Saturday, June 30, 2012

Format Issues

So, something happened to my blog.  It appears to be a format issue, but I didn't change anything.  I thought I would change it back to the way it was, but according to the layout edit page, it IS the way is was.  

Suggestions, anyone?  I'm going to have a cup of coffee, go to my studio, and maybe do some sewing.  Maybe tomorrow it will be all better?  A self-healing blog kinda thing?  

At any rate, I'll be happier I sewed, wouldn't you be?


Monday, June 25, 2012

Go Away Debby!

Or 'Debby Does Tampa' - well, all of Florida, actually.  It's been a rather wet and windy few days so far, but thankfully we haven't been hit by any tornados.

A few pictures:

I'm hoping the worst is over.  That red box indicates the tornado watch area.

A road between Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties - that water coming up is one of the bays.

This is Bayshore Boulevard.  The balustrades on the left are well above water level normally.  On the other side is the bay, usually much lower and calmer.  This street is a major thoroughfare in my part of town, and makes getting to one of our largest hospitals a challenge.  (Someone, a long time ago, had a really bright idea to build a hospital on an island.  In Florida.  Where flooding is not unusual.  At least the helicopters can get in.  Oh wait - never mind.  Too windy.)

Thankfully, we don't need to traverse this street, as it is impassable.  This picture is from yesterday.  The water level is higher today.

On the plus side, great weather for getting stuff done.  It's been a fun weekend inside, and I even sewed.  My family kept yanking me out of my studio to watch movies, but I'm gonna sneak up there right now and try to finish a top to go with my new skirt.

Hope your weather is more agreeable than ours!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Burda 7208

Here in my corner of the world, it's been a perfect rainy day, and very productive.  Among all the things I accomplished today, sewing a ~ very simple ~ skirt was among them.  Sewing this skirt involved two firsts for me:  my first Burda pattern (really), and my first time sewing an ITY knit.  

I have no explanation why I've not previously sewn a Burda.  Availability, perhaps?  Now that they are sold on the Simplicity website, they are easier to obtain.  I do know why I've never sewn an ITY knit, though.  ITY knits come in a wide variety of patterns, and I gravitate toward solids.  I'm trying to branch out a bit, and loved the colors and print on this fabric from Fabric Mart.  I believe it was a Julie's Pick fabric, called Paintbrush Swirls.


I enjoyed sewing with this fabric - it was easy to work with, both cutting and sewing.   Care is easy as well, wash & wear, no pressing.  I see more ITY knits in my future.

As far as the pattern is concerned, it does not get any easier than this skirt.  There is one pattern piece for the skirt, which is a rectangle that you cut two of on the fold.  I serged up the side seams, then made a casing on regular sewing machine.  The pattern calls for 1 1/4" (3cm) elastic, but I had 1".  I didn't like this size, as this long skirt felt like it needed a heftier elastic.  I sewed a double row of basting stitches, gathered up the waist, then attached an elastic waistband I had made out of 2 1/2 inch elastic (the type that is made to show, and has a small ruffled area where it is sewnto your skirt).  It's really comfortable, and gives a smoother look at the waist.  

As of yet, I have not hemmed the skirt.  Do you hem your knit garments? I typically do, but I'm not sure if I will on my skirt.  

This pattern includes pants and a really cute top.  I plan to make the sleeveless version of the top.  Not sure if I'll have enough of this fabric for the top, but I'm sure I have something in the stash that will work with the skirt.  For pictures, I threw on one of my favorite black tees.


What do I like about this skirt?

1) It is super comfortable.

2) I like the fullness/swishyness when I walk.

3) I like the length - perfect for keeping the legs comfortable in overly air-conditioned restaurants.  

4) Wearable with both casual heels/wedges and flats (although something snazzier in a flat is needed!)

5) It is a quick sew.  This has a low effort to high reward ratio.  This would be a perfect pattern for someone newer to sewing who wants to venture into knits.  


They were fine, and presented in a few languages.  I skimmed through them, more to see what Burda instructions were like.  I found the print to be small for my presbyopic eyes!  I wonder if there is a Reader's Digest version?  When I make the top, for which I will need the directions, I will be better able to judge the thoroughness of the directions.

