Friday, November 30, 2007

Conference Day

It was a hectic day today. The kids had off due to conferences, and I had to attend three. Luckily the high school doesn't have conferences at this time so that was one less than usual. So early on I had everyone get up so we could be at the gym at 8:30 a.m. The girls are old enough to work out, but the boys still have to stay in the playroom. I had one hour exactly and then it was Vroom! Off home to redress and redo my hair in approximately 7 minutes flat. Note even time to shower unfortunately.

DD#1 asks on the way home, "What are you going to wear? You can't go in your workout clothes." I replied that I was going to wear the suit I made and she just groaned and gave me "that look". Like "homemade" doesn't cut it. Um...those teeny, expensive, flimsy cotton shirts she buys from Hollister don't exactly scream fashion, nor a couture look. Well I walked out the door and had my son take a pic so I could see if the camera's eye was the same perception I had when looking in the mirror. Yes, I still like it.

And today, everyone was rather nice and pleasant to me and treated me intelligently. Kind of goes back to "dress the way you want to be treated." I felt important too :) ! It just felt good.

Now off to my new dressy outfit, of which I will post the dress and fabric tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Looking Your Best

The past few days I've been reading blogs on looking your best. And, of course, being treated accordingly when one looks their best. Really, the two go hand in hand, don't they! Sometimes I think it's a really hard thing to do. Some of work, some of us have kids, and many have the really hard part of doing both in addition to trying maintain the homefront.

I think dressing nice comes and goes in spurts. There are stages of life that affect this, and even genetics takes over at some point in time and makes things even harder. I remember back in my early-mid 20's at my first *real* job as a high school teacher. Beautiful wools suits, classy dresses--yeah, it was my style. Then at 25, baby no. 1 came along. I learned very quickly to cover up my dress clothes before heading out the door to daycare. Spit up is not very kind to dress clothes. Same with using a big absorbent towel on my lap so the suddenly very weight diaper "spot" wouldn't appear on the lower half of my work clothes. When I was home, my clothes were lackluster to say the least. Drab and dumpy to be exact.

It only got worse when I turned 30 and decided to resign to raise my growing family as a SAHM. Big oversized men's t-shirts and turtlenecks and bland jeans were my uniform. It's what I felt I had to wear. Little kids have a tendency to wipe their noses along with their big hugs on mom's shirts. Dirty hands sometimes turn my boring solid colors into prints. And the darn thing is, having a full bust and a smaller waist, I didn't always look past my boobs when going out. There were definitely several occasions where I walked out door with "booger spots" and "paw prints" on my lower half!

So, it's really hard to dress nice with little kids. Not impossible, but I just didn't feel up to the challenge with havng four kids somewhat close together. Once they all got out of toddlerhood, I wanted to look better and dress nicer. Take my life back so to speak. And this is really the hardest part of all for most women. By this time, their bodies have dramatically changed. In my case, I've been somewhat blessed by "thinner" genes, but still have to work hard to keep off 20 lbs. that would love to sit on my body. But so many have it hard, and I think the fashion industry for the middle class isn't exactly kind. As a SAHM, our family lives on one income. That doesn't leave much extra money for the finer stores. Walmart, Kmart, JCPenney, and Sears are my usual hits for shopping. That is, when I go because I hate clothes shopping and would much rather stay home and make my own. But the average Jane isn't so lucky. The spandex-y styles can be rather shapeless, and so many woman are looking for comfort. The generic department stores cater to the masses and this doesn't exactly include the cute Anthropology or runway knockoff styles I see on websites. Stretch knits with less shape are what I'm seeing in the stores and on the streets to accommodate the ever increasing American girth.

So overall, what I'm trying to say is, dressing better is do-able, but there are so many things that work against us as women. Instead of concentrating on an entire wardrobe or looking great everyday (which is sometimes a daunting task), it's nice to have a few outfits set aside for when we go out. Whether it be to school for parent pickup, sitting at a sports event, going to a parent/teacher conference, etc. I think taking baby steps can make a big difference. Heck, I even dress up now to go to the batting cages with my kids!

So fellow ladies like me, go easy on yourself. Start with a couple of nice pieces, and build from there. Maybe a nice wool coat, a jacket or two, a pair or two of nice shoes, a pair of sexy "non-Mom" jeans and build from there. We CAN get our fashion forward lives back, one piece at a time :) !

