Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sewing Project: Wool/Silk Herringbone Coat - Post 2

No doubt, I will play with the Butterick 5145 pattern to delete the back pleat:

Wearing ease should still be OK in the shorter version. With my 9" difference between waist and hip, the pleat may bring a very eye-catching but unflattering result. Plus if the folds don't lie flat when sitting, they get wrinkled and messy.
I want to achieve the clean back lines of Simplicity 4033:

However now that I visit Butterick to get the 5145 technical picture, I see this coat, Butterick 5295:

It fits much of my criteria: clean lines, not double-breasted, chest shaping, no belt, back detail that may work for hourglass shape with defined waist and swayback. I would delete the hip pockets -- don't need extra bulk there -- and instead do side seam set-in pockets. Unless there's something about those hip pockets that may actually make the hip look slimmer. I'd have to play with how it looks.

I love many of the Burda WOF patterns. But for my first go-around with a coat, I'd like more detail in the directions. Big 4 surely don't give everything, but I've learned enough to supplement them. Still need more guidance than Burda WOF may give.

Yummy Yummy Eye Candy

Check out Stof & Stil.

Download the PDF catalog. Takes awhile even on broadband, at about 140 pages.

But that's loads of pages of color, texture, trims, shapes, proportions. Buttons & trims. Models in complete outfits with accessories, shoes, boots. Oh my.

With all the travel for work, I've built a big cache of miles. The travel has really interrupted my life -- for one, the lack of posts here despite strong intentions to launch a rich blog. Perfect payback? A sewing-related long weekend in Europe! How about it!? I was stunned earlier this year to find Burda WOF in a piazza in Panicale, Italy. I had brought the US version with me for fun vacation reading! I bought the Italian version anyway. Just because. I know these things are more available elsewhere, it's just surprising to see it when it's such a challenge to find Burda WOF, Ottobre, Patrones, etc. here.

For now back to the Stof & Stil eye candy ...

Renewed Sundance Obsession

I just can't leave it alone. My heart beats with renewed vigor, to see the Sundance Alessandra boots on the website again. Per my original Sundance Obsession post, I am in love with these.

Size 6.5 is not listed as an option yet. But, progress ... progress ...

On the other hand, who am I kidding here. Unless these go on sale or some very kind -- and likely very familiar -- soul decides to gift me for Christmas, these will remain a virtual obsession. These don't feel like the economic times to invest in this price.

I can sometimes be ignorantly optimistic which allows the risk-taking times of my life that I've been proud of no matter how they turned out in the end. But the unmistakable signs all around call for restraint. Much restraint. Hopefully others will feel the same and the boots will go on deep discount. Sorry Sundance.

It is time to dive into the stash of fabrics and sew the things I need this winter rather than buy. Black pants, for one -- time to tackle pants fitting. Sorry Anthropologie. Sorry Nordstrom.

Should I really have been so elated to have scored perfect-fitting wool Lauren by Ralph Lauren pants for work at Macy's the other day, regular $129 but I got 'em for $32? Good for me, but was it good for the big picture? I'm so sorry Macy's, I know times have been tough, at least in Chicago, since you wiped Marshall Field's off the map. However it truly is reality time.

For now, the boots and coat swatches are posted on a feast-for-the-eyes storyboard in my sewing room. Ideas, ideas, ideas to strive for, that's what keeps my imagination going ...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sewing Project: Wool/Silk Herringbone Coat

Nothing like seeing snowflakes to realize it's time to put scissors to fabric, iron to interfacing, and thread to it all, and sew the Wool/Silk Herringbone Coat. Here's the fabric, from EmmaOneSock a few years ago:

It's slightly lightweight for Chicago winters, so it will be lined with a satin-on-one-side, flannel-on-the-other lining in espresso color. The entire fashion fabric will be interfaced to stabilize it (Pro-Weft from Fashion Sewing Supply). I also plan to add contrast piping down the inside front facing with a red/beige/black/brown silk from Vogue Fabrics remnant room. Everything has been washed or steamed to pre-shrink it, even the silk remnant. It said dry clean only and washing definitely changed the hand of it, but just a sliver will peek out, and I'd rather have silk less soft than silk piping shrinking at the dry cleaner someday!