So now, completely unrelated to sewing, I must comment on one of my other hobbies: cooking.  In the States (and perilously close to us) we have a restaurant/chophouse called Fleming's.  It is usually our restaurant of choice for birthdays and other special occasions.  They have this to-die-for side dish, Chipotle Mac & Cheese.  I found a copy-cat recipe online,   cut it in half, and significantly lightened the recipe.  I also used whole grain pasta.  It was divine, even in it's lightened state!  (Just writing about it makes me want to go nibble - which is why I made only half of the quantity.) I served it with Wild Alaskan Salmon and a salad.  Delish!  

Happy sewing,


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fabric Delivery

Have you shopped Sawyer Brook?  I recently placed my first online order with them.  It was late one night...I couldn't sleep...  So I picked up my iPad lying on the bedside table.  You know how it goes.  I'll just look, a little window shopping until my eyelids get heavy.   

I had seen another blogger's haul from SB, which prompted me to take a look.  I clicked on the 'what's new' tab, and immediately found these two lovelies.  These colors are off - the Ponte on the right is not as pumpkiny as it looks - it has a bit of red in it.  The fabric on the left is a deep blue, but not navy, linen.  I did not purchase these to use together, but rather because it was love at first sight.  Plans for these pieces are not set in stone, but I am thinking a dress with the Ponte.  The linen may also be destined for a dress, but I also love linen pants and shorts, both of which I need. 


And I also ordered their swatch service for further temptation.  Like I need it.  They sent a coupon also.  


So, my first shopping experience with Sawyer Brook was good.  The fabric came in a timely manner, and was well packaged.  Everything was in a plastic bag, taped closed, then put inside a sturdy mailing envelope.  I much prefer this manner of shipping, with the fabric protected in a bag.  Not all online places do this, as you probably know.  My only complaints are that there was no invoice in the order, nor were the fabrics labeled.  I like having the invoice at hand, as I keep them for reference.  I should still be able to print one up, so not a huge deal.  Overall, I am happy with my order and SB's service.  I will be back.  ;-)

Happy sewing,

Andrea                                             Edited to add links, but the links aren't working for me, so here are the names: Sapphire Linen and Ember Rayon Ponte. Just in case you need some, you can still find them on Sawyer Brook listed in their new arrivals. They both are really beautiful; the picture fails to do justice to their loveliness. I may have to play with these tonight....

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Green Smoothie Recipe

It's a simple recipe.  I kept it simple as this is my first green smoothie.  I was really surprised that it didn't taste like kale or spinach, but rather like the fruit that was in the smoothie.  I'm sure this can be adapted with lots of other additions.

Green Smoothie

3 large kale leaves, torn up (did not use the center ribs)
1 cup spinach (I used frozen)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your milk of choice)
1 banana 
1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks
1 heaping TBLSP flax seed meal
Crushed ice

Blend together the first 3 ingredients until the greens are well blended.  Add fruits and flax, blend well.  If smoothie needs to be colder, add a handful of crushed ice and blend.  Makes 1 large or 2 small servings.


If you have a green smoothie recipe, please share.  


Testing a New App

Lately, Blogger and the iPad have not been playing well together, so I am trying out a new App.  It is called Blog Docs.  This is my second try - first try was unsuccessful.  (y'know if at first you don't succeed...)

What I like about this app is that it lets me do this:

And this:

Orange Blue ButterflySmile

And this:

I sure hope it works!

It Tastes Way Better Than it Looks

I have never met a vegetable I didn't like, but I had my doubts about spinach and kale in a smoothie.

It was remarkably good, although the hubs ran screaming - without trying it.

Anyone interested in the recipe?

Monday, June 18, 2012


The plan was to sew this weekend.  Saturday morning I went furniture shopping with one of my girlfriends to this place that is normally only open to the trade, except when they want to reduce stock.  I bought a beautiful sofa table, of which I have no picture to show.  Then I went for my waxing appointment, and I had scheduled a facial also.  It was a good Saturday morning.  

I stopped at Sports Authority on the way home to buy hubs a present for Father's Day, and by the time I got home my face and eyes felt like they were on fire.  I ran to the kitchen sink and doused my face and neck with water, then took an allergy pill.  I had a freakin' allergic reaction to the last product used during my facial, a moisturizer.  Holy smokes, it was miserable.  It got worse - headache, congestion, nausea.  My entire day was shot.  So were my sewing plans.  

The next day being Father's Day, there was no time to sew.  However, I may have bought fabric using my iPhone while in bed, half zonked from allergy meds on Saturday.  I'll see what shows up.

I am pretty happy about my hibiscus plants, though.  I have been feeding them coffee grounds a few times a week, and they seem to like it.  

