Monday, January 30, 2012

What I Wore, What I Bought

Yay, I left work tonight on time, read some email when I got home, snapped some pics before I changed into my lounging clothes, ate some dinner, loaded up the pics, and sat down to my blog *before* 7PM. Overtime is nice, but so are days that end when they're supposed to. It was also nice to need my sunglasses for the whole drive home.

The morning started great, when my boss said good morning and then told me (unsolicited) that there is NO WAY they are letting me leave and that she and her boss are going to do everything they can to get me hired on permanently. It will mean making a case to the CFO for creating a new position, but they feel confident they have plenty of ammunition. Fingers crossed that it won't be too much longer. And the agency called today too, with the possibility of an interview somewhere else, which I said "Set up!" so as to hopefully invoke Murphy's Law. You know, the one where I'm offered TWO jobs. ;-) My boss also mentioned that all of my extra pitching in has not gone unnoticed, to which I replied, "Thank you! And, really, I would feel bad if I didn't do what was needed to be done." (And I would.)

So, yes, good day all around. :-)

Here's the windowpane plaid Magic Pencil skirt in action, instead of in a hanger shot. Well, if you can call standing still in front of a door "action." I love this skirt. It's comfortable, stylish, flattering, and doesn't wrinkle too badly after a whole day of wearing. I can't believe such a big plaid on my lower half is flattering, but it is.

Rear view, which looks poochy after all day, but I sit on my butt at a desk and then in the car so pooch happens. At least you can see the vent on this one.

Now onto the Coldwater Creek purchases. This skirt is a definite keeper and the thing I was saying was SO ME. You can't see much detail, but it's a lined mesh knit that is pleated on one side to give the look of a faux wrap. Very comfy, very flow-y, and I want a pattern for more! And I definitely have to get those arms one color before the heat arrives. Yikes.

This is a wrap top, but the underlayer doesn't go all the way down, which I like because it cuts down on bulk and cups under the boob to make the neckline stay in place. It has turquoise in the print, so with the brown, it is also very ME.

A very sheer organza blouse. I will wear a cami under this one. But I love those colors and for summer (which will probably be here in about 5 weeks), I'm imagining a coral or cream skirt instead of brown. I'm also thinking of chopping the sleeves to 3/4 or shorter, since they're too long for me anyway. I know I don't have short arms, so what's with all the gorilla sleeves?

This blouse already has 3/4 sleeves. Much better. It's a little snug, but I'm not popping buttons and I will shrink into it soon enough. For summer, I'm thinking a linen skirt to go with this one. And my leopard-y pumps.

A sleeveless, lined shell with cross-over tie thing at the vee neck, which you can't see at all in this pic. This one is actually a little big but I'm going to take it in at the sideseams and/or waist darts. I love the colors on me, so a little fixing up will be worth it. It will look good with that coral or cream skirt I'm already planning for the organza blouse.

The one heartbreaker of the bunch. This blouse is SO pretty. Off of me. It's got a flounce on one side and a banded vee neckline on the non-flounce side. I love the color, and the fabric feels like silk (but is washable poly). Unfortunately, it just doesn't fit and never will. It's too tight at the bust, too long in the sleeves, too "something" at the armholes, and it looks very boxy on me, which I didn't realize until I saw this pic. I'm sure I could copy it, but I probably won't. Oh well. They can't all be home runs and now I have an excuse to visit the brick and mortar CWC at the mall when I return it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sewing Weekend, Part 3

The plaid skirt I set out to make is done except for the hem, which will only take a few minutes — especially since my coverstitcher is already threaded and ready. I didn't add a kick pleat to this one, but I lined it since the plaid knit is very soft and I was afraid of Velcro-butt when wearing with pantyhose. I found a pair of PJs pants from which to nick some elastic, thereby avoiding an impulse trip to Joann's.

The main reason I omitted the kick pleat was this fabric was a PITA to lay straight on my cutting table. It's very drapey, even laying flat. I ended up cutting single layer, which was tedious enough with only half a pattern. I didn't want to risk a center back seam that was off just a smidge. Luckily, my OCD (and a gazillion pins) paid off and my side seams match exactly.

I like the skirt a lot. The only problem is that it's going to be an orphan unless/until I find/make something to wear with it.

Instead of starting on the top from the coordinating solid fabric, I decided I'm sending the fabric back. The color is perfect, but the knit is just not a nice knit. This (and the other colors I bought at the same time, which are also going back) are's single knit jerseys. Don't buy any. Luckily my 30-day return window still has 2 more days so I'm within the time limit. I don't even want any of this for crappy muslins.

