Sunday, December 5, 2010

Party Dress! Vogue 1162

This was just a bad karma dress, but I finished it with about an hour to spare! Seriously, the power went out at 5 and the party was at 7!

I decided to pass on the flowers, other reviewers have said that they take about 6 hours of hand sewing each. This is too much for a dress that you only wear once or twice!

IMHO they are a little strong, but they might work well in a more subtle color like all black.

The lace looks OK.

The pattern calls for crepe back satin (seriously?) or something matte, and organza or chiffon for the contrast which might be a nice touch. But, I was out of organza, and I hate sewing with chiffon (its like Jello).

This is rated advanced and they really mean it! I thought it would be relatively simple without the flower, but that pleated ruffle really caused me some trouble. It also hides a tricky little side panel that is covered by the ruffle.
As for instructions, they are brief at best. They didn't help me with anything that I couldn't have figured out on my own, but maybe I'm just bitter because they didn't really have enough illustrations to clarify. The ruffles are pictured to the left

The party was nice (funeral directors! who would have guessed) The food was really good (cannoli was TDF) and the company was nice.

More about those ruffles and corners later. For now I am getting back to another fur collared winter jacket.

Marfy 1980:

I have a couple of fox pelts that have been in my stash for years, and some creamy sage paisley chenile-ish fabric which will be all nice and cozy.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Quilt Festival Finds!

Good thing I have done a bit of sewing and whittled down my stash lately, I really scored this weekend!

That TDF marbled silk is from a guy out of Austin and it will make a stunning sleeveless shell to go with darn near anything! It especially looks good with that navy plaid that I am going to make a skirt out of. I want to use that McCall's pattern and make the sides and the backflap on the bias.

I also hit up the Kia scissors booth and had to fight my way through the crowd. I bought a pair of micro-serrated scissors that I can't wait to try on that silk, and a new rotary cutter for leather.

I also found my favorite European Textiles importer again and did some serious stashing. I grabbed a nice long skirt (under the
scissors in the pic above) this fabulous silky cotton shirting in dark navy and really nice gray plaid with pink. All are the perfect winter weight for Houston winters.

I also grabbed a silk flower necklace that I will share later, and a haul of vintage shell and brass buttons.

Well, got to go for now, I'm supposed to be working...Shhhhh...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Last at Last!

First thing this morning (OK, 10 AM) I couldn't wait to see if my first last had lasted!
Its a foot! And an Ankle! Its kind of bumpy, but I don't blame it.
Its also really heavy. I hope that doesn't make it hard to work with. JD asked my why I didn't put a pole down the middle for a handle, kind of like a foot-sicle. I didn't even think of it.

This whole duct tape thing really is doing things the hard way, but taking the form of another shoe wasn't something that I wanted to do, neither was taking an impression directly from my foot (how do you get you foot back).

Now I have to figure out the left foot... The reasons that I haven't just forged ahead are: 1. Some of the tape has gotten loose (perhaps I used to much oil on the inside), 2. Yeah, I kind of ruined my plaster mixing bowl. When I had poured all of the plaster into the form last time, I couldn't put it down or it would collapse with the weight of the plaster. So, by the time the plaster in the form was hard the plaster in the bowl was hard too.

Hey, even though my lasts aren't boot length I may still be able to pull off boots because I took the duct tape and I'm going to use them for a pattern.

Now I have 2 patterns, the ones that I took from the dis-assembled shoes with 1 3/4" heels, and the one from the duct tape.

So pattern makers, how would the pattern for a shoe upper change with the heel height?

Hmmm, stay tuned. I'm going to compare the two and explore the mechanics of shoe pattern making.

