Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bergman Jacket almost finished

I got some ideas from this Chanel jacket with strips of fabric applied and left hanging all over.  A bit too much going on for my Bergman jacket, but I liked a couple of the details -  the strips at the neckline left hanging so that they could be loosely tied if you wanted to, and the Maltese Cross type medallions - like little packages at the front opening made from the fabric strips.     What great ideas to customize your own creations!

Here are some photos from the jacket in progress to include me wearing the jacket with a camisole after I finished and pressed the cardiganized front and neck edges to show the fit prior to applying the trim.  There are more photos of the trim details on the Flickr set.

Jacket in progress - experimenting with placement of mesh strips and medallions

 I then applied the trim using 1/4" Steam a Seam strips on the back of each of the two sparkly stripes on this mesh fabric.   I'm still playing with the placement of the neck and front strips and how I want the medallions to look.   They could be removable, using snaps.    The mesh doesn't ravel so I could just cut the strips diagonally like ribbon and leave them hanging.
Note that trim is upside down here showing the SaS

Mesh at hem with edge folded over and secured with SaS

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why I shouldn't sew at night

I worked on my holey Bergman jacket yesterday evening, sewing on the black mesh trim onto the black holey fabric.    I put the bottom trim piece on first, serging right sides together to the bottom of the jacket, then turning and topstitching it down.   Somehow I got one front edge folded over so the bottom trim piece ended up too short.  Then I didn't like how the stitching looked on the one sleeve I applied the trim to.   I've got good fluorescent lighting but black on black is hard.    So I spent the rest of the evening ripping it all out.    As I was ripping tiny stitches and serging from two open fabrics that I didn't want to make more holes in (that took me 5 X longer than sewing it on),  it hit me that I should do this in daylight - Duh! and use the Steam-S-Seam light first to make sure it's where I want it to be, then fuse and stitch it down.    I didn't get any sewing done today because I slept too late.  That was because I had trouble sleeping with those night splints on my feet/legs and woke up around 4 AM from dreams that I was being tortured.   So I had DH remove them and finally got some sleep.   They're really beneficial in what they do, but it's like wearing ski boots to bed and takes serious getting used to.

I had physical therapy early afternoon and went along for the ride while DH did some other errands today so it was dark when we got home.    Tomorrow is another day!

I'm working on some directions to knock off some Eileen Fisher layering pieces I found at that consignment store I got the jacket I turned into a vest.  Will post when I work out the details.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dear Readers

Thank you all so much for the encouragement and nice comments about my jacket in progress and the other sewing projects I've blogged about.   Because of the finger neuropathy its a bigger effort for me to type (took me four times to get bigger correct LOL).   To answer the question, the posters were too cowardly to post using their real identities.  Before retiring I was responsible for the acquisition process and management of all the contracts/contractors supporting the largest federal cybercrime center, so I know a thing or two about people with behavioral issues masquerading under fabricated identities on the internet!    You think you "know" someone online?  Not when they use a fake or ancient doctored photo and embellish their persona to get attention, because if it's not about them, they aren't interested.    The best thing for me to do is laugh about it and not get frustrated and quit.   Reading all of your encouragement has boosted my mental state to continue blogging, and not look back.    The only crying I have done over these long months has not been in self pity, but out of frustration, like when I fell again yesterday.   This rare neurological craziness is something I have to bear,  and hope this has made me a stronger person.   Life is unpredictable -  just look at the many lives snuffed out in seconds from terrible earthquakes - the latest in New Zealand.   Every day is a present, so do something with it as long as you can.    So on to fashion and sewing!

Sewing Expos -  Puyallup, WA fairgrounds and Atlanta, GA
I was on ReAnn's list to meet her group from Wilmington, NC there.   It was something I thought I would be able to do by the time the date rolled around, and it gave me something to look forward to.  But when I talked to one of my therapists about it a month ago she had concerns that I wouldn't be able to deal with the airport concourses and the fair grounds.   I called others who had been there and they verified her concerns.    So with regret, I canceled out.    I hope all of you who are traveling there have a wonderful time and that the weather is great for your trips.     I do have reservations at a hotel near the Gwinnett Center for the Atlanta Expo from March 9 (Wed night), checking out Saturday.   DH will be along and I'll have my walker.   So when you see a not so old lady shuffling along with a walker, that's me.      Hope to see many sewing friends there.

