Sunday, September 10, 2017

Great British Sewing Bee Live

Thanks, sweet readers, for your nice comments about the easy peasy floorcloth in my last post.  It must be impressive in person, too.  I had 20+ people over for a barbecue/potluck last night and at least a half dozen of them asked me about it and admired how it turned out.  One neighbor asked me to make him one and I told him that it's just like my sewing for others requests....I'm slow and expensive, probably not the combination he was looking for.

So now the party is over, the refrigerator food and summer produce are almost used more batch of tomato soup for the freezer...and Mr. Lucky and I are headed out this week for another adventure.  A wonderful friend (and trust me, she was wonderful even before she made this offer) has invited us to enjoy a house trade she has made starting mid-week.  Yes, we fly to London on Wednesday evening then take the train out to Cornwall to spend a week in one of my favorite parts on England. We'll be staying only 10 miles from the magical Tintagel and are packing our hiking boots, poles...and rainwear...for lots of long walks, pub meals (yummy Cornish pasties) tea, relaxing and reading.  

But I'm not writing this to tell you my trip plans but to share the happy sewing news that it just so happens that the Great British Sewing Bee Live is in London when we are there the following week.  I'm one of the American groupies who has watched all four seasons via youtube and a Virtual Private Network service....and cheered when the best British seamstress award went to Ann Rowley (a generous and frequent poster on Stitchers Guild Ann's Flickr albums) in season one.  Yes, I understand the time pressures, the uneven skill sets among the participants but it is refreshing to have judging done on some particular standards and for less person to person drama than in American "reality" series.  So when I learned that there was a sewing expo in London I immediately bought my tickets. The Great British Sewing Bee Live I'll be there in the exhibit hall on Friday, watching the Vogue fashion show, visiting the Liberty fashion display and seeing the GBSB stage show on Friday afternoon.  Saturday I am signed up for a class on tambour beading and of course more shopping.  If you see a happy American blogger wandering around with a grin on her face, please stop me and say hello.  I really am a lucky sew and sew.  
Off to pack for the trip. Here's hoping you have something in your life today making you feel like a lucky person too.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fabric Afoot

This time last year Mr. Lucky and I were happily moving back into our renovated and redecorated kitchen and family room.  One change for us was to carry the hard wood floors into our kitchen space, removing the former no clean no wax vinyl flooring.  We bought new wool dhurrie rugs for the dining and sitting area but wondered what to do in th kitchen.  I had seen a great contemporary design floorcloth covering at the Baltimore American Craft Council show and thought perhaps I would paint my own floorcloth.  Well, one of these days I might just do that.  But in the meantime I needed something practical and cleanable in the kitchen area.  We have been using a matching wool rug...a mistake was made for the dining area version so we had it cut down, professionally edged...but that wasn't going to be a long term solution, especially with jam making and tomato sauce making season arriving soon.
When all else fails, spend hours on Pinterest...and that's where this inexpensive, relatively easy project came about.  Most of the time floorcloths are either primed and painted canvas or else the 20th century version, primed and painted vinyl flooring remnants. How about combining the two and actually just cover the vinyl flooring (the most inexpensive piece I could find at Home Depot) by spray gluing some fabric in place 
Floorcloth from cotton fabric wrapped over vinyl flooring

then coating it with four layers of satin finish poly acrylic.  I was sure I would have to go out and find some fabric to coordinate with my new color scheme but surprise, surprise, I actually had something in my resource center that doesn't look bad for a temporary solution.  I bought maybe five yards of this cotton canvas cloth for I think $1 or $2 per yard, intending to use it for making some coat or long jacket mock ups.  
Gluing the fabric to the vinyl on our basement floor

Let's give the appropriate credit to this blogger for giving me the idea:  Easy Floorcloth

