Friday, November 13, 2015

Another week GONE

I took this week to re-group, and take a break from blogging. As the holidays approach, I will be busier and busier. My daughter is playing soccer this year, and they have 2-3 games per WEEK until February. If you don't see me here, I'm probably on the sidelines, or buried in yarn and Christmas ornaments. Or food. Food coma is always a possibility this time of year.

I am not going all out for Christmas this year like I did last year. I hosted our family Christmas at my house last year, and there were more than twenty people in my tiny house. I will be decorating this year and Meredith decided that we need a themed tree, instead of her "old crappy kindergarten ornaments." Her words, not mine.  She's sixteen, so of course she has an opinion about everything.

We've decided on a burgundy/gold/black theme this year, which fits right in with my new site, Holidays and Nights. Check it out if you get time. It's more of a hobby project at the moment, but I hope that changes in the near future.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Blue silk swatches from Mood

As promised, here are the swatches for this potential project.

I wish I could have gotten a better picture of this. With flash, the colors were too bright and not true to how they look, in person. Without, it's fuzzy. Gah.

Clockwise from top left: royal blue duchesse satin, estate blue satin faced organza, estate blue crepe back satin, mazarine blue China silk.

The duchesse satin is GORGEOUS. It's also the most expensive, and seems like it would wrinkle something fierce. The color is good, and the fabric is heavy and expensive looking. Not sure it's the perfect thing for a full pleated skirt though.

The organza is way too stiff for a skirt, but this particular fabric bends like paper. It would be a great underlining or fashion fabric for something that needs a lot of body. It's also too dark for what I'd like to do.

I really like the crepe back satin. It's lighter weight, doesn't seem like it would wrinkle as bad as the duchesse, and is slightly more affordable. It held a crease pretty well when I pressed it. It's a little darker than what I wanted, and the next lighter color is almost too bright.

The China silk is too thin to be a skirt, but it would be a great liner for it.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Pleated Skirt Inspiration - Copycat Fashion

When I see something on the interwebz I like, I pin it to my "Things to Dupe" board on Pinterest.

When I came across this skirt, I had to pin it.


My mind went immediately to this pattern from Burda Style. I cannot figure out why they didn't iron the skirt prior to the photo shoot. No one wants to wear a skirt that looks like it's been worn to a party, rolled around in the bed, and then wadded up in the corner for two weeks. WHY?

Obviously it has different pleating and a different length, and I'd have to make several muslins before I purchased the fabric I want (LOVE). I was thinking why would I buy a polyester satin skirt for $62 when I could have a custom fit silk one for about $130? Especially since the polyester version is probably junior sized, and I can't try before I buy. No offense to polyester satin skirts, or people who wear them. I've worn them, and more than once. I've decided if I'm going to take the time to make something nice, I'm going to take the time to source nice materials, and make sure it fits before I make the final piece. My goal is to get away from fast, disposable fashion and make pieces I'm going to love for years. I'm too old for that shit.

I don't feel an entire row of box pleats around the waist would be very flattering for me, so this is a good option. I would like to pleat the back in some way, but I'm afraid it would add too much bulk to an area that I'm already self conscious about. I also worry that the fabric won't look that great treated so plainly. Dilemma. Could I do a couple of small pleats on the back in place of the darts? I'd probably have to make the darts a bit wider than called for to accommodate my bubble butt, so that might actually work. This will require multiple mock-ups to get it just right.

If I make the pattern as recommended, I can get away with 1-7/8 yard of fabric. It's nearly impossible to get fabric online in 1/8 yard increments, so I'd go for 2 yards and make the skirt a bit longer, to keep it closer to the inspiration piece. I also have to figure out if I want to underline it with organza to give it a bit more body, or if that might be too much.

