Thursday, December 13, 2012

2013 The Year of the Wedding Dress

Yikes, it's been so long since I've posted anything, that I forgot where my blog was...  then I forgot my user name and password...  but I found it and I'm back.

In 2013 I'll be making a wedding dress for my niece!  I am so excited AND I'm taking the Susan Khalje's Couture Sewing Class in San Francisco next month! Yes, I will blog about that too!  I felt that I needed the class as a starting point with this dress as I never made one.. only helped make one. And I want the dress to be perfect!

I do not think anyone in my family reads my blog, so I figured it's safe to post my progress without giving away the dress!  If, someone in the family does read this blog, I'm sure I'll find out.

She wants a strapless dress so I'm starting with Butterick 5325 .  I have transferred the pattern to muslin and marked all the stitching lines with tracing paper and stitching.  I basted the dress together and it's ready for its first fitting which will happen over Christmas week. 

I have also made another muslin of the bodice which will be where the boning is attached. Susan said that any strapless gown needs 2 muslins and this inner one needs to fit tight.    I am now gathering my supplies and looking for fabric. The bride wants an organza for the outer layer and Susan suggested a taffeta for the main fabric and either a crepe or a charmouse for the lining.  She also suggested a cotton for the underlining.  The bride isn't sure if she wants an empire or natural waist, so I have done both in the muslin for her to try.

I have 6 months to make this dress....and hope to make more!  Afterall, I have about 20+ nieces!  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It's Dress Season

 I am finally feeling inspired to sew... sew I'm sewing dresses.  The first one is Simplicity 1801.

This is a really soft cotton fabric I purchased at Fabric Mart a few months back (I don't even think it made it to the excel fabric inventory spreadsheet).  It was really easy to make.  I did raise the "V" neckline 3"... I was proud of myself that I remembered to do this BEFORE I cut and sewed it.  It has a side zip and is really comfortable.  I'm thinking of making it again and using a different fabric for the waist band.

Then there is Simplicity  1803

I love this pattern and the peephole neckline.  This fabric was also from Fabric Mart - Free Spirit cotton.   I love that it's such a feminine dress with this deer print.  I can't wait to wear this one!  The tricky part about this dress is I really had to pay attention to the fit in the bodice.  No gaping was allowed because my bra would have shown and the "peep" area would have been saggy.  So, I had to take it in in the center front and I raised the bottom portion of the bodice just a tad.  All the fitting was done while sewing it together before the sleeves were inserted.

And finally, Butterick 5750.
This fabric was also from Fabric Mart and is a lightweight voile, also a Free Spirit.  The lining is a really sheer linen.  I noticed on the back view photo that I need to sew the zipper a little closer to the teeth - too much zip  shows.  With the print, you really can't see all the rouching involved, it sort of blends in.  The skirt is really full on this too.  It will be a nice cool summer dress.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vogue 2886 aka couch coat?

I have been wanting to make a coat/jacket with tapestry fabric for a while.  During the holidays, I saw some fabric at Joann's at 50% off and purchased it. My sister was with me and thought wow... that is really pretty fabric!  I cut it out immediately, and then it sat.  The more I looked at it on my table, the more I thought... really??

But, I hate UFO's so I started working on it.  I got the outside put together w/o the sleeves... and looked at it again and thought... really??   I put the sleeves on...still... really?  At that point I decided I had put too much money and time into it and I needed to finish it.  -- The welt pockets alone were a bear to work with in thick tapestry fabric (what was I thinking... these are my first welt pockets and I probably used the worst fabric).   I got some nice silk  fabric to line it;  I dug through my vintage button stash and found some buttons and finished the jacket.  I was in the mood for some hand sewing, so I put the lining in by hand while watching "My Week with Marilyn". 

I tried it on, and showed my husband who said:  It looks like you're wearing a couch.   I sighed and said, yea, you're probably right.  I showed it to my 10 year old niece and she said she liked it!  (um....).  I emailed a photo of it to my mom, who didn't really say anything  (um..... ) 

Here it is

what do you think?  I still kinda think... with a pair of jeans and a tee?  I like it....  but should I?

Here's the details

Monday, March 19, 2012

THIS is what I am meant to do

I love, love, LOVE teaching, encouraging, enabling  (whatever you want to call it) teens and kids to sew! 
This past weekend me and my fellow enablers volunteered to teach a Teen Sewing Camp at the Glendale Quilt Guild's Quilt Show.  This is a big local Show - although I do believe people fly in from all over to go to this.  We had 17 students.  We prepared kits from donated fabrics and supplies.  These kits were provided to the teens/kids for free.  The Guild charged $20 per person to cover the cost of the venue.  What a deal! 