So now I'm going to go veg for a while in front of the tube while shopping online fabric and apparel retailers to see what I can come up with. It's going to be hard to match the wine color so I'm thinking a drapey white blouse would work, with a scarf or a vest or something. I like to dress "in three's." I was hoping my off-white twinset would do, but the contrast in the plaid is white, not off-white, and the two (three?) don't look good together.

And now I see why the Muse was telling me to make those other items first. She was right.

Sewing Weekend, Part 2

I'm obviously suffering from Sewing ADD this weekend as this is clearly not the plaid Magic Pencil skirt I went upstairs to sew per last post. Although it IS plaid and it IS a Magic Pencil skirt.

Again, "old" fabric was yelling louder than the new piece, and since my machines were already set up with the appropriate color threads …

I bought this fabric back in July or August from Joann's (of all places), when I was getting ready to sew interview clothes. I'm not usually a windowpane plaid kind of girl but this one spoke to me then, and it made itself heard again tonight. To match the plaids across the sideseams, I had to really eek it out, cutting the hem of the front piece on the same cut as the waist of the back pieces and I still came out a little short on the front hem. But I serged it all even (mostly) and no one will ever be the wiser. I really have no idea how I was ever going to get a skirt from this piece back in August when (1) I was wider and (2) I didn't yet have this great pattern. It's a good thing I let it age.

This fabric is a stretch woven and I wasn't sure if there was enough stretch to enable the skirt to still fit without alteration, since my previous makes of it were from knits. I sewed 1/4" side seam allowances instead of the 1/2" per the pattern and the skirt fits perfectly. Whew! I really should've played it safer and cut bigger seam allowances but for some reason, it just didn't occur to me until it was too late. I also added a back kick pleat to this one but lowered the start of the opening 3/4" since the first one I made with a kick pleat was nearly too high.

The wine plaid skirt is actually cut out but … I'm now out of elastic. Figures! I'm going to run through Joann's tomorrow before I hit the grocery store and hope I find something suitable, or I'll have to wait for an internet order to arrive. Although the thought is now crossing my mind that maybe I can steal some from too-big pants or a skirt Hmmm, not sure if all that ripping out will be worth it and I don't think I have any waistbands that are free casings instead of serged on and turned/topstitched.

Well, I suppose I could always work on the top instead … or whatever else that distracts me.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sewing Weekend, Part 1

(No, this is not a plaid Magic Pencil skirt, but that's coming.) I've had this sweater knit for a couple of months and it caught my eye one evening this past week and told me it needed to be sewn NOW. I didn't argue. I even picked out a pattern during the week and managed to get the tissue pressed and cut on Thursday, the one night in the last couple of weeks that I actually left work on time. Yesterday was another late one, with more coming next week. But I don't mind, and I love those overtime infused paychecks. Perfect for more SHOES. ;-)

I started cutting the fabric about 11 AM and then constructed until about 5 PM, with a LOT of breaks like dog outings, lunch, laundry. So it wasn't a solid 6 hours. Probably more like 4 and a good chunk of that time was spent making a perfect narrow hem on the bottom peplum/flounce. I decided to do a good job on this one and slow it down. Plus, I had my eyes half on catching up on the first 5 episodes of the new American Idol auditions, which is my favorite part of the show next to Steven Tyler doing anything. (My first-born son isn't named Tyler for naught!)

There was a little bit of potential trickiness around the neck/shoulders sewing the continuous neckband on with a pivot, but I paid attention to what I was doing and it went well. It's a nice design feature, giving the cardi princess seams on the front and a more shaped collar band in the back, with forward-sitting shoulder seams. The sleeves are sewn in the round by necessity due to the order of construction and they are actually decent sleeves that don't wrinkle/fold when my arms are hanging down. I left off the flounces at the wrists because they'd just get in my way and I really don't need any extra flounce at the hip on top of the peplum/flounce.

I cut a straight 16 and made no alterations and I'm happy with the fit. If I make it again, though, I will shorten the upper bodice a little so the "waist" seam hits me higher and the cardi ends up shorter. But that's a personal preference thing, not a fit thing, because the lengths on me are pretty much just like the envelope. I'll model it as soon as I figure out what the heck to wear under it. So right now, it's a semi-orphan but it won't be for long because I really want to wear it.

Here's the pattern envelope and line drawings, since I always want to see those when someone else blogs about weird pattern pieces. Piece 4,5,6,7,8,9 are what's relevant here.

