Monday, April 30, 2007

Double-Duty Dress

I need a dress for Mother's Day and my older son's graduation. Mother's Day comes first, so that means a May 13th deadline. Although I may get a reprieve because *my* mom will be here for the graduation and we're thinking of delaying Mother's Day dinner until graduation weekend so we can do everything at once. (And, really, anything to reduce the activities during May would be welcome.)

I've decided that I'll make this dress, from the Spring 2006 Burda Plus magazine (cover shot below because I've yet to figure out the numbering system for these Plus issues). Except I'll be making it in a knit with a lower neckline and leaving off the zipper, facings, and matching stole. I made a WOF dress a couple of years that was based on a similar style and also used a knit instead of woven for it. I tried it on over the weekend and even with the extra fluff, it still fits. Which is great, because I cut a straight 48 for that and only made square/narrow shoulder adjustments. It would be great for my schedule if I can get away with equally minimal fit adjustments for this one.

I'm also going to make this now-TNT Butterick 4986 top to wear over the dress, to serve as both arm and tummy camouflage.

I won't be making a muslin for the top, but I definitely will for the dress. I've got some knits in the stash that I'm more than happy to sacrifice. The final fabric will be this drapey rayon/Lycra knit, which you seen before with my 2-seam twist top.

Friday, April 27, 2007


It seems that the embroidery just does not want to be photographed, but here's another attempt anyway. The effect is subtle, but not this subtle!

There was a question in the comments about the embroidery design. It comes from a Husqvarna Viking disk, #150 Designer Flowers. Apparently, this collection has been discontinued because it's no longer listed on the HV website. But the image files were still there with a little digging and I came up with this screen grab.

As you can see, the original design is smaller and has many more colors than my final motif. I used Embird for the editing. Below is the "Mega Hoop" design I created from bits and pieces of the original HV design.

This is the single hooping file for the pockets, which is just a separated-out section of the larger design above.

Here's a shot of the pockets. You can see the embroidery a bit better here than in the leg shot. (Reminder: You can click to enlarge all of the photos.)

And here are the pockets on my backside, the embroidery again being an elusive model.

The outfit on Zillie:

A close-up of the gathered short sleeve:

I've had comments in favor of the length of the top. I'm still giving it thought. I don't usually wear my tops this long and it sorta feels like the typical, big & baggy top that plus-size women hide under. I know it isn't the same, but with the extra pounds that have recently found their way onto my already fluffy self, it's difficult to get past that feeling. That's one downside to having a great kitchen that I love to cook in! ;-)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

TickTockTickTock…I Made It!

Here's a blurry photo which shows none of the details, like the embroidery. It figures! But it does show in real life. I'll try to get better pics later. Or I might just collapse. Fast sewing is not my forté.

The top is another Burda WOF 06/2005 (#111).

This makes #3 for me. For this one I stole the gathered short sleeves from my recent make of Butterick 4986 . I love this WOF pattern, but today I wasn't lovin' the binding process. It's as if my binder knew I was in a hurry and had sabotage on its brain. I ended up interfacing the binding strip and then running it through the binder, which worked. But sheesh, enough already. ;-)

I think it's a bit too long, but tunic length is in so maybe it's not. I don't know. I'll run it through the laundry cycle one time and then re-evaluate. For now, I don't have time to worry about it. My hair is still wet and I've got to be out of here in 30 minutes.

The Clock Is Ticking …

The pants will be done for tonight's school event, but a top?? I don't know. I'm running out of time. Yesterday was not a PSD after all, so all I've got left for sewing time is between now and 6 PM. I think I know which TNT pattern I want to use, but can I sew uninterrupted and get it done? Time will tell.

Here's the embroidery on the capris. The washaway stabilizers have not yet been washed away so the leg is still very puckery and the pockets have a "fill" inside the embroidery that won't be there after a trip through the laundry — which will happen in about an hour, sewing gods willing. The pockets will be tone-on-tone just like the leg but because I wanted to precisely place mirror images of the motif on the pockets *and* embroider them at the same time and in the same hooping (I'm lazy), I needed a see-through stabilizer on top so I could arrange the pockets under my tracings of the designs. (Clear as mud?) It was a bit fiddly to get right, but it worked rather well.