Their choices were: tote bag (with optional pocket and/or applique); drawstring beach bag; zippered pouch (they love this one.. and there was no zipper fear!); pillowcase (great beginner project); and 9 patch pillow (in keeping with the quilt show theme). The class was from 10-4 with an hour (or so) for lunch.  During lunch, I encouraged the kids to check out the Show, look at the quilts, and visit the vendors, both to give them inspiration and me and my fellow enablers a break!.  My feet were sore at the end of the day, but oh how good I felt to share my love of sewing. 

We were invited back for next year!  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Still No Sew

I just can't seem to sit my butt down and sew.  I'm not feeling inspired.  Maybe it's the fact that I have so many clothes (mostly all made), and no room for any of it, that I just don't want any more clutter. I need to wear what I got.

Sunday, it was a beautiful day and I went for a hike. I have the Verdugo Hills 0.5 miles from my house.  They are actually about .01 miles from my house - just across the street - but there's a cemented in wash (was a river when I was a kid) that blocks my direct access.  I need to walk around a few blocks and cross over a bridge to get the the fire road.  When I am 0.5 miles up that fire road I feel like I'm 100 miles away.  I am so thankful for the people that preserved these hills and fought for years against building homes on it.  At one time they wanted to build 500+ homes... all concrete "mansions". 
This was my view on Sunday.

This is Crescenta Valley, where I live.  I am surrounded by mountains. This view is from the Verdugos, looking north towards Mt. Lukens and the San Gabriels.  The upper desert (Lancaster, Palmdale, Victorville) is on the other side of those mountains.   The valley below makes a crescent.  The 210 freeway cuts through the middle going east and west (dang freeways).  Before the freeway, we would drive about 20 miles south to catch another freeway. (the "Golden State 5 fwy). We lived way out in the middle of nowhere.  You could see a bazillion stars at night, deer and other wildlife in your yard was common.  La Crescenta is now in the middle of it somewhere... only 15 miles from downtown LA, and a quick ride on the freeway.   But in these mountains, I am 100 miles away in the middle of nowhere.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Motion Picture Costume Exhibit at FIDM

Today the ASG Los Angeles Teen group and I went to check out the Motion Picture Costume Exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM).  You cannot take photos otherwise I would have more pictures to show you.  This year's exhibit seemed a bit short on motion picture costumes. However, there was 1 dress that caught my eye! This dress is from the movie W.E. directed and produced by Madonna and an acadmy nominee for best costume

this was made in blue and white stripped cotton.  look at the seams, they were all matched perfectly.  I was mesmerized by the way the stripes went and how well they matched and how there were so many seams in the front and back just showing off the stripes and the design and details of the dress.  I found these pictures online.

I want to copy this dress;  make it about knee length for summer!   The sleeve was lined in organza to give it the poof and there was no hem stitching.  I suspect the entire dress was underline in organza. 
The exhibit also featured wedding and formal wear from the British monarchy.  There were some beautiful early 20th century dresses.  The Exhibit runs through April 28th and is free.  If you are in the Los Angeles area, go check it out!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Organ Pizza

While in Arizona, we went to Organ Stop Pizza.... yea, I know it doesn't sound appealing... but it really is not pizza topped with organs, it's a huge pizza parlor with the worlds largest organ.  Organ Stop Pizza  The pizza is not bad, (the ice cream is really good), -- the organist was wonderful.  It was a lot of fun.  If you are ever in Mesa, Arizona, it is a must! 

This weekend, I plan on sewing and hope to have some projects posted early next week.   First on my  list is the Jalie Scarf top in approximately 5  to10 different sizes.  We have a workshop coming up in April (I like to be organized ahead of time) and we want to have the various sizes available for the attendees to try on so they can trace their correct size.  The scarf top is really easy, so I should be able to sew one up in less than an hour. I'm also having a garage sale on saturday.  Getting rid of some fabrics and some of other items that I discovered while cleaning closets.

I leave you with a video of the Organ Stop Pizza organist. (I hope it's not too shaky)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Arizona - and no sewing

This past weekend I flew with my sister and her two kids to Arizona to visit my parents. It was the kids first airplane ride.  We got to Arizona at 11AM saturday morning and went to Goldfield  Ghost Town at the  base of the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction.

The Superstitions are full of legends, most notably the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine.  This is a view of the Superstitions from the Goldfield Ghost Town.  We started the our visit with a train ride around the perimeter of the ghost town.

