28 February, 2010

We ARE Number ONE!!!!!!!!

Congratulations Canada's Gold Hockey Team!!!!
(obviously, no sewing being done in this house today)

27 February, 2010

More magnetic fun!

The EYES have it:

Oopsy-daisy! Can't pin it on me!!

Curious?? Intrigued?! that's two 3/4" rare earth magnets in their cups (hic!). The cups increase the magnets' strength by a factor of four - and keep all my pins from flying about. I can't even pry the magnets out of these cups any more - no way, nohow. Yep, they're strong! What is keeping the magnets to the box? the pins in the box! and vice versa! At last, no more Me the Clumsy Carp, always picking the Shower-Of-Pins off the floor....

Still working on my suit, and the jacket's so-so close to the finish!

Disclaimer: I probably could've had the suit finished last weekend, but I'm such a great fan of winter sports that the Olympics took precedence over Everything Else these past many days. Rah, rah, Canada!

As of this morning, the sleeves and hem are faced, and I am glad & relieved they are. It all felt a tad skimpy even before anything was turned up, and I feared the final product would look like it was made for a midget if I don't face the hems & sleeves. I bagged the lining/facings, pressed it all into submission, and now it's only a matter of adding some shoulder/upper back padding (shoulder pads, yes, the cashmere is so soft it needs to be supported), and closures. Closures, you ask?

I made my Decision: I'll use five 3/8" rare earth magnets and the washers that come with them. But I'll skip the cups.

Above you see, at left, a washer and magnet. They're the same thickness, 1/10".

And at right, a cup and two magnets. The cup's more than twice as thick as the magnet. So, for the sake of a smooth, slender, and sleek jacket front, I'm skipping the "magnet on steroids" uber-thick look. Just five little magnets sewn to the facing on one side, and five matching washers on the other. There will be pockets near the hip but no credit cards anywhere near this jacket.

And then there's the matching skirt to finish. Yawn. I'm SO ready for another (a spring!) project.

24 February, 2010

A tiny tale of tiny magnets - update with answers

The Slapdash Sewist asked how I know not to iron a magnet. Gold medal to those of you who guessed, correctly, that I learned not to precisely by doing it. It's a cute, or maybe merely salutory, story of the huge disconnect we sometimes experience between theory and real life. Way back when, I taught 2nd year electricity & magnetism while postdoc'ing, so I do know some theory, and later, in a grownup job, lectured on paleomagnetism and archaeomagnetism, including all the stuff on how rocks, ceramics, and sediments become magnetized, and all the lab tricks of measuring remanent magnetization, Curie temperatures, and so on. You'd think this large chunk of highfalutin' knowledge buried inside my head would give me pause when playing with magnets and heat. Alas: not so.

A couple of years ago I attended a workplace gala - a great and very formal black tie event, so of course made myself a silk gown for the do, and, equally of course, had a great time. Since a regular purse would've clashed, I made myself the simplest possible envelope clutch out of the dress fabric - for the bare essentials: a handkerchief, driver's licence, you know the drill. Nothing could be simpler. (click on the pic below to get an enlargement)

As it was to be a one-time item destined for a subdued-light environment, I didn't worry too much about making it fancy or any fancy closures, but ran over to Lee Valley, bought a 3/8" rare earth magnet (page 130 of their online hardware catalogue), sewed it and a flat iron washer onto opposing sides of the inside flap, and the job was done. Till I gave the finished item that "one last pressing". The magnet went dead on me, the theory-powered lightbulb snapped on in my head, and I had to run back for another 38 cent (sheesh! the high cost of sewing!) replacement.

The opened pic shows the large flat iron disk sewed onto the inside of the flap, and the small magnet sewed onto the envelope. The little magnet sitting on the clutch is 1/4", one of four I use to hold sheet music down onto a standard nickel-plated iron music stand, when the inclination to play outside in the wind strikes me. Yes, placed directly metal on metal these tiny babies are fiercely strong; but when separated by a couple of layers of cloth, their hold is surprisingly soft.

In the case of a jacket - daytime, possibly frequent wear - I'll mount the magnets differently, so they don't show on the outside or the facing. And I know better now than to - ever - iron them.

************************ ETA 27/2:

To answer your questions, Gwen and Kathi: magnets are affected by heat. Without getting unduly technical, the Curie temperature is like a magnet's melting point. Just like water molecules above water's melting point are free to move at will (turning ice into water), so above the Curie temperature magnetic spins are free to rotate at random.