Friday, October 29, 2010

An evening of fun with duct tape, olive oil and plaster of paris

I got the plaster poured in one duct tape cast tonight!
I have spent most of my free time this week staring at those silver things wondering if this had any chance of working.
Of course, you can do anything with duct tape!
Actually, it doesn't hold water very well, especially around the toes and heels.
It also doesn't hold its shape very well after you goop all that plaster into it.
The first part of cast making involves about a half a cup of olive oil to coat the inside of the duct tape. This immediately turned the sticky underside of the tape to goop.
So, I was sitting on the back porch, on a tarp so I didn't have to clean any of the nasty things out of the house tonight. I had my bowl of 4 cups of water, and my 15 lbs of plaster. Its kind of like making gravy, only you stir it with you hand.
I got the 8 cups of plaster mixed in and I had to use my hands to smooth out the lumps get everything stirred in.
Then I held the right form in one hand and poured it out of the pan into the form. I ran out of plaster about 8" from the top, but that was actually OK. This was suprisingly heavy! Then I realized that if I tried to set them down they would collapse. So had to sit the and hold them for 30 minutes. Then it occured to me, am I cementing myself to this? Thank goodness the olive oil that I rubbed in had soaked through and I was fine.
Tomorrow I will start on the left one and see if the right one can still stand.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shoemaking, Step 2

Finding a pattern!

As per Mary Wales Loomis's suggestion, I decided to take apart a pair of old shoes for a pattern. This was a challenges since I don't cling to crappy or worn out shoes. I also just purged my closet during my bout with unemployment.
I did manage to dig up a crappy pair of Naturalizers that were an un-natural, wierd green. They are 9 1/2 AA and I normally order a 9 1/2, so they must have been on sale. They are man made uppers (not leather) with leather soles, but I thought I would give them a shot anyways.
Mary was right, this glue that they use isn't meant to come apart, and those little nails are insidious!

But, I have parts!
The weird green shape on the right is the shoe upper that I am using for the pattern. I have sprayed it with water to see if I can flatten it any with a book. I always knew that Principals of Auditing would come in handy.
You will notice that you see a white woven piece that is fused from about mid-arch to the heel. This is the part that is stiffened buckram.

The little U shaped pieces on the right side are called counters and are used to add extra stiffness to the heel area.

Here are more parts:
The far right is the inner sole with a futile attempt at padding, both inside and outside.
Next is the middle sole piece which is like thick oak tag in the heel area and heavy felt towards the toe (the heel is nailed to this).
The next piece is the outer sole. The green crud around the edges show that this is the side that gets cemented to the bottom of upper shoe. The reverse side is what hits the floor when you walk.
On the left is the plastic heel and the metal shanks. The shanks are what hold the angle of the shoe. One end goes on top of the heel and the other extends to the ball of the foot.

I already have quite a few ideas for fabulous shoes.

Of course leather is my first choice so I want over to G H Leather (I 10 and Shepherd in Houston) where they have the most fabulous lamb skin!
The lighter brown (cognac) at the top matches my DB leather trench from last year. I needed more for a belt anyway.
I also got some chocolate (Pantone 19-0912) to make a skirt, and hopefully some shoes. It just happens to match a cobra skin that I picked up at the Tandy Leather Store several years ago.

I also got some black. You can always use more black leather!

As for my first shoe design... In the book she suggests using fabric, esp. for your first pair.

But, I have never been one for the shallow end of the pool. Hey, I have worked with leather before and I think that it will shape and mold better!

Or, I could play it safe and make something like this:
In a gark gray pinstripe that might look really cool, and that twist thing is really in style.
But for now, I am off to find mold soap so that I can pour in my plaster and finish my lasts!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Because I didn't have enough sewing to do...

Some of you might know that I have picked up a new, exciting direction for my crafty side. Thanks to Joyce at the Sewing Guild meeting I picked up a cute little book by Mary Wales Loomis called "Make Your Own Shoes"

I love this book, in only 86 pages she makes this look so do-able!