Because this is stretch denim and I don't want the waistband to stretch now that it's fitted to me, I've sewn twill tape just inside the waistband seam allowance. After that, I trimmed the seam allowances with pinking shears to reduce bulk. The twill tape and pressed-up seam allowances will be covered by the waistband facing, which itself will be secured with some stitching-in-the-ditch from the right side of the pants, as well as the topstitching that is still to be done.

Now, off to finish the waistband, sew some buttons & buttonholes and get started on the top.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Actual Sewing Going On (and other stuff)

I really, really want to wear the new capris to a school function on Thursday and other projects (see below) have kept me out of the sewing room more than in it. So, I've declared today a PSD (personal sewing day). And because I want to make a new top to wear with them, I'm probably declaring another PSD for tomorrow. After that, though, it's back to installing floors so I have a functioning dining room for the houseguests descending upon us in three short weeks for DS#1's graduation. Although I will be popping into the sewing room on and off during the floor install so I can make the outfit I want to wear for the graduation. Whew! I'm tired already. ;-)

So, the capris are cut and halfway sewn. Then while making pockets, I decided to get out the camera because this little pressing tool has gotten such bad press (har har) on Pattern Review and it really is a handy notion for me. Sure, you can burn the dickens out of your fingers if you're not careful, but if you handle it from the opposite edge of the iron, it stays cool enough that burns are not concern, and it's aluminum so the heat dissipates quickly. I use it for pockets mostly, but I do sometimes use it to start a measured hem or to press a crease in stubborn fabric. I actually like that it's metal and gets extremely hot because pressing denim pockets into shape goes a lot faster with the extra heat and moisture (when the steam hits the metal).

I finished the fly the other day, but not without some mild cussing at myself. See the striped fabric? That's what I cut for the waistband facing and for the pocket bags. And then I promptly tossed the scraps, and DH even more promptly emptied trashcans and took the trash to the end of the driveway for the next day's pick-up. Except that I forgot to cut a fly shield! So, now you all know that these capris don't have a coordinating fly shield. (Will the horrors never end?)

Here's where I am now — with the leg marked for the embroidery I'll be doing as soon as I upload this post. I had to topstitch some of the hem area first so that the embroidery is on top and not vice versa, which means that I have to turn up the rest of the hem later with parts of it already topstitched. That will be fun fiddly.

In other sewing room "news," while I was taking pics of the capris, Chili fished out the empty stabilizer tube from the trash as his new toy of the hour. (Why couldn't he have fished out a scrap of that striped fabric when I needed it??) This dog loves to shred paper/cardboard. He doesn't eat it, just shreds until it can't be shredded any more and then walks away, leaving his pile of shreds. It's actually kind of funny (even if I'm usually the one picking up the shreds) and on this floor what difference is some shreds blended in with the threads?

And, lest you think I'm letting you get away without yet another remodeling update … hah!

The living room and family room are pretty much done. I still have some stuff to put away and some desk organizing to do, but most of the big stuff is unpacked, out, and/or otherwise put where it's going to be. DH hung the new light fixtures in the laundry room, and made & hung the photo ledges for the family room. It's finally starting to feel cozy in this house (well, some parts of it). Various photos below.

My office area looking from the TV end of the room:

Looking at the TV end of things from the kitchen door:

The HGTV-inspired photo ledges DH made:

The new sofa in the living room:

The new overhead laundry room fixture:

And the wall sconce (why does anyone need a wall sconce in a laundry room? And yes, something that is needed is curtains! Shoemaker's barefoot children and all that …):

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Time to Dust Off the Ol' Machines


The capris are now cut out and all interfacing has been fused into place. I'm ready to thread up and start sewing. Unfortunately, I have to go out and run some errands first. But I will be returning to these today. The bug has bitten hard.

Sitting on the ironing board, forgotten since they arrived weeks ago from Lucy's Fabrics, I found these. I'll be tossing some of them into the washer before I leave … as soon as DH is done putting up the new light fixtures in there (which are looking pretty good — Oops, sorry Carolyn, I reverted to remodeling again). All of the fabrics are very nice as usual, but the clay doubleknit (fourth down in the pile) is DEE-vine. Run and get you some before it's all gone. Mine will be more capris very soon because I want to LIVE in them all summer long.

