Monday, January 24, 2011

Inspiration Stripes

Yesterday morning I went upstairs with good intentions to sew up another tunic top in a artsy wool knit but I was just too tired.  This neurological syndrome is not going away anytime soon and I have to deal with the numbness and weakness of my feet and leg muscles, plus my hands are also affected.   Everything I do takes so much more effort and is very tiring.  All I accomplished yesterday was getting the photos of the striped tunic taken and posted.   Today there is snow on the ground and I'm supposed to go to the therapy pool later this afternoon.   Around ten AM we looked out the window to see a car overturned at the  bottom of my neighbor's sloping driveway across the street -  driver going over the speed limit and hit an icy spot.   There was a mom and 3 kids all in child seats with seat belts.  Luckily everyone is OK.  Seat belts saved my life about six years ago.

Here are some photos I took while snoop shopping last Thursday.   I didn't buy any of these garments, but thought the details were worth capturing.   The interesting trim, including raw bias inspired me to do the bias finish on my striped top.     It's' the details that people like, and pay extra for.  Here's a simple Diane Von Furstenberg silk knit shift dress.   Click here to see the amazing things she's done with stripes and mixed prints this spring.

Here's a top that reminded me of the new 2X4 tunic top pattern.   Don't be afraid to use knits for that one - just compare the finished measurements with a similar knit top you already own.   This is a fine striped knit with a sheer floral woven raw bias trim at the neckline and a fine rib knit for the sleeve.    It's very flattering on.  The sleeve is fitted and I pushed it up.   Underneath a fairly sheer fabric like this I would normally wear a nude bra instead of the black one here that shows through with the black tights LOL.
Fine rib knit on sleeves
Here's another striped knit top (retail of almost $90)  that is basically a square with an 8" cowl and sleeve flanges using a double width of stripe running perpendicular.    I imagine that one would wear a camisole underneath this one.   These light weight knits skim over the body and are very comfortable.

Here's a striped T-shirt with a henley neckline that is trimmed in a floral print knit that is twisted.
Here's a rayon jersey dress that is draped in an interesting way and trimmed with bands of bias silk left raw at the hem and neckline.    These simple details can make any dress or top go from plain to fabulous.

More detail shots on Flickr.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A tunic top and some Spring designer Ideas

In a burst of energy yesterday, and inspiration from my shopping trip the day before,  I sewed up View A of Louise Cutting's new 2X4 tops in this stretchy cotton/Lycra stripe that I also used for a Sewing Workshop Mimosa top.  After comparing and measuring similar tops, I cut the size small  - highly recommend that process to determine the size to make.    This neckline and that of view B are pretty wide, so compare those as well.    If you've already sewn up the shells with the same necklines, you're halfway there.   For this neckline, I omitted the facing and trimmed and finished the neckline with a 1" unfinished bias trim using the technique from Louise's Master Class on trims and finishes in Threads #121 - one of my treasured issues.   This top has the mitered vents at the sides.   I omitted the optional triangle inserts in this top.  

The shape, the view A neckline, and fit of this 2X4 top is a lot like this gorgeous Piazza Sempione Linen cotton hand painted shift dress.   You know how I like to lengthen favorite tops into dresses, so this looks like something I need to knock-off for spring using the 2X4 pattern.    If you want to see beautiful outfits,   check out their website or the collection at Neiman Marcus.     The photo on the right is their Textured Sketch-Print Jacket with cargo pockets that are just like the pocket included in Louise Cutting's One Seam Pant pattern.   A fabulous knock-off of this jacket could be made using her In The Trenches pattern, with the concealed placket, shortened, without the drawstring and just a plain sleeve - a spectacular look for a lot less than $1,550.

DH decided to cure my cabin fever by taking me to South Park Mall in Charlotte NC on Thursday where I got to check out the resort and spring collections at Neiman Marcus.   I wore my black Tosca dress with a stretch velvet turtleneck and black textured tights that got raves from the staff in the designer section.   I saw a dress (sorry I didn't commit the designer of it to memory) that had a similar shape and hem treatment as the new SW Tosca Dress, same length as mine.   It didn't have the neat neckline as the Tosca, but it did have the deep armholes.  The interesting thing was that this dress (in a blue on white brush-stroke cotton) had little self-fabric inserts sewn in the deep armholes for modesty. Because the Tosca Dress front and neckline shape may be compromised by messing with the armholes, I may do that,  putting tiny snaps so they can be removed - like dress shields.   And talk about channeling a Sewing Workshop pattern classic, Michael Kors is selling a poly crepe skirt this spring ($1,295) that looks a whole lot like the Lotus Skirt!   