After the train ride we walked around....  Goldfield has the usual old cars, gun fight, bordello, church, jail, saloon, and mine tour.  It was a beautiful day and great to be outside. 
My dad enjoys the old cars and you can see him here, checking them out.  He brought the dog... my dad and the dog...  they are rarely apart. 

We enjoyed our visit.  I make a point to visit my parents at least once a month.

Friday, February 10, 2012

One Down, Four to Go

The closet in my guest room is done.  I really like the work that The Container Store did and I think I'm going to like the product.  The shelves seem really sturdy.  I have 4 spare sewing machines on the shelves, and one of them is a Pfaff 130 which weighs a ton.  The installers assured me that the shelves can handle the weight.  Everything is off the floors!  I can see everything and there is nothing piled behind something else.  Those are all my jackets and sweaters.  I love to make jackets... ah I wish I knew someone my size I could share my jackets with....  they seem so lonely
This is a photo of the closet area before, after install, and done.  I just need to get closet doors... but it's so much more organized!

I left work early yesterday to meet the installers and was home when it was still light out!  About 4PM the crows started gathering... you can hear them calling and I watched them gather in a local sycamore tree.  Crows live a long time and mate for life.  But they are nest raiders... so not sure how I feel about them.

Then just before dark, the hummingbirds started filling up on the nectar I leave out for them in my 8 feeders.  Hummingbirds hibernate at night, so they need to get their fill before they sleep for the night to stay warm.  I got some good photos of the birds last night.  The guy in the lower right was staring right at me.

I have four more closets to do, but probably won't do them for a while.  Four closets, yep, that's it... I have no closet space in my house, so it's about time I get them organized and maximize their potential! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Glendale Quilt Show Teen Sewing Camp March 18th

Look... I'm listed as a teacher for the upcoming Glendale Quilt Show.

The GQG Show is, I believe, one of the largest all volunteer quilt shows.  Glendale Quilt Guild has about 300 members and each member does an enormous amount of work every year to put on this Show.  The classes have first rate teachers and classes, beautiful quilts on display, and lots of vendors.  If you are in the area, you should go!  There are several  vendors selling fabrics, notions, patterns, jewelry, sewing machines, etc.  Glendale Quilt Guild Website

Me along with 2 other ladies (Susan and Darcy) are volunteering our time to teach this class.  We have prepared 5 different kits for the teens to sew.  The teens get to choose the kit(s) based on their skill level and interests.  We did this class last year through the Santa Clarita Parks and Recreation and it was a big hit.  It is so rewarding seeing these kids create!  So, if you have a teen (ages 10-17) who wants to learn to sew, knows how to sew, or you want them to learn to sew... send them our way... We would love to share our love of sewing with them!!

Monday, February 6, 2012


Simplicity 2054 might just be my new favorite knit dress.  Cynthia Rowley Dress Pattern .
 It goes together quick, the slit in the sleeve is unique and I love the circle scarf idea!   
I'm wearing it today with printed tights, boots,and a long chain necklace.  I didn't wear the scarf today.  I made it from a heavy poly knit.  It's probably a ponte; it's a bit more stretchy than a double knit, and a smidge thinner. The scarf I made with some rayon knit because it's much lighter weight. 

I also have the silk chiffon I dyed last week and not quite sure what to make, so I made up this top using some ombre silk chiffon I recently purchased from Fabric Mart.  I hate sewing chiffon because it wiggles and ripples.  I wanted something with as few seams as possible. (sorry, but I don't recall the pattern; I'll find it and post later)  You can see that my neckline still has waves.  Not sure how to prevent that?  I used my serger to do a rolled hem on the edge and that worked out nicely. 
I'm not sure I will wear this style, so I'm going to keep looking for another pattern to use with my dyed chiffon.

I made up another slip using some poly charmeuse my friend Kathi gave me.  I used an old Stretch and Sew pattern for this and it's so easy.  You really don't even need a pattern if you wanted to make a slip.  You just need about 3" of ease and the length is whatever fits your dress(es)