The first step is to make a shoe last which is like a dress for for your foot. She shows you two ways to make your lasts. I didn't like either way so I decided to do it the sewers way and make "duct tape doubles" of my feet.
Now, I have never made a DTD so this is entirely new territory for me. One thing that I had to keep in mind was the heel height. The thing about shoe lasts is that you pretty much have to pick a heel height and stick with it. I may regret this later, but I chose "Fundamentals of Finance," and "Good Eats" by Alton Brown for about 3".
One thing that I observed in my first DTD experience, if nothing is going numb you aren't doing it right.
Oh, and pee before you get started. You can get around on duct tape feet but not very well.
I tried 3 different kinds of tape and learned that if you are taping a highly contoured place like your ankles you really need to find some 1" wide tape to hug the curves. I started with the 2" tape and had to clip the curves in several places. The 1" tape which is black worked much better. It is made by "Gorilla" which makes the Gorilla Glue. This tape is much stiffer, heavier and you have to be careful with it because it will stick to everything, permanently!

With some help from my husband that I will never live down
I escaped from my duct tape boots. We managed to cut a slit down the back without out leaving a perforated line on my leg. Then in order to slip them off my feet I put a piece of tape across the bottom of my foot and left a strip about 6" long for a handle off the front of my toes.
The next step is to actually make the models of your feet by pouring plaster of paris in the duct tape forms and let it dry. I will get to that later this weekend.
Then the fun starts and you actually get to start creating shoes! Stay tuned for further information...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

MMmmmmm, Cheesecake

It was really, really good!
At least my office thought so.
Yes I am a push over, one for his office and one for mine.
People kept asking me about a birthday they missed. Can't someone just bake for the fun of it? If you never practice then you will never know!
There is a secret to perfect office baking, secure your hair! I have never known anyone to find a 2 foot long blonde hair, or cat hair but would I if they did? I remember eating a good "made with loving hands at home" and finding a hair in it and it has made me hugely paranoid.
As for sewing, I didn't get any done today for the garden and running errands. Tomorrow I am blowing most of my day in a drunken haze cheering my fool head off at the Texans game.
So, I really wanted to just show off the cheesecake and beg for a good pumpkin cheesecake recipe.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Some cooking

Sometimes life gets in the way of sewing. This week its been cheesecake! I was invited to a dinner party this weekend as long as I brought cheesecake, raspberry preferred!
So, I got started, but the party was post poned, so its happy cheese cake day at the office tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Now, a blouse or two

I have several fabulous blouse weight silks and I am slowly getting some blouses to wear with those fab new skirts. I just got this gray lace print from EOS, and it will go fabulously with black or day gray. I have really been dying to try this pattern since I got it from the 2009 Marfy catalog.

I have also dug into my old wedding dress fabric and lace stash for some more of those super cute blouses from that free Marfy 0692.
I finished the blue on first and I put a bias binding around the neckline useing the shiny side and it looked horrible. So, I just threw a ruffle on it. Looks fab now. I will post pictures tomorrow

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fun with stripes!

Am I the only one who finds the most fabulous pinstriped fabrics and can't find the perfect pattern for them? I am just attracted to navy pinstripe, I can't explain it! I finally found a perfect pattern. This is Vogue 1092, and the front takes 13 pattern pieces, but the results are stunning.

This time I even took the time to slip in a secret pocket at the waistband. I am so tired of having to haul my purse everywhere.

The back looks a little bit wonky, but I checked out the rest of the reviews (2!) and the others seem to show the same thing so I dont' feel so bad.
I concentrated on matching the stripes, and forgot that I was cutting on the bias.
Oh well, like Dr. Hank used to say, "If you hear a gasp from the audience you will know what the problem is." He was the theater head when I was in charge of costuming in college and didn't like to hear the drama queens complain. I miss Dr. Hank.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

So THATS why I hate silk charmeuse!

So, over my long weekend I did a little stash diving!
This was inspired by my full sewing room and the hefty bill for auto air conditioner repair!
I immediately grabbed 3 fabulous silk charmeuse pieces that I can wear NOW to marry with my old TNT Marfy 0692 free pattern from 2008. Thanks to Jenny for introducing me to this pattern!

