31 December, 2009

Happy New Year from New Yeark!

Just one view of Times Square, a day before the madding crowds arrive for the countdown:

...experienced as a by the way on a whirlwind and jaw-dropping tour of the fashion district.

Does this all-too-familiar man look happy? Yes, because Digs cheerfully exchanged a barrelful of little round disks with president Lincoln on them, for four yummy silks, which you'll see in due course.

Today NY clothed itself in 5 cm of lovely soft stuff. Picturesque!

I leave you with an image of lower Manhattan through a dirt-speckled window of the Staten Island ferry. It was bitterly cold that day, but brilliantly gorgeous!

Happy New Year, all you fun and wonderful sewists! May 2010 bring us all imaginative inspiration, fabulous fabrics, phantastic patterns, and roarin'great results. We rock, ladies!

22 December, 2009

Pepper Paisley: a new Coat-Dress in action

What, surely you weren't expecting a finished dress, snapped in mid-swish?! The pic above is about as close as it gets to a true-colour image of this thick, soft, woven paisley Ralph Lauren wool-silk blend, all 3 yds of it, acquired for a winter version of the dress I already made in its summer iteration.

Any changes, you ask? Yes, full length sleeves of course, with oversize French cuffs and snaps to hold them together, hidden under decorative buttons on the outside; the undersized pockets will be absent; and the hem? perhaps 1 or 2 cm longer - it's winter, after all!

The ruler in the pics below is 40" long, to give you a sense of the pattern repeat - pretty big, isn't it? Matching up all these curves would make me look like I'm wrapped in a Persian carpet, I thought. But I'm not Cleopatra. And, and.....

.....and the pattern runs selvedge to selvedge! So instead of forcing a pattern peg across a paisley hole, I decided to make each pattern piece L-R symmetrical without matching on the seamlines (except on the top sleeves) and to break up the paisleys, by laying it all out on the cross-grain, for a predominantly vertical pattern. The stuff has the same amount of give in either direction.

The extra spaces near the selvedge in the pic above are just enough for an under-collar and four very large, musketeer-wannabe cuff pieces.

I just received some new to me interfacings from Pam (Erny, Off The Cuff), so I used this dress to play with them. I fused the collars with Pro-tailor deluxe; the fronts with the very lightweight Pro-sheer elegance, since I intend to make standard machine buttonholes and thus needed to stabilize the heavily-fraying fabric; and the cuffs and facings with Pro-weft. I like the wide choice of weights these interfacings give.

I hope to have this baby finished by the weekend.

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for joining up to this little head-scratcher, and may we all have a productive, fun, enjoyable 2010!!!!

19 December, 2009

Party time!

The party was a couple of days ago, but my photographer's asleep when I leave for work, so the pics had to wait.

Notice how skinny these sleeves are? The lurex gives the fabric about as much give as cast iron. It also fractures easily - I don't like to grumble, but in a lovely black/charcoal cashmere, lurexing is really overkill. I'd have preferred just the wool, thank you, with my OWN choice of bling hanging off my neck. I've only worn this easypeasy thing once, and already I have to snip off the broken shiny bits.

Other than that, I'm thrilled to have a nice supersimple warm longsleeved LBD for winter do's.

16 December, 2009

LBD in an hour

Do we EVER know what we're going to make from a length of fabric when we get it? Especially when it's an internet, aka impulse, buy? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Do we ever fear cutting into one, especially when it's something a little pricey, and "too nice" to err on? Ooooh yes. Big time.

Earlier this fall I sprang for 2 yds of a 50/50 cashmere-wool black/charcoal blend, with some silver metallic threads running through it, advertised as Ralph Lauren fabric. So super soft, so tantalizing that I got the dreaded cutter's block the second I touched it.

But not for long.

Bergdorf Goodman lists the lovely & simple frock above for a mere $2598! But only in size 4/6, so if you're not a poor little rich skinny minny, you're completely out of luck.

I gave my stuff a good steaming, and then pulled out the simplest pattern in the world, the one I used to make these two Missoni sweaters. Cut the body pieces on the bias, sewed with a narrow zigzag, added a little twill tape to shoulder seams, serged all seams together, turned all neck/sleeve/hem edges over & sewed down - ta-dah! I present to you a Genu-Wine cashmere RL LBD with long skinny sleeves and a mere cash saving of $2538.

Yeah, I know, it looks like a sack of potatoes - but when filled out with my lumps & bumps, it's a pretty sexy little number, says he. And just in time for the last office party this afternoon.

15 December, 2009

January 2010 BWOF/Burdastyle preview

So far, it's only available in the slideshow mode, and only in French or Russian.
Not much time this morning, so you can find the 52 preview pics here.

13 December, 2009

"It makes your butt look HUGE" Hahahah!!!!!

Can ya just believe it?! That's coming from my bestest fan of 20-plus years. Can we all please scream in unison: hypercritical!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SLAP! (ooh, that felt SOOO good...)

I'm not going to belabour all the observations from my review of this little garment. Yes, the jacket's shorter than usual - but BWOF made it that way for a reason: maybe to knock off this Stella McCartney cape? If not identical, certainly very, very similar.