And finally, my guest room closet is cleaned out and ready for some new shelves, bins, and garment poles.  I went to The Container Store last week (they are having their 30% off sale) with the closet measurements and they created a plan.  I liked their plan, and they are coming on thursday to install.   Here's the closet area before I cleaned it out

you can see it's an odd shape.  and doesn't have a wall on the right side and the ceiling slopes.  I took the doors off several years ago, but now wish I didn't.  So after the new shelves and poles are added, I'm going to buy some new doors.  Here's a photo of the space cleaned out.
This is wear I keep my jackets.. all crammed in there on that 1 pole; and bins of fabric and junk to the right.
Can wait for the new set up which will include 2 poles so my jackets can breathe... or I can make more and not cram them in there and maybe actually see what I have!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Still haven't sewn anything... BUT I did cut a couple of things out.  I'm hoping that this weekend becomes a sewing weekend and I will have some finished garments to post.  In the meantime, I'm still sorting and cleaning, and stumbled upon some photos.
This is me and my bffs (at the time) celebrating our 16th birthdays. (that's my youngest sister, Cheryl, peaking out between me (center) and my friend Kim].

and below is one of me and my brothers and sisters, probably when I was about 11 or 12 (second from left) in our front/side yard. Yes, there were 6 of us... my mom had 6 kids in 8 years! Crazy!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dying to Tell You using a Microwave

I've been doing a bit of fabric dying lately.  I just love the colors.This past saturday, ASG Los Angeles had a silk dying workshop with Audry Durnan. Everyone had fun.
We started with 1-22 yards of silk chiffon for each  ( has all the supplies you need if you wanted to try this at home  --- and I recommend that you try this at home).  We finger gathered the chiffon, tied with string (kite string works well) and/or rubberbands, and then twisted the chiffon very tight. So tight that it coiled up on itself.
It helps if you have another person to hold one end while you twist.  If you don't have a "helper", then you can use a doorknob to anchor one end of your chiffon to.  We used acid dyes purchased from Dharma. My understanding is that these dyes are safe and not toxic.  We used three colors for each fabric (you can use more or less depending on the results).  After the fabric is twisted tightly and tied, you add your color using a turkey baster.  Make sure you saturate the twisted fabric well. and get it in all the knots, twists, and turns.  Keep in mind that the colors will run and that you will have several colors when done.

After the color is added, put your twisted and colored fabric into a zip lock bag and sprinkle with a bit of vinegar and water and let it set for about 5 mins.  After your  fabric is done "marinating" in the vinegar, take the bag with the fabric and pop it into a microwave oven.  Make sure the bag is not completely sealed and it has about 3" of breathing room.  Put the microwave on high for 3 mins.  Be sure you use a "spare" microwave, and not one for using food.  Not sure how safe the dye vapors are for food prep after you're done dying fabric.  When the fabric is done "cooking", open the oven and give it a few mins to cool.  Take the bag out, and open it all the way and let it cool a bit more.  After it is cool enough to handle, take to the sink, cut the ties and bands off, untwist and rinse using cold/cool water.

After it is rinsed and open, wring it in a towel to get a bit more water out and then run an iron over it to set the color a bit more.

Then place it in the sun or someplace to dry.  Silk chiffon will dry quick.  You are now done and can admire your work and all the beautiful colors!
For the pink on the left, I used fushia, yellow, and cherry red.  The next was sky blue, turquoise, and brown.  Next was fushia, turquoise, and yellow.  The far right is violet, brown, and yellow.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Early Spring Cleaning

I have not sewn anything... nothing... so far this year (ok, it's still January, but in a normal year, I would have sewn several things by now).  I think this is a first for me!   What have I been doing?  Cleaning, sorting, organizing, purging!  I think for the past 7 years (I had a fire in 2005 and HAD to clean)  I've been adding and collecting sewing items which means stuffing, stashing.... ok hording, and was feeling stifled with all the *stuff*!  So, my friend Kathi, emailed me her excel template and I starting going through my fabric, pile by pile, bin by bin, closet by closet.  If I didn't love it, the fabric went to the garage where it will be on its way to the Boys and Girls Club where ASG Los Angeles members mentor and teach sewing.  I think there are at least 10 boxes in the garage so far.

I pulled out all the fabric, measured and counted and sorted it.  I have over 700 yards that I'm keeping and 6 more bins to sort through. Those bins are in the guest room, so I may hold off on those until I finish the sewing room.   After I finished my fabric "cleansing", I almost stopped, but then thought, I really need to go through the closet in the sewing room where there are receipts, bills, photos, *stuff*, and supplies for other hobbies.  If I didn't sort it now, it would probably be another 7 years before I thought about it again.  So, I dove in, sorted, organized, purged, and shredded.  I then went to Target and bought new shelves, plastic shoe boxes, and bins and re-organized.  I have 1 last cabinet to go through... but I see the light at the end of the tunnel... at least in the sewing room.

What have I learned?  I have enough zips, buttons, interfacing, buckles, batting, fabric, thread, and supplies for at least the next 10 years!