Sunday, November 29, 2009


Me! Me! Me!

As a former step-grandma once asked, while riding an escalator in a huge shopping mall, "why do we have to want?"

I suppose it keeps us humans moving forward.

Right now I'm moving forward through my zip code's Comcast cable listings to find the Sundance Channel. I'm up to channel 500 and ain't found nuthin' yet! I want to watch MAN SHOPS GLOBE.

... here, it's channel 505. Which is easy to remember because one HBO channel here is 550. I miss having under 100 channels. Things were easier to find.

So back to Grandma Louise's question. Why would I want to be WOMAN SHOPS GLOBE? Isn't there enough available here? Actually right now I am tentatively planning a whirlwind 24-48 hour trip before December 31 to rack up miles to maintain elite flying status, and the trip would include some fabric shopping in a very grand bazaar. A place I've wanted to visit for so long.

Why do I have to want to go there?

While we're wanting, actually, we can overlook what we have. I have already been a WOMAN SHOPS GLOBE several times and am grateful for the amazing experiences that I never expected to have ... the aisles of the treasure-filled Chatuchak Market in Bangkok ... gorgeous vegetables, some I didn't recognize but sure tasted good, at the Saturday market in Greve-in-Chianti in Tuscany ... all the stimulating colors and fabric textures in Nalli sari shop in Chennai, India ...

Yeah, I am lucky and blessed and have lived a bit of being a woman shopping the globe. But still, I always want more. Always want more. It's not about the stuff. I actually don't buy much. It's about the sights, sounds, smells, walking in the midst of foreign languages, the challenge of figuring how to communicate and act where things are so different. I am more alive in these places.

When I buy, I buy to remember. I look about me now and see the fabrics that remind of these adventures ... the snippet of fabric covering a journal with writings about stories a driver in Cambodia told us about the Khmer Rouge, the silk throw from a nice shopkeeper in Kerala who discussed spices with us, the curtains made with fabric from ... um, actually, Arlington Heights, Illinois. But sometimes traveling 10 miles down a road around here is an adventure too!

It's important to open eyes to all adventures around us. And even if I never had the opportunity to get another stamp in my passport again, it's important to realize that sometimes, we really may have been that which we still seek.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's 6pm. Time for 6pm Shoes.

Shoes + Fabric + Bag + Beads + Metal = Complete.

Surfed for a bit and didn't get further than the Donald Pliners and great prices. I have a Brighton bag with wicker, red accents and silver hardware that needs shoes. These shoes.

I like strong shapes. I like contrasting textures. I like natural colors. I like sandals. These sandals.

Oooooooooooooooh, these. They have a strength but feminine curves too. The silver bar the toe, oh. These shoes, these shoes. Be mine, these shoes.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Haberman Happiness, Naturally

Happiness lives here.

Especially if you are thrilled by a large quality selection of natural fabrics. I never fail to find substantial wool knits here. Where is here? Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Each time I visit family in the Detroit suburbs, a Haberman visit is a must. You don't have to go to Detroit to indulge, though. A tiny selection of fabrics is on their website, and staff have told me that if you call or email with a good description of what you're looking for, they're happy to send swatches. With the Chicagoland traffic, it's probably faster for me to request swatches from Haberman than drive to and from any Vogue location!

Here are the stand-out things I always find at Haberman that just cannot be left behind ... cannot. I don't get that must have feeling at many other fabric stores.

-- Thick wool knits. With winter encroaching, it's time to sew up the substantial Haberman knit wools I've picked up over the years.

-- Down pillow forms -- an unbeatable selection of shapes and sizes. If you want triangle or cube shaped down pillow forms, in lots of sizes, visit their website. The pillow forms could be fun combined with the Marimekko fabrics on their site.

-- My sister has found fabulous faux furs at Haberman. On Thanksgiving, she showed me a black faux fur jacket she sewed with a Parisian theme lining, and she recently wore it to Paris! I will beg for photos to post here.

-- Silk, silk, silk ... so many silks.

-- Buttons & ribbons.

They have a great selection of home decor fabrics, although I'm over-saturated with those so tend to not buy. My sister once sewed a skirt out of two lightweight coordinated home dec fabrics from Haberman.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why Sleep When You Can Be Sewing?

With a major objective of this Taj Mahal Travel SWAP being FAST&EASY -- I sewed a travel wardrobe in under a week including an all-nighter the night before our flight -- a sure-fire bet is to pull out a pattern sewn before: McCall's 5313. Indeed I had sewn this previously during a frenzied all-nighter of vacation sewing. I figure, you can always sleep on the plane. Why sleep when you can be sewing? Here's my previous review at about McCall's 5313.

Below are garments created for the India travel SWAP -- the brown/beige pattern fabric is rayon and the black with melon flowers is lightweight polyester. The black fabric pleated nicely at the bodice seam, shown below. With both, I erred on the side of sewing a bit big, due to not having time for proper fitting. And with both, the bodice needed to be taken in. An opportunity for a button "design embellishment" on the center front on the brown/beige jumper, and with the black one, I took in the side seams.

The brown jumper is nearly ankle length and the black one is knee length.

Inside construction -- Only bodices are lined so the jumpers are super airy and light. Used french seams nearly everywhere because both fabrics frayed a lot and this made clean quick finish. I put more time into finishing the black jumper. Because the fabric has flecks of gold, I finished some inside seams with gold binding. Weird, but I know it's there and feel better about the garment. Both have center back zippers. I had to hand-sew the grosgrain ribbon straps, because I did those last so I would know how long to make them. The directions tell you to sew them into the seams, which I'd recommend rather than hand-sewing, to eliminate pulling.

A sewing assistant and I were very tired after this sewing marathon.

Love this little face! She worked really hard, pushing everything off the edge of the sewing table, and "guarding" fabric and pattern tissue. It hurt my productivity, but she sure had fun.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Taj Mahal Travel SWAP - McCall's 5617 Dress

Another dress for the Taj Mahal Travel SWAP:

Pattern Description
This was summer 2009's trendy dress, perhaps because it's super fast for manufacturing to construct? Because if it's super fast for me, it's gotta be eye-blink fast for anybody else. I sew at snail's pace. View B could be super fast for hobby sewists too. For woven or knits. Two lengths, one including a ruffled hem.

Pattern Sizing
Most sizes; my envelope is 12-18.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelop once you were done sewing with it?
Yes. I sewed view A and also cut it longer, because I am not a teenager and no longer know how to sit, exit a vehicle, and bend over in a dress so short. Then again maybe teenagers don't either.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Very easy. No hiccups.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like how you could whip up a trendy dress very fast in opaque fabric using view B. My dress took awhile to construct because the batiste fabric is very light so I sewed a voile lining, and the ruffle for view