Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Interpretation of a designer original

All of my sewing is interpretation - of what looks good and appropriate on me, for my lifestyle and for my coloring,  body and age.     I look at trends and styles and get inspired to make something my own.   That's what I did with my interpretation of this Fendi spring/summer dress that I wrote about the sewing and planning in yesterday's blog post.

Many aspects of the dress reminded me of the design elements of The Sewing Workshop's Now Shirt so all I did was re-interpret them.    The only change I made from yesterday's post was to stitch the back pleat to the waistline.    I think my dress is elegant and preppy with a twist.     I enjoy shirtdresses and will wear this one often.      You'll see me wearing this one in Florida next month for sure!

I went to the hospital this morning for my bi-weekly plasmapheresis treatment so I'm too tired to put this on for a quick photo - maybe tomorrow.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shirtdress stripes with a white collar? How About a Sewing Workshop Now Shirtdress?

I just love the striped looks in the Fendi spring 2012 collection.   I don't care for the apron looks or some of the other funky looks,  but the stripes and bands and ribbons of fabric as design elements are amazing.    I also like the crisp linen looks with contrast collars and bands at the hemline of the skirts and dresses.    If you're looking for some design inspiration, take a look:   Fendi Spring 2012 RTW on NY Magazine .   I really like the neat preppy look with a twist going on here.     Both these looks reminded me of the many variations myself and others have done using the Sewing Workshop's Now Shirt Pattern.     I like the two looks in the photos below --- the first one is a shirtdress look and the second one look could be achieved by layering two Now Shirts - one as a blouse and the other a jacket.

I've made the Now Shirt as jackets and shirts but not yet as a shirtdress.   So I got to work yesterday, and pulled out this blue and white stripe shirting and a piece of white Swiss cotton that would make a nice collar.       I'm sewing this up today so will be posting photos soon.   I know this is spring sewing but I just had to play with this look, and I'm sure the weather in Florida next month will be perfect to wear it when I go to Louise Cutting and Linda Lee's workshop in Winter Park.

 I printed out a large photo of the dress, and drew a placket look about 12" down.  The placket  below that will sewn together leaving a small pleat like the Fendi dress.   That gives me an opening to put the dress on, plus the lower portion won't pull open as it would if I put buttons all the way down the front.   As shown in the photo of the fabrics,   I'll finish and encase the edges of the sleeves and hem by sewing on bands with the stripes horizontally about the same width as this dress.   
Click on photos to enlarge
This morning, before cutting out this dress,  I called Linda Lee at The Sewing Workshop to ask her opinion on widening the shirt pattern at the bottom.    My final length of the dress portion without the horizontal band is 35" and the width would be 44" straight down.     She suggested adding the back pleat of the Zen Shirt pattern that adds 4" and possibly add side godets if I wanted the look of the original.    I had already worked out a soft front pleat that would be open below the front button placket so that adds another 3 + inches.    I figured that would be enough and I didn't want more going on at the sides.        
I'm almost finished with the dress except for finishing the buttonholes and the bands.   The Now Shirt is completely finished with French seams so no serger is needed.    Lots of planning and pressing but all the numbers added up and it's looking good.   Here are some photos of where I left it.   I think it looks great.   After I put it on to check the fit, I may stitch the back pleat down farther.    More photos on Flickr.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cool Weather is Here

And I slept with two down comforters on last night and the heat on.     It's been in the 50's and only 50 last night but my body isn't used to the cool weather just yet.  

Anyway I finished the 2X4 dress today.    This is view C with the wide cowl.   I just serge finished the raw edges with a combination of dark brown and black serger threads that just blended in.   I don't know what the fiber content is but in pressing it I could tell it's not acrylic (which I hate).   It may be a wool blend.  Whatever it is, it's a soft and easy fitting dress to wear with tights and vests.      I'll get working on the Three Fold Vest tomorrow.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Arm-warmer prototype and Shapes Three Fold Vest

