Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Sanctuary

Best sewing room EVER.

As soon as our family settled into this now century home (1914), the attic became My Sanctuary.
I didn't care that the previous owner's teenage daughter's had left their mark with holes in the walls and ceiling tiles, and handwritten memories ("this window is possessed") in a few select places. This room was beautiful and it was home to the kid's toys, the computer, and my sewing space.

Four years ago our family changed and the one member of the family that never enjoyed this space was gone. I was ready to leave the whole house and start over except for two things, Mr. X didn't want to sell before the split and my realtor said it wouldn't sell until the attic was presentable.

Last summer the attic was finally presentable. And so, our family has had one entire year to enjoy My Sanctuary as I always envisioned it. A great room for pizza and a movie on Friday nights, a great room for family game night, and a fantastic room for sewing.

Three weeks ago the house went on the market for four whole days before it sold. And two weeks later I purchased an equally unique but smaller (soon to be century) home. Our new house has three bedrooms for three people. There is no finished attic and no finished basement = no dedicated sewing area. Since this is the only criteria that the house didn't meet, I need to say goodbye to My Sanctuary.

While I am excited to move, this attic has been the best sewing area I've ever had. I'm going to miss more than anything else in this old house. Bittersweet.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Time to Sew a Set

Got time to sew but my head is in this SWAP SWAP SWAP frame of mind. Last night I pulled out all my PIP's (Projects In Process - Ha! I just made that up. Sounds much better than UFO's, right?) These are garments that are planned and/or cut out and they all match. Navy and white and all patterns are suitable for summer. That sounds like the start of a SWAP to me.

I went to bed thinking about a complementary color. I want it to be orange because I have lots of orange solids, but I probably won't wear any orange and navy together because I don't have any jewelry or scarves to pull it together.

So, tonight I'm planning. I really want to just pull out all my fabrics and throw them on the floor with pattern ideas. But, I've spent most of the day cleaning and do not want to pick up one more thing. So I'm on the computer where there is no tactile sensation, just my imagination. I loaded all the fabric pix and then threw some patterns that will work with some of it. What do you think?

Hmmm, seems to be a sad lack of bottoms for these fabrics. All except the top orange fabric and the floral (linen) are rayon.

The other resources I'm using are this from Pinterest and these pages from Marie Claire - Marie Claire from a long, long time ago when they first came out and were the opposite of most fashion magazines. You know, real-clothing-for-real-women and we're-not-going-to-push-designers-in-your-face and we're the magazine with a conscience. Yup, a long time ago. I always get stuck when it comes to selecting patterns (shapes) that go together. Hopefully this will help.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Vintage Love

Back story: My mom contacts me and says a friend of hers is cleaning out her grandmother and great grandmother's homes. Both women sewed, she found some 1920's patterns and wanted to know if my mom was interested. AHHHHH! Yes, mom, yes, yes, yes I'm interested, really interested. This friend also found a McCall's pattern catalog from 1925! She's keeping the catalog, which I think is a really nice way to save the memories, but let my mom borrow it so I can have a chance to drool look at it and capture some pictures. I spent 1-1/2 hours today with my mom soaking up every page, every look, every funny description in the catalog. Apparently McCall's was one of the first companies to produce printed patterns. An item that is posted on almost every page of the catalog.

Starts out in color. I'm assuming that like today these are the new patterns.

Here are some of my faves.
If you just look at the line drawings the dresses are so simple. But, when you see drawing in fabric - wow! 4196 is my really favorite on this page. The "necklace" on 4208 is a embroidery transfer - sold separately.

The coats...I die. 4280 is totally me.

Notice "For Corsetless Figure"! 4177 could totally be worked into a 2015 wardrobe.
These undergarments - yikes!
Special Occasion
See the American Red Cross Layette?

Gorgeous hats right next to the Dentist's and Operating Gowns right next to the butcher's apron.

Doll clothes (measurements given on the inside catalog cover) and bathing suits.

Mom and I both thought the maternity clothes weren't any different from the non-maternity clothes.
My mission now is to determine how I can make my 1950's hourglass figure look good in a 1920's rectangle figure and still work in a 2015 lifestyle! Will be dreaming about this tonight.

BONUS: a tin of buttons!

Mom loved the tin I'm still drooling over the buttons. LOVE the card graphics...and...you see those big ivory buttons near the bottom? There are 5 of them - coat, coat, coat! In the second picture take a look at the card that has white buttons (sitting on the catalog cover). We're trying to figure this one out because it has four plain buttons and four fancy and they were all on the same card, originally on the same card. I thought maybe the plain ones were for a functional area and the fancies were for decorative. What do you think?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sewing Talk!