As soon as I post this, I'm heading back to the sewing room to cut out and sew that plaid Magic Pencil. Tomorrow, I'll be sewing the top from the solid, around fitting in a trip to the grocery store.

I had thought I had this pattern in my stash …

… but it turns out I have this one instead, the Plus version. Sigh. It's too big now. So I think I'm going to try morphing the neck treatment onto my Ottobre tee, which itself is too big but I can just sew bigger sideseams to fix that. I'm going for the red-misses/blue-plus top, not the dress.

Speaking of shoes, my Zappos order arrived Thursday and is already on its way back. I struck out. One pair was too big and I was stepping right out of them and the other pair was iffy, even though I loved how they looked. I just don't do iffy anymore, and definitely not with 3-4" heels.

My Coldwater Creek order arrived Friday and I have some keepers. I'm sure I'll stage a modeling session soon. Wait 'til you see the skirt I forgot I ordered. It's SO ME. One blouse will have to go back, even though I love it. It's too tight in the bust and the sleeves are gorilla length. I wish there was a pattern somewhere for it, because I'd love to have one that actually fits (although I don't know how much I'd love to be sewing charmeuse!). In fact, I wish there were patterns for everything I bought. None of it is complex, but I just don't have time to try to draft each of the unique style elements. This is why I've been known to buy doubles and take one apart for a pattern. I'm almost tempted, but not at Coldwater Creek prices, even sale prices.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ready for Launch

The launch went well today and the day was relatively low-key, but tomorrow will be the test since the new website wasn't switched over until late this afternoon and even then was running v-e-r-y s-l-o-w due to DNS replicating. Don't you love it when I talk all geekie? ;-)

In my department, we all decided we'd wear the new brand colors (blue, red, green, yellow) to "celebrate" and this was my outfit. Our new look also incorporates lots of patterns (repetitive, not sewing!), so I did doubly well with my skirt as part of my look.

This will be the last time wearing this skirt until I take it in because it's now about 2" too big around the waist. I should've tried it on last week, but truthfully I probably still wouldn't have done anything about it due to lack of time/energy in the evenings, although I actually left the office on time tonight, for the first time in about two weeks. Yay! The twinset is also on the big side, especially in the shoulders, but it will just be removed from the wardrobe once I can't stand it anymore. The skirt should be easy to take in since I did make it with taking-in in mind. Famous last words, and I won't count on that until it's actually done. For now, it's being added to the ironing board pile, and the next time I make this skirt pattern, I'm definitely adding a kick pleat in the back because it really needs one.

Now I'm going to go catch up on some reading while waiting for Project Runway to come on.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Like a Sardine

This is Tyler's new "home" for the next few weeks as his unit goes off into the ocean on a MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit, a ship very much like an aircraft carrier) for some training exercises. It puts his land-based barracks into a whole new light, as in you don't fully appreciate what you've got until it's gone. He'll be living like this come June for about 6 months, when his unit is in full deployment. My poor little sardine. ;-) But, speaking as his mom, I'd rather this for him than the Middle East sandbox, even if he probably doesn't agree.

Our big launch at work is tomorrow. I've been putting in some long hours, but there's a little light at the end of that tunnel now and we won't be quite as stressed and hurried. I've had some very nice compliments this week for going above and beyond, and reassurance that the higher-ups in my department will be doing everything they can to assure that I *will* be staying permanently. Yay! So hopefully that means it's just a matter of working out the formalities at this point, once we can all take a breath. I'll continue to be patient because it will be worth it in the long run.

Meredith – you asked about a pair of shoes. They are Easy Spirit brand and I saw them still available on Zappos last night, when I might have ordered another pair. Or two. Ahem. I kept the spotty pumps from the last order and am still deciding on the mustard colored pumps. The brown platforms are going back, though. I decided they were just a little too-too.My name is Debbie and I'm a shoe-aholic.

I also might have ordered some sale items from Coldwater Creek, which I'm really hoping fit because I just haven't had time to sew. But after really trying to shop online last night from bed on my Kindle (have I mentioned how much I love that Kindle!!), I was reassured that I *have* to sew. I couldn't find very many things I even wanted to buy. Wrong color, wrong style, wrong price, etc., etc. You all know the drill. I'm definitely making that plaid Magic Pencil skirt this weekend or I'm going to go CRAZY! I want a whole wardrobe of those skirts—they are just perfect for me.