Previous temporary wool rug
But it turns out that the colors are neutral enough to blend in with my color scheme.   I would still like to paint something more fun and contemporary next year but even if I don't, my kitchen wood floors are protected, I have a washable floor covering and I think I spent a total of $50 for the whole project.  Just another reason I can justify those frequent Fabric Mart visits.
Lucky wanting to know if kitchen tidbits would still fall on this kitchen floor covering.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summer Sewing

"All in all, it was a never to be forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world."
—Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams
Oh, that Anne of Green Gable, her and that cheerful optimism and love for life.  I have just started watching the new Netflix version of those beloved books while working in my sewing space.  The new series is most likely more psychologically true to the real experiences of a young orphan although I still prefer my memories of reading the books and the mid-'80s TV series.  But any version of these novels is an antidote when the pain, hurt and anger in the world seem overwhelming.  I get to escape to my sewing room, to my books and to happy memories of the summer season almost ending now.  
Two months ago I promised a mini-travelogue on our bike and barge trip but haven't sat down for enough time at the computer to sort pictures and write it up (for my memory more than anything you might find interesting.) However, since I did complete some sewing projects this summer I do want to get them posted, once again primarily for my own record.  Most of these are repeats of some of my TNT patterns so I will post them altogether and call this summer season sewing officially closed.  Labor Day was yesterday here in the US and that holiday means back to school, back to work and now back to more structured and ambitious sewing projects...and maybe even back to more frequent blogging.  So here are the summer projects that kept me busy and happy in my sewing space:

McCalls 7357 tunic
This McCalls 7357 is one of my very favorite "new patterns...meaning yes, it is still available in the catalog.  This one is a lightweight poly with burnout flowers, Fabric Mart, of course and I was particularly flattered when a sewing friend thought it was RTW when I brought it to our sewing meeting last week.  I brought it because I am raving about the potential of this pattern...bust cup sizes, princess seams with that small Euro dart (what the heck is the name of that small dart on a princess seam?) and a three piece sleeve.  This is my third version and I see several more in my future.  There's a lot of ease to the pattern so this is a light and airy summer tunic but I would like to change up the neckline, take out some ease and use it for a knit as well as a woven.
Tabula Rasa Knit Tunic pattern

I could make this pattern up in my sleep.  Another one of my TNT patterns, Tabula Rasa Knit Tunic from Fit for Art  Rae Cumbie is a local friend of mine and I couldn't be happier that her patterns are succeeding in the marketplace.  This one is a fun Fabric Mart rayon knit, fairly lightweight so I don't know how many seasons of wear I will get.  But I wore it to attend a summer lecture on the upcoming solar eclipse (Maryland was in the 80% + path) and someone remarked that it looked like there were moons and planets in the print.  I tried something new for me after watching Marcy Tilton's video on her blog and laid the front pattern piece on the bias.  As she noted, knits don't have grain per se and I like the freedom I get to arrange the fabric as I like.  Seems just as stable as my normal method and gave me real flexibility.  
Vogue 8691
Vogue 8691

Another rayon knit, this one a little beefier and warmer, perfect for fall days.  Vogue 8691 is a Katherine Tilton for Vogue pattern and I love the princess seams, the flounce and mini-mermaid look in the back.  I never do a pretty job attaching those flounces but the gypsy boho fashion thing means not even my sewing friends examine that part up close.
Kwik Sew 3740
OMG, this TNT pattern is ancient in sewing fashion terms.  Kwik Sew 3740 was the buzz at least ten+ years ago for the unique way to managed a cowl neckline without the fear of exposure when you bent down the retrieve something.  I waited a year or two or three before I made one and still wear that one happily to this day.  I loved the summery watery colors in this fabric and it's a lighter than usual rayon blend that feels like and drape-y.  Seems like it was worth holding on to this pattern just to have a new summer top with truly a "quick sew."
Burda 6809
Staying in the same color wave, Burda 6809 has stolen my heart.  This is my second one done in a poly burnout but this time with the collar added, not just with the collar band.  Cute little neckline detail, a little different from so many tunics out there and a two piece sleeve make this one a real winner for me.  I think a linen dress version would be perfect for hot muggy days and once again, maybe even a knit version.