Oh, and you'll have to trust me on this, but the capris are not as neon orange as they appear in the photo above. The color is a more subtle coral.

Alright Already - Can you sew something pleeze!

I know Carolyn was just teasing in her comment to my last post, but she's right. I was planning to spend the morning hanging up the pictures, etc. that are littering the table in my office area, but I've switched gears and instead I'm going to spend some quality time in the sewing room working on those capris before I forget how to sew!

I'm using my TNT (Tried and True) pants pattern (Simp 4068), which hadn't yet been marked for cutting at capri length. I just finished that step and have laid out the first of the pattern pieces. As soon as I finish typing this, I'm off to start cutting. Hopefully, my next post will report some signficant progress. I can hang pictures later tonight.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Just passing by

It's Tuesday and I've still got nuthin' in the sewing department and the outlook is bleak until Thursday at the earliest.

We switched computers around on Sunday so I'm now typing at you from my new/old desk in the family room. Surrounded by a bunch of knick-knacks and wall art that I've been unpacking from the boxes we've been dragging out of the storage bin dining room. So many things I forgot I even had, and now decisions to be made as to exactly where to put some of this stuff and what to just toss. It feels like we've just moved in all over again. But at least this time, I'm clearing things instead of stashing them for later. I can actually see the dining room floor again.

We also moved the new sofa into the living room, although once we put the door & frame back on that doorway, it ain't never coming out again — at least not in one piece. Whew! That was a tight fit getting it in. But it looks pretty good, even if it is clashly wildly at the moment with the area rug. But until we get all the floors done downstairs, new area rugs are on hold since I don't want to be grinding drywall dust and who-knows-what into any new ones. I'll take some pics of the "new" rooms in a few days, after more of the junk decorative items are in place.

We did manage to drop nearly $200 at Lowe's last night. Supplies for this weekend's project of some photo ledges a la HGTV's Room By Room to go in the family room, new light fixtures for the laundry room since the bare bulbs are not quite the look we're going for, and a bunch of other little stuff (tape, paintbrushes, light bulbs, etc.) which adds up quickly.

The fabric for my to-do capris has been laid out on my cutting table for close to two weeks now. I'm sure I'll need to dust it off before I start cutting. But I'm really, really hoping to do that and get them sewn by the end of the weekend and then move on to the outfit I want to make for DS#1's graduation, which I'll also wear for Mother's Day. And somewhere between now and then we also need to get the dining room floor installed. Anyone have any spare hours for sale?

DS#2's 15th birthday is tomorrow, which means some shopping today. I know what I/he wants, so it's just a matter of hitting the stores. DH wants to join me, so I'll be taking off as soon as he's back from some client meetings and I'm back from walking the dogs. It also means he'll be getting his learner's permit tomorrow. Uh oh.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thursday This 'N That

Still no sewing as "real" work has taken over for the week. But I promised myself I'd get up to the sewing room later today or this evening and cut out those capris that have been ever so patiently biding their time. With luck, I may get them sewn up in bits and pieces over the next few days.

Meanwhile, I bought a sofa last night. My mom and her POSSLQ (pronounced pozzl-cue and meaning Person of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters) will be here for DS#1's graduation in mid-May. We have no real guest room — yet. My mom suggested that instead of them paying for a hotel that she give me some money toward a futon that could be put in our living room as a guest bed. Hmmm. Good idea, Mom! So I agreed. Then I started looking on Craig's List for futons that were acceptably used (IOW, not gross!) and cheap, and found a great sofabed instead. (I'd rather have a sofa in the living room than a more casual futon, but I was trying to be budget-conscious.)

The only problem with the sofabed so far was that it was in St. Petersburg (about an hour from me) so if it was a dud, it would be a wasted long drive. (Have you seen gas prices this week??) The seller and I emailed back and forth and she offered Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evenings as choices for the pick-up. I'm so glad we went with Wednesday since it rained all day both Monday and Tuesday (desperately needed in these parts, but not good for sofas in the back of pick-up trucks). We loaded up both strong boys into the back of the cab and off we went.