Off to make my lunch for tomorrow and hop into my jammies. It's going to be a busy day since MY phone number was given as the main contact for new website issues. Gulp.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

M5523: Good Things Come To Those Who … Procrastinate

Of course as soon I post that I'm not going to be sewing for a while, I sewed. I just had to, for the sake of my mental well-being. You know how it is. I went into the office and worked from 9:30-4:00 today and I kept daydreaming about my machines nearly the whole time. I'll be working probably as long tomorrow but I may decide to do it from home since I don't want to miss any football, and maybe I can take a few sewing breaks in between. It's nice to have the choice, right?

As soon as I got home this afternoon, I finished two cammie purses that had been waiting (and making me feel guilty), and then I turned my attention to my ironing board, where I have things piled up on one end that I want to do *something* to, to make the items in the stack wearable again.I may never catch up with that pile but I can't bear to just toss some things yet.

Today, I finished up McCall's 5523, three months later. I sewed most of this skirt back in October and since I wasn't really happy with the fit, I let it sit. In that time, I got smaller and the skirt got bigger. Now the problem wasn't that it was too tight but too loose. Over the last month or so, I'd been trying it on and thinking about partially ripping out the princess seams and sewing them smaller but that thought made my eyes glaze over and the skirt continued to live in the pile. 

Back in October, I had faced the waist with grosgrain ribbon but I hadn't tacked it down yet. Today, I stitched it down from the right side 5/8" down from the waist edge and then I threaded 1/2" elastic through my slapdash casing. It's a quick and easy solution but, hey, it works (and it doesn't even look bad on the inside). It will also give me more time to wear the skirt as I continue to shrink. I love losing the weight, but I'm starting to get a little pissed that some of my favorite things are too big (see comment above about ironing board pile). ;-) Yeah, I could have bigger problems, I know.

My waist is now 36" and seeing that skirt with elastic scrunching it up even more was amazing to me. I can't believe how SMALL that skirt looks on a hanger. Like, how in the world can that be MY skirt? Until recently, my skirts have overhung the width of a hanger, and then some. Now they don't. If you've always been thin, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about, but my plus-size sisters will understand. It's a victory nearly as satisfying as watching the numbers on the scale head south.

One good thing about my skirt being bigger (and me smaller) is that I gained length due to less terrain for the skirt to cover. Plus my knee fat is finally starting to subside so I'm OK with a shorter hem now. Hence no need to face the hem as I was contemplating back in October. Hence. Who says hence in real life (besides me)?

So, here's the finished skirt from the front:

And the back. I really should've checked those seams before the photo since they're sitting a little off-center. Oh well. You get the idea.

Here's me back in October. I can't believe how much thinner my face is now.

The butt is still hanging on, though. ;-)

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Just a very quick update to say that I'm SO BUSY with work right now that I don't have any spare energy for sewing or blogging or much of anything really. Our new brand/logo materials and website launch is in just a few short days and we're SO BEHIND due to a shall-remain-nameless web coding/hosting company that leaves a lot to be desired. Needless to say, everyone in my department is putting in lots and lots of hours. I just got home (8PM) tonight, worked all last weekend and every evening, and will be working this weekend too. I'm racking up lots of overtime $$, and hopefully even more HIRE-ME!!! points which is good, but the bottom line is I'm pooped. There's so much to do that won't get done by launch day, which makes me pretty confident I'll be around for quite a while even if I'm not hired on permanently. But really, they do need another body permanently so I remain optimistic. I think they're waiting for the dust to settle a bit, which I understand. There's been so much going on. I'm just impatient and wish I knew for sure so I can start making life plans.

Thank you all for the kind comments about Pepper. While we'll definitely miss her, she was 16 and so it wasn't really an unexpected shock. She went pretty quickly at the end and seemed to be pain-free. Alex took it the hardest, as Pepper was around almost as long as he's been. The other two pups have been extremely snuggly ever since. Do you think they're afraid we'll scoot them out next? ;-) Not a chance! I have to say that it's very nice to have them around to help fill the void.

I'll be absent from the blog for a while longer, but know that everything is OK. There's just not enough hours in the day to do it all. And, geez ... I WANT TO SEW!! There's a plaid Magic Pencil skirt burning a hole in my brain and I've had the fabric prewashed and ready for DAYS.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Goodbye Pepper

April 26, 1996 - January 12, 2012

We'll miss you.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

V1257: Finished

The dress is done, or will be after I hem the gorilla sleeves, and I strongly DO NOT recommend this pattern, at least not as is. What a PITA, especially when there are other great wrap and faux wrap patterns available.