I can't say the process was entirely painless - first, I cut the cape fronts at 90 degrees to the back, and, since this is a rectangular plaid, there was NO way to match them up - so I had to re-cut the fronts by overlaying the back onto some virgin fabric - IMO the ONLY way to get it right, friends! but then, as if that wasn't enough wastage, I cut the wrong piece in half - and then had to re-cut the back. I now have four quarter-cape pieces in my stash, I think they want to be side princess sections of a sheath dress somewhere down the line.... oh, and did I mention that EVERYONE makes mistakes (sigh)?! So, to atone for my cutting sins, I ordered 4 more yds of this yummy plaid from Michael.

In closing, Kay has been insistent on getting an answer to the following topological question: how does one fit a cape jacket under a regular coat????? good question Kay, and I've been asking myself the same thing from about day two of making this baby...

By process of elimination:

1. Stuff the cape into a raglan-sleeved coat/jacket: raglan sleeves offer more ease than standard set-in sleeves
2. Fold the back of the cape up over one's shoulders, aka shawl collar-like, hoping like heck that you've made it out of non-wrinkling fabric (I actually think this one will work in my case, this cash-silk fabric refuses to wrinkle)
3. Carry the jacket to work and put it on once there :( accepting the cold commute
4. Make a cape coat to cover your cape jacket - OK, definitely doable, definitely gorgeous, except that I'm all coated out for the season....so maybe in March....
5. Wait till REAL spring (May? June???) and wear it as the outergarment. This one's definitely NOT an option - I'm taking this look to work tomorrow!!!!

11 December, 2009

Winterizing my life

"And how", you might enquire, "is this related to the making of jackets, coats, and such????!" I'll tell you directly: it isn't. But, indirectly speaking, it's totally on topic. We had a 20-cm snowfall (the radio gal called it "tempete de neige", but it was merely a "tombe de neige" - a gentle fall, nowhere near a storm) - and the temps dropped into the negatives. Life in negative world space is about as appealing as this:

Last week's pics show that I got myself the lovely white rabbit angora hat to wear with my spanking new orange coat. The hat was a "one size fits all", which of course guaranteed 'twas a smidgen too small for my overinflated head. But hey, have steam iron will solve the world's problems yes? Betcha. Two squirts of steam on the rim, and the hat's as good as custom-made.

That still doesn't solve the problem of frozen ears. Earmuffs, which I happen to have and love, would - but, at pinkish red, they'd be a grotesque fashion faux-pas when combined with a rusty coat. Yeah, I know the runways these days show the most garish colour clashes (and, I might say, they've got nothing on the colour and pattern duels routinely sported at the veggie markets in Ghana - believe it!!!!) but here in bureaucrat-rich Ottawa, black is not just basic, it's obligatory.

Being the marginally obliging type, I dug out the (black) windpro fleece and (pinstriped black) wool flannel remnants from my Siege of Stalingrad coat project, and dup'ed my pinkish earmuffs in black fleece: a totally un-bragworthy 30-second project, I kid you not. Black boots, black gloves, black earmuffs: problem solved, eh? IF ONLY: Smallfry, who insists on joining me in the sewing/dining room at 6 am, got into the action: oooh, you made this?! cute! can I try it on?! oooh, comfy! (10s later): oooh, WARM! (13s after that): oooh, can I have it?! The Not-Totally-Evil-Mother snarls: NOT A CHANCE!!! this one's for DAD - but....

So, I winterized three sets of ears that morning, all before my coffee+shower+commute to work, two in basic-black fleece for the guys, one with pinstriped wool flannel on the outside (all the better to match the greatcoat) for moi. Surprised myself, too, as I'm completely non-crafty.

I then set to winterizing my brave-the-arctic-blast return from the bus stop with a hood for my new coat. Which took an additional two pre-work mornings.

And that, in case you were wondering, is why the (lovely, luscious, softly glowing, wistfully perched on the sewing machine's chair) cape is still waiting for its buttonholes.

07 December, 2009

The Great Cape Caper

Yep, that's my current project. Almost done, too! I just have to get the buttons & D-ring, and make six buttonholes!

Beeeeg thanks, Kay, for loaning me the issue - it's Aug. 2007 for the rest of you, pattern 111. The tech drawing shows a couple of irksome little things: one, why are the lowest buttons under the belt?! I'm putting mine below it. Two, why is the jacket so short that there's no room for pockets?! Mine's also this short - and it has horizontal pockets sneaking into the front sections - but I'm warnin' ya, pattern, if I don't like the look of those pockets pooching out through the ff, they'be getting the chop!

The fabric is fab. A cashmere silk blend in shades of brown and cream - the cash makes it super soft, the silk makes it glow. From Michael's, and he still has some (pssst: on sale!).

So, I'll be combining the jacket with this skirt (104 from June 2009), without the welt pockets (possibly also without the waistband):

But that'll take a few more days. I'll change the overlap and button spacing to match the cape, of course.

Edit: a question re. interfacing. Since I made the cape fronts on the bias, I want to repeat that motif in the skirt. I'd like to stabilize that with some interfacing, so it doesn't sag; should I interface in the same direction as the fabric, or should I apply it vertically? Any tips from you nice lot?