Anyway, I remember now why that stuff sits in my stash and just looks pretty.
Love to wear it, HATE to cut it, sew it or finish it. Its like trying to sew Jello. I did OK until I got around to sewing on the neckline binding with very amaturish results:

I am going to have to get creative, stuff like this is very popular right now.
I have some bias strips left over from the binding that I can just pleat and stitch down to cover the neck binding.
I also have one in cream (left over from some wedding dress) and some lace for the neck edge (from said wedding dress). I also have several prints that I may try.
I have also been working on that skirt and it looks GREAT so I will try to post pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One More Skirt!

Burda "Style" April 2010 skirt 125.

Without the bow. I just wasn't feeling the love for the BOW. It looks super cute, is super easy to wear and adds swing to a professional skirt.
I am also not feeling the love for no pockets, but that saves so much time.
So does no-waistband, but it isn't as much fun to wear.
This is one of those projects that I am probably going to go back to fiddling with.
It cute though, I enjoy wearing it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Continuing My Skirt Kick

I have fallen back in love with the ease of skirts!

I love how super easy they are to cut, sew, fit and wear. Not to mention the fact that you can get one out of as little as 3/4 yard of fabric!

Up next is Vogue 1092 Tracy Reese pattern.

I am using the very last piece from my stash from the Houston Quilt Show from 2008. What sounds like an excuse to fabric shopping to me!

I am not crazy about the length, I would prefer either above or below the knee so I will start by adding a couple of inches.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I asked for it, I got it!
Finally, a personal fashion statement that doesn't contain a YAWN!

This is Burda #108 from last month. It is the perfect use for that stunning EOS silk jersey (said Tahari).
Now I could have picked something sensible like a Jalie top, but that wouldn't have looked any less cougar (mid life crisis). I won't wear this any less than I would have worn the top.

Besides, I literally cut this out yesterday at about 4PM, and I am going to wear it tomorrow.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I want this skirt

For sometime after I have at least one dress that fits me, and probably a blouse,
I really want this skirt. I love the leather waistband, and that buckle is more like a purse fastner.

Only God creates life

The wonderful news is that my Early Girl Tomato lived up to her name and sprouted blossoms! (in the red circle)

She has easily doubled in size in 2 weeks! Most of the others are growing well too, so I think I will have a good crop in a few months.

The tiny baby blossoms won't become fruit in this awful heat, but it is a very encouraging start.
I am very thoroughly puling weeds and watering every night, but actual fruit is completely up to God.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Marfy 1659 Finally!

I am finally done with the shirt.

Even though I really don't like the picture, I posted the review anyway.

It look perfect with my Regan necklace, which I got more compliments on than the shirt! It really does look fabulous, I can't thank you enough.

Anyway, on to whats next.

I am off to trace more BWOF's. I am loving the skirts, esp. the bubble skirts, I could actually wear one here. I was thinking about this pattern in dark silk jersey from EOS:

Or would that look too aging cougar? I refuse to wear clothes that have "denial" written all over them.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I had such high hopes for v8280

I don't hate it, I think that I can make it work.

I am just disapointed, I had really high hopes for this pattern.

The pattern photograph of the view I am working on is the one on the right, and 26 rave reviews on

Pattern Review can't be wrong, can they?

That centerfront dart helps, and making the shoulders more square helped too. I just can't figure out how to fix those shoulders! Once I get that worked out I will see how the sleeves look.
Do you think maybe lowering the arm hole will help?
It looks like the back neck fits OK, maybe I just need to make the 'flanges' wider by ....
I don't know, I am tired of thinking about it.
Any suggestions?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My New Babies!

I may have picked the very HOTTEST weekend of the year, but I got some sunshine and I planted some tomatoes!