Y201410, Fall 2014V1416, Misses' Top and Pants
Look at me I'm on the cover of Vogue Patterns! Oh wait, that's not me. Ever since I saw the fall Vogue Patterns with this featured outfit I've been planning this post. You see, I already have that entire outfit in my closet! The difference is that I made mine in 2009, a full five years (six if you count from the time I got the idea) before the other designer thought of it (patting myself on the back with big smile).

My outfit is from my last SWAP attempt (completed just not in time for the contest).

I guess the only appearance the blouse made on this blog was while I was ranting about my buttonhole dilemma. The same dilemma that prompted the buttonhole flow chart. The pants were featured in my one and only Blog-eo (I didn't add a title to the post so I couldn't figure out how to create a link, just look for the post on Friday, February 13, 2009).

Here are the patterns I used (sorry, nothing current!).

Well, it's taken me almost two weeks to put this post together - sigh. Want to spend more time here but responsibility is calling - literally the dog is crying to go outside! Happy sewing to you all!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Just a "checking-in" note. I'm still around just barely managing to find anytime to sew. The state of education is a mess around here and it's eating up all my time. On top of that, I checked my Feedly account in August and all, I mean ALL of the blogs I read were gone. I had just updated it a few weeks earlier to add some new bloggers. UGH, now I haven't even been able to see what everyone else is doing.

I've managed to get a few things sewn but even fewer pictures. Here are a couple to prove it :)

New Look 6793

And a beautiful pair of navy wool pants. Unfortunately, I have no idea what pattern I used. I'm pretty sure it's one I've used before - probably a Simplicity or Vogue.

Lastly, please do whatever you can to prevent the privatization of our schools, and the unbelievable teacher evaluations and student testing expectations that our politicians (mostly non-educators) are implementing. They are not the answer. Check out Diane Ravitch's blog to find out more.

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Latest Plan For A Plan

Ugh. I hate it when I miss so much sewing/blogging/pattern-reviewing time. When I looked at my blog tonight I realized that I have four "drafts" that I started to write in the last six months but never finished them. Well, I'm is the oldest one and I posting it even though fall is almost over. Keep reading, there a  couple of pix at the end to prove that I have actually been able to complete a few projects.

At the time I started this post it seemed a realistic goal to have some of these pieces completed before May. Well, there hasn't been any spring sewing and thankfully (not really) the weather hasn't turned to spring yet either. Anyway, this is how I'm now going to start creating my SWAP's. I was inspired by my favorite wardrobe planning blog The Vivienne Files. I couldn't find the original post I remember about the Crazy 8 but if you look for it on her blog you will find loads of ideas and inspiration.
As I remember it, there is a blazer, a cardigan, two tops, one blouse, one pant, one skirt, one dress. I just scanned some basic pattern outlines to remind me what the pieces need to be added. When I'm ready to match it with the fabric, I'll pick a specific pattern to use. 

She suggests you purchase (gasp! - that's sew to you and me) an entire Crazy 8 in one solid color and another entire wardrobe in a coordinating solid color. Did you catch that word "solid"? Yes, a total of 16 pieces in solid colors. This is probably the biggest obstacle. I mean it makes sense, but I rarely go to a fabric store in search of 10 yards of the nicest tan fabrics I can find. There will be prints but they come in when you add pieces that coordinate with both solid colors.

Here's how I worked it out with my current stash and finished garments. My first solid color is royal blue. I've had all these beautiful coordinating blue fabrics for awhile, but had a complete roadblock when it came to figuring out what to make with them. For this board the solids are on the left and I only included the fabrics/garments I already have. (The smiley faces are the completed garments. The blue dress also needs a face. It was my Easter dress...completed the week after Easter...but in time for Mother's Day ;) On the right are the prints that will coordinate with the blue and other solids in my closet (black, gray, tan).
The second solid color is, well, I'm calling it gold. The jacket is the one that ended up with the backward sleeves that is still waiting to be fixed. The skirt I wear all the time! I love wearing it with a chambray shirt and boots :) The gray floral is on the sewing table this week, and just now (11/21/13) I'm thinking that metallic gold blouse just might work for Christmas.
I also have enough wool to create two more Crazy 8's in ivory and tan and, I have a workable Crazy 8 in my closet using gray and black. Gosh, when I write it down like this it sure seems like I've got an awful lot of clothes, doesn't it? Oh, well!  I'm thinking the ivory will be the starting point for my spring work wardrobe. Off to go plan and hopefully sew something up!

Projects without Posts :(
Vogue 1268
Top Simplicity 7967 (1980's?), Pants Burda...
New Look 6049 
Jacket McCall's 4596 (Old but not vintage)

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Just a quick link to show you where I wish I was today Cleveland Museum of Art  It's only about 10 minutes from my house, but there's no way I can fit it in my schedule. Le sigh.