Vogue 8997
Now, in my mind and my mirror I'm as beautiful as the young woman in the catalog wearing Vogue 8997.  That's how much a twirly girly dress can affect your senses.  I made this pattern last summer in a bright pink and cherry red print and this summer I took ten inches out of the skirt circumference and did the water color wave version.  What an absolutely fun dress for dancing in and I highly recommend this very versatile pattern.  There's a two piece sleeve that I have to try and a sheath version and with bust cup sizing this could turn from fun and silly to great mother of the bride outfit.
Stitch and flip jacket

Last one in my turquoise summer love is another stitch and flip jacket.  This is my TNT princess seam jacket and I have raved before about my love for this technique taught on Patternreview by the late gifted and kind Shannon Gifford.  I had actually demonstrated this technique at my sewing meeting early last fall.  It's so easy to do, I exclaimed, as I stitched together the jacket back along with its lining in about thirty minutes....and then left the unfinished project in my sewing room for months!!!  In one of my mad, use or lose it cleaning frenzies I decided to actually finish it.  The trim is just more of the raw silk cut on the bias and zig zagged on the edges and I added pieces of a blue plastic zipper from the old PA Fabric Outlet (boy do I miss that place for its notions.)  I added the pocket trim by hand to curve the bias so you can see those stitches inside, if you are looking.  I add small shoulder pads as well which means that I have to hand sew the lining of the sleeve to the body of the jacket so there is a little hand work but not as much by far as doing the traditional "French jacket" version.  The jacket feels like wearing a sweatshirt and packs wonderfully and the colors make me so happy.
Jalie 3461 Elenore Jeans
Yes, summer is winding down so I squeezed in another pair of Jalie Elenore Pull on Jeans in a black and white Fabric Mart stretch woven transitional print.  I love this RTW lace top from Stein Mart and am always on the lookout for tiny print stretch woven to sew up for pants.  
Wow, that was an interesting retrospective for me.  I have so many other things going on that I feel as though I don't get enough sewing done but it's nice to see that I actually did accomplish some projects and have enjoyed wearing them.  No new big discoveries, just terrific TNT patterns that fit my life.  Here's hoping you have sewing goals and projects that do the same for you.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Will Travel for Fabric and Friendship

Hello, again, dear readers and sewing enthusiasts   I am back from a trip of a lifetime and yes, it does include fabric (no surprise) but also a highlight, meeting up with a fellow sewing blogger whom I have admired for a decade.  
When I mentioned on another blog that I was traveling to Amsterdam in 2017, Sigrid, of the informative, inspiring and so very creative blog, Sigrid Sewing projects emailed me with an offer to meet in person.  Not only did she take the time to meet up with me after returning from her own holiday trip (and we know how much there is to do at home after travels) but she even went along enthusiastically with my last minute request to visit the famous Kantje Boord shop Kantje Boord Amsterdam  Sigrid gave me great instructions about taking the tram from central Amsterdam and maybe 20 minutes later, there I was at the gateway to lingerie paradise.  Now, I don't even make my own lingerie but Sigrid's exquisite creations of the years have always jumped right off the screen because of their beauty and sophistication.  
We spotted each other easily.  Let's face it, after years of posting blog pictures of our successes and sometimes failures, we are rather familiar with the external appearance of our online sewing friends.  But what will we be like in person when we meet?  After 30 20 10 seconds of uncertainty we were off and chatting away.  Sigrid's generosity and helpfulness on her own blog were matched in person as she guided me through this amazing store.  I can share pictures but pictures don't do this justice.  The staff are friendly and helpful and even I, a lingerie newby, just had to buy some things to see if I too can create lovely lingerie items.
By now you probably want to see some pictures so here they are:

Lunch in the sunshine after the hard work of fabric selecting and shopping
My haul selections:
The lace on my "shoulders" are wide laces that are sold in "mirrored" pieces so you can make sure the two sides of a bra or nightgown match.  I loved the lace immediately and when I went to purchase it the helpful staff brought out the coordinating embroidered net fabric and thinner lace trim to go over the elastic straps.  Wow, I will have to up my skills to do this collection justice.

