Thursday, October 29, 2009

Prayers for Stacey

If you have a moment, would you please say a prayer for Stacey? She is a good friend of mine and a wonderful person, the kind everybody loves. She's funny, witty, kind, an all-around great person. She's just a year older than me and is in the hospital. She has a 4" malignant tumor that the doctors are hoping to cure and are optimistic about it. If you knew her, you'd love her just like everyone else does.

Tomorrow she will likely begin chemotherapy treatment. I've already looked up chemo hat/cap patterns and said she could have this pretty, long-haired blonde wig I bought several years ago. It can be cut any way she likes it. Maybe she will be in the group that doesn't lose their hair but just in case.

Please say a prayer for her. She has had a very rough past two years and now she just found out about this 3 days ago. She's really special, and her infectious laugh and sense of humor light up any room she's in.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Feel of Suede

Quick note:

Meredith asked:

"Forgot to ask: does he feel like suede? There is fur there, but I wondered what texture he feels like. Completely adorable, but he's going to have trouble hiding any weight gain from the vet :-)"

Thanks for asking, Meredith :) . Yes, he does feel like suede. Yet softer. Our little kitty is molting so he's actually losing fur in a few spots. He doesn't have much fur to begin with! His full coat will take two years to come in. His father and mother feel like...Minky! Short, soft dense fur. However, I think each Devon's fur is slightly different.

I've forgotten how active little kittens are, and this is an exceptionally active breed. Our schedules have been changed around to accommodate his kittenhood. DD#2 is getting a lesson on "parenting".

Excuse me...must attend to our little boy's needs... :) .

Saturday, October 24, 2009


He's our little baby. Our little boy. DD#2's very much desired kitten. Another source of joy and companionship. *My Sewing Buddy*. Although I'll probably think twice about that comment when one of my patterns end up shredded as his personal toy ;) .

He's active. Quick as a whip. Highly inquisitive. Gives new meaning to "cat-like reflexes". Yet loving. Loves to be held and cuddled. And an added plus? Low allergenic. He's Jake, our Devon Rex. Loved so much by our family.

'Nuff said. Here's our pics of our sweet, little boy:

And after all the fun we have, he gets all tired out! (Yes, an embroidered blanket just for him.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Happy Anniversary, Birthday, and Good Sewing News!

What a fabulous weekend! Sorry, no pics handy.

First, my 23rd Wedding Anniversary on Saturday, followed by my birthday on Sunday. It was so nice that both of those days fell on the weekend. What did we do that was special? Nothing! And that's why it was special LOL. If you knew what our schedule was like, nothing is actually VERY special indeed. DD#2 made my favorite red velvet cake. DH made my fave morning breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast. Purchased my special coffee creamer and actually had some good wine on Saturday night. My happiness formula:

Good Food + Good Drink + Good Company = A Darn Good Time

Okay. Let's be honest--add in some sewing time :) . Which I did.

So, I don't want to keep anyone in suspense (like I could actually do that LOL) about my Good Sewing News so here it is:

1. The sewing machine in the cabinet my MIL gave me died. I got the official word last week. An internal gear was broken and the tech said he could fix the machine for straight stitching only, but the zigzag would never work again. I said I'll keep the cabinet, but chuck the machine.

So...why is this good news??? Because the tech told me he sees a Kenmore that would fit into my machine come in every one or two months. This morning I got the call that a Kenmore just came in! It fit my machine perfectly. He'll tune it up and it will be ready to go. The one caveat--it has some major dings in the porcelain bed. That's okay. There has to be some type of filler that can be applied to fill in the somewhat deep dings. Do any handy people know what I can use? This is an olive green Kenmore circa the mid 70's. I can ask a handy guy I know for advice as well.

2. I started my quest for the "Elusive" perfect pants fit last year. Even self drafted my own pattern as per the instructions in a Threads magazine from at least a year or two ago. Made additional modifications to the pattern via Joyce Murphy's Body Space Concept also in Threads. With the pattern created, I set it aside and didn't work on it for a year.

This weekend I made the capris I was supposed to make from my self-drafted pattern last year. I have to get back into pants because DD#2 wants me to make her more pants for school. So I stitched them up and tried them on right before going to bed last night. Not expecting much, I was stunned to find an almost perfect fit on my backside! No butt bag! No extreme horizontal folds of fabric. It was thrilling! I'll do a post of it in the next few days.

