Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Purse and Work Outfit Dilemma (Photo Heavy)

The special order cammie purse is done! Yay! Every single bit of the cammie fabric came from the blouse that was sent, and almost every single bit of the blouse was used. I couldn't "cheat" and use my flat MARPAT fabric for straps since the cammie I received was pretty faded and my new fabric is … well … new. I like the way pieced straps look because you get characteristics of the original cammie that way, but they take at least twice as long to make and allowimg room for them on the cammie blouse makes the pattern layout more of a brain twister. This style for a cammie purse is definitely the most labor-intensive. On the others, I learned my lesson and made them simpler from the get-go.

I had a major brain fade yesterday when inserting the zipper. It's done 100% by machine, because ya'll KNOW how I hate hand sewing (especially in purses). It has been many months since I made my same-pattern purse. Do you think I took notes on how I did the zipper? If you guessed Hell No!, you would be correct. This means I made a couple of wrong passes with the machine which had to be frogged. But once I walked away for a while, the solution came to me. And it was so obvious (after the fact), that it was almost irritating. lol But I did take notes this time, in case I actually do make up an official pattern for this.

This one is almost exactly like mine, except for the last names, lining, and better interfacings. I used fusible fleece on all the outside pieces, except the two strips right next to the zipper. For those, I used Decor Bond which made them sturdy but not too bulky next to the zipper teeth. I trimmed the fleece so it would be caught in the seams, but only by a hair. This worked great to keep seam allowance bulk down. I also used the fusible fleece in the straps, except I did not apply it at the ends, again to keep the bulk down where I needed to fold the strap over and attach it to the purse or itself, around the hardware.

The main features I couldn't find in any commercial pattern (big guys or little ones) was (1) the center divider pocket in the middle, which is not as wide as the outside so it "cinches in" the sides of the purse, and (2) the outside zipper strips which are curved and part of the purse body, and sewn entirely by machine, of course.

With the improved interfacing, this purse is more rigid so hopefully the feet will actually do something on this one. ;-)

* * * * *

Moving ahead to my wardrobe dilemma …

I'm not complaining on the reason, but with the continuing weight loss I really do not have much to wear to an office. I have my 2 interview suits and a couple of dresses, none of which mixes/matches. Everything else is too big. Yes, I can sew some things but (1) not enough in a short time and (2) I really don't want to, because it's not going to fit for very long and I need to re-do pretty much all of my pattern alterations. TNTs are a thing of the past for now. Wah!

I think I will make one or two Vogue 1250s in a print, and one or two unstructured jacket/cardi somethings to coordinate with them, plus a simple and plain top or two. I think I can do at least 3 out of those in a week. (The "week" deadline is if I get the job — I still don't know yet.) In the meantime, I will need to shop so I can fill in with RTW. But I am going to limit myself to really inexpensive stuff, since again, I don't plan on it fitting for long so I don't want to waste money needlessly.

Let's start the mega-photo section of this post, shall we? Pardon goofy eyes, dorky smiles, bare feet, mismatched prints, blurry focus and dirty mirrors. I was going for quantity and basic shapes. Also pardon my rambling thoughts. None of this is very organized.

After my interview yesterday, I came home and changed and  headed out to Walmart for some household stuff and while there, I browsed the clothes and pulled some to try on. I had lots of success fit-wise, and in sizes that pleased me immensely. Yay! But everything is black, black, black. Or gray. Boo! I hate those colors on me. Especially near my face.

This is in the Walmart fitting room, taken with my cell phone. Even crappier quality than usual, which I would've thought wasn't possible. ;-) The basic shapes are good (I have a similar cowl pattern, which I'll get to below), although the top is tucked up because it's too long. But that solid black is just not me. And even if YOU think it's OK, I don't, so I'll never wear it. Ask my mother. I'm stubborn that way and have been since I was 4 or 5 and she wanted  me to wear stuff I hated. Guess who won? ;-)

This one is too boobalicious, I know. But it was the ONLY top in earth tones, except it was a size 10!! I tried it on just for kicks, though, and, amazingly, it's actually not too far off from fitting. There is an underbust seam, which hits me under the bust. What a concept. This means either I'm loosing boob or the Walmart "designers" (I *had* to put quotes on that idea) use more ease these days. Probably both.

I didn't buy anything in the pics above, but I did buy this skirt below which is the same style as the skirt above but what looks black is actually brown. Yay for brown! The top is my unfinished McCall's some-number. It's way too big, but I can take it in, hem it, and add some sleeves easily. Fixing it up is on the agenda.

But white is too stark next to the skirt, so I want to make a short-sleeved jacket/cardi-something from this putty-colored doubleknit I've got slung over my shoulder.

Here are the three fabrics together. The skirt print has a putty color in it which is more evident IRL vs. the pics.