Today I did some planning, measuring and worked on some layouts.     I worked on a 2X4 tunic lengthened into a dress (view C with the wide cowl neck)  out of this expresso brown ribbed knit.   I also made some arm-warmers after seeing the slouchy Donna Karan ribbed cashmere knit ones.   I think these will look great with that Eileen Fisher cardigan.    This is a soft ribbed knit so I measured the width of my arm, used differential feed to serge the knit into a tube then turned the lower finger portion under, flat-locked, stitched between thumb and fingers.   That's a separate tube of ribbing with clear elastic serged onto the seam.   I may make these a single tube and longer but here is the prototype:
Ribbed knit from Casual Elegance Fabrics
I've sewn the Shapes Three Fold Vest twice - one in a black linen open weave and one in a variegated knit.    There's an Eskandar Cross-Over Wrap Jacket in his fall collection ($1,250 + tax) in the catalog and on the Neiman Marcus website that inspired me of what to make with this tweed (probably Linton)  in gorgeous fall colors that I bought from Tanner in Rutherfordton, NC when they used to sell the left-over fabrics the sample garments were made from.      The fabric they purchase for the clothes was always top drawer and they got the tweeds specially woven by Linton in the UK. 
Click on photos  for original sizes and detail
The soft, drapey fabric Eskandar used for the cross-over jacket is a blend of wool/mohair/angora/nylon/silk, and I'm sure my fabric is a blend as well.  This tweed is so beautiful on both sides that I didn't want to make anything structured or fuse it.  

I draped a width/length of fabric over my shoulders to determine the length of where I want it to fall over my my arms and the length.    When I compared that to the Shapes pattern, it looks like this jacket is the Shapes size 3 finished.  If I add the allowance for the fold over finished edges,   that will be perfect on me as a jacket.     I want to use the substantial weight silk jersey for a simple long sleeve dress with a cowl neck - perhaps the CLD 2x4 tunic top lengthened.     I'll use the gold silk crepe to line and face the back triangle insert.     I think the jacket will be a fun new garment and I'll get lots of wear out of it with all those colors.  

I also experimented to see if I like the selvedges turned to the outside on the fronts of the jacket.   I've done this before with fabric with interesting selvedges where both sides either look the same (like this one) or provide nice contrast.     I haven't decided what to do yet

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Can Dance!

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I don't do well in the mornings but I am much better in the afternoon and evening.    I attended the first DAR meeting of the season this morning but felt too weak to stand at the podium and preside.   My board did all the work last summer on programs and yearbook and finances so the vice regent was prepared to take over.   We had a great turnout and I was so happy just to be there and enjoy the meeting,  the members and the installation of a new member.

This afternoon Mr. Technoid was busy with cables connecting his latest Mac Mini to the big screen TV (monitor) and his Carver speakers controlling it with his iPhone, organizing and playing all his itunes music.   So I waltzed in on Frank Sinatra and danced -- yes,  I danced without any trouble.    What joy in being able to do these things that I had just about lost hope of being able to do again.

Forget everything else because I can dance now!  I didn't know I could until I just spontaneously did it.  I cried for joy and sent my doctor a message that he needs to increase my score again.     Thanks for all your love and hopes and prayers and for good medicine and great doctors who truly care about making people well.

Click on the link and enjoy:    I Hope You Dance

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Updated One-Seam Pants & Question re EF Cashmere Cardigan

Monday Update:  This morning I finished the straight leg version of Louise Cutting's revised One-Seam Pant.     I used the Frixion heat erasible pens to mark dots along the stitching lines for accuracy before inserting the elastic.   When you steam the elastic and the casing the ink comes right out.
I definitely think I need a haircut LOL!  My stylist/photographer told me to use the cane since the rock stairs are right behind me and that worried him.

For this initial pair of pants, based on my measurements I traced the XS, but I sliced it down the grain line and added 1/2" because I thought I needed a bit more ease, based on the ease in my favorite pair.  Lesson learned --   Didn't need to do that.  For this revised pattern, I should cut the XS as is and use the ease Louise recommends for body measurements.    I also think I marked my waist too high and went up to the size small based on that crotch measurement, which I didn't need to do.    

I used a 100% rayon from the Vera Wang Lavender line of fabrics that Fabric.com sold a year or so ago.   Lesson learned:  Make sure your elastic is tight enough for the weight of your fabric.  I could have cut the elastic shorter for these pants.

Here's a photo of the fabric -  it does have some cross-grain stretch.   I did not wash this prior to sewing.    I'll wash a sample and see how it behaves -- if I added too much ease, washing in cool water might adjust it, otherwise I'll just dry-clean it.   Sunday I got as far as inserting the elastic after hemming but I was tired and didn't want to make mistakes sewing the straight lines on the casing so I stopped for the day.    
Vera Lavender salt & pepper rayon suiting

Styling an Eileen Fisher cardigan wrap

I found this gorgeous Eileen Fisher cashmere cardigan on e-Bay last summer.   I paid less than $50 for it and couldn't believe the heavy multiple ply cashmere when I got it.    I sure didn't realize how wide and heavy the collar was -- it's 10 1/4 inches .   The cardigan is 31" long and will be very toasty this fall/winter.   