3. I finished the white blouse I was working on. I love it. It might need just a little tweaking here and there on the next one, but overall the fit is good and the construction was a breeze. Simplicity gets a thumbs up on this pattern--no instruction surprises. I'll do a post of this as well in the next few days.

4. Jake (our new kitty) is coming home on the 23rd! We just can't wait for this little ball of fluff to keep us company. He will be well loved.

Okay. That's all for now. Just a quick update with more sewing blog "stuff" to come soon.

ETA--Thank you, Anonymous! I forgot--it was Kristin who shot JR. I was wrong. See what aging another year does to a person? ;)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Who Would You Cast... play you!

Quoted from Ann's blog:

"...In fact, let's start a meme. Here's how it works. Who would you pick to play the role of You in a Hollywood movie (could be Bollywood, Ozziewood, Eurowood, you pick). Post it on your blog and leave a comment here pointing us to you. ..."

I thought it was about looks for casting purposes at first, but then considered it to be looks and intelligence/talent as well.

Oh my gosh! This is so easy.

Past: Audrey Landers. Oh that 80's hair! I love it. Had it. Still love it. Still have it when I want it ;) .

Present: Audrey Landers (might be a little retouching done here and there, maybe a little Botox or Rejuvenex, who knows. But heck, she's looking mighty fine.) Ya know. She's looking better than me and she's older. Life's not fair. But it's nothing a little money wouldn't change, huh.

Future: Audrey Landers


Okay. The young things may not know who this chick is. She's the girl who shot JR LOL! (If the next question is "Who is JR?", then forget about it ;) . ) I can't tell you how many times I was told I bore a strong resemblance to Audrey Landers when I was in college. Too many to count. So I would have her portray me as my past. Ditto my present. Many people probably don't know it, but she's a very talented woman: actress, composer, singer, etc.. And she seems relatively private. Those are things I admire and relate to, so she can portray my present. I can identify with that. And my future? Well who knows what that entails, but she can do that too.

That's who I would cast!

Redraft No. 1 of McCall's 4922

Here's the pattern, same as my previous post

We're talking a basic oxford style. There's a bit of variations on sleeve detail, hemlines, and bias cut pieces on the pattern, but I need something more though. We're talking teens with attitude. The "standard" oxford style just won't do. So I drew some sketches. Here they are:

So for my first modified version, I chose the bottom sketch. It has bust gathering detail at the CF at the bustline. So I pull out my cutting mat and get to work on the pattern piece with slash and spread. This is what I ended up with (adding 1.5" of gathers which worked out perfectly):

For this pattern, I used a 10 at the neck/shoulders/upper chest, then morphed to a 14 at the full bust down. The other alterations I did were forward shoulder on the bodice with the coresponding alteration done on the sleeve as found on my Sleeve Tutorial blog post and a very slight swayback tuck (1/4" above the waist).

That swayback tuck will vary according to what base size I use. If I used a 12, I'd do about a 1/2" tuck. Which brings me to a question I've seen on the PR boards about cutting a CB seam after doing a swayback tuck. People seem to stress over this, and I don't know why. Here's the issue:

The top of the pattern at the CB neck and the bottom of the pattern at the CB hem are on the bold yellow line. After doing the swayback tuck, the back edge "dips" or curves inward. How do I handle this? Simply align the CB at the neck and the CB at the hemline at the fold in the fabric. It will end up looking like this:

See how there is a slight excess of fabric at the CB because of the swayback tuck? It would, of course, be more if I did a 1/2" tuck which I sometimes do. HOWEVER, the excess of width is usually not a problem. Sometimes I ignore it, sometimes I eliminate the excess by removing width from the princess seam which I have shown in the photo with a new cutting line in white.

This isn't rocket science. It's just a common sense approach to dealing with this issue. And yet I see a number of sewers fretting about this particular alterations. On a top without a princess seam, it can simply be removed from the side seams as well.

Believe me, when I started with tissue fitting and pattern alterations, I made big issues out of small things. It's really easy to do because it's easy to get overwhelmed, especially on a figure like mine that requires oodles of pattern alterations on a base size 12. Morphing from a 10 to 14 is my favorite option, although some patterns I can't find in that range so my pattern alterations increase exponentially.

So where am I on this top? Almost done! All I need to do are the buttons/buttonholes and hemming. Here's a pic from yesterday without the addition of sleeves. Please excuse the hasty photo. I didn't have time to press it again and this cotton is like a wrinkle nightmare. In retrospect, a cotton/poly blend would have been better. But you get the general idea.