Decision time: Do I get hair canvas to practice stitches to roll the collar? Or just go with the fusible interfacing?

Future Decision: Buttons. I'll take a swatch over Thanksgiving holiday in Michigan to Habermans. Hopefully I'll score there!

Progress: A muslin was cut out today. I'm always afraid of cutting too small. So I wind up cutting a muslin many sizes too big and then trim, trim, trim down. What a great way to add time to a sewing project! Looking at the pieces laid out on the floor, even before I stitch the muslin together, I know I did it again! Ah well.

The muslin is cut out in Butterick 5145 view B, which I envisioned all along for this fabric. Clearly due to the very obvious example of view A fabric on the envelope:

However I have concerns about the wide pleat in the back. Even though the muslin is cut out, I'm still considering some princess seam coats with no back pleat. We'll see how this goes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Birth of a Knockoff

This Anthropologie Mauritius bag is so much fun for next spring/summer, with a sundress or paired with classic tee and jeans:But even on sale, it's $199.95 right now. Thank goodness I love to sew! And so plans are underway. This week, this natural/yellow eyelet fabric from Gorgeous Things arrived:

It's a brighter deeper yellow than the picture so it very closely approximates the Anthropologie bag color.

Here's a pattern that's easily adaptable, Journey Handbag pattern by Mary Jo Hiney Designs:

Next up: yellow fabric to peek out from behind the eyelets, a lining fabric, either a very thin leather or faux leather, and the hardware. Oh, the hardware. I struggle with finding great hardware. But find it, I will. I have brown leather in the stash but it's thicker and I'd rather not wrestle with it.

Track the progress to come ...

So Close

Took quick trip to a few upscale sites to find the elusive boot. Heart skipped a beat at first glance at this one at Neiman Marcus:

But without the wedge heel, it feels too literal a riding boot. I still like it, but at $595 it's not gonna happen even if it is 30% off right now.

And what do you know, EmmaOneSock today posted a new coating wool that would make a fab plaid coat. It would coordinate with more of the indoor clothes I'd wear underneath it too, because my wardrobe consists primarily of blacks, grays, browns and taupe with punches of red, green, blue, etc so it's not SO yawn-inducing. Yet this still feels like a safe choice. I do love the turquoise below. The EOS newsletter today included an invite to ask Linda if sold out fabrics can be special ordered. Do ya think? Should I tempt fate? After all, I have enough black and brown coats and jackets. Isn't it time for something more jazzy.

Meanwhile, here's the new option today:

The Coat+Boot fantasy lives on through the weekend ...

Sundance Obsession

So ... the latest distracting idea took hold when the Sundance catalog arrived and I saw these boots:

I can't get them out of my head. Thought about them while driving to work. Thought about them while cooking dinner. Thought about them while falling asleep. They creeped in my head during meetings at work. I think, I could be sitting here wearing those boots with a plaid skirt and warm bulky knit sweater in a few weeks! However. Not so fast thinking, Miss Bright Ideas. First they were on back-order. Now they are simply not available. Someone or someones at Sundance has been having some tough days. Tough for me too because these boots likely ain't ever gonna be mine.

But it was too late for my obsessed brain. The vision of these boots was already matched with fabric for a coat. My goal this autumn is to sew a first class winter coat, bump up my sewing skills a notch. So first candidate was this fabric from EmmaOneSock which I put in the shopping basket many times but just didn't hit the trigger:

But you know EOS. It's gone gone gone! Gotta hit that order button!

So more tough poopies for me. I try to forget the boots. Really try my best. But this blog ain't named "Visual Obsessions" for no good reason. Because last night I'm flipping through Burda WOF 11/08. And I see the fabric on the Burda Plus Fashion magazine ad. Wow. It would go with those boots! And thanks to Alfatex, if I can stomach the exchange rate and have enough confidence to start cutting (if you sew, I don't need to say more for you to know what I'm talking about), I can have it! Check it out:

In a longer coat, would look great with those boots, huh?