This picture is from Saturday night, before I picked up 3 more bags of potting soil at Sam's Club in order to plant the last 3 little dears. I should start picking fresh, juicy homegrown tomatoes by the end of September. Sometimes I really love texas! Up north we never would have imagined home grown salads on Thanksgiving, and with any luck we won't have a hard freeze before then.
Now, for the details. I have 1 yellow plant, 3 heritage Paul Robeson's which should have purple-ish tomatoes, an Early Bird, an Arkansas Traveler (beefsteak tomatoes), 2 plants with Italian tomatoes and the last one was called Sunmaster which is supposed to grow well in the hot sun.
Now I just need to remember to water them on the off chance that it doesn't rain every other day.
Stay tuned for more on "'Mater Watch 2010"

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Marfy 1659 Dress/Shirt saga continues on and on...

I did get some sewing done last weekend, I spent a lot more time than I expected just doing the hong kong finish on the seams. It sure is easier if you haven't sewn the shirt together yet!
As you can see below, I used the seam binding to finish the edge of the neckline, and I stitched it down about 1" from the edge. I finished the back of the collar by turning it to the inside of the collar and handstitching it closed.

I bound the seams of the armholes and the side seams as well. I used silk organza as an underlining for a little body and opacity. It works perfectly, but boy does it make the SA's itch!
This only leaves the finishing of the sleeve hems, the buttons and buttonholes and the hem.
You would think that would be easy to finish those few things, but I plan on planting my fall garden this weekend and I am not sure about the hem length yet.
In the mean time, not finishing the last project hasn't kept me from stashing!
I have a fabulously soft navy wool plaid for a skirt, and a luscious animal silk jersey from EOS.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Marfy 1659 hem and buttons

This is getting so close that I am actually starting to get excited about it!

I didn't actually sew, I just pressed and hunted for buttons...

I know that it is getting close to bed time, so here is a quick pic:

I pressed up the belt, and pinned up the hem for a quick idea. Jury is still out, but I am leaning towards an inch or so shorter, and curved up at the sides.

I also pawed through the buttons quickly, and these are the ones that I am leaning towards these:

Liberty of London (LOL!)

I am trying to add a link, I have never been able to get it to work before. If not, might work.

Here it is in another color.

It isn't a border print, but it looks like it is in that picture. One mild (really, REALLY mild) suggestion that I might make to them is better pictures, kind of like EmmaOne Socks.
I probably won't get any more sewing done tonight, it is our really busy week at work so I didn't get home from work until 7:30. I will see if I can at least pin it up and check the hem.
I have been thinking about leaving the length and maybe putting on some belt carriers and a belt. Or maybe just the carriers since it has the illusion of a belt. Carriers with cool buttons of course.
My right brain plays with sewing all day while my left brain plays with accounting.

Marfy 1659 TOP

I like this better!
It needs to be shortened and I am going to try it with a shirt tail hem.
I am also thinking about lining the peplum.
A belt would help too.
I like the texture, and the pintucks!
This will be a very nice blouse.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

I rounded out the Holiday by sipping a gin (Beefeater) martini while watching Inspector Lewis and ordering from Liberty of London!
Have you seen their new fall fabrics?!

This is not you grandma's Liberty of London!

I am actually thinking of making one of those bubble skirts out of this and wearing it with a cute little heather blue sweater.

I also got some sewing done.

Remember that white and gold dress that I wasn't thrilled with? Well, it will make a really cute white top. I will post new pictures later. I made the waist band narrower by 3/8", and cut the peplum 8" long.
This added more shape, and the curved shirt tail hem is much more slimming!
Or, maybe that was the gin... who knows!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Marfy 1659 progress!

I am really starting to like this!

I fixed the collar, raised the waist and set the sleeves.

I raised the waist by and inch, which means that I only lowered it by 1" instead of 2. I think that is looks more in proportion with the new waist.

I also straightened out the collar by shortening it on the side that was about 3/8" too long (how did I do that?!).

I am still not sure about the gold in the skirt, dh just thinks that it looks strange.


The sleeves are supposed to have gathers and thick bands, I am not sure if the will be long enough, or how it will look.

I also need to make the facing for the front and post pictures of how I am finishing that wonderful neckline.

I will post pictures as I progress...

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