I should be finished with it soon, maybe tomorrow. This top takes me back to the 80's for sure! I had this one Brooke Shield's blouse pattern that I made at least 5 times when I was in high school. Truthfully, it has been years since I've made a blouse. But I'm really liking this one. Sure hope DD#2 doesn't want to snatch this for her school wardrobe. This is her "muslin" since we wear the same size. It's actually her 2nd choice top. Her first choice is the one with underbust horizontal seam with vertical tucks to be added on the bottom pieces, kind of like the shirt below in a recent Burda WOF mag. This style will be my next redraft. BTW, does anyone have a 9/2009 Burda WOF they would like to sell me??? This is an awesome top and I'd love to trace it as is. It would save me redrafting time.

BTW, thank you, everyone, for your comments on school dress code/uniform policies. I must add that this is our first year. That is why it is SO darn expensive for me. Starting from scratch for four kids. It is truly a monetary nightmare. They have virtually nothing to use from the previous year to build on for a school wardrobe. Subsequent years will not be so bad, but the first year is very hard. I feel very sorry for the many parents in our school district who have lost their jobs and are in the same boat of buying everything new. Relying on hand-me-downs, at least in my family, is not an option this year. Virtually everything is brand new.

Right now I'm adding a few nice pieces here and there for DD#2. She actually likes and wears what I make her. Same with the boys. DD#1 thumbs her nose, but I know she secretly "approves" but will never actually wear what her mother has made.

Okay. More later. My fingers are tired and I'm going to enjoy my Saturday evening glass of wine.

Friday, October 2, 2009

School Uniforms and McCall's 4922.

Life with a dress code policy. Fine for a job, but a pain-in-the-you-know-what for parents like me in a public school district that just went to a standardized dress code (technically--UNIFORMS!). Although the claim can be made that uniforms save money in the long run, for me it has been a huge monetary investment since my four kids needed entirely brand new wardrobes. I've probably already spent at least $1,000 on back to school clothes with another $500 to be spent on winter attire that meets the school code standards.

A true uniform, IMO, would be much easier. Instead, we have choices. For pants, Docker style navy blue, black, or khaki/stone colored pants. Shorts and skirts are to be the same colors and must come down to the knee cap. Tops have to have buttons up to the neck (one unbuttoned is okay) in oxford style (girls tops can be a little fancy with gathered sleeves, front pleats, etc., but must be in the full button down style of an oxford WITH a collar). Tops can be white, grey, any shade of blue, or black. Same color tops and bottoms cannot be worn, for example, black shirt with black pants. AND absolutely NO logos or symbols of any type.

Kids have been sent to ISS for tops with no collars, pants with rivets, pants with more than 4 pockets, pockets below the hipline, shirts that don't have buttons up to the neck, skirts that are too short, etc., from Day 1. That includes Kindergarten students too. I think there were something like 2 full rooms of In-School Suspension kids for failure to follow the dress code to a T the first day of school, and that was just at the Intermediate school (grades 5-7).

Unfortunately for me, our "standardized dress code" has too many choices which means more money. The boys are easy, they're young and not picky. A plain 'ol polo in any color will do them just fine. They're not particular about their pants either. Girls, on the other hand, need "fancy" style oxford blouses. Princess seaming, tucks, gathered sleeves, and ruffled fronts in the broad array of "acceptable" colors which includes ANY shade of blue. Skirts with fancy seaming and detailing is a big thing. It would be SO much easier if the uniform was like a Catholic school uniform. One color/style blouse, one style/color dress.

Choices may be nice for the kids, but the bottom line is that choices mean more money for the parents. And I haven't even gotten to shoes. They must be in a predominate color of black or white. No fancy colors or stripes. That's really hard too. I like my kids to have good footwear with good support, but find myself shopping at Walmart for cheap, plain color sneakers and shoes. DD#2's cheapo shoes I bought at Payless were killing her feet. The Dr. Scholl's insoles helped, but I may have to go the route of $60 or $70 Naturalizers. It was far easier when my sporty girl simply needed one pair of shoes--her top-quality sneakers for almost the year.

So where does this lead up to? McCall's 4922.
A princess seamed blouse with several variations. That's what I'm working on right now for DD#2. I made a design modification which is one of 3 design sketches I drew on paper which deviate a bit from the standard, classic button-down oxford shirt style.

Detailed info on that is in my next blog post.