We met the seller at her (retired and very sweet) parents' house. The back story is the parents were the actual sellers but she's the one who put up the Craig's List ad and volunteered to be the contact person. The sofa belonged to a friend of her parents. He had died shortly after it was delivered to his home and this couple is in charge of selling off his belongings since the man's family is all out-of-state. Or something like that.

As soon as I saw the sofa in person, I knew it was good quality (La-Z-Boy) and in brand-new condition. The mattress for the pull-out bed was/is still in the original plastic covering. Sold! So we (and by "we," I mean the guys) covered it in plastic, loaded it on truck, paid for it, and off we went. Definitely a steal at $300, I think. You can't even buy a crappy new sofabed for less than $600.

It's paisley, which I love (and not quite as red/purple as it looks in this pic), and it's temporarily sitting in the family room awaiting the transfer of computers and office furniture which should happen this weekend. So, before the family room gets better (and truly done), it gets even more crowded. But we'll manage. We've already decided that we like the big U of sofas in there so I see us looking for new stuff for that arrangment at some point in the next year. Uh oh!

I mentioned the rain, right? This is Florida and we're about to head into summer. The dry weather has been great comfort-wise even if it meant drought conditions throughout the state. But with the recent rain came the dreaded humidity we had been escaping until now. Where is this leading? Well, yesterday was also a dog park day and because it was hot and humid, I didn't see myself in long jeans, and my favorite capris are in the laundry room. So, I pulled out this recently sewn outfit to wear:

And I have to say it is going to be some of my favorite summer duds. So comfortable, and still casual enough with my brown flip-flops that I didn't feel overdressed for a dog park! The skirt (Kwik Sew 3287) is just wonderful made up in the cotton. I'm definitely going to be making at least two more before summer is over. (After those waiting capris, of course!) Yesterday was busy and I forgot to take pics of me in it before we left. And then I spilled Coke down my front in the truck so a photo will have to wait until the cami is clean again. Yeah, I'm a klutz.

Oh, to finish up the vacuum saga, my replacement PowerMate vacuum head arrived yesterday, and it's the correct one this time. Which means I can finally do a decent vacuuming. Sears credited me for the first wrong one, including the shipping, and also waived the shipping charges on the replacement. So I suppose I feel better. But, still, what a pain! And I'll reserve final judgment until I actually try the thing. Between dogs and floor-laying, we have plenty of "test material."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Almost There

Half of the room is nearly set up, the TV end of things. I spent way too much time this morning getting the surround sound system installed. When I opened the box, it was a mess of wires on top and I knew then it was going to be slow going. But I got it all hooked back up properly and we now have thundering sound booming at us from all corners of the room. (I can look forward to doing it all again when we get that flat panel screen DH has been hinting at.)

I'm still thinking about this particular furniture arrangement. We used to have it so that the large sofa faced the TV/wall unit. But I kind of like the sofas facing each other. It seems friendlier and not so TV-centric (which the guys don't quite understand the problem with!).

The perspective is off in these pics. The wall unit is centered on what used to be the fireplace wall, but because I'm standing off to the side in the kitchen doorway taking these, it looks lopsided. It's also dark because we're still missing the overhead lighting (and it's after midnight). If you're trying to work out the scale on this room, the wall unit is pretty darn huge and each of the full floor planks is 4 feet long. I'm still surprised at how much room we have in here.

Still to do is my office side. Most of my furniture is in the dining room and what's here is standing about 2 feet away from the wall with DH's computer in residence. It will be about a week before I make the final and complete actual switch since we have to do some paying work first and so can't really spare the computer down time yet. It's coming soon though and I can hardly wait.

Also on the to-do list is to unpack and hang the wall art, unpack and place more useless decorative knick-knacks, and buy and install lights (or fans, or something — we haven't decided yet) from the ceiling. It will be nice to be finally rid of the bare wires.