Even though satin has a somewhat firm hand, it is also heavy and....satiny. Taffeta would be a bit much for me, even though it might be a better fabric choice for the skirt. Whatever I choose, I will need to swatch first before plunking down that much money. I have multiple swatches coming from Mood next week so I can at least decide if I want to really invest, or go with a cheaper silk. Even if this project is a year or more out, I want the fabric in my hot little hands (stash) while it's still available. That color is speaking to me, and I must have it!

Keep in mind, this is all speculative fiction at this point. Spending $55 a yard on fabric makes me cringe more than just a little. If I have a special occasion in the near future that warrants such a lovely garment, it may become a reality. Perhaps when my daughter graduates from high school in 2017... (WHAT?!)

Figuring out what sort of top to wear with it will be a challenge. I didn't even wear crop tops in 1996 when I felt comfortable doing so. OK, maybe just that one time. I don't mind a white lace top paired with it, but black is more my style. Something like this would be gorgeous as an overlay for Georgette and doesn't cost the earth.

This top is appealing, mainly for the sleeve coverage. I would need a cami underneath and the shirt would need to be shorter or tucked into the skirt. My days of wearing a bra only under a sheer shirt are long over. I do like the open back - breezy and sexy without being too much. This top is also on my "Things to Dupe" board. Now to find a pattern. I'm open to suggestion.

I think this combo would be good paired for special occasions, as well as great separates for my wardrobe. Who doesn't need a pleated satin skirt and a lace top for special occasions?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Versatile Watch

I never used to leave the house without my watch. It was part fashion accessory, part necessity. I had a stainless steel Timex I could wear everywhere. It was waterproof, and even made a trip through the washing machine once or twice. It has been years since I've worn a watch with any regularity.  I don't wear much jewelry at all, in fact. My wedding band, sometimes a pair of earrings, maybe a ring and a bracelet if I'm feeling adventurous, and can remember to slip them on before I walk out the door.

I have an entire box of watches on my dresser that I've collected over the years, starting in high school. Most really only need bands and batteries. I have the gold watch my grandfather got when he retired in the 70's. It's a kinetic wind, so the more it's worn, the longer it stays wound. I also have a tiny Timex that was my grandmother's that will never fit my wrist. The crystal needs to be replaced, so it's more a sentimental piece. I am planning to get most repaired and in working order by Christmas.

The watch I wore every day in high school (from 1990-1994) was a Timex Indiglo with a leather band. Remember those? I don't even know if it still works, but I'm getting a battery put in it, and will buy a new band if it does.

In the meantime, I ordered a silver and gold tone set of these. The gold tone will be a Christmas gift (yeah for early shopping!), and I kept the silver for myself. Of course, I did the easy pay option!

The description reads "leather band" but the tag on the watch itself says "leather over polyurethane." (So it's leather plated? Whatever, it's a nice set for the price!)

I'm pretty much in love with all of the Isaac Mizrahi watches.

These are my faves:

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Rainy Monday Blahs

I'm not feeling the "beautiful Monday" vibe today, so I'm reaching out to you in blogland. What is your favorite pick-me-up product?

I have a new favorite perfume oil that I wear in the fall. It's from BPAL, and it's called Autumn Overlooked my Knitting. It reminds me of  Opium, but has a slightly more fruity note at the top. I am sans makeup today, and barely managed to get my hair fixed, if you can call it that.

I think today is "not feeling it Monday."

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fall and Winter Coat Project

The great project has begun! This is what I'm calling the signature piece of the wardrobe I'm working on. It's a wool/poly/rayon blend with a multitude of colors - pretty much every color in my wardrobe palette.


Pattern - Butterick 5685, View B
(Hair Canvas and Thinsulate were also purchased from Vogue Fabrics)
Twill tape (leftover from another project)
Stash muslin, wool strips, felted wool, and thread
I have not purchased buttons or button thread yet


Rebekah's Sewing Diary - Herringbone Coat - This is the same pattern I'm using. There aren't as many details as I would like, but she sews beautifully. I have to admit I was drooling a bit reading her blog.

Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing- Butterick 5824 - She has a little more in-depth information, and some videos about the project on her channel. I'm a visual person when it comes to learning something new, so videos are very helpful.  I really like her video on setting in a sleeve. I can never seem to get it right, so I'm going to try it. Even though this is a different coat, there are some techniques demonstrated I'd like to incorporate.

YouTube - Look for videos labeled tailoring techniques, set in sleeves, etc. I've found a few in addition to Gertie's that were very helpful.

My 1976 edition of the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (the book and I were published the same year). If you don't already have one of these, I can't recommend it enough. My mom gave me her extra copy and it's a great resource. The fashions are obviously from the 70's, but the techniques are sound. 

I have decided to add some tailoring techniques to this jacket, because I would like to keep it for a while. I'm probably going to spend a month or more working on it, and have invested more money than I ever have in a sewing project. All the materials I've ordered come to $122.93, still less than a good winter coat with nice tailoring details. With that being said, I will have enough of the fabric left to make a pencil skirt, and probably enough of the hair canvas to use on other projects.

I will NOT be using the pattern instructions. They are absolute crap and whoever wrote them needs to be fired. If you're interested, there are reviews here. I'm really glad I read them before I started sewing. I would have been extremely pissed being blindsided with those pattern instructions!

I have begun cutting out pieces, and have ordered hair canvas and Thinsulate. I ordered a roll of twill tape earlier in the summer to make a few aprons, and have over 90% of the roll left. It will be used to tape seams, roll lines and any other spots that might need it. I had to take a break after I cut the smaller pieces. Bending over the table makes my neck and back hurt. (Cue a furniture hack)

I am undecided on underlining the shell fabric. I have enough muslin to do it, but I will be adding a Thinsulate interlining, and hair canvas where needed, so I'm worried about adding too much bulk. With the addition of Thinsulate, the coat will likely be plenty warm! 

I don't know how well you can tell from the picture, but the front and back are different. The orange threads are more apparent and primarily vertical on the "right" side. The "wrong" side has a more dull appearance and just didn't appeal to me quite as much. (Right side on bottom)

I did a little practice hand stitching, because it's not something I do often. The purple thread is very close to the main purple color in the fabric, and I will be using it for pad stitching, garment construction, and any hand sewing I have to do that may show to the right side. Like that turquoise twill tape? I have an entire roll of it, so I may as well use it, right?

On a semi-related note, I have started on de-cluttering the spare room Room of Requirement so I can move my sewing machines in there and get all my crap out of the dining room. I bought a shelving unit, and need at least two more to get all the storage totes, fabric and CRAP out of the floor and corners of the room. I also have donated a huge pile of stuff and either re-purposed or tossed things that couldn't be donated. If you don't see me post for a couple of weeks, it's possible some creature lurking in the depths of that room devoured me.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Beautiful Monday - Red Lipstick: Redux

I'm trying out a new series to make your Mondays a little brighter called Beautiful Monday. With my schedule, I'll need to write a few at a time and post-date them. If there's anything in particular you'd like to see, e-mail me.

Remember this post? Yeah, me neither!

Red lips are something I don't do very often. I have, however, been playing with different shades of red to find one I really like. Turns out, I like more than one. I always thought I couldn't wear red lipstick, mostly due to the crap advice I kept getting from fashion magazines: "An orange-red shade looks great on everyone!" No, it doesn't. 

I used to feel like Morticia Addams when I wore red lipstick, but I just don't care any more. I do what I like and other people don't have to like it. The benefits of approaching middle age, I suppose? Besides, Morticia is stunning, and has a wicked wit.

(Credit: Link)

You CAN make a warmer toned red work, but you also have to change the tone of your other makeup so it doesn't clash. A dab of your foundation + a little of your chosen lip color makes a nice cream blush, which is better for aging or dry skin.  Some people just don't look good in orange. It's not a personal failing, it's just one of those things that IS. Once I figured out what I was doing wrong, finding the right shade of red was pretty easy.