When I put it on, I wasn't sure if I liked it the way it was.  I've thought about removing the wide collar and replacing it with a narrower complementary tweed or faux fur collar, or nothing at all.   The amazing collar is wide and long enough to make an infinity scarf/cowl and some armwarmers (fingerless gloves) out of it.     

I've styled the collar folded under, belted and then a bit asymmetric folded over the belt.  Here are some photos - click to enlarge for detail.

 I would love an infinity cowl and the armwarmers out of that cashmere, (check out the $350 cashmere ones in Donna Karan's Casual Luxe collection at Neiman Marcus that inspired me) but my inclination is to leave it alone and wear/style it in some interesting ways.    I'm still going to have to make those accessories with some ribbed knit I have in the stash.    I think some expresso brown ribbed armwarmers and an infinity cowl would look great with this.   What do you think?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Standing by myself with no aids!

Unless you've been through the neurological hell that I've been dealing with for the last year,  you have no idea what a big deal this is.   It's such a big deal that I had DH take some photos since today is a nice day and all the clouds are gone.   I even slipped these ballet flat shoes on my feet without using my hands!    That means the nerves and muscles in my feet are improving.   When going out, I still use a cane to keep from tripping and hurting myself,  but this is progress!

 Proudly standing by myself!
(click on photos to enlarge)
The temps are low 70's here so I put on these tencel Loes Hinse European pants and a silk jersey tank made from her Tank Dress and Tops pattern and a light sweater by Vera Wang for Kohl's that I bought last summer.    Vera is so creative, and I enjoy many of her Kohl's pieces that have the design moxie of her high end lines at affordable prices.   This is is a printed cotton/rayon knit with a couple of cotton batiste ruffles left raw around the neck, a sweater that doubles as an accessory.     

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Getting Stronger and Getting it Together

Hi Everybody!    Sorry for not keeping the blog up to date.     I do have some good news.    I had a checkup at Johns Hopkins Medical Center last Tuesday - approximately a month after getting the catheter put in and beginning the plasmapheresis 3 X a week, and the doctor pronounced my improvement since as, "Truly Remarkable!"    I can now walk without wobbling, stand without holding onto something for as long as I want to, do standing knee bends, and carry a heavy object from one room to another.    I have the strength back in my fingers.    In July I had trouble squeezing a tube of toothpaste or a finger nail clippers. 

I'm working with a great physical therapist in Asheville who is trained to help people like me with neurological issues.  DH is instructed to get my Pilates machine out of the garage and put it back together.  I'm down to plasmapheresis twice a week.   I am also on an immune suppressant drug that people who have organ transplants take so I will  continue on that once I stop the plasmapheresis.    The key is to keep my body from attacking the nerves and nerve coverings so they can heal and regenerate.

I've signed up for Louise Cutting and Linda Lee's October sewing workshop in Winter Park with my doctor's blessing.     I just have to avoid sick people and kids this fall because my immune system is suppressed.  

Armani Blend - top is the right side of fabric
While in Baltimore last Tuesday I bought some fabric at Michael's Fabrics.   Here is the Armani blend I bought for an Of The Moment jacket and a shell.  I cut a swatch from the uneven end and soaked it in Eucalan when I washed a silk jersey top.   I did not agitate and let it dry naturally.  You can see shrinkage in the size of the grid design that confirms dry clean only for this fabric.

I'm really looking forward to doing more things and getting closer to "normal".    I've got the new One-Seam pant pattern pressed and ready to trace and am looking forward to Louise Cutting's new pattern, A Cute Angle,  that  Holly posted photos of on her Flickr photo set  .   Here's the illustration.

I have so many ideas for fall that I want to implement, but need to pace myself.    I get e-mails from Kate Spade New York.   I recommend looking at their apparel for the many interesting details that you can add to many patterns or do, like their Trompe L'Oeil Valerie Jacket.    I can't link the photos here because of the zoom feature.   Make a white or off-white By Popular Demand jacket - no pockets, no buttons (use snaps) and get one of those Pebeo Setaskrib Fabric Markers and draw away, heat set and wear the most interesting jacket that nobody else has!  Here's a video by Blick Art on Youtube showing how to use the fabric markers.  Most companies that sell fabric painting dyes sell the markers.

Of course Kate Spade styling and accesories are always exceptional.   I thought the collar on their new Cherie Coat was really special.   Zoom in to see the detail.   It's basically a rectangle that they pleated at the front with a fold-over tab.    It would be easy to add that collar to Louise's Pure and Simple Coat or any round neck coat, jacket or shirt.