Go to this link for the Brunello Cucinelli Collections

The last time I was at Neiman Marcus I saw this amazing collection from an Italian group I was not familiar with.   Roy said that it was the first time they had received this one in Charlotte.    The company is a model of a symbiotic employer/employee relationship.  The clothes been called "sporty chic" and amazing is all I could say as I looked the pieces over.   Take a look at the details on the downloadable collections from their website (link above) and see what patterns you have to make your own versions.   The music is pretty too!   The Spring 2011 collection is up on the Italian site, and selected pieces on the Neiman Marcus site.   I think it may have inspired some of the casual pieces in the March Burda Style pattern magazine.   I was intrigued by this Elastic-Neck Double-Layer Dress,  similar in shape to the Sewing Workshop Tosca dress in cotton broadcloth with a band in a contrast color right where the hem starts to angle in(5-6" wide).    If you were to shorten the neckline collar band a bit and insert elastic to draw the fabric up,  you'd have it.    A "slip" was attached at the hem with a knit top portion that peeked out of the armholes.   The slip was attached asymmetrically so that gave the hemline its twist.   I've requested some swatches from Michael's Fabrics neutral cottons and linens to play with.   Here's my drawing of it from memory before it was posted on the website.   The lines at the top indicate the gathering from the elastic in the band.  I can't write very well right now either..

Cap Sleeve Dresses

In the Casual Elegance/Loes Hinse newsletter called "The Look",   Loes is offering a new cap sleeve dress and top pattern.     I enjoy the Princess Tank Dress pattern with lots of seams and a cap sleeve so I may not order the new one.   Coincidentally I received an e-mail from Shop Onion today featuring their cap sleeve dress and some other patterns.      Burda Style also has had one with tucks issued last spring, 7517, with four reviews on Pattern Review. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Holey Moley - My jacket from the Bergman Blouse pattern

I've sewn up several cardigan jackets using this pattern.   The first thing I did with the pattern was to make it into a cardigan in 2008.    I sent photos of what I did to Casual Elegance but never got an acknowledgment.    For almost a year,  in periodic newsletters,  CE and LH have been tempting women with new jackets and changes to existing patterns.    Lyn of Lyn's Stuff blogged about a Princess Jacket she sewed up last fall at one of the Loes Hinse seminars.   After I commented, she confirmed that it was "derived" from the Bergman pattern.    Then in the last newsletter, Loes provided a "tweak" of the Bergman blouse as a cardigan jacket with a deeper front and a 6" tucked hem.

While I was in Charlotte recently, the Neiman Marcus Chanel Manager showed me the Spring/Summer 2011 Look book and details of the garments and fabrics.    The first three ensembles and the jacket in the show are made of a fabric with laser cut holes backed with a mesh.    He told me he was getting advance orders, even at the $8,000 and up prices.   I'm going to the trunk show next week and thought --  I can make my own holey jacket.   I had a piece of holey mesh fabric from Marcy Tilton that I only got a yard of  -- turns out there was 38" and voila, I had enough for a Bergman jacket that I already had fitted and ready to go.   I sewed and closely serge finished all the seams, then I got out some mesh fabric I bought just for trims and played with the edge finishes with the jacket on this mannequin that I can pin to.    I used a piece with several rows for the hem and tucked it up.   I'll apply that and then stitch one row of the trim along the front and neckline.    I've played with a single row of trim on the sleeve or a wider one of two rows.   You can see larger photos and details on the Bergman Flickr set.   I think it looks amazing.   Stay tuned for the finished version and more of what I'm sewing for spring!

 Update on my condition and this blog:

I'm still not doing so well with my feet and hands but I make an effort to go upstairs and sew and plan every day now.    I can't feel anything with my feet so I tripped on the iron cord today, but got right back up and finished what I was doing.    I am having difficulty with my feet because the nerves have been gone for six months now, so the muscles controlling the toes have no nerves and don't work.   The feet are the first to go and the last to come back.    My husband says that everything he has read says the soonest people start getting better is 8 months and much longer for everything to be back to normal since nerves grow back so slowly.   It may be up to two years before I'm back to normal.   I have to wear a support on each foot/leg at night to keep the calf muscles from tightening up while I sleep.   There is a custom graphite foot/calf brace on order that should be here next week that I have to wear inside my shoe to keep my right foot up.     I have to be really careful not to fall again because the pain and swelling kept me from doing the physical therapy that I have to do.   I am working very hard to strengthen the leg and ankle muscles that can be strengthened so I can stand up without falling over.    It's like a stroke patient re-learning to do things.    My toes drag ( don't stay up by themselves) and that causes me to fall if I'm not very careful to tell them to stay up, and lift my feet while walking.    I got some compression socks that help the swelling in my right foot/ankle from the falls.    Even the swelling and sprains heal slower in my case.     I use a walker in the house.