L to R: Covergirl Tempt, Maybelline On Fire Red, L'Oreal True Red, M.A.C. Russian Red, Maybelline Plum Perfect

I have three go-to shades:

M.A.C. Russian Red - This is a matte, red lipstick with a slight blue tint. Works on my fair skin that usually requires cool colors, and it smells like CHOCOLATE. Who doesn't want chocolate under their nose all day? I have also used as a "stain" with a bit of clear gloss if I didn't want to go full vamp. It's deeply pigmented and very rich.

L'oreal True Red - This is a bit brighter, but also works great on my cool, fair skin. It says "coral red" in the online description, but it's not an overly orange shade. Looking at On Fire Red and True Red side by side, they look pretty darn close. The packaging and label on the bottom would have you believe otherwise.

Maybelline Plum Perfect - Dark and moody. I like this one for nights and weekends. It's good for Halloween too!

Looking at Tempt, I should maybe wear it more often. It's pretty perfect for my skin tone! (Discontinued by the mfr.)

All of these shades were purchased at Walgreen's, with the exception of Russian Red, which I ordered from M.A.C.

Sometimes I opt for a pink lip, when I'm not in the mood for red. My skin tone is such that purple toned lipsticks look pink-ish when I put them on. Most days I don't wear a lot of makeup. Usually BB cream and mascara, if anything. I don't know if menopause is creeping up on me,  or the changing season has interrupted my sleep schedule. I'm lucky to get out the door with a shower.

Tips for putting on red lips:

-Get a lip brush and learn how to use it by practicing. Red lips need to be put on with precision, because every little wobble shows. Don't color outside the lines with red lipstick or liner. It looks ridiculous. Seriously.
-Get a lip liner that matches your chosen shade. It will help keep lipstick creep from happening. If you have fine lines or wrinkles around your mouth, your lipstick will end up there.
-Moisturize your lips before applying. Use a good lip ointment and let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe it off, or GENTLY rub a cotton swab over any rough areas to remove them.
-Apply one coat of lipstick, blot, apply another coat, blot and then any gloss you want. I've always used the "powder through a tissue" method to help set my lipstick. I've found that the "all day" lip stains dry my lips out terribly.
-Red lipstick can be used as a stain if you don't want to go full vamp. Apply a coat and let it sit, then blot most of it off and apply a gloss.

You may or may not have noticed the unsightly purple scar in the middle of those swatches. It looks like I slipped with the lipstick, but I promise it's a healed scratch. It's all this one's fault.

Her name is Stormy and she's approaching twelve weeks old. Naturally, she's full of it. It's been a while since we had a kitten in the house, and nothing is safe.  (Quilt)

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Burda Sewing Project, Musings

I've given some consideration to sewing a Burda Style wardrobe for winter, since I've had very little time to sew a fall wardrobe, and it's nearly November. Thankfully, it doesn't get super cold here for most of the winter, it just rains. IT RAINS A WHOLE LOT. When it does get cold we get ICE.

I haven't had much luck with Big4 patterns since I was a teenager and easily fit the garments sewn straight out of the envelope. No more. Life, age, weight gain, childbirth, and abdominal surgeries have really altered my body, and I'm nearly forty. On straight patterns I require a full bust adjustment, a full seat adjustment sometimes followed by a swayback adjustment, careful measuring to make sure form fitting pants will fit my legs, and careful measuring to make sure sleeves fit around my biceps and underarms.

That's a long list of adjustments to make. I've decided to try out Burda Plus patterns, and see if I can sew a basic wardrobe with minimal adjustments. Of course, with a list this long, it may be a "go through my closet and see what I'm lacking" project, to narrow down the essentials, and/or a months-long, season spanning project.

Our weather here in spring/fall and winter allows for layering of lighter, or transitional pieces. I work in an office and run a little hotter than most everyone else, so lighter weight clothes in the winter are a must. My parents also keep their house "granny hot" during the winter, and I have to shed layers when I visit.