The sleeves are the main deal breakers and if I make this again using this bodice, I will definitely cut out the sleeve portion and morph sleeves and armhole from another knit pattern as I showed last post. After adding 2" to the width and sewing the bicep area with 1/4" seam allowances, they are technically not too tight. But they are close to being snug and worse, they feel weird, with the stretch running lengthwise. Like Spanx for your arms.

But there were other problems too. I probably can't explain it well without photos, but the part on the skirt where the faux knot goes requires that you slit it at the waist in two areas. That's OK. But then the directions tell you to use double-fold bias binding to finish the slits. Um, no. First, it's a knit. Second, what a PITA. I just turned the edge under and topstitched it down. No one is ever going to see it anyway because it's hidden by the knot.

And speaking of the knot, you make a tube and then gather each end, with the end result to be a gathered knot. Which just doesn't happen. If you DO make this dress, skip that step.

The pattern is higher waisted than the line drawings lead you (me) to believe. It's not empire but the waist seam is definitely not at my waist. This is actually OK on me, because it's hitting me at a good spot. Just a warning to look out for this if you're looking for a dress waist that actually sits at the waist. I also left off the clear elastic I was supposed to sew onto the waist seam allowances for stability. It's a good idea for some fabrics, but this one is fine without it.

Finally, and not really the fault of the pattern, is that there are a good number of pleats to mark and sew and marking was nearly impossible on this fabric, unless I were to use tailor tacks. Which I'm not, because you know how I love handsewing. And making pleats in an ITY knit is headache-inducing, but I muddled through with an I-don't-really-care-if-it's-not-perfect attitude. The inside of this dress is NOT pretty. But knits are forgiving and I'm not going to be flashing anyone the inside of my dress. (Unless that guy from the elevator asks!)

I added tie ends under the knot, which do not show in photos at all. But they do show in real life and I like how they look. The give the faux wrap a little more realism. ;-)

See what I mean about the gorilla sleeves? OMG.

Now all that said, except for the sleeves and adding another 1-1/2" to the bottom, I made no other alterations, always a plus. And, I think the dress looks pretty good on me so I'll definitely wear it. As soon as I forget those horrendous drafting and construction errors. And once I do forget, I may even have a moment of crazy and make it again.

Random Thoughts - The Photo Edition

1. This stuff is great. If you color your hair, buy it.

2. See. While my undyed hair is/used to be pretty much this red color and my roots are not glaring, I do have grays and they show up in the growth, especially at temples/forehead. Ug. All gone for another month. At $1.99 per box on sale, I bought 3 the other day. 

It was beauty day today. I got my nails done this morning and gave myself a semi-pedicure (trim, repolish)

3. These are snakeskin with a faint leopard print, black shiny heels, and big gold buckles. Sitting down pics because I can keep the camera steadier this way, not because I'm lazy. ;-)

4. Mustard with a croc texture, 1/2" platforms, pointy toes.

5. Brown, with a bigger croc texture, 3/4" platforms. Awesome, no? Actually, they are all awesome. How will I ever decide? But another good thing about Zappos is that I have 365 days to decide, as long as they stay unworn, so I will see where my sewing (and buying) leads me before I make a final decision.

6. These are the shoes I last bought but didn't get a good pic of. Brown "penny loafer" pumps. Saucy secretary vibe, right?

7. Burda knit wrap/tie top from a few years ago. Remember how popular it was? I had outgrown it for a few years but I pulled it out this morning. It's now loose in the hips so it has a peplum thing going on. I kinda like that.

8. The dirty secret? I have to pin the underlayer to my bra so it stays up.

9. Both bodice pieces complete and attached to the back, sleeves sewn. STUPIDEST bodice design ever, and really up there for poor drafting (those sleeves). There is absolutely no reason for dolman in the front and set-in in the back. It's the mullet of sleeve design, and it's a total royal pain in the ASS to sew.

10. If I make this again, I would just cut off that horrible sleeve and morph a good sleeve and armhole onto the pattern. It would be very easy to do (see the pic), and I'm still considering it for this version. It will mean ripping out those painful sleeves and sideseams which is fiddly in a poly knit. I'm going to go try on the sleeves one more time and then decide one way or the other. I really like the rest of the design of the dress so I don't want to give up completely. But the mullet sleeves? Reeee-dic!

11. Part of the fabric delivery from Friday. The plaid is a rayon knit which will become a Magic Pencil skirt. The knit solid will be a top to match. It will be very cute, and NOT brown. ;-)

12. I took 43 pics just to get these 11.Crazy.