My hands are also affected so I can't type one word without making mistakes.   You don't see this since I correct the mistakes.   It's also hard to use pins and sew/control the foot pedals,  so all this has been very hard on me, and I try not to get depressed.   I still can't believe the cruel and ignorant behavior of some women toward me, even those who took advantage of my hospitality and generosity.  Because of the continued hatred and ugliness (bullies never give up) in comments left here that I did not post,  I am considering making access to my blog by invitation only.    It's pretty sad that in my condition I would have to do this because of people like that.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Valentines Present

This is an ensemble from the Chanel 2011 Resort collection that my husband, who has excellent taste, ordered for me after seeing it at Neiman Marcus in Charlotte.  The jacket is silk organza embroidered with gold paillettes over a delicate tulle underlining trimmed with the same tweed as the skirt.    I just loved the warm colors (hard to find in any of their recent collections) and that it can be dressy or casually elegant, depending on how I style it.   My vintage bracelet works so well with this.  I can wear the jacket over a black dress for evening or a gold 4 ply silk dress or any of the colors in the tweed.     It was gorgeous over a gold crepe Escada jumpsuit with palazzo pants.

2/22/11 Update:  It was such a sweet gesture, but after thinking it over, I made my husband return the ensemble. It's going to be a long, long time before I can stand up in any type of heel, which is necessary to properly carry this style off. Right now, it makes more sense to invest the cost and more in my son's new business.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spring 2011 - Layers and a Jacket Restyling Project

Last week was fashion week in NYC,  I like to look at the collections and watch the videos of the trends to see what designers, the stylists and fashionistas are up to.   QVC has been doing their version of runway to real way during fashion week.    So just for fun,  I checked out the website and the videos of "the looks".     Worn by a model in a video for a cardigan there were the new pants shape similar to Louise Cutting's new pattern below, styled with a zebra print infinity scarf.   I love how this lady is wearing that pant shape with a TDF Matthew Ames cocoon coat.
Street style in NYC last week from Huffington Post Style

I'm seeing lots of light weight rain or topper jackets like the In The Trenches jacket with a drawstring and that great back yoke with the pleat.  If you have that pattern, cut it longer to end below your butt - around 30" for me and add the cargo pockets with a flap from the One-Seam Pant Pattern on each side below the waist.   Put a zipper in it and patch pockets with a zipper and you'll have a topper jacket that you'll wear with everything like this cotton/nylon blend Vera Wang jacket with an inside drawstring from her Spring Collection for Kohl's.  I tried it on in the store and measured it -- the fit for each size is the same as the ITT jacket.

A week ago a friend and I had lunch together and spent the better part of an afternoon in a high end consignment store trying on lots of things.  The store just happened to have most of their inventory selling for $5 to $10 max.   Even if it was too big, as most things are on me these days, if it was a great fabric/design and needed minor alterations, I could deal with that.   My friend used to design clothing for her own brand until she sold it.   So there were two fabric and fashion divas in hog heaven.   I came out with 7 items, including 4 Eileen Fisher pieces ( that need no alterations) and a beautifully fitted cardigan jacket a la Chanel in silk velvet faux Persian lamb edged with double bias georgette all along the edges.    I gave that to my son's GF because she looked so cute in it.
I found this jacket that is obviously high end based on the fabric and construction details.  It's a crinkle twill, probably silk/linen; unlined but finished nicely.   Today I took off one sleeve and put it on to see what I needed to take in.   I've lost a lot of weight so everything hangs on me now but the shoulder seams and the princess seams will be easy to take in.   I'm wearing the last pair of Easy Ageless and Cool pants I made last year, a Loes Hinse Boatneck top with the jacket.   After looking at it, I think I'll just leave the sleeves off and wear it sleeveless.  I love the little mitered vent in the back seam and the pockets that hang below the hem.

I'm going to see how Louise finished the armholes on her new vest pattern.    I've certainly got enough fabric to make a narrow facing using the sleeves.

   I've decided to use the same fabric and buttons I used for these pants for the restyled sleeveless jacket since it coordinates with so many things.