I may (or may not) have mentioned that my husband and daughter and I have all been working out together at the gym, with a personal trainer (the she-devil, as my husband tells it).  We've all dropped about 10 pounds.  While it takes away from my sewing time, it is a necessity.  I'm pretty happy with the changes I am seeing after just 10 pounds.  It will mean alterations, but that is ok.  I can no longer wear my Style Arc Sailor Sue Pants - they were a tad big in the waist to begin with.  I am close to fitting into one of my favorite skirts - so close that I took it to the cleaners so that it looks nice when it fits.  

I have a ton of life stuff and catching up to do this week, so sewing will be sparse.  We also need to put our home gym back together since our guests moved on.  After getting caught up, I'm excited to get a new MacBook Pro now that the new models have surfaced.  My old one died a few months back, and I have been patiently waiting for the model refresh.  I hope to get it later this week.  

Mac v. PC is such a divisive topic.  Which do you prefer?  I am forced to use both, but I definitely prefer Mac.

On the sewing horizon, now that I've given my shirt fitting project a break, I am ready to sew up another, hopefully final-ish, muslin - possibly wearable.  Then I want to make some exercise tops next.  I am considering Sewaholic's Pendrell top in a Supplex, if I can find some I like.  Or maybe a tank from Pamela's Patterns.  I am considering buying a men's XXL exercise top off of the sale rack at the sports store or even Target, and cutting my pattern from that top.  After that, I will see how the spirit moves me.  I really need to get to making my bedroom curtains. Or Roman Shades. I haven't decided which yet. 

I never plan too far ahead, mostly just sew what I am feeling on any given day.  I know lots of sewers/bloggers 'sew with a plan' but I get bored and love to be spontaneous with my sewing.  Which are you, a SWAP type or are you a more ADD sewer like myself?  

Well, the pillow calls - good night, or good day, whichever is appropriate, and happy sewing!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Sewaholic's Pendrell Top Recap

In my last couple of posts I've shown the muslin and almost finished product for this top, as well as or a no-pattern skirt I had intended to wear with it to my event Saturday night.

There were a couple last minute wardrobe changes. I still wore the top, but had to change the cami underneath - it was too big on my shoulders (I had it pinned up on the dressform) and didn't play well with the blouse. Having no shortage of black cami's, all was well.
This is the only picture I captured - prior to hemming and finishing the inside side seams, but after coming home from the gym, so here I am in all my sweaty glory, not a stitch of makeup.

  The other wardrobe change was to nix the skirt in favor of pants. I woke with a bum big toe joint yesterday morning, so had to go with more orthopedic looking dressy footwear. My vanity would not let me do the skirt. The pants are Eileen Fisher, stretch crepe fabric with an elastic waistband and a comfortable, high waist. I've worn the heck out of them, and thy are washable, a bonus.

 My daughter suggested I leave the length of the top longer since I was wearing the slacks. I did, and it was the right decision. As far as wearability, I found it to be quite comfortable. I had it on from about one in the afternoon until 3am when I got home, ripped of my outfit, and climed into bed. I received many compliments on the top.

 As far as fit is concerned, it was great except for the back, which had a little extra fabric bunching at the back waist. On my next iteration, I will adjust the back - probably a sway back adjustment, or take in the princess seams, or both. I didn't have time to fiddle with it before the event, since I am on the event committee and had to be there early.

 The painstaking time I have spent fitting a shoulder princess blouse (an ongoing project to be resumed soon) helped me to quickly fit this top. It was a very straightforward process to adjust this pattern - I did a cheater FBA and graded out from a smaller shoulder size to a larger bust and hip size. After making up a quick muslin, I found it to be too large and had to reduce the pattern before cutting the lace. I also moved the princess seams outward toward the arms by 1/2" in the front. For the back, I adjusted the upper part of the seam lines only so they would match at the shoulder with the front princess seams. In the end, since the lace wasn't quite as stretchy as my muslin fabric, I took 1/4" seam allowances at the side seams.

This was my first Sewaholic pattern. It is nicely done with good instructions, and I found the pattern to be well drafted. I liked the construction order, with the armscye bindings being applied in the flat. I was not interested in the sleeve variations for me, but I think it's a perfect tank top for my figure. The princess seaming was done in a way that makes it doable for me with my generous bust. This pattern seems pretty versatile to me, and I am sure I will make it again. I would highly recommend this pattern to anyone interested in this type of top.