DH commented earlier that it feels like moving day all over again. He's right. We have boxes strewn all about as I unpack and try to find new homes for the things I've forgotten I had. As well as feeling like moving day, it feels a bit like Christmas too as I rediscover those little treasures. Things like all of the family photos we always have out but which were packed away as soon as we listed our other house for sale. It's been almost 2 years since I've seen some of these things.

After all of the unpacking and box moving today, I can actually walk around in the dining room (a/k/a temporary storage) again. I'm starting to eye it in earnest as that's our next project. We have family coming in for DS#1's graduation in May and I really want us to be able to sit and eat in the dining room. My short term goal for that is to at least get the floor in and the table set up. Anything else beyond that will be gravy.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Homestretch

It's just after 5:30 p.m. and the crown molding is installed and we're both still alive. ;-) Crown is the biggest pain-in-the-youknowwhat so there was a good chance we'd kill each other today, but it went pretty smoothly. I think part of that is owed to the boys taking themselves and the dogs to the dogpark so we could have peace and quiet during all the calculations and fiddling.

Next up is the quarter-round molding around the floor and then to caulk all the moldings and touch up the paint. I think we might actually have a real family room by this time tomorrow. Woo hoo!

It's pizza for Easter dinner tonight, but that's OK. We're on a roll now …

On a side note, I was looking at the pics from moving day and I "found" a table I had completely forgotten about. It's the one with all the bags on top of it. Hmmm. Now I have to figure out where to put that.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

We Have Floor

And we also have furniture all over the place so I can't get a nice full-room shot right now. Some furniture is still in the family room, but most is in the hallway, the dining room, and in the living room. All of it is very dusty. Ick.

It's still going to be a day or two before it all starts coming together in its final placement, especially since I've decided to move my office back to my real office furniture, which will reside in the family room too. For the last year, I've been working/computing in here (the living room) on furniture that was bought to be DH's home office set-up. I hate working at that armoire and have never quite felt at home with it. I miss my stuff. The family room is plenty big enough for both a typical sofa/TV set-up and also for my office space so I'm moving in. But I want to experiment with a few arrangement ideas before I commit to the layout. DH and the boys will be so thrilled as they'll be the brute force labor moving things around. I haven't told them yet. ;-)

Today I finished laying the floor (plank by plank by plank). My knees are very grateful to be done. I've been a sight to see — with DS's football kneepads taped around the knees of my paint-splattered stretchy pants. But hey, it works and they're free so why not? To add to the look, I went to bed last night with very damp hair. OMG. I had a 'fro this morning. LOL!

After the floor was done, DH put the baseboards into place and will lay down the quarter-round trim tomorrow. After that, it's crown molding time. DH has it painted and ready to go. The walls have been ready for a long time. ;-)

As you can see in the very top photo above, the french doors are still quite gross. They've been at the primer stage for well over a year (probably closer to two years). I'll work on those over the coming week, after the furniture is back in place. And definitely after I've reaquainted myself with my sewing machine.

Friday, April 6, 2007

I vaguely remember my sewing room

I haven't been in the sewing room, except to pass through, for days and days now. But the family room floor is coming around nicely. This is what it looked like at the approximate halfway point last night. We're about 3/4 of the way done now. Oy, my aching knees and back. (Remember that Claire!)

After the floor, the crown molding and baseboards have to go up before we can move the furniture back in to its permanent location(s). Maybe by the end of the long weekend, we'll have a real family room again and I might be ready to cut out the capris that have been waiting.

Thanks everyone for all of the nice anniversary wishes and comments!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

It was 20 years ago today …

On April 4, 1987 I became a Cook. After growing up a Ronzitti, I never thought anyone would ask, "How do you spell that?" ever again. I was wrong. I've been wrong a lot over the last 20 years. But that's OK. DH is patient, forgiving, and very generous of time and spirit. We've been up, down, and all around like any marriage, any family. But the good far, far outweighs any rough days and I know we'll be growing old together.

Sewing related, my paternal grandmother made my wedding dress. She took some measurements, looked at my bride magazine clippings, and then took me shopping in the NYC garment district — the former, more bustling and plentiful district that it was back then. We trudged in and out of shops where she had long-established relationships. (All of my grandparents were either NY natives or immigrants through Ellis Island into NYC and knew the City well.) I had given her general ideas of my dream gown but that's as far as my "authority" went.