I loved this floral print lace because different color fabrics underneath highlighted different flowers in the print.  Again, when I went to buy the lace it turned out there was a coordinated print net fabric.

One of the nice things about purchasing lace at Kantje Boord is that they will help you put together all the other elastics and fixings for bras.  In this picture is another lace that I simply fell in love with while gazing at the hundreds available.  Sigrid was so right when she said that no one has ever said, oh, yes, I have a place like this in my town.  

There are several other rooms similar to this filled with treasures of fabric and notions.  The gentlemen in the store were being patient just like Mr. Lucky is when I am fabric binging.  But even though I don't speak a word of Dutch I could certainly understand the teasing as the women were selecting printed knit fabrics.  Do you think either of these fellows would like to wear undies with kittens wearing tiaras or windmills and clogs?  Humor and teasing are obvious in any language.
I saw this lace and just had to have since those are my colors.  I'm sure it will coordinate with something in my fabric resource center;-)

I didn't mean to enable Sigrid but even she could not resist a few purchases.  The black and pink lace being measured is so sophisticated.

The displays of completed projects is wonderful as well.  Here are only half of the pictures I took.

I already own two books on sewing lingerie and the bra making class from Craftsy.  I appreciate the guidance on fit and construction which always does come first. But I must say, for style inspiration this is the place to go.  I don't know when I am going to focus my attention on lingerie sewing but when I do, Sigrid's blog and Kantje Boord will be my creative muses.

Sigrid also told me that Amsterdam holds a weekly fabric market so patient Mr. Lucky accompanied me Monday morning while I perused and touched the many selections.  I did end up buying a few more items, not as good quality perhaps as at Kantje Boord, but good to use for my first future attempts.
Monday fabric mart finds
I didn't limit myself to lace, however, and couldn't resist the low prices on these two knit fabrics, one a faux leather that might be leggings or a skirt and one a flocked ponte like knit that might be a dress.

And one splurge:

Remember the lace RTW dress that I just altered for a recent wedding? Nordstrom's blue dress with lace overlay I think this fabric would make a great version with a dark tan dress and fabric flange on a lace overlay.

Well, it's time to finish my unpacking, bill paying, grocery shopping, cooking, weeding and other normal life routines.  Next up I will post about the actual boat and bike trip and later about the fabulous Balenciaga exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  Until then, a big shout out again to Sigrid for her kindness. 

Wishing that we lived closer but happy that we can still keep in touch through this medium.  Here's hoping that you having sewing friends who lift your spirits, keep challenging you and share your passion.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Me Made May '17

Yes, I was able to wear something I had made every day in May.  No, I didn't take a picture every day so you'll have to take my word for it.  And yes, I did complete four items for my wardrobe...although "items" might be stretching it a bit.  
When I was working on my packing and sewing plan for our European trip the weather was cold and rainy and nasty.  There still may be rain but the temps have warmed up quite nicely so one of these two garments will not be joining us on vacation today.

This is a silk from Fabric Mart that I just hd to have when I saw the colors.  I love the burgundy and the pinks and the brown and knew it would be a great kimono jacket.  It's the now almost classic Simplicity 1318 still in the catalog.  
I lined it with a burgundy silk georgette just to give it a little more warmth.  I'm wearing it with the second new item, a Margarita tank top in brown poly, definitely making the trip with me.
Does this kimono need a passport?
Then I wanted another rayon knit tunic and turned to another TNT pattern from this past fall, Butterick 5925, a Katherine Tilton pattern.
Or does this tunic need a passport?