 By the way, the event was a great success, and lots of fun. The party extended into the wee hours with some committee ladies (who are dear friends) and I whooping it up at an all night breakfast joint. Laughter is good for the soul, and even though my soles hurt like hell, my soul feels good.

 I will resume the shirt fitting/making soon, after I get caught up on the stuff of life (and Oh God, there is a lot of that), however I am suddenly, inexplicably drawn to Vogue 8499, the Marci Tilton Pants Pattern that has been making the rounds for a while now. And I'm still contemplating that gorgeous piece of silk gracing my studio with it's presence. And I have fabric waiting to be made into window treatments...

Happy sewing,


Oh, and ps - the hound we rescued has a name - Zelda - and is a sweet, playful girl. However, she is really a dog, who does silly dog things, whereas Crystal morphed into a human ages ago. We've been spoiled all these years. ;-)

My sweet, calm, old girl.

See that tail wagging a mile a minute?  No calm here!

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Pendrell in Black Lace

Here it is, almost done. I had to give up, because I just couldn't see well enough to sew black lace any more. Tomorrow I need to try on the outfit and see where I want to hem the top. It's pretty long - I did not lengthen it at all. I also have to hem the skirt and hand stitch the waist facing down. I love how the skirt yoke turned out - more on that in another post. I'll do a full review of the top pattern another day, but for now - I like it a lot, however next time I make this, and there will be a next time, I need a sway back alteration. In my neck of the woods, it's been raining all day for days. I've lost count how many days. (Myra, are you over this rain yet?) It will probably be raining tomorrow also, so I've decided not to use my beautiful piece of silk as a wrap. I've got a bunch of other wraps and scarves to choose from. Time to hit the hay, as tomorrow will be a long day. Hey, look at that, I'm a poet. Sorry for the weird formatting. The new blogger format does not play well with the iPad, and I am laying in bed typing this on my iPad. It really bugs me - if you know a solution, (other than getting out of bed and using my laptop), please share! I'll try to get a picture of me wearing the outfit tomorrow. Have a fabulous weekend, Andrea

Pattern Audition/Muslin: Sewaholic's Pendrell Top

Pendrell 1001 is a princess seam top with sleeveless and short sleeve variations. I made a quick muslin of the sleeveless version this morning, after a late start to the day. The pattern was conveniently lying on my cutting table - I had altered it one day last week as it was on my 'to do soon list'.

When tracing the pattern, I traced off a 12 at the shoulder and high bust, did a cheater FBA by grading out to a 16 for the boobage and below.  It is too big.  In the first picture, I had already taken up extra large seam allowances and pinned even more out at the bottom of the armscye.

Lots of extra fabric without waist definition.

Pulling up the excess.

Pulling up the excess from behind.

It's also a little large in the shoulder - it is pinned in these pics. Most of the excess is due to my pattern adjustments.  Better too large than too small.  I will adjust the pattern to narrow the shoulder a smidge, move the princess seam toward the arm 1/2 inch, take up the side seams, and reshape the lower armscye.  I will then fit as I sew, adding shape at the front and back princess seams.  

I am a little torn about underlining.  Marisu had the great suggestion of not lining it, so that I can wear the lace over other colors.  I think I will defer to her expertise, and if I don't like any of my black cami's under the top, I can make a duplicate in black Bemberg lining, and take a couple hand stitches at strategic spots to keep them playing well together.  That will give me flexibility to use the lace top over other colors.

By the way, I will do a full review later on this pattern, but the short story is that it is a well done pattern.

More later in black lace...


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fabriclove: Dressing Up, Need Opinions Please

I may have mentioned that I have an event this weekend for which I need to get out of my favorite Zella workout (ie, lounging) pants. I posted the other day about a UFO skirt I resurrected with a little colorblock action - thank you all who chimed in, it was most helpful. It's done except for the hand stitching parts which are the hem and stitching down the waistband facing.

 I am once again in need of some input from my sewing friends. This afternoon after set up for the event was completed, I ran over to my favorite local couture fabric and dressmaking shop. Marisu is an incredible artist in so many ways - I wish you could all see her fabrics and art firsthand. I brought a scrap of the skirt fabric which I had also purchased from her some time ago, and asked for her help choosing a fabric appropriate for an evening top. Seriously, one fabric more beautiful than the next there. I fell in love with two, and bought both {of course.} I have draped them on my dressform - take a look:


The above is a beautiful burnout lace, the slightly raised pattern almost feels 'flocked'. I can make a simple princess seamed tank and wear it over a black silky cami, (it is over a cami here) or I can make something with a fun collar treatment (and will still need the cami).  Hmmm - the lace pictures could have been better.