Here's my initial wish list:

Pants and bottoms

- 2 pair of work appropriate pants - Slim Stretch Pants, Boot Cut Trousers
- 1 pair of casual pants - Jersey Sweatpants (made from ponte, so they aren't total couch potato pants)
- 1 pair of jeans - Margo (Undecided. I already have Ginger, and fabric for a pair of jeans)
- 1 pencil skirt - Pencil Skirt, or this one
- 1 pleated or gathered skirt - Pleated Skirt, or Midi Tulip Skirt

Stretch Docker twill from


- 1 popover shirt - Collared Blouse
- 2 layering tanks - Layered Tank long version, Top with Pleats
- 2 knit tops - Layered Kimono tee, Long Top
- 1 tunic - Tunic Blouse
- 1 button down - Long Sleeve Blouse
- 1 pullover - Satin Shirt

Forest Green Georgette, from Mood Fabrics

Dark Rose Solid Jersey from Mood Fabrics


- 1 raincoat - Sporty Hooded Jacket
- 1 blazer - Corduroy Blazer
- 1 dressier coat - Long Coat


- 1 long dress - Long V-neck Dress
- 2 long sleeve short dresses - Square Neck Jersey Dress ( I hope I have enough beige pique in my stash for this!), Paneled Dress

I already made a dress I love and a pair of pants I don't love, and I have pattern and fabric for a winter coat. This fabric has so many colors in the weave! I'm pretty sure it will coordinate with just about everything in my planned wardrobe. I'm debating on making this a bit heaver with Kasha lining, or just going for a medium weight coat for fall with a plain poly liner. Perhaps a bit of Thinsulate interlining for warmth, but no bulk?

Billie Bouclé from Vogue Fabrics

I also have fabric for the raincoat, which cost less than $3 a yard at a Hancock's "spot the bolt" sale. It's lightweight, a smudgy tobacco color, and I believe it's poly or poly/nylon. It has the distinct rustle of a performance or outdoor fabric and a crisp hand. The lining and notions for the raincoat will cost more than the fabric! I'm looking for a lining that will add some warmth, without adding bulk, that also won't make me sweat. It doesn't call for a lining, but I will need something for late fall and winter wear that is waterproof or water resisant and warm-ish. I have a thin leopard poly I'm considering using for a "fashion" liner, again interlined with Thinsulate. Maybe. We'll see how it goes.

Note: Clicking on links in this post may result in an affiliate commission being paid to me.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Let's try the discussion forum again, shall we?

I'm not expecting a huge rush of traffic, but please feel free to go over and post. Please don't bother with spam, wasting my time and yours.

Taking suggestions on forum topics as well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fall Wardrobe Update

I have finished a dress and a pair of pants. I love the dress, but the pants I'm not so sure about. I've decided that I'm only ordering patterns sized specifically for plus sizes from here on out, since standard patterns just aren't cutting it without massive alterations that I just don't have time for. I'm trying out a few from Burda Style, because I've heard good things about the plus pattern drafting.

I sewed these pants up, and tried them on with no alterations to the pattern, based on my measurements.


These are HUGE in the waist, too tight in the butt, loose around the thigh, very fitted on the calf. After the first try-on, I widened the darts, took an additional inch out of the waist by tapering the back seam and tapered the waistband. I still have the "droopy fence" syndrome in the back, even with a belt.

This definitely needs a full seat adjustment, a sway back adjustment, and needs to be cut a size, or maybe two sizes, smaller in the thigh from below the pocket to the knee and the waist to look great as a fitted pant. I also need four additional belt loops, just as a personal preference. The instructions only call for five. I need two in the back, on either side of the seam, two halfway between the side seam and back, one on each side seam and two in the front. Of course, tightening the waist may alleviate the need for additional belt loops.

