no full frontal nor full back views. But I will show you the lower leg. In my mind, this was going to be wider at the ankle, but I'm thinking now that is because the model on the pattern is so slender. The pattern does state the width of the lower pant leg quite clearly. I don't dislike it, but when I take another look at these, I will decide if I want to widen the leg. The inseam was in the neighborhood of 33" prior to hemming. These aren't hemmed, just folded up.

I think my main issue with the fit is that they are intended to fit slightly looser through the hip than I made them, and also my fabric is a little lighter weight than my rtw pants of a similar vein. The pattern goes about sizing in a different way than what I have seen, and it will take a little getting used to.

These are very comfortable and wearable as long as I am at home, or have on a long tunic/cardi. I fully intend on giving these another go after evaluating the fit and size choice a bit further. Stay tuned for more on this pattern soon.

It's officially past my bedtime, so until next time, happy sewing!

Andrea

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quick Project

Today I sewed up a quick blanket for my dear friend Jenni's son, who is an FSU student.  Hence, the Seminoles fleece.  The blanket consists of 2 1/2 yards each of 'Noles fleece and black fleece, both from JoAnn's.




Construction was simple.  I put right sides together, sewed up the sides, leaving a small area open for turning.  After turning, I folded in the opening, then topstitched all the way around the edge of the blanket.

The result is a super cozy blanket.  This on is headed to FSU along with some FSU themed pillows, but I really want one, so I will be online fabric shopping tonight.


That's it for now,

Andrea

Saturday, November 12, 2011

See & Sew B5666 Review and Pictures

This evening I sewed up this easy knit pattern that I cut out yesterday.  




B5666:  Very loose fitting misses' cardigan with shawl collar. For moderate stretch knits only.
Sizing:  XS through XXL  I made a large, view B with long sleeves.
Fabric: Ponte knit from Marci Tilton's web site.  It is light weight with a great drape, soft and comfortable to wear, and a dream to sew.
Thread:  Poly serger thread with Wooly Nylon in the upper looper for the serger, cotton thread on the regular sewing machine.

This cardi is very easy to sew, just 4 pieces.  The sleeve consists of two pieces, with the seam running down the outside of the arm.  The shawl collar is continuous with the front pattern piece.  The two front pieces are sewn together at the top of the shawl collar, which becomes the center back.  The sleeves are pieced together, then attached to the back. The trickiest part is attaching the front part of the sleeve to the collar and armscye.  It is not difficult, you just have to match everything up, do a little clipping & easing, and take this part slowly.  It's just an odd angle.  I reinforced the stitching in this area.  The sleeves end up being sewn into the armscye in two parts, all in the flat.  The sides and underarms are sewn in a continuous seam. An acute angle design feature is formed where the front and back pieces are joined at the bottom sides.

Since this is a knit, hemming is not absolutely necessary, but I prefer it hemmed.  There is a whole lot to hem on this cardi - you have to hem all the way around the garment.  That was a little tedious.  I used a 5/8" narrow hem, but I think a rolled hem would be a great option here.  I was using black thread on teal as I had no teal thread.  If I had matching thread, I may have finished it with a rolled hem.

The fit is generous.  I made no pattern adjustments, just cut a straight large.  I could have gotten away with a medium, but the cardi is designed to be loose fitting.  It is long as well.  I'm tall, and I like the length.  If you are shorter than maybe 5'6", I'd recommend shortening the pattern.  Overall it is comfortable, and looks like the pattern picture and drawing.

One thing to keep in mind if intending to sew this pattern, is that the wrong side of the fabric shows due to the nature of the style.  If I would change anything about this pattern, it would be to give it a facing at the shawl collar so that the hemming does not show if you fold the collar down/out.  It is not a deal breaker the way it is, but I think facing this area would refine the look somewhat, and add a little weight there.

I think I will get a ton of wear from this cardi.  It will be great on chilly mornings to wear for the morning school drop off run, and will fit over sweaters easily for cool days.  I can see myself wearing this around the house a lot.