Monday Update -- I didn't take in any of the seams after pressing it and trying it on with a few different tops.   First I stabilized the armholes with 3/8" bias fusible cotton tape, then stitched a bias band with the same width seam allowance, under-stitched, pressed and then top stitched the facings down.   Here's the stabilized armhole and then the finished bias facing, and me trying it on in my sewing room.    It's a pretty gold color with a nice sheen.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More important than sewing -- Repeal the PATRIOT Act!

Saturday Update --  Congress did exactly what I predicted Friday night.   Our "leaders" who spew their rhetoric about repressive leaders who don't represent their people in countries like Egypt coddle and  give away money without restrictions to greedy big banks, investment houses and businesses who lied, gambled and just plain mis-managed the businesses.  If you mis-managed your business you'd be shit out of luck.   Try to get a small business loan these days.   And how about those big fees banks get to collect?  What are they doing with that money?   Is everyone in your family duly employed based on their eduction and qualifications?  Are they getting huge bonuses?  Probably not unless they're a CEO or in the banking, investment or medical business.   GM just announced that they are giving out huge bonuses after taking a taxpayer bailout at the same time they are moving production to China, Mexico and Korea.    And the beat goes on.

On a positive note, Congress voted NOT to renew the PATRIOT Act Tuesday night.   On a negative note,  why did my representative, Heath Shuler (D-NC), vote yes to extend that legally questionable and constitutionally suspect Act?   And how predictable that just one day after the House of Representatives voted down extending provisions of the Patriot Act,  the gang was on message, including the Director of National Intelligence and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano both warning that the terror threat is "the most heightened since 9/11"!   Watch this video discussing the original bill introduced in 2001 that was NEVER read or debated on the floor of the house.   I doubt any of the individuals voting YEA to extend it Tuesday night even read the entire Act.

PATRIOT Act or Bill of can't have both.   The Michael Chertoff-drafted PATRIOT Act was originally sold as a temporary emergency measure and was supposed to expire ( now he's making BIG money off it selling body scanners to TSA).    Bush signed it and Obama, who has broken many campaign promises, continues to urge Congress to renew the same Patriot Act that in 2003 he branded "shoddy and dangerous" and pledged to dump it!   Some change we can believe in!   Unfortunately, unless Americans get mad as hell and tell the White House and their Representatives in Congress to stop this madness, the measure is now expected to return to the House floor for a regular vote that would require a simple majority to pass.   If House members vote then as they did Tuesday, the extension will pass easily.    Don't let this happen.  This time it must be REPEALED!

Whatever your politics, why would anyone support a law that strips Americans of our rights under the Bill of Rights and effectively has created a police state turning all Americans into suspects without the need for evidence, judge-issued warrants and other elements of the rule of law?    Neither this law, nor our wars for profit and support for corrupt "leaders" in Afghanistan and all over the middle east have made us "safer".   Yes there are bad guys here and everywhere, but we don't need he PATRIOT Act to legally track and investigate, arrest, charge and prosecute them.

The New Yorker Magazine just published this article about how Karzai's relatives, other high ranking govt officials and friends looted the Bank of Kabul that pays the soldiers who the US/NATO has been trying to train for the past 9 years -- So is the US going bail out that bank out so the Afghan Army can be paid?  Did you know that the current US policy being carried out in Afghanistan by Gen. David Petraeu is based on paying off and playing with bad guys on both sides and the middle.   But under the PATRIOT Act, just questioning those wars and corruption, or TSA's methods at the airport can make you a suspect.

Anyone can search using Google to connect the dots to find the facts.  Most people associate Bush/Cheney with it, but did you know that the PATRIOT Act is based on an anti-terrorism bill that Joe Biden drafted after the Oklahoma City bombing?   Biden brags that he is the author of the Patriot Act.    In 1995, months before the Oklahoma City bombing took place, Biden introduced another bill called the Omnibus Counter-terrorism Act of 1995.   It previewed the 2001 Patriot Act by allowing secret evidence to be used in prosecutions, expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and wiretap laws, creating a new federal crime of "terrorism" that could be invoked based on political beliefs, permitting the U.S. military to be used in civilian law enforcement, and allowing permanent detection of non-U.S. citizens without judicial review. The Center for National Security Studies said the bill would erode "constitutional and statutory due process protections" and would "authorize the Justice Department to pick and choose crimes to investigate and prosecute based on political beliefs and associations."