The rise is a little low for me, so I may not make these again. I just don't know. I wrongly assumed that with the designer being a bit curvier, they would be designed that way. They are NOT. These fit worse than any RTW pants I've bought lately. I may be able to salvage the loose fit in the thigh and tighten up the waist a bit, but I'm afraid I'll have to deal with the "droopy fence" and wear them with longer shirts, unless I could splice a yoke in.

I did a contrast pocket which I LOVE, but the interior pocket fabric needs to be a lining satin or lighter weight cotton. I also wish I'd done contrast top stitching on the pocket, but being a first try I didn't want to get too complicated. All the other issues with these pants are my cutting/sewing errors.

The fabric isn't bad, but it's not very drapey. It's really meant for a more fitted pant. It's touted as a denim twill, but it is really woven like a sateen. It snags and pulls like a sateen, and has a dull sheen to it. It's not my favorite, but it looks like it may fade like denim, so only time will tell. It would be really nice as a pencil skirt with some interesting detailing. I do love the color. It's bright enough to wear with black, and navy enough to wear with neutrals.

I haven't decided if I'm going to make a muslin and try to fix the fit issues or just put this pattern in my stash. I really like fitted pants for winter to wear with knee high boots, but I'm just not sure if it's worth tinkering with them that much. Really the fit is just bizarre. I may try the full seat and sway back adjustments and make another pair. I'll keep you posted.

(I know you all want to see pictures, and I will take a few! It's hard to find time during the day, and the days are growing shorter.)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall is here and I'm sewing away

I suppose I'm keeping my head in the sand a bit that winter is on the way (WINTER IS COMING!). I am trying to soak up the last rays of warm sun, because winter here means rain. And more rain. Sometimes it turns to ice and snow, but mostly just rain until somewhere around May.  Right now it's cooler and dry. It has been dry for several months, but that's to be expected. It's a very good thing we get rain all winter, because late summer and fall are usually pretty dry.

What I've been up to

I've been sewing. Yes, I have! My first FO is a dress that I absolutely love. I still need to tweak  the bustline of the pattern a bit, but I am happy with the fit. The fact that the pattern came with cup sizes up to D made it much easier to fit. Since I am actually a DDD, it still pulls just a bit.

My favorite part is the pockets!

The fabric is a wool/cotton/spandex herringbone, underlined with a tan poly/spandex fabric. Patterns are Simplicity 1882 and 2648 (skirt and sleeves are from 1882, bodice is from 2648). Since they are from the same line, they melded well. It's warm and comfy.

I have a pair of pants almost finished, I just need to get some help doing a final fitting before I finish them.

For ideas and fabric choices for this challenge, take a look at my Fall 2015 Wardrobe board.

Monday, August 31, 2015

I can't believe it's been so long!

Hey there, folks!

If any of you wondered where I've been...well I got lost in the world. Work, parenting a teenager (i.e. driving her across creation because she's in multiple extra-curricular activities and doesn't have a license yet), working the farmer's markets and just life in general. I haven't had much time, nor have I really felt much like blogging. I take really long breaks from this site sometimes.

What has happened in the last year:

  • I grew a ton of flowers, did well at the farmer's markets and considered expanding my cut flower business. That's been tabled for now... 
  • Because I recently got a promotion at work, and I really have so little time to just BE, that it would be too much. 

As much as I want to take the flower business full time, it just isn't a reality right now. Meredith starts college in two years (WHAT?!) and it's an extra expense just cannot justify, especially given the nature of agricultural businesses. I can't take the risk at this point in my life. 

I've just about decided that growing flowers and quilting will have to be retirement projects. I'm 39, so it's going to be a while, and that's okay. I'm trying to enjoy my life as it comes, make the best of it, and try not to lament what I can't do right now. It has not been easy.

As fall approaches, I'm diving into sewing some fall and winter clothes. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to it here, and I'll be blogging any progress I make, of course.

Glad to be back!

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