This property is used to magnetize rare earth magnets in manufacturing. They're made by sintering rare earth alloy powders, sometimes in a plastic (non-magnetic) binder, in a strong artificial magnetic field. Then they're cooled from above their Curie temperature while they're still being held in this strong magnetic field. This aligns all the spins to one desired direction and freezes them that way permanently: turning the material into a permanent, very strong magnet.

But when we place a hot iron on a magnet we "melt" the magnetization again, the spins become free to move willy nilly, and, since the Earth's magnetic field is extremely weak, when the magnet cools back to RT, its spins "freeze" in random directions - no more magnet, just a chunk of rare earth material!

Cold water washing and dry cleaning won't affect a magnet. They're usually nickel plated for corrosion resistance, but can be physically brittle, so might get chipped if bounced around in a clothes dryer. So that's two good reasons not to machine dry them: the heat is likely to demagnetize them, while the bouncing may crack or break them.

Bottom line? cold water wash, but air dry. It should be OK to iron the item, but not too close to magnetic closures, and never directly on them.


21 February, 2010

Brown-blue cashmere: credit where 'tis due

Why? I occasionally employ two photogs, both wedded to their art. Ahem, in one instance, also to me. These here were taken by the SENIOR snapper. I complain so bitterly about the doggone awful results of his shutterbugging (ironically, at MY request), never permitting that it may be the subject of his attention, not his skill with the camera, that may be the cause... Today, the gentle soul demanded credit for his unstinting love and moral/logistical support. Of many years.

QED. But boy, he takes awful photos (of me).

This is part 1 of 3 of my cashmere skirt suit. The top is based on the Go 4001 dress, lined to the edge with dark brown silk jacquard, with a CB invisible zipper. I don't believe how long it took me to get this wee little thing done.

The last photo shows the long skirt - it's still unfitted, unfinished, unhemmed - but it gives the idea of a two-piece dress that'll go under the jacket. I'm lucky to have been able to eke out three pieces out of the length of fabric, and ditto for the silk jacquard I'm using for lining. Just barely enough, but enough. Basta!

Almost-black garments don't photograph well on freshly fallen snow. I had to do major exposure adjustments to show these. I do love the princess seaming of the top, though.

I'm just about done attaching the lining to the jacket. Problem is, I can't decide on closure. Buttons? Snaps? Nothing? I don't want buttonholes, ordinary or welt. I'm tending towards concealed six rare earth magnets from Lee Valley Tools just down the road, invisible and indestructible (except if ironed: you never ever iron a magnet).

14 February, 2010

Maricou m'a taggée: I've been tagged!

Maricou, c'est Marie-Noëlle de Rouen, France, qui dirige son blog La Machine à Coudre. Pour mieux la remercier, ma reponse, comme vous voyez, est en français - pourquoi pas? Pour jouer, la personne taggée est obligée de montre une "dixième photo", et de continuer le jeu, en "taggant" 5 bloggeuses en retour.

Pour ma photo, j'ai choisi ma dixième photo du jour de ma visite au mausolée de Xi'an, ou on peut admirer l'armée de terre cuite de l'empereur Qin. Chaque de ces soldats est different de tous les autres.

Translation: Thank you, Marie-Noelle, for thinking of me for this little game. The tagged person is to post a 10th photograph, and then tag five other bloggers in turn. As you see, I chose to post the 10th photo of my visit to Emperor Qin's mausoleum and his enormous terracotta army, in Xian. No two soldiers are the same.

Je passe la baton à: / I nominate:
Verobirdie, Au Fil du Jardin
Shams, Communing with Fabric
Robin, A little sewing on the side
Omega, Sewhooked
Lena, Kisakim's Sewing Blog

Alors: you're IT!!!!

Burda At A Glance PDF Archive update

Look left. The Burda At A Glance Archive is a clickable link to a couple of files containing the At A Glance pages from my (admittedly recent) issues, in a Google Group I set up for this purpose. After I did that, I discovered that Google Group has a 10 Mb file size limit.

The good news is that Kay The Sewing Lawyer has very kindly given me access to her scans - 86 pages of them, including covers, which are nice eye candy. Thank you, Kay! I cheerfully compiled all of them into a single pdf file: 137 Mb! Obviously, this file can't go into the Google Group I set up.

I can shrink it some by: 1. omitting the covers (1/3rd size reduction); 2. converting the colour jpgs to greyscale gifs in Photoshop before compiling the pdf. I've been playing with that, with some success, but Photoshop has a bit of a learning curve, I'm still looking for a way to batch do it to all the tech drawings at once, not one by one. In any event, the file will still be bigger than 10 Mb unless I start splitting it into teeny bites, and that wasn't quite what I intended.

What I'm heading towards now is finding a better, more transparent free file hosting site than the one I tried originally, post my pdf or pdfs there, and re-jig the link at left.