 Marisu showed me this gorgeous number and it was love at first sight. This is her original design on Italian Silk Chiffon. How cool is that? Regardless if I use it for this weekend, I wanted it. It would make a beautiful scarf or shawl if I can't bear to cut into it and just hem the edges.

 See how fabulous it looks with the skirt fabric? 

 Above is the lace draped as a top with the silk tied as a scarf around the neck.

The silk draped as a top, above and below.

The black edge at the skirt bottom is actually lace hem tape that will be pressed under and hand-stitched during  hemming.

So here comes the part where I need some input.  I love both fabrics, clearly.  I am leaning toward making the lace top to wear Saturday night, because 1) I love wearing black, and 2) the lace was not expensive.  I only have tomorrow to do this - Saturday is a total wash.  I don't want to screw up my beautiful silk by rushing - that needs some slow sewing love.  Ok, so maybe I just really needed to process and talked myself into the black.  Then if I have time tomorrow, I can do a rolled edge hem around the edges and wear that gorgeous silk as a wrap.

The event begins with Mass, during which I have a reading.  I am not crazy about attending church services in sheer lace and bare arms, let alone being on the altar that way, so I will wear some sort of wrap, regardless.

Question:  If you look at the way I've draped the lace, with almost a cowl type collar in front, the collar going over the shoulders and ending in a V above the bra line - does it remind you of any pattern?  I have an image in my head but can't put my finger on which pattern it is.  I dug through my stash but came up empty.  If I can't come up with it tonight, I will go with a simple tank pattern I already have.

Another question:  Why, oh why, didn't I do this last week?

So, what do you think?  Am I being a big chicken?  Or being realistic?  (I say the latter, but the former is altogether possible.)

Good night friends, happy sewing!


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Color Block: Yea or Nay?

Yea or Nay?  (Pink socks will not be part of the final outfit!)
Remember I said I needed a diversion from my shirt fitting journey? Well, this is it.

Next weekend I have an evening event coming up. I am one of the hosts, so I need something comfortable to wear, but still look nice. This event will be dressy, but not formal. In fact, with this crowd, we even get some people dressed on the casual side.

My family and I joined Weight Watchers Online recently (anyone looking for an online WW buddy?), and we have all been doing well on it. Since we are actively working on losing weight, I don't want to buy anything to wear, and I need something quickly.  So, I dug through my UFO's last night, and pulled out an unfinished skirt.

The fabric is really gorgeous, with a great hand/feel. I purchased this fabric about a year ago at a local fabric and couture dressmaking shop for a great price. (Myra, if your reading - I bought this at Marisu's) At the time, the intention for this fabric was a skirt for my daughter, however, she was not as in love with the fabric as I was - it was a feel thing. So I underlined it with black rayon Bemberg lining, and now it's even yummier feeling to me - but DD remained lukewarm, so unfinished it sat.  I had made a straight skirt without a pattern, with the plan being an elastic waist. Since DD is 5" shorter than me, the skirt was too short for me to comfortably wear, even if I attached a waistband.  

Necessity being the mother of invention, I drafted a yoke for the skirt, but...I don't have enough of the fabric for said yoke. Digging through the stash, I pulled out and auditioned some black fabrics. I decided upon a black stretch woven (bengaline) left over from another project. At the last minute, I decided to cut the yoke in the direction of stretch, rather than with the grain. This decision will cause me to modify the yoke by taking larger seam allowances, and possibly re-draft the back yoke. I am thinking of placing elastic at the top of the yoke, as sometimes seen in yoga pants, and if I remember correctly the Magic Pencil Skirt uses the method. It will be a no zipper, pull on skirt.

 With respect to the color blocking, my thoughts are 1) the black will be slimming right where I need it, and 2) I plan to wear a lacy black, semi-sheer top with the skirt, so having a black yoke will be a good underlayer for the black top, and not conflict visually.

 When you look at the picture above, the yoke is just pinned and I am holding up the skirt. There will be soft gathers on the skirt portion. The length will be mid-knee.

 So, any thoughts? Yea or nay on the color blocking UFO rescue?

 We will return to the regularly scheduled program soon. In the meantime, happy sewing! Andrea