Monday, December 26, 2011

Loes Hinse Zipper Jacket 9 years later

These photos were taken using different cameras.   I wore this jacket today with the very same tropical wool/lycra slacks I paired the jacket with in 2003.

Feb 2003 -  Jacket and Donna Karan slacks
Same jacket & slacks Dec 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A silver and black eShrug

Here's another  eShrug I sewed as a gift.    I've made a number of these for friends and as gifts.

This one is out of the same novelty silver/black stretch lace in an animal print I used to make this Loes Hinse cardigan summer before last.    I think it looks nice with my new Tango pencil skirt and a charcoal pullover with a black chiffon edge at the bottom.   As Loes says, wear one "talking fabric" and this is the talking one.    It's a tasteful animal print that will perk up lots of outfits.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Styling Holiday Separates

The holidays are here -  what to wear to different places and events?  I've never made or bought anything special to wear just for holiday dressing.   It has to work for more than just a certain time of year or event.   So, based on where I'm going, and the weather,  I put together appropriate looks with what I already have, adding accessories,  a little sparkle and a faux fur or real fur wrap and hat if necessary.  

I don't dress like a circus performer during the year, so why should I dress like a Christmas tree during the holidays?   I just don't understand that mentality but then each to their own.   I don't (and never did) wear flashy, cleavage revealing, butt hugging outfits.    Donna Karan is 64 and Vera Wang is 63.   Carolina Herrera is 73.    Each of those women look fabulous and dress elegantly whatever the occasion.    They don't wear tight or circus.   Those are the style icons I respect in terms of how they've dressed as they age, and still maintain a unique style.   So here's what I put together for holiday ensembles:       

This deep periwinkle blue (Pantone 17-3932) $1,095 viscose (rayon) jersey dress was from Vera Wang's spring/summer collection and was featured in the June Allure magazine.

Deep periwinkle is one of the recommended colors for my palette in Leatrice Eiseman's personal Style guide for Pantone, More Alive with Color.   

Many of the colors Vera Wang uses in her collections are in my palette.   So when I saw one of her dresses in the same color rayon jersey tucked/manipulated and paired with strips of bias georgette in her spring collection for Kohl's I bought it.   Another great detail is a wide black grosgrain sash that pulls underneath the back and gathers the waist slightly at the front side.   I also bought a rayon jersey cap sleeve tunic with the same fabric manipulation detail.    Both of these just skim the body and look elegant.  

For holiday dressing,   I paired this color with silver gray or midnight blue, and accessorized with a cord type necklace with rows of sparkly rhinestones dangling as fringe.  The little dark purple velvet bag with faux tortoise chain is a Donna Karan I found years ago at my step son's resale boutique in Bethesda.   That's the eShrug in a silver/metallic synthetic knit and an Eileen Fisher loosely woven asymmetric sweater /shrug in a  midnight blue.    The tunic is over ponte knit skinny pants but I  can also wear it with a pair of narrow black silk velvet pants I've had for years.  

The two dark periwinkle jersey is an elegant and unique color.  Each of these will be great to wear again next spring/summer.  I'm working on a 3/4 length sweater coat and a long sleeve eShrug using the chunky knit (a fabric used by Eileen Fisher) on the right in the photo below.  Those can be worn with these two pieces and others I already have.  This photo is the best for the color and shows the fun necklace.

Merry Christmas and my best wishes for happy and stylish holidays!

Friday, December 23, 2011

How I Wear the Shapes Three Fold Vest

I made this Three Fold Vest from the Shapes pattern line in November 2008.   It's a cozy variegated knit with some mohair in it.  

Our weather this week has been balmy for this time of year with temps in the 60's but lots of clouds, fog, mist and rain off and on.     Most of the time you couldn't even see the mountains.  

Today is sunny and in the 50's so I pulled out the Shapes vest for layering over a black rayon turtleneck and dark charcoal stretch wool pants by Jil Sander.    I paid $98 for these in a high end consignment store in Chicago during a stop-over trying to make my way back to Washington the week of 9/11.     That may sound like a lot of money but I imagine that was 1/7  the price of them new and I've worn them many times since.  Besides, that's just about what a year of Burda Style costs now and that's $90 a pattern even if you only make one.   Some never make anything.... I'm not renewing my subscription since they've gotten so cheap by doubling up the lines on the pattern sheets.  These are a German size 38 which is a US size 6, a good incentive to stay fit and watch my weight.

Here are some "action" shots of how I wore it today.  I couldn't do this a few months ago.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Refashioning -- some Loes Hinse pieces

It's a busy time of year and I've been going through things based on how and whether I wear some of them.    A couple of years ago I sewed two pair of pants (LH Oxfords and CLD One-Seam) and a Biarritz jacket out of a lightweight green tweed blend from Fabric Mart.    I never got around to choosing or putting buttons on the jacket, and didn't wear it because something just wasn't right.    I sewed on small metal clasps but they were too heavy.   So I looked it over and put it on to figure out how to save it.

It's a great little cardigan jacket that I probably will never wear buttoned up anyway.   I decided to put pockets over the front vertical darts to make it a bit more Ch@nel looking, to give it a bit more weight and make it hang better.   So that's what I did.   Here it is worn with an interesting leather belt I found at the Tanner outlet store for Doncaster in Black Mountain, NC and a knit dress in a color that coordinates well.    Most of my belts are Doncaster that they have made in Italy for them.    They're great buys if you get a chance to go into any of their stores.