So today I log on to Sundance website to ogle the untouchable boots some more. I must like frustration or something. You can still get to the boots product page through Google cache. I needed to capture the jpg, to hold the vision slightly more permanently because the catalog will surely be recycled. At least I'll have the jpg until my hard drive crashes again. Because things are more serious now at Sundance ... the SKU is no longer on the Sundance website. So it's truly all over!!!

But I won't let go. Oh no no. Not that easy. Because Zappos has a lot of boots, right? Would they have the same boots or something very similar. If I knew the manufacturer, my search skills would be laser-targeted and I may very well score. All I know now is the picture, the description, they're from Italy, and there's a unique feature, sorta like an identifying mark, like a tattoo or mole or scar that's can help identify crime victims or criminals. And while these may be just boots, sometimes, I do suspect my obsession in pursuing these things is not quite so innocent. Anyway, the telling detail ... the cognac leather is also on the sole, on the bottom of the boot. Now that's a detail you don't find at Macy's or DSW, folks. Maybe not at Zappo's either. Maybe, now that I've developed a taste for Italian leather shoes and boots and gloves, our next trip to Italy must be timed with a better exchange rate and include shopping on the agenda.

Here's a few similar candidates at Zappo's after wading through 23 pages of boots with heels 2 3/4"+ (tenacious enough?). Let's play Boots Goldilocks:

Candidate #1:

The closest in style: the wedge, the wraparound strap and buckle. If it were not suede, it would be a score. Suede just looks crappy too fast, the way I plow through life in shoes. I could live with the dark brown color, but prefer the punch of cognac.

Candidate #2:

Closer on the color but still not quite there. This is a common color. Like the wraparound strap and buckle. The heel is definitely interesting, but for heavier winter fabrics on top, I think the wedge is more grounding. Plus I could see this heel being decimated in cracks in sidewalks, bricks and cobblestone.

Candidate #3:

Like: wraparound, buckle, stronger heel. Too wrong: the color, and may not be high enough.

Time to lose something here. Maybe we lose the wraparound and buckle. What do we get?

We get Candidate #4:

Like: color, height, dark heel, simplicity of design. A possibility. But boring without that wraparound detail.

Candidate #5:

Same comments as above.

Candidate #6:

Same comments as above.

Candidate #7:

Nearly same comments as above. Gorgeous, and they would do. However deal-breaker is that I prefer a heavier visual weight of the wedge heel or chunkier heels.

The visionary issue is, is it inspiring when there are so many others so similar? No. The inspiration of the Sundance boot was its uniqueness.

With that in mind, here's some uniqueness in a different way:

They lack the simplicity I'm drawn to, but they ARE eye-catching. I like. Would I buy? Would I wear? I don't know. Still stuck on Sundance.

For Parting Shot, another uniqueness, ***just for grins!***

Parting Comment: Despite the frivolous pandering over a pair of boots here, will I ultimately buy any of these? Do I take any of this seriously? It's just idle Saturday afternoon fun. Because there's a lot of people out there right now trying to keep their house, and their jobs. But is it not true that in times like these, it's fun to play and dream and escape a little.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Getting Visionary Again

Lack of posts lately due not to waning interest in maintaining a blog, but a crazy deadline-driven and travel-filled work schedule. I read home decor and gardening magazines on flights. On a recent trip, one photo set my brain whirling and I haven't forgotten it. Hooked on stone, again! The photo showed an English basement window open to a stone wall outside, stone walls inside and slate floor. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. So I get visions of a stone wine cellar in our basement. Very grotto-ish. With low lighting. An old wood door with iron scrollwork, shipped from a dusty warehouse within earshot of the spice traders in Cochin. Lots of stories and secrets are in the aisles of that warehouse and I'm itching for an excuse to go back. However, without getting into laborious detail of our current situation, getting a bona fide stone wine cellar big enough for a dining table surrounded by wine-lined walls would entail digging to expand the basement. And that just ain't happenin'.