I also bought these pants.

In two sizes, because I couldn't decide which one would be better. The 18 fits but is a little loose. The 16 fits but is a little tight, but only about 5-6 lbs worth of tight — which should be gone in a couple weeks. I decided I'd do some mirror shots to help me decide because while I wouldn't care about keeping both money-wise, since they're only $20 a pair, I really don't want to hem the same pants twice in month, you know?? And I don't love black anyway. I've pretty much decided I'm keeping the 16s.

Those are the 18s above, with a belt that is riding way too high. It's hard to hold a too-big shirt in at the back and balance a belt and camera shutter button all at the same time, while trying to smile pretty and not blink. Imagine the top fitting better, and with sleeves.

In other words, NOT like this. lol

Still wearing the 18s here, with a shirt I thought might work. Until I tried it on. Don't let this shot fool you …

… it really looks like this:

More grabbing of excess fabric in the back, just to get an idea of shape. I *know* the jacket doesn't go with the pants.

This one kind of bums me out. I loved this jacket and the fabric even more. Maybe one day I can alter it down. For now, it's unwearable.

This pic below is the pants in 16 and a top that fits better, although it's really too low and my bra straps show if I don't pull it up like I did for this pic. Maybe some Hollywood Stay Tape will let me get by for a while longer.

And here's something that hasn't been seen in public in YEARS — a side-view pic of me. As you can see, the belly is still there in plenty of form. So is my butt. ;-) But it sure is nice to see a lot less of both.

Finally, what I'm really wearing today. Which I can also wear to an office if I trade flip-flops for real shoes. I want to make a short-sleeved brown cardi to finish this look and others. I will take in the sideseams and CB seam of this dress (and its sister) for as long as I can. It kind of needs it again now. Sigh.

I'm hoping to hit up the cheapos: Target, Kohl's, JC Penney and Sears (some or all, depends on what I find) this weekend. It's a scary thought, though, because I'm now fitting into so many more things and I may have a hard time leaving things at the store. On second thought, I should probably skip the stores and chain myself to my sewing machine. Unfortunately, one of the benefits/curses of losing weight is that I actually like shopping for clothes again.

Parting Shot:

"Planking," on a tree knocked down by Hurricane Irene. Can you see the clenched fists, like he's standing at attention? ;-) By the way, one year ago today Tyler left for boot camp.


  1. Lots of comments. First you are looking so thin and so beautiful, good for you. Second you have that job. No one introduces anyone around unless they have their mind made up. Third, I am fascinated by your purse development - I haven't ever made a purse and am gearing up for you. It's all looking pretty good.

  2. You look FABULOUS!!!! I'm with Barbara - you don't get introduced to the staff unless they plan on hiring you.....

  3. I agree the introducing you around is a very good sign. They don't do that with every interview.

    I like the 16's myself. I wear a lot of tanks and sweaters to my workplaces. I have made two tanks from Butterick 5147 and they get use 4 seasons with varying weights of sweaters/jackets depending on how formal the office is that I'm going to.

  4. Debbie,

    I am so close to being in your shoes in so many ways!!! Last week I dropped the baby at college and then went to Atlanta to visit a friend that decided we would have a makeover weekend!!! I went out and bought rtw pants, jeans, dresses and lots and lots of tops. Everything I bought was on clearance. Macy's JCPenney and Sears....At home I never find anything in a bigger city..yes!!! Nothing that I bought cost more than $22. They were all super end of season clearance which really works for us here in Florida. This weekend with the Holiday...there will be great sales. It will be worth your while to go and check them out!!! Hope you find some things that work for you.

  5. I want to congratulate you on your weight loss and tell you that's my greatest fear...losing weight and having to remake my TNTs. I just don't think I'm up to the challenge!

    But enough about me, can I vote for sewing for yourself. I think you can make yourself much nicer and better quality garments than the stuff you will find at Sears, JCPennys, Targets, etc.

    You need a 6pac wardrobe - 2 jackets, 2 skirts, 1 pair of pants and a dress...then add some tops. You will get much more mileage out of that combo than some pieces quickly bought.

    IMHO you should save the shopping for when you've reached your goal weight.

  6. You look fantastic!! I'm personally a fan of the pants--they make you look really long and lean. Definitely go with the 16s!

  7. I've been in your shoes and I am really cheap. When I lost weight, I started shopping in thrift stores and resale shops. They have clothes that will fit you now! I found one dress that was so beautiful I hated to give it up when it got too big.
    You may have tried this already, but if not it is worth a chance.

  8. Totally agree that nobody would be introducing you around unless they had basically made up their mind on hiring you :-).