To wear it closed I'd just use a brooche or pin like this  
I had a charcoal gray, elastic waist wool jersey skirt that was way too long and had no style.   I made it about the same time I sewed a sheath dress from a Vogue Wardrobe pattern in the same Calvin Klein knit,  but I never wore the skirt.    I had one remnant of fabric left that I cut three panels from,  and I took the skirt apart to cut out the remaining number of panels for a straight, knee length Loes Hinse Tango skirt -- basically a pencil skirt.   Perfect style for me and so current.  Now I will enjoy wearing this easy fitting, stylish skirt that goes with lots of tops and layers!    It works with a Loes Hinse Sweater Coat (photo link shows it with the same knit dress that I'm wearing with the tweed Biarritz jacket) since it has shades of gray in it.   Click on photos to enlarge.  More on my Flickr photos.

..... with the Bergman jacket I sewed last spring out of novelty meshes that looks completely different worn over these fall/winter coordinates.  

Here it is with a pink/charcoal georgette top and the lace jacket from Anthropologie in a very "Biarritz" style

With a dark periwinkly blue rayon knit tunic and the eShrug


I wanted to give those of you who care an update on what's going on with my health and medical situation.    I am doing well and making good progress as my nerves continue to heal.    As most know, I ended the three months of plasmapheresis in October before having the catheter removed at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.  I am still on an immune suppressant, and will be for several months.   I cooked and catered our son's holiday party for his business last weekend, something that I would not have been able to do a month ago.   I'm much stronger,  but still have weakness and sensory numbness in my feet and my knee reflexes have not returned.   I can't stand on my toes, walk fast, or run.    I return to Johns Hopkins in late March for a check-up and evaluation.     It's been a tough year but there is now light at the end of the tunnel.    I'm hoping to be able to go to some sewing events next year.     I just have to be careful not to be around sick people who have colds and the flu.    This may preclude flying during the season for those.   


Sunday, December 4, 2011

A JUNK Store that just happens to sell fabric is coming to my town

Early in November my DH and I were in the shopping center where the Books A Million Store had closed earlier in the year.   I saw a sign on the front of empty space that a JoAnn Fabrics store would be opening in that space.    The Asheville Citizen Times newspaper reported it in the business section.

Why would I want or need another big box chain store that sells cheesy cheap fabric from China with a reputation (read the many reviews/comments posted on the internet) for paying their employees a pittance - no wonder you don't even have to know how to sew to work there, and for lousy customer service?     To me it's no different than WalMart (where I also don't shop) coming in causing local businesses to close because they can't compete with the cheap prices.   I haven't shopped at a JoAnn Fabrics store in probably a dozen years except to get some Christmas ribbon while in Florida visiting my sister and mother.   Quality products, great customer service, and business ethics mean more to me than a big store filled with stuff.

What gives a town like Asheville it's charm are all the local businesses, old and new, who have great products and great customer service!   Asheville has two enduring, independent fashion fabric stores (as opposed to the quilt shops that dot the area).   The House of Fabrics on Merrimon Avenue has been in business for many years under the same family.   The owner sews all her own clothes and so do the staff.   Customer service is exceptional, everyone is friendly and are expert seamstresses.   They sell Viking machines and fine quality, beautifully coordinated fashion fabrics at a reasonable cost.    The other local fabric store, Waechter's,  is an Asheville institution that goes back to the Vanderbilts.  It has changed owners several times since.

We also have a Hancocks Fabric chain store here that is a real fabric/notions store vs a junk craft store that happens to sell some fabric.   The ladies who work there are very knowledgable, know how to sew and are friendly, always remembering who you are, even if you don't go there often.    I buy notions, buttons and thread and some patterns there because the quality of most of their fabrics is not what I want to spend my time and effort sewing.   

I'm getting out more these days, and wear my designs everywhere I go around town.  When women find out that I made them,  I am always asked if I bought the fabric from Waechter's.   I respond yes or no depending on where I got the fabric of what I am wearing.   I belong to local women's organizations and shop/eat exclusively at local businesses where we know the owners, their families and employees.   I don't start the conversation, but many, whose families have lived here for generations,  have told me that since the change in ownership they didn't feel welcome after going in and spending big bucks for fabrics or buttons (compared to other stores) so they haven't gone back.    After getting the cold shoulder myself too many times, despite being a great customer,  I haven't been back to that store in over a year.   I don't go where I'm not wanted, brick and morter or web based,  and I don't spend my money at any business where my patronage is not appreciated and me and my friends are not respected.   That they never cared what was going on with me health-wise, nor ever inquired about why or how I was doing after so many months speaks volumes.   

For fine fabrics I shop independent fabric businesses all over the country via the internet or at sewing expos and events.   I spend my money on quality I know I can trust from businesses who treat me well and appreciate my patronage.   For fine Italian fabrics I depend on Michael's Fabrics in Baltimore who sends me swatches and actually cares about how I'm doing health-wise.    Since I have to go to Johns Hopkins periodically,  I try to stop in and shop in person.   Given the one local fabric store's attitude toward me over the past few years,  and their inflated prices,  why should I go out of my way to buy fabric from them when I can buy the same pattern/color/fabric and many more coordinates from other independent fabric sellers like Fabric Mart in PA for much less?   I have been a customer of Fabric Mart since I lived in MD.    They sell high quality products at reasonable prices and treat me well.   As a result I have bought many lovely, quality fabrics from them.      

Bottom line, I don't intend to patronize this JoAnn Fabrics store because I don't need to and don't care to.  Their reputation, the bait and switch advertising, and all their coupon baloney turns me off.   Their wages are cheap, their fabric is cheap and their prices for notions are inflated so you think you are getting a "deal" when they play the game of discounting them when only you have a coupon or sale flyer.   I'll continue to go to Hancocks, and shop the Asheville House of Fabrics and my TNT internet fabric sellers that meet all my sewing needs.