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Last Frontier

Fitting is such a funny thing. It is such... Let's start again :) . For some reason I can't get text off the side of my pic :( . Fitting is such a funny thing. It is such an integral part of sewing, and yet I've really only discovered it since joining Patternreview a few years ago. Before that it was lengthen/shorten, let out a seam here and there, and the process of a good fit has eluded me for the past 26+ years out of my 30 years of sewing. Even in high school, things never fit quite right and I didn't really know why. A few of my friends who sewed to pass the time as an elective class used to get a pretty decent fit. But I was never as lucky.

The Internet has been a godsend to me as far as fit is concerned. And it has taken time, not something that has happened overnight, in a month, or even a year. The more I do it, the better I get. So far I've been able to nail down a decent fit for a top or jacket and a skirt. But pants is my last frontier. I've been busy working on mine and my daughter's over the last several months. Since May actually, when I took Shannon Gifford's Make a Pants Muslin class. I start working on it, take a few fitting pics, stop, work on something else, start again, stop again... You get the idea. Right now I've been concentrating my efforts on my daughter's pants. They're almost there. Above are pics of her first muslin. The back looks bad, I know. Deep folds and creases from way too much fabric. Can't do much with those pants as far as alterations are concerned, so I just finished them up so she could wear them. Nothing worse than what I see at school anyway. My second try I was happier with, but it still needs work. On this pair, a few lightbulbs went on as far as pants fitting is concerned. But the deep folds and creases have been replaced with light folds and creases. She also wants a narrower leg and narrower hem. Done. Working on her third pair soon.

It's a tricky thing. I don't want to take out too much length via a fisheye and traditional dart. Doing so would make the pants uncomfortable. So I just pinch out and take a guess. Working with different weights of denim makes things tricky too, in that they lay differently on the body. So I've made another guess for my third try. My first reaction was to take out another inch via a fisheye, but I'm going to go with 3/4" right now. Little tweaks here and there from this point forward. The good thing is, DD#2 likes them! They're comfortable for her. We sometimes joke around that she has, what we call, sensory integration disorder. She has strong likes and dislikes for particular fabrics and fashions. She can't stand the feel of traditional jeans. Doesn't like stiff denim, doesn't like a tight crotch fit, doesn't like tight legs, doesn't like them short (she's developing a long inseam like me), and the list goes on. So the fact that she finds these comfortable and wearable is fine by me. The first pair I made makes me cringe when I look at the back, but hey, they look good from the front LOL. The second pair looks about average compared to what I see in RTW on a lot of people. So I'm getting excited about this third pair.

I'd get excited about *my* third muslin, but dummy me did a foolish thing. I have 4 pieces--a right front, left front, right back, left back for my asymetrical body. Not having worked on it in a month, I grabbed two pieces and started cutting. ACK! I cut 4 backs!!! Please stamp the word "Stupid" on my forehead. I was thinking of salvaging it, but probably won't. What I will do is cut out two fronts from another pieces of denim and use the backs to make sure they fit right. Then alter the pattern if necessary and recut two more backs from the new denim. Darn! I hate making stupid mistakes on fabric I really like. Oh well. It wasn't expensive. And it happens to all of us, doesn't it.

As I work on conquering this "last frontier", I realize there are two very important people I must thank for getting this far. Those two being Shannon Gifford and Jean Haas. What great fitting gurus they are! And so extremely helpful too. They go above and beyond the call of duty and are always available when the class is over to answer lingering questions. Their Patternreview classes are awesome and I've always gotten a lot out of them. Someday I'll meet them in person.
Ending on a happy note, I met PR members Babs and Shura this past Saturday! What great women and we talked about what we love--garment sewing :) . We're hoping to recruit enough people in our area to start an ASG chapter. We have high hopes in getting one going, so please wish us luck in our endeavor. We're planning month meetings at this point and hoping our recruiting efforts will succeed in helping us meet our goal.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pants, pants, and more pants

I've finally been able to work more on pants. DD#2's jeans are done and she's wearing them to school today--first time. In fact, it's the first time she's worn jeans to school in so long I can't remember. Think she wore them once last January (a brand new pair I bought her for Christmas), but she didn't like the feel so she gave them to me. I love 'em so thanks Di!