If any of you know of a really good file hosting site with large file size limits, let me know. Like I said originally - a work in progress, and work, life, sewing etc all get a bit in the way of getting it finished.

13 February, 2010

Let's all take note of NY Fashion Week

For a start, a nice summary in the NY Times.

The UK's Telegraph has a somewhat different take on it, worth a good browse if only for the link to other shows (Milano, London, Paris).

I only had time to glance at the Chado Ralph Rucci show on Style.com, one of my go-to ideas places.

First I love the predominantly black & yellow colour scheme in the introduction:

Unlike some designers' whimsies, many of these outfits are eminently doable and easily wearable:

Early fall? How about a warm day in November, with a natural black and grey backdrop to this uber-soft yellow coat:

Two variations on a theme, with highlight slashes; love the shape of the black& purple jacket's sleeve:

A little peekaboo skirt for an evening out: yes, I'd dare, but it's not workwear:

Be still my heart! I love the shape and simplicity of this outfit, and the barely-there sandals:

And in the finale, this, IMO, is his best evening gown in this show. I ask you, how adorable is that pink silk slip peeking out from beneath a very grown-up BW column number? Note to self: real grown-ups would make that silk scarlet. Easily done.

Bravo, CRR! A great selection of fun stuff (I omitted the peekaboo jackets & dresses, but I like them too).

12 February, 2010

Chanel jacket solution: zip me up and zip me down

The jacket's front closure hooks were destroying the boucle - snagging and pulling on the loops, intolerable in moment-to moment wear. Upon returning home from work, I had to pull them back into the fabric body with a crochet hook. What's a girl to do? use her noggin to come up with another solution. Here, an exposed gold zipper to match the one at the back of the skirt. It adds a nice symmetry to the two pieces. One zips up above, the other down below. And adds a tiny bit of gold bling that I always felt the jacket needed.

Of course, since the jacket front's finished - sewed, understitched, prickstitched, and trimmed - I could only sew the zipper tape onto the lining. It's not how I'd have done it if the zipper was in the original plan, but I can live with it. The zipper adds nice heft to the jacket front - weighs it down, straightens and smooths it, the effect is a vast improvement to the fall of the garment. So, that's a battle I feel I've won.

Working on the dark brown-blue cash suit too - but slooooowly. I took a look at the V2218 top, compared it with my Go dress bodice, and decided I like the Go dress shape better: smaller, flatter side back panels, and larger, curvier side front panels (for a curvier me, natch!). I went with the Go pattern, created a top based on that bodice, muslined it - and it's a Go!

06 February, 2010

Pepper paisley: gorgeous Ralph Lauren paisley coat dress

Wants to be put to bed... er, closet. I reviewed it on PR, so take a look, or just go straight to the photo shoot - my photographer loves to go to town.

How it differs from the first version is that it has full length sleeves (with self-drafted cuffs, snaps, and non-functional buttons on top) and it's buttoned down all the way down the front instead of having concealed snaps.

I might also say, I followed Burda's collar+lapel instructions to a T, and they turned out flawless - the best I ever managed. Rah rah, B!

05 February, 2010

Burda At A Glance via PDF straight to you

Have scanner will share. The copyright disclaimer says "copying for commercial purposes is prohibited". But simple sharing is not. Yea.

The Burda At A Glance Archive is a pdf file, so you need Acrobat Reader to see it. Each month in it is bookmarked; the bookmarks are in chronological order but the pages are not (at least, not now), so use the bookmarks if you're of an orderly bent.

I have all the post 04-2008 issues so I'll add those in due course. I'll add this to the sidebar if/when I figure out how to do that. If not, I'll just update this entry when the pdf's updated. I'll shrink this file too, once I figure out how to do THAT. And when I've figured out how to get the pdf to simply open when it's clicked on, well, I'll do THAT. This is a work in progress.

Here's the kicker: do you want this experiment to grow beyond the issues I have? do you have any older BWOFs? If so, find a scanner, and send me (to artsanon at gmail dot com) a scan or a photo or photos of the pages or even parts of the pages, and I'll add them. I think any run of the mill image format will do.

Take that, B!

6/2/10 ETA: moved BAAGA to Google Groups. Seems more transparent.

03 February, 2010

Brown-blue cashmere: the unstingiest cut of all

One of the fabrics I sprang for while in NY last month was a length of lightweight suiting in cashmere. Very soft, quite an open weave, and it comes from a menswear store in the famous Fashion District - wish I could remember the name of the store, it was up to the ceiling with all the fancy suiting wools and shirting cottons you could imagine. I had my heart set on finding a pinstripe wool in red and grey, but when I touched this stuff, my wallet was history, along with my preconceived idea.