BUT ... what could happen ... a slice of the feeling and slightly different ... there is a cement staircase behind our house leading down to a door into the basement. And behind the wood door that is always closed is a metal and glass storm door. It's always closed, even when we're in the basement in nice weather, because the view is nasty. Sunshine never hits the ugly gray cement wall and it's now becoming slick with, hmmm, something more algae-like than pretty carpeted moss, which I would actually like. But what if that cement were covered with stone veneer? And the bushes at the top of the stairs chopped down and replaced with low-growing flowers to allow sunlight onto the steps, and a view of the blue sky ... at least for the person on the exercise bike by the door. Why not. The cats would love it. When working down there on hobbies, you could hear the birds singing, feel fresh air.

There's all winter to plan ...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Such a Rich World to Look At

There's been plenty of eye candy obsessions in the past week, just no time to post. Did much photography of: the Oshkosh EAA air show last weekend, two cats who are finally getting along enough to be in the same frame, my gardens. And fall catalogs are arriving in abundance. I love fall and winter clothes. So this is daydream season, dreaming of unlimited disposable income and no responsibilities. This outfit would be my first purchase and it's not unreasonable. But about the bag, although over-priced bags are all the rage right now, I'd rather invest than pay for what's carrying my wallet just to show it off to the world (but, if it goes on sale or eBay, all bets off). From Nordstrom, the Francesco Biasia handbag:

Carry it with this jacket from J. Jill:

The print catalog shows a neat collar detail that the model is blocking with her hand in online photo. This is the worst place in the whole photo to put her hand. I don't understand why they chose this photo. Anyway. I'm more "winter" coloring than "autumn" color, although maybe the neckline dips low enough, this might work without making my face look terminally ill. But I would probably wear this with a cream shell and an interesting necklace or looooooooong and looped skinny scarf made from this fabric:

Weekends and Fridays, I would wear it with jeans like these at Anthropologie:

Monday-Thursday trouser suggestion from Anthropologie:

I like the detailing that could work on weekends too, so it's not a conservative wool trouser appropriate only for work.

Despite the fact that I own plenty of shoes to wear with this, and really don't need to pine away for more, a look is incomplete without shoes. Thus some Zappos surfing results in various ideas for shoes:

This last shoe idea is really cute. Oh man, surf-shopping so dangerous.
Enough playing for today ... must go do laundry with the clothes I already own ...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Multi Tasking with Scrapbook Papers & IKEA

So tonight I sit here clearing scrapbook papers that I decided I don't want from my shopping cart at The Scrappy Gourmet. Who the heck broke in and put over 60 papers in there? I did that? Naaaahhh. And for some of these, what was I thinkin'? Though some of the Pink Paislee papers, I'm lovin':

Must break up the tediousness of zooming in on, uh, about 50 papers where I question my sanity when I previously hit "Add to Cart," once I get a closer look. Do you get the positive rushy-glowy effects of binge shopping by adding to cart? That's the only way I can explain this. This is why buying online is good. You can impose a cooling off period. Don't get me wrong, The Scrappy Gourmet has some fantastic papers, and in my short 2-month addiction to scrapbooking, I've already placed several orders. But selectively clearing a shopping cart, when the obsessive side of me doesn't want to let an eye candy opportunity go without another, closer look, is truly tedious.

To break it up, I surf some blogs. And find something really intriguing, right here in the Blogs of Note feature in Blogger Dashboard: ikea hacker. This blog shows how people take IKEA stuff and dramatically modify it, or use it in innovative ways. Our home office is lined with seven beech color IKEA Billy bookshelves with solid doors on the bottom and glass doors on the top. They make nice impact in such multiples, especially with the doors. But they will always feel temporary -- now that I've been in real mahogany-lined home offices, Billy will always reek of those early adult post-college years:
But what if you surrounded Billy shelves with molding below and above so they look like floor-to-ceiling built-ins? You can upgrade the hardware too, as I already have. I may just do the molding trick someday if we want a more permanent installation. No use chucking Billy to the curb, or Salvation Army, or even Freecycle when we really should learn to make the best of some things we got.