    Check out the sewingplums posts on wardrobing, she's been doing a lot of well-thought out ones lately. There are 2 basic approaches. Eileen Fisher goes by 3 short-sleeved tops, 3 bottoms, 3 overlayers, all in matching but not totally the same neutrals. This allows you to get dressed in the morning, and anything else you have that works with that is gravy. The second is Nancy Nix Rice, who starts with a core 4 in a darker neutral, adds 2 in a matching lighter one, and goes on from there.

    Either approach would work. But I think you're in an emergency situation, where you may need in a week to get dressed in the morning without fuss for at least a week on end. So you need to get together a minimal number of pieces that will work for you, quickly. You already have the basics of a dark brown/tan wardrobe, since that's what you like, but you need to either whip out the missing pieces, fix the ones that almost work, or buy specifically to fit into that scheme.

    Also, to veer off the topic slightly, you shouldn't plan -everything- on continuing weight loss at the rate you've been doing. While you like the results now, you realize it's not very healthy to continue at this rate for long? Also, if you do get a job, your life is going to change drastically. Commute. Much less physical activity. Need for more energy than provided by minimal diet. You can't handle the stress of a new job and continue putting all your stress eggs in the same weight-loss basket, so to speak :-).

    Doing well at the job should be your main priority, which implies letting up a bit on the rest of life. Just make a few things that fit well now (knits if possible, easier to do and more forgiving) and leave well enough alone for a bit.

    I know, I know, I'm more of a harebrained sewer than a wardrobe one myself :-).. It's temporary, I'm not advocating this for life. And congratulations, it's good to see you doing so well... sometimes getting rid of the bum can really improve your life :-).

  9. I think I might go with the size 16 pants myself, since they usually stretch out. I find that if I buy the looser size, it ends up baggy by the end of the day.

    I second the poster who said this is not the time to overwhelm yourself -- pick up enough to get through the week, worry about the rest later. If I'm sewing just to complete a wardrobe, I don't do as good of a job and it becomes a chore rather than a fun hobby.

    Good luck! Hopefully you'll get that phone call soon. And the purse looks fabulous!

  10. What wonderful "problems" to have! Losing weight because you want to, and a job prospect that means new clothes! You may find that shopping a thrift store takes no more time than shuffling through the department stores' sales racks, for less money and with about the same results. Worth a try for a temporary wardrobe, anyway. I did this for the one time I went overseas -- cheerfully threw away clothing after it was too dirty to wear anymore, which lightened my suitcase as the week passed by.

  11. need any more camo fabric? just saw desert camo denim on sale at Gorgeous Fabrics

  12. You are looking great!
    Too funny on the "planking" picture. What does that mean BTW?

  13. Congrats on the weight-loss Debbie :) As said many times above, a tour of the workplace is a pretty darn good sign that they're very keen on you as a future employee!

    Re: your need for a quick immediate fix on the work-wardrobe, I like Carolyn's suggestion "You need a 6pac wardrobe - 2 jackets, 2 skirts, 1 pair of pants and a dress...then add some tops." My vote is to buy the jackets + trousers (because sewing them now and spending the time now to fit them well, only to have them too big very shortly when you loose more weight would personally annoy me LOL!). Then, you could sew the skirts and 1 or 2 dresses (perhaps in a knit - lined for work maybe too?). Dependant upon the pattern style of skirts and dresses you pick you should be able to take them in at the side seams/gores a few times before they have to hit the dust size-wise. Then make 6-8 simple tops, 3/4 sleeve length is especially good for work I find (I'm always rolling long-sleeves up at my desk... soooo annoying!), and long tie/box necks (at the bottom of a round/scoop neckline) look cute and don't necessarily then need jewellery - but look smart for the office IMHO :)

  14. PS: and don't forget the all-essential bra fitting! It'll make everything fit a better :-). It's OK to only have 2 and toss one in the sink every night, if you feel in size transition. But you need something that fits you perfectly today!

  15. Oh hey, this is what you meant by the grey and black in your comment on my blog. :) Had to go find the post I missed. I'm trying to get away from black, but it's just so easy, and it's everywhere, so it's hard. I thought that black top looked good on you, but you're the one who needs to wear it!

    Speaking of wearing things, how thin are you looking, especially when you try on older clothes and we see just how much you've lost! You're looking fantastic, so way to go!

    Also, good luck with the job! *crosses fingers for you*

  16. You're so brave to post all those pics! Congrats on the weight loss, you're inspiring me to get back on the wagon. I hope you get the job.

  17. I got the purse and it was just awesome! Thank you for doing such a professional job.

    Haha, theres no danger of my wife reading a sewing blog. :)

    Thank you so much once again.

    I love your sense of humor in your blog. If we can't laugh at our self, who can we laugh at?

  18. I absolutely love the bag, any chance you've done the official pattern for it yet please? I'd love to get it if you have :D



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