The image is pretty close to real life - a fine tweed, very dark overall, with highlight threads in golden brown and blue. Thinking "jacket", I asked for 2 yds. When I got home, I discovered I got 2.2 meters. Hmmm. After pre-washing it's still 2.2 meters. It started to look like a jacket and skirt could be doable.

Here's my layout:

What you see is a long pencil skirt - the spaces below the hems allow for extra length - with a back vent - that's the space beside lower CB; and Vogue 7975 jacket, with its two-piece full length sleeve, back facing, and pocket. Even I, the stingy cutter, was amazed at how neatly all these pieces jigsawed themselves together.

I could only get away with this because: 1. I already made these two up, so know they'll fit; 2. the jacket's only a size 10, even a 12 wouldn't have fit this way - hah, sometimes being average is not such a bad thing; 3. this fabric is wider than normal by nearly 10 cm, 158 cm instead of the usual 150; 4. it has no nap; 5. it didn't shrink. Oh my lucky stars!

The 66 cm near the bottom staring blankly at me is obviously enough for the front facing and a cropped sleeveless top. Sort of like this two piece dress: V2218

Specifically, the centre reddish pair, with long skirt and sleeveless top.

I seriously considered repeating my Go dress in this fabric, but a skirt makes the whole thing so much more versatile - and a passel of tops is easily washable, while a cashmere frock is not.

A slightly lighter image, showing the highlights. This outfit, although I confess I got brown trim at M&J, will probably remain completely unadorned. Beautiful good quality cashmere = timeless. How much more timeless can one get than, well, timeless? or more infinite than infinity? Infinitely timeless? Asymptotically timeless? I have some bronze-coloured leather and I'm toying with the idea of trimming the sleeve hems and pockets - maybe. But plain and timeless really appeals to me here.

01 February, 2010

Burda archives

Those proverbially ultra-efficient German engineers at Burda must never have heard the ditty "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". The recent changes are, IMO, not just change for the sake of change alone. The result is a big loss of transparency and navigational headaches. The German pages are now completely unlike all the other-language ones (English, French, Italian, and Russian). As members of multilingual EU, surely the Germans realize that individuals can, and some of us even do, speak more than one language, and have reason on occasion to visit the other-language pages? heck, we like to visit them just for no reason! Oui, ici on parle franglais, c'est peut-etre vrai, mais - avec des tres grands efforts, naturalement - on se debrouille en francais aussi, de temps en temps.

To me, the biggest loss thanks to the German page changes is the disappearance of the early issues from the archives. Used to be, you could peruse them quite far back; now all you get is the cover photo for all pre-April 2009 issues. The clickable links for most of 2009 are very limited as well.

Other archives vary.

Russian: 8/2006 to 1/2010, and one might assume that this will continue to be updated with more recent issues. Also, the unavailable 1/2006 to 7/2006 are usefully grayed out.

English: 1/2006 and then 9/2006 to 12/2009. 2/2006 to 8/2006 are unavailable, but you have to click on them to discover that. Unlike the Russian archive, the unavailable issues are not grayed out.

: 9/2006 to 1/2010. Unavailable issues in 2006 are not grayed out.

Italian: 1/2007 to 11/2009. Go figure. Italianas are evidently so fashion forward they wouldn't dream of sewing up a design that's more than 3 years old. Bravissimas! Vintage-shmintage.

So there you go. I wanted to find a particular issue from 2005, or it might even have been 2004, with a side-panel kimono sleeve jacket, and now I can't any more. And since I can't, I can't look for a second hand issue, since I don't know which issue had it. Kimono sleeved jackets with no side seam don't show up all that frequently. Might be time for Burda to republish that one.

I can find full-text science journal articles going back to the early 20th century sometimes, and JSTOR has pdf images of scholarly articles from the century before! So why is it that Burda's IT engineers can't go back a measly decade?

OK, I'm off the soapbox for the moment.

ETA: I wanted to see what sort of a resource cost having a decade's worth of patterns archive might reasonably require, so I did a quickie calculation. The fashion photos & tech drawings are approximately 20 kb each, so it's 60 kb per pattern. I grabbed one of my issues at random, counted 45 patterns in it - counting each variation as an individual one. That's 2.7 Mb storage space per issue. Times 12 per year times 10 years: 324 Mb. Laughable. Even rounding it up to 400 Mb for all the different language texts, hyperlinks etc, that's a mere 10% of what my camera chip holds.

So, what are blogger's rules on making (and posting to one's public blog) pdf copyrighted material?