The fourth item in May was this striped infinity scarf with the hidden pocket.  Ok, not an entire garment but I will get a lot of use out of it in June.

The winner....yes, the Butterick tunic.  I am a lucky girl to be able to go on this trip and count my blessings each day.  Here's hoping you are having some good luck in your sewing room.  No blogging for several weeks but I will see you on Instagram.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Travel Packing and Travel Sewing.

What do you find most difficult/frustrating/annoying/challenging about traveling?  Airport waits and security check ins?  Baggage fees and fears about lost bags?  Packing decisions for your destination and all its weather possibilities?  Cell phone data plans and sketchy wifi?Last minute sewing and finishing to make the deadline?  My answer, all of the above.  All of a sudden Mr. Lucky and I are on a whirlwind of travel over the next several much so that a friend asked me if there was some illness that he didn't know about?!  No illness, I am happy to report,  just a tight, full schedule of events.  
One of most anticipated trips starts at the very end of this month when we are finally off to our Bruges/Amsterdam/London trip. We'll be joining a one week bike and barge trip from Bruges to Amsterdam.  Let's face it, that's the easiest part of packing.  I need layers of leisure wear, padded bike leggings, my bike helmet and a rain jacket.  They told us to bring rain pants.  No, I'll pass on that and just get my leggings wet if it rains during the day....or sit on the barge with a  good book if the rains are present all day long like they were here in Baltimore recently.
The hard part of the packing and anticipated sewing project is what to plan for the evenings of those weeks and for the seven or eight "city" days that we have on our own. I admit it, I like clothes and I like variety and those "likes" don't always mesh with easy travel packing....especially when half of that packing is already taken up with "activewear."   So I am auditioning outfits and working out combinations.  Here are some of thoughts so far and what I am sewing next week to fill in a few gaps.

Color scheme: black, of course, the traveler's standby, along with brown...actually one of my favorite neutral combinations.  I've been assembling outfits to audition them and here's the grouping so far.  One problem already is that the weather has gone from very chilly temperatures in Belgium and The Netherlands to far more lovelier forecasts....which means I'll be reevaluating these outfits in the next few days.

Fun RTW leggings and a Tilton ITY knit top
Tabula Rasa knit top that served me well in London two years ago...and the scarf has a hidden pocket.

RTW Chicos lightweight anorak look with Margarita tank top
Style Arc Elle pants and RTW sweater
Chicos sweater and another pair of Elle pants
Silk kimono Simplicity1318 with same pants

I think I would like one more tunic and one more tank top sewn before we leave although I certainly have RTW ones that would coordinate if time gets away from me...which it often does.  There's gardening to do as well now that it is warm enough to put in the 60 caladium bulbs and a few other fun things on my calendar.  Yes, truly a lucky girl lives in my house.

Weeks two and three of Me Made May17 have zoomed by. Mr. Lucky and I flew down to the South Carolina Low Country for the most amazing family wedding weekend.  Loved seeing cousins and their children for a happy reason, were awed by my cousin's new home....just completed in time for the festivities and even got to visit with a childhood classmate who moved to the area.  So here are some of those mid-month Me Made May items:
Elle pants go to the Delaware beach
Draped front cardigan from Pamela's Patterns, self-drafted travel purse, Bathrobe from the Tabula Rasa jacket pattern
Berry season means time in the kitchen in a Simplicity Daisy Kingdom apron with Maryland crab appliqué

Low Country South Carolina sunset in a Vogue cardigan
My favorite Jalie Elenore pant and my adorable cousin once removed
The adjusted wedding dress in poor lighting.  The hidden strip of fabric worked perfectly to invisibly lengthen the dress to my knee level.

Burda sheath dress and the wonderful fabric flower from Latvia for Sunday morning brunch.

So back to the packing and deciding and sewing.  I hope you have something in your sewing room that has you smiling with anticipation.