Speaking of such, check out this bathroom re-do featured on ikea hacker using IKEA products:



Amazing, huh? So if you've hacked any IKEA furniture, accessories, anything, the guy at ikea hacker asks you to send him some material to post about!

Now, I go back to scoring some cool Pink Paislee papers ...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stone Cold Crazy 2

So there's this great stone showroom not far away, Schwake Stone. They have what I need. For the past two summers, I've been piece by piece, bit by bit, building a 6-8" tall, rustic stone edge along the front garden. Yeah, just an edging of stone, but I'm very precise about what I want there. And it's taking forever to complete it as I pick up one or two, or sometimes if I'm very lucky, I find three or four pieces at the same time that are the right shape, width, height. Can you imagine how long it would take me to build a 2-foot tall wall? And that's still a very short wall!

Now, I must build stone edging under my cascading curved swaths of Japanese Forest Grass, which when it grows up will look like this from Heronswood:

It's not as full and lush yet, but it's getting there. And it needs a low bank of stone under it to support it and set it aside from the grass. See, Heronswood thought so too.

And, after two years, I can't believe that all I have to do is drive down to the Schwake showroom and find the stone I want, like one of these:

So coming soon, a photo not from the Internet but from my own garden of Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' spilling over a low edging of dry-stacked thin stone.

Basement Overhaul

Overhaul #1: Tonight, researching a major change for our basement. Water problems. Always been there, likely always will be. Previous owner warned us about it. We have an outdoor staircase going down to the basement. Wierd, but at least we can get out of the basement easily if there's ever a fire (silver lining in a dark raincloud). The staircase drain backs up during torrential downpours, of which there are more lately. Especially if we don't remember to clean plant debris away from the drain. We rarely remember to do this. And then water seeps in through the door. Ugh. Happened a few times this spring. Current carpeting must be ripped out.

Thus, researching Flor. Ever got a problem, rip some squares up and replace them. Sounds like a plan to me.

This also means, after you're done designing your own shoes and your own handbag, you can design your own carpet! Oh what great fun! This is a cool design, but for us, in a different colorway:

Here it is in somebody's home:

Another nice customer example on the Flor website. Obviously, I am drawn to samples where it's not just a grid of squares:

I've ordered a bunch of samples, and will be playing with our basement's dimensions in the Configurator until the wee hours.

Overhaul #2: Banish oak tones from the basement. Wanna know how I feel about oak? The basement has custom-built oak shelves along one wall, and a matching entertainment center on another. They're quality, they're sturdy, they're very much needed and used. But they're oak. And very middle-of-the-road traditional. The basement is going to be my design studio and I must be surrounded by something inspirational, not traditional.

Something like this from the Sundance catalog is more to my liking there:

Thus some painting and distressing will be happening in the near future to approximate this look.

Wow looking at all this, it doesn't feel so hip to be with so many squares ... all the photos kinda hurt my eyes here, but it won't be like this in the basement. It has lengthy rectangular shelves and I'm thinking of installing the carpet in a diagonal to draw your eye toward the other end when you walk in.

Here's an alternative for the floor ... stripes:

While I'm inspired by the Flor rug idea here, I could never ever ever go in this room. Why? See that stack of books? Aren't you tempted to ... just ... with one finger ... puuuuuuuuuushhhhhhh ... heh heh heh ... can't stop looking at it. Obsessed, I say, obsessed.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Design Bags To Go With Your Ribbon Shoes

Gotta move on to other things this evening, but I leave you with this, another Chicago company, 1154 Lill Studio that custom makes handbags and totes from fabrics that you choose:

There's lots of different handbag, evening clutch and tote styles and tons of fabric choices. Here's one I designed real quick:

Same style, different design:

One more so we have an odd number of photos (sounded like good reason to me):

See? You could spend all day and night playing with patterns and colors. Have fun!
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