Today I will continue sewing her second pair with the pattern alterations to take care of her baggy butt/back upper leg. She was happy to learn that the number of fittings on this pair will be cut in half.

Some bad news on my own though. Dummy me forgot I was using two fronts and two backs to account for my asymetrical body #*(@U(*#U@*( !!!!! So I have two left backs and two right backs. At first I thought it was a total loss, but maybe that's not so. I think I can cut a left front and right front from the two extra backs by piecing the side seam with a long extra strip of denim. Think design element here. It just makes me mad though because it's extra work on a pair of pants that is taking me months to perfect the fit. *Finally* I get the alterations done and have a cutting error. So disgusting.

So maybe I'll finish mine over Thanksgiving. Today is a big pie-making day for me so if I'm lucky to work on DD#2's second pair of jeans, I'll be that much closer to working on my own and fixing the boo-boo.

Monday, November 12, 2007


First off, we have to thank our wonderful hostess of the event, Deepika! There would be no PR Weekend without her initiative and effort in creating the Patternreview website. She's awesome!!!

The weekend started for me late Friday packing my suitcase and other goodies around 6 p.m. I had to take DD#1 to baseball later and didn't get back home until 9:30 p.m. Checked my emails and had to respond to Sue who couldn't attend with me this year due to a very unfortunate and heartbreaking loss in her family. Sure hope her family was able to get through the weekend okay.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early at 3:15 a.m. to be out the door at 4:15 to catch a ride with my friend's husband at the gas station. He works in NYC and was able to drive me right to my sister's apartment doorstep! What a gem. I tried to offer him some money for the trip but he wouldn't take it. Such a nice guy and was good enough to listen to my boring early morning babble on the way. My sister and I had a small breakfast at her apartment and we were off at 8 to meet everyone at 9:15 in the hotel lobby.

We broke into two groups soon after and my group was headed to the leather store. Mmmm!!! Smelling and feeling all those skins!!! Absolutely incredible. I bough some red leather for a purse and some black for whatever. My sister was simply smitten with some goat skin and bought 3 skins to make a black jacket. It is going to be gorgeous when it's done! Then we went to Mood. Didn't buy anything there because our next stop was where I REALLY was itching to go--Metro Textiles. I bought about 5 knits from Kashi and had them shipped home. Can't wait for them to arrive. Then it was lunch at the Times Square Deli. Thanks goodness as I was starting to get the afternoon cranks. A lunch of a toasted chicken panini, terra chips, chocolate cake, and a Fresca made everything right again for more fabric shopping. After lunch we went to Paron's (gosh I love their wools!) and picked up a blue/black wool and a dark green wool. After that it was a walk to the trim shop (can't remember the name) where I picked up some cotton thread for my leather as well as a few buttons to match my green wool. Spandex House was next on my hit list and I picked up a knit there too. So did my sister. Then a few more stops here and there and we were done.

After shopping we went back to the Milford Plaza lobby to rest our weary feet for about 45 minutes before we were to meet again for our evening party. We took a 20 minute subway stop with a short walk to the office building and we all met in the conference room for pizza, drinks, good conversation and the gift swap. Around 9 p.m. there was a lot of yawning and the party broke up with everyone saying goodbye until our next meeting, whether it be fabric shopping or a PR retreat of some type.

That is basically a summary of my overall awesome day! Saturday night was a little difficult LOL. While my sister's bed is certainly very comfy, it was very hard for me to sleep at all with the strange NYC noises going on outside. So Sunday was very exhausting. My sister accidentally set the alarm clock an hour early (not that it mattered, of course) and I was up at 4:45 a.m. We left her apartment around 7 and went for bagels and then to the Port Authority to wait for my 8:30 a.m. bus. I was supposed to leave on the 3:15 bus, but our PR group decided the night before that we would forgo the Sunday breakfast, so I was able to leave early and be home with my family. Truly it was another awesome PR Weekend, and I can't wait to do it again.