I absolutely love what is being done with stripes this resort and spring.   Lots of easy shift shapes, some with drawstrings like Chloe and Marc Jacobs.     Lanvin and Stella McCartney are doing relaxed fit shapes and shift dresses too,  but the Charlotte store doesn't carry those lines anymore, although they can order them.     I always love Etro and just about died when I saw their aqua cotton lace cardigan jacket ($1,730).   It was shown in their Resort 2010 catalog page 119 over a floral dress.   The sage green jacket in the photo from Browns in the UK is the exact same in a different color lace.   Interesting that the Chanel resort collection also had open, unlined eyelet looks.   More photos of the aqua jacket and the details of the french seams and trim are on Flickr.    How simple to create a cardigan jacket like this one from any basic boxy jacket pattern.    I seem to remember an article on creating trim like this in Threads - maybe someone can help me find it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

SW Tosca - A wonderful Little Black Dress

Post edited to add photos of me wearing the Tosca LBD.   It's hard to photograph black so you can barely see the texture in the fabric. The depth of the armhole, altered for the first dress,  is the same for this dress.  Here I am wearing a lace edged knit camisole that works well under the dress.

What else to do on a cold, snowy day when everything is closed and appointments canceled?    Sew up another Tosca dress in a black synthetic fabric with a wrinkled ribbon look.    I think it's classic in its simplicity - even a dress Audrey Hepburn might wear.

Here is a close-up of the fabric that reminds me of the manipulated synthetics used by one of my favorite designers, Babette SF, in their unique garments.

Here is the dress paired with one of my Babette SF garments, a zip front jacket with waistline tucks in rayon/silk velvet burn-out.    The edges of the collar of the jacket were intentionally left raw.    I love them together and will get some photos of me wearing this posted soon.   Check out more photos on Flickr.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Catching Up -- Posting lots of Pattern Reviews

Those of you who follow my sewing know that I love to plan and sew using mainly a cross section of  the great independent patterns available today.    Since I'm retired, these days I prefer an elegant, casual look using high quality fabrics.  What I'm bad about is the admin - posting reviews and info about what I've sewn on Pattern Review.  

So if you are seeing a flurry of posts there - and there will be more,  it's because I'm taking the time to bring existing reviews up to date and post new reviews about patterns I've made last year but was so excited to finish and wear them that I neglected to post a review.   It's a good idea to go back to your older reviews of patterns still on the market to make sure that the links are still working and accurate.    It's amazing how many times I go to PR and click on a link that doesn't work anymore.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sewing Workshop Tosca Dress Sample

With a Relax-A-Little shirt

I cut out this sample/wearable muslin dress yesterday in this IKEA cotton.   I sewed it up this afternoon in about 3 hours.  This size small dress is a full 10" shorter than the pattern and you can see that the armholes are still very deep even with me taking them up 2".    I wear it over lightweight knit tops.

Everything went together easily.   Stay stitching the shoulders and clipping is a must as is the under-stitching and top stitching.   I pressed the neckline and armholes over a ham.    The offset hem was easy to do and I used a template for the 1/2" and basted it in before edge stitching.    This is unique style that I recommend altering carefully for your own body and taste.    I didn't think all those funky, asymmetrical pockets added anything so I didn't use them.   Keep it simple, let the fabric do the talking, and have fun with it.  More photos and how I altered the pattern on my Tosca Flickr Album.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Last Year - This Year

I was happy to be able to finish the Ikina Jacket during December but with the snows and cold weather, coupled with my lack of strength and endurance, I've not been able to keep sewing.   I've also had several falls that scared us.   Last week my neurologist and his PA observed that I am a lot better since the last time I was there the end of October.   Still,  improvement and progress is very slow, so it's hard to be upbeat when I'm used to being an active and productive person.    

I had to go to my Flickr photos to remember all the garments and coordinates I sewed up in 2010.  I hope to get better and eventually be as productive.   A group of coordinates and the Princess Tank Dress were for my sister.   Everything works with something else in my wardrobe.   The only pattern I would not sew again is the Vogue tunic.   I think this is a complete list, but I may have left out one or two things. 

4 pair of Easy Ageless and Cool Pants by Louise Cutting Patterns
3 Ikina Jackets from the Sewing Workshop Pattern
3 Cowl neck tops from Silhouette Patterns
1 Loes Hinse Tango Skirt (mini length)
1 Taos Skirt from ReVisions Patterns
1 Loes Hinse Hepburn Pant
1 Loes Hinse Bergman Blouse in textured rayon
1 Loes Hinse modified Tuscan cardigan jacket
1 Loes Hinse modified Kimono jacket
Loes Hinse Princess Tank Dress
1 Relax a Little top by Louise Cutting Patterns
1 Stars In Heaven Top by Louise Cutting Patterns
2 My Hearts a Flutter shells by Louise Cutting Patterns
1 My Hearts a Flutter tunic top by Louise Cutting Patterns
2 Pure and Simple shells (one with bias cowl neckline) by Louise Cutting Patterns
2 By Popular Demand Jackets by Louise Cutting Patterns
1 vintage Vogue Geoffrey Beene shirtdress
1 Very Easy Vogue 8436 Dress 
1 Vogue patterns tunic top
1 authentic comic character full costume for my son including boot covers and gauntlets - sorry no photos
Several interesting cozy cowl scarves of my own design - no photos