After that, she picked the fabrics, laces, beads, pearls, buttons, netting, and whatever else she knew would be perfect. After all, this wasn't her first wedding gown. Before mine, she had made her own (of course), her own daughter's, two for her future daughters-in-law (one being my mother's), and countless others for close friends and extended family. Our last stop that day was for me to be professionally fitted into a "Merry Widow" long-line strapless bra because she knew to start with the proper foundation even if I didn't at that point.

My grandmother was a professional tailor/dressmaker, and her work was the definition of couture, although I didn't know it at the time (shame on me!). To me, grandma just sewed. She always had a project in her hands, making the most tiny, precise stitches almost automatically. (If only I could go back in time for some lessons!)

Most of the construction of my dress was done with only those hands, and without any pattern to guide her. She spents hours and hours on the lace and beadwork alone. The edges of my multi-tiered veil were hand-rolled. Each of the 48 buttons up the back and 12 on each sleeve were covered and stitched on individually. The delicate button loops were fashioned from tubes of the dress fabric. There'd be no zippers on this dress! My crinoline underneath was another project. She did all of this long-distance as she lived in NY at the time and I was in Virginia. I only knew what was happening from her letters and telephone calls and I could only hope that she had really understood what I was dreaming of.

Finally, it was time to travel back to NY for a visit and the final fitting. Yes, final. No muslin, no intermediate fittings. The dress was done, waiting for me, and the fabric had not yet touched my body.

Of course, it fit perfectly, and was just as I had been imagining. I was definitely Princess for the day, and on the arm of my Prince Charming.

Happy Anniversary Mike, and thank you grandma!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A New (Old) Direction

I still want capris. What I don't want right now is fiddling with a new pattern. While I usually enjoy that process (OK, maybe enjoy is too strong a description!), I've got too many things on my plate right now for it to be anything but frustrating.

This morning I got out TNT Simplicity 4068 and pressed the tissue flat (and made a mental note that I need to trace this pattern onto something more substantial). I also pressed the coral stretch denim I'm planning to use for the first pair of capris and laid it on the cutting table. I've got lime twill and plain ol' blue denim in the queue but I'm trying not to get ahead of myself here. One pair at a time, since I'm just not good at assembly-line style sewing.

Meanwhile, one of the things on my full plate is the family room. DH is putting down the underlayment (is that a word?) as I type and soon I'll be in there hammering planks into place (with American Idol playing in the background! And sheesh! When will Sanjaya be voted OFF?). The capris will continue tomorrow morning. But at least I have a workable plan now.

Here's what's been happening in the family room. Well, first, let me backtrack. Below is a "before" shot of the room. When we bought the house, there was also painted panelling on that back wall but a discovery of extensive termite damage meant tearing it out and starting over. (This is also an example of the ineptitude of the contractor. Why would you drywall only this wall at this point when the a/c duct running along the ceiling was also to come out after being re-routed? But I digress …) See that funky off-center fireplace? Eww.

This is a photo from before we bought the house. Even uglier, no?

Before we ever moved in here, we had removed the faux wood (styrofoam!) ceiling beams, re-routed the a/c ducts to get rid of those downhanging soffits, and removed/replaced the rest of panelling. We spray-primed the new drywall and the french doors, painted the walls, and then tore out the stinky carpet. And that's how it's been ever since. Lovely, eh?

This is the fireplace and hearth brick work that we just removed. .

DH patched the holes from the hearth with new drywall,

stuffed the fireplace "hole" with insulation, and covered it up with a sheet of drywall. The hole and insert/chimney are still intact behind the drywall but we've decided to just do a quick cover-up for the time being so we can move forward on this project.

Here's where I take over. This shows the drywall patches taped, mudded, textured, and drying. And a quick inspection from the Pooch Patrol.

This is what it looks like today, painted to match the rest of the walls.

The "lovely" fireplace cover. But trust me, it will never show when we're done in here.

And now DH tells me he's ready for me in there. Oh my aching knees tomorrow! ;-)