This year it was wonderful to get the opportunity to talk more with people I didn't get a chance to speak that much with last year, like Mina. She's incredible and so funny! I loved her dress story (or maybe I should say lack thereof LOL!). This year I met Cindylou and she is the epitome of a southern belle! Warm, inviting, and cheerful with a delightful light southern accent. Karen amazed me again this year with her ability to pick out fabrics that amazingly match her skin tone. What incredible taste! JodiB was so kind and complimentary to me about the fit of my shirts in my reviews, but I was equally inspired by her SWAP plan. She had the fabric swatches in hand as she shopped the stores. She has the most amazing skin tone too! We were at Metro and she had this fabric draped on her which was not only a great color on her, but it just makes her skin glow even more than usual. She was also so kind to wait until my sister made her final decision on her leather skins to guide us to the next store. (That was actually quite dangerous because I know how long my sister can take to make decision! Luckily she didn't take forever.) I loved talking with Ann and think she has a great sense of humor. She picked out this gorgeous print at Kashi's with purple and red. After leaving the store I was kicking myself for not buying some too. Can't wait to see the top or dress that she makes from it! As for Cidell, I didn't get a chance to talk with her much, but she is incredibly beautiful. She looks terrific in her pics, but even more gorgeous in person. TomP was there with his contest-winning coat. Amazing work. Equally amazing was the coat he made for his girlfriend--the same pattern/coat that Mary Cargill made and was wearing that night. And don't even get me started on Mary LOL! She makes amazing coats and jackets. Her evening outfit was equally impressive. I absolutely LOVED her idea for the loop/carriers on the front and back of her black top to insert a scarf. It just makes for an incredibly classy look. It was so nice to actually meet several others like Cindy, Mimi, Jaeng, and Mariela although I didn't get to talk to them that much this year. Kim wasn't in my group either, but you know...there's always next year. Even my sister commented on the great time she had and what a great group it was!

The only drawback to my weekend was my crummy, cheapo digital camera. I only got 9 pics because for some reason the camera wouldn't save to the SD card. I was afraid to reformat it for fear the pics in internal memory would be lost. Da** camera! But I will try to post what I do have as well as fabric pics during the next few days.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Just in time.

The tops are done! Finished just in time for PR Weekend shopping tomorrow. Just one little problem--it's way to cold for my duro top! Yikes. So I'm bringing along two outfits for Sunday just in case maybe it will get warmer than it's supposed to. And last year was so beautiful we were walking around with no jackets in the afternoon. Perfect weather and sunshine. This year it's a bit different.

Anyway, here are the tops. I'll edit my review for the scoop on these two next week.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fast and Furious!

That's what it is!!! Fast and furious sewing for Pattern Review weekend in NYC. Two tops basically done except for hemming. Lots of last minute things to buy for my trip today, including a trip down to JoAnn's for a gift for the gift swap. There were a few head-scratching moments this week with fast sewing and stupid mistakes, but both tops should be finished by tonight. Whew! This has been a painful experience because I sew slow and enjoy doing it that way. No rush, no deadlines, just the relaxing sewing experience. So I'm still running on adrenaline at this point. I'm hoping to get some pics of the tops up by tomorrow but won't be able to review them at Pattern Review until next week.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Ryan!!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

PR Weekend Clothing

This was troubling me lately--what to wear to PR Weekend this year. I know I'm making the wrap version of S4076 again, but what about the second day? I've finally decided it's going to be a duro-style top (Simplicity K. Ali, don't know the number offhand) lengthened to my thigh to wear over my black leggings. The fabric is an awesome black/white/grey print from Gorgeous Fabrics. Both of these patterns are TNT so they should be very quick to whip up. All I have to do is basically adjust the hem lengths on both patterns before cutting. Time is an issue though. It is a struggle with so much to do during the day and evening with the kids. However, determination will get me through. Both need to be finished before next Friday, and I'm hoping to get at least one cut today.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Things to do today.

My to-do list:

1. Sew the inseam and side seam on DD#2's jeans with topstitching and transfer her baggy butt/leg alterations to the flat pattern for her next pair.

2. Finish tidying up my sewing studio (Gosh, I LOVE calling it a "studio"! Makes me feel rich LOL.) It's really a small room in our house but it houses most of my sewing stuff, except for most of my stash. Will take some pics of it too.

3. Outside errands--food shopping and post office. The bathrooms will have to wait yet another day.

4. Pick the girls up after school, go to the gym, then eat and take DS#2 to football practice.

And that is my boring list! Oh yeah, add the mundane housework kind of things like vacuuming and doing the dishes. And DH wonders what I do all day! However, even he was amazed at how something simple like taking the car in for a wheel alignment and oil change will wipe out most of the day when he was off from work this past week. Really, items 1 and 2 are the *most* important :) .