Biden himself draws parallels between his 1995 bill and its 2001 cousin. "I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the bill Attorney General John Ashcroft sent up was my bill," he said when the Patriot Act was being debated, according to the New Republic, which described him as "the Democratic Party's de facto spokesman on the war against terrorism."    The law that Bill Clinton eventually signed in 1996, referred to by civil libertarians as a "Riechstag fire", was a death knell to the Bill of Rights and was designed to grant sweeping powers to the executive branch.  Included in the 1996 bill and the PATRIOT Act provisions was a much broader wiretapping authority for law enforcement with less judicial oversight, access to personal and financial records without a warrant.  Most of all included in the bill are sweeping powers granted to the President to designate certain groups as "terrorist" organizations, to seize the assets of said groups and their supporters, and to imprison U.S citizens and deport aliens supporting such groups, aliens being denied due process under the law. 

It was bad then and it's bad now.   Here's a great video from the Rutherford Institute, one of the nation's premier civil liberties organizations, discussing the PATRIOT Act.   Also recommend their paper entitled The Rise of the American Police State

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sweater coats, layering and an idea for a Spring top

 I could have subtitled this post as "Getting around is a bitch but I'm doing it"!  I've had a pretty busy week for my crippled self, coupled with sore ligaments and a still healing skinned knee -- you can  see the bandage through my tights.    Yesterday was a trip to the dentist for cleaning, and then the monthly luncheon and meeting of the Asheville United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter as a guest/prospective member.    The meetings are now held at the ABCCM Veterans Culinary School that caters lunch.    Lunch was their version of chicken cordon bleu with a delicious dijon sauce, julienned vegetables and chocolate creme brulee for dessert - no need to make dinner last night!   Most of the members are also members of the local DAR chapters, many in my chapter.   DH drove me and kept my friend Elizabeth's husband company.   We were their guests.  I wore this wool knit Loes Hinse sweater coat that goes with so many things over a wool crepe knit cardigan over a lightweight black turtleneck, tights and a stretch ponte knit skirt.   I always get complements on that sweater coat.   It was a good day for layering since it was around freezing even with the sun shining.    Those are my trusty Aerosoles boots.
I got an e-mail today from Neiman Marcus about the spring trend for stripes that I already wrote about.  I love playing with stripes of any kind so I wanted to share this idea.   Here's a very classy but really expensive top by Fendi ( $1,085) that inspires me to play with some of that ruffled knit fabric like Martha Myers used for her SW Olive tops.   To do this, all you need is enough to put horizontally on the front of a plain knit top that you make or even buy.   Or, if you have some quality grosgrain or petersham ribbon around, wash it first to soften it up, and then using a high quality fabric paint like Pebeo Setacolor,  paint the edges and apply it in strips as they did here,  making a bow on the first row.   You don't have to be neat with the paint because they weren't!  Voila, you have a knock-off of a thousand dollar + top.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's new ?

I was cruising my favorite pattern websites and found the latest post on the Sewing Workshop sit for this pretty unlined wool knit Verona Jacket variation

Linda has provided down-loadable tutorial/directions and even offers a kit which I took advantage of.  You can order the kit without the pattern, or just the fabric.   

I haven't been sewing because I took an awful fall after Friday afternoon's pool therapy sessions/workouts,  tripping on the carpet on the way out the door of the facility as I was leaving even with my cane.   Since the muscles and nerves in my feet aren't functioning hardly at all, my feet drag or get caught when there is friction with carpet and shoe soles.     Anyway I fell on my left wrist and forearm and both knees, ankles.    My therapist checked me and didn't think I broke anything but I had  a lot of pain in my left forearm near the elbow and wrist area when I twist it,  and could hardly stand on my right foot and the ankle still has swelling since ligaments were sprained.    I used an icepack over the weekend and then got X-rays Monday since I still couldn't put any weight on it.   Fortunately they showed that I didn't break any of the bones, verifying the sprains.   Then I fell again yesterday on the same arm.    I was progressing so well with balance and even able to wiggle my right toes after them being "dead" for so long.   My husband won't leave me alone in the house for fear I'm going to fall again.

This makes getting up to my second floor sewing room even more difficult.  I need to finish another 2x4 tunic top, this time in a printed ponte knit.   I don't know about you, but I can't wait for spring and I'm looking forward to playing with Louise Cutting's upcoming pattern here that should be out later this month.
My husband and I have reservations for a hotel near the Gwinnett Center so I can attend the Atlanta Sewing Expo in March.    I'm hoping to make some real progress in terms of my recovery between now and then and hope to see many of my southern sewing friends there!