(Pic from the Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Friday, May 17, 2013


This post is about my non-sewing life. Tomorrow my choir and band are performing at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Since I recently realized that some Clevelanders might actually read my blog thought I would share this.

It's a great (free) way to support Cleveland student's and visit the museum (shhh, they don't advertise this part, but if you tell them you came to hear the John Marshall choir/band your wristband will be free). I think this is the 14th year for this event and I've only missed one. But, this is the first year I have been just plain excited to perform. I'm at a new school, the kids are great, and I know it will make this year of stress and non-blogging worthwhile. By tomorrow evening I might even be ready to sew!

Have a great spring weekend, and if you come to the Rock Hall make sure to come over and say "Hello." (Choir at 12:40pm, Band at 1:20pm)!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sewing, It’s a Head Game.

Sewing’s not just skill, it’s a head game and right now I’m on the losing end! It’s seems like it’s been at least a year since I’ve made a garment without some stupid mistake. This time it’s my lovely gold suit. The first mistake was that I really should have interfaced all the pieces. The wool is very soft and drapey and it just needs more structure. The second mistake, which I didn’t discover until I took the pictures and studied them a bit. I’m 99% sure the sleeves were put in backwards. Yup, backwards sleeves. See those lines on the sleeves? I’ve made this jacket before and it didn’t have those lines. Sigh. The final stupid mistake was that after I made all the buttonholes and added the buttons – which were really hard to match with this color – I remembered I needed one more for the back. This I didn’t have. I didn’t have the additional button and had no idea when or where I bought the four that were on the front. (Probably JoAnn’s but in the last year they have completely restocked their buttons making it very unlikely that I will find another one there. Plus, I just hate going there lately. They’ve “updated” my store and I hate it. Can’t put my finger on any one thing, just know that I hate it.) Wait! There's one more mistake - I also messed up (cut it out wrong) the vent in the skirt! It looks okay on the outside but I won't be posting any pictures of the inside!

My head game stems from trying to capture what my sewing life used to be. The life I had when I truly earned the name “Lean Mean Sewing Machine” and would easily have made this suit in a weekend (my weekends always start on Friday night). I have always had a project-oriented personality. Before kids, and before a mentally draining job, this worked well for me. Now it has become my nemesis. I still work one project at a time but the gaps of construction time are so long, I forget what I’ve already done! Did I cut this with a 3/8” seam or 5/8”? Sigh.

So, I made this suit. I like, not love, it. I’ve purchased a few pieces (prints) that I thought would go with it. For the most part, when I get them home, they don’t. I toiled for probably two years before I committed to what I thought would be the best jacket pattern and now I'm not sure what blouse necklines work best with it. I’ve worn the skirt with black and light blue and just noticed that it’s really pretty with my royal blue. The skirt will get a lot of wear, not so sure about the jacket. But, that could be because the skirt’s been done for a month and they jacket has become is still hanging on the dress form. We’ll see.

I've got more to post but time's not on my side. Happy sewing! Be sure to keep your head in the game!

Friday, February 8, 2013

One, Two, Three, Four, FIVE?

That's right in my never-ending quest for the perfect-every-time buttonhole I have now purchased FIVE vintage buttonholers. Rather than go through the very lengthy explanation I shall refer you to my handy-dandy butthonhole flowchart. Of course, it doesn't really end there. The Necchi student model, and the Singer Fashion-Mate were donated/sold. After that I decided I had to give the whole idea a rest...a long rest. Then, about 1-1/2 years ago I was at an antique mall and saw one of those old b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l machines for a mere $35. I buckled, bought it, and brought it home. It's a black Necchi BU Nova in it's own table. Sigh. It's so pretty. It didn't work with any of my buttonholers but I didn't really care.

After surfing Craigslist, and ebay, and posts about buttonholers recently I finally found what I think is a perfect match. On a recent unexpected snow days (only unexpected because my kids had to go to school but I didn't - yipee!) I took the plunge and ordered one more buttonholer that I'm confident will work. Ebay had not one but three Griest #7 (for a high shank, left aligned needle) buttonholers and one sailed home to me. I haven't tried it out yet. Hold your breath and wish me luck. I'll report back soon! Hopefully in the near future I'll be putting about four vintage buttonholers up for sale. Update: UGH!! It doesn't fit!!! After 20 minutes of scratching my head (when attached the buttonholer is still about 1/2" from touching the faceplate) I  realize that the buttonholer IN the box doesn't match the picture ON the box! I did not get a Griest #7 I got an older model #? that is not for a high shank machine. Give.me.a.break. The search continues...

Just for fun...
When I took these pictures all I could think of was that I had to share them with my online sewing friends because I know some of you love vintage as much as I do. These are from my daughter's family b-day party last year.