I have no intentions of making this pattern again.  There are several patterns currently on the market in a similar style.  Some I've seen have some different design features, which would be nice for variety.  That said, I do recommend this pattern for a quick and easy cardigan.


Pretty roomy under the arm.




Inside center back of shawl collar - french seamed, as this may show if folded down.

Not the best pics... cell phone at night... I will try for some daytime pics soon.

Have a great weekend!

Andrea

Friday, November 11, 2011

B5666, WIP

Butterick's See & Sew 5666 is an easy pattern with 4 pieces: front, back, and the two pieces for the two-part sleeve. It is a cardigan with a shawl collar, open in the front. There are no reviews on PR as of yet, but there are several similar patterns out right now. I had good intentions of whipping this up today, but you know what they say about good intentions, right?

In my recently delivered brown box of goodies was a beautiful Ponte knit in a gorgeous shade of teal from Marci Tilton. It's a lighter weight but better quality Ponte than the off white one from Hancock's that I made into a top last week. It's lighter weight and better drape makes it perfect for this loose, open cardigan pattern.

This afternoon I read over the instructions and checked the tissue for finished pattern sizes before deciding upon a size to make. I could fit into the medium, but this is designed with a lot of ease. It is supposed to be loose and flowing, so I opted for the large. I'm thinking that will give me the option of wearing a sweater or long sleeved blouse underneath.

I went ahead and cut the large, and opted not to trace off the pattern. It is so cheap that if I want to make another size, I'd rather just spend the few bucks than the time tracing. Then my people all arrived home with designs on going out to dinner. I gave in since I was tired, but we kept it casual since I was schlumping it today. The restaurant, although not busy, was slow as molasses service wise, cutting into sewing time.

Back home, the Verizon folks were working hard at restoring our connection to the outside world. We've had no TV/phone/Internet for the last couple days because the contractors next door were kind enough to slice and dice our buried fios cables to bit 'n pieces. We were happy to see the Verizon folks.

Now since we had Internet back, I took the opportunity to set up my new iPhone, a recent gift to myself. See, I'm at that special age when the poking and prodding types of medical testing occurs on a regular basis. (Not to worry - no Katie Couricesque videos here, promise.) I needed a little incentive for this round of prodding and the lovely preparation that precedes said prodding, and a new gadget was just the thing. Enter the iPhone 4s. It actually came early. The scheduled delivery was early next week, on prodding day, so I was pleasantly surprised.

After playing with my new toy sucked more sewing time, I headed up to the studio after a diversion to the laundry room to switch loads. So, you have all seen the commercials about the new iPhone with "Siri", right? Well, DD sat on the daybed in the studio talking to Siri while watching tv. It was way too much going on for my tired brain tonight, so I threw in the towel. I try to resist the urge to finish a project when I'm tired, for fear of ruining good fabric. I opted instead to lay on DD's bed with her and talk to Siri. We laughed hysterically and acted silly - it was fun.

So, tomorrow I have a loooooonnnnng list of chores to finish before sewing can commence, an elderly family member will be here all morning, then DD and I have flu shots and manicures scheduled in the afternoon. After that I'm going to try to whip this up - it should take less than an hour if I have p & q. No promises though.;-)

I'm excited about our little cold front coming through tonight. I can hear the rain that ushers in the cold hitting the window with occasional mini gusts. It's supposed to dip into the upper 40's tonight, with a mid 60's high Friday. Sounds perfect.

Hope your sewing is more productive than mine has been lately!

Be well and enjoy your weekend,

Andrea

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mmmmm, my house smells good!

The big fundraiser that was commanding all of my time is over and was very successful, I'm happy to say.

A perfectly timed brown package arrived at my door yesterday full of Marcy Tilton fabrics. It's my first fabric order from her site, and on initial inspection I'm most pleased. They will get washed today while I do some pattern adjustments. Which pattern? Haven't decided yet! ;)

In the meantime, our dog sitter is celebrating a birthday today, so I whipped up a batch of Pizzelles. They are my favorite cookie, so I quick wrapped them up for her so I wouldn't "sample" too many. They are already delivered, but I'm enjoying the wonderful smell of anise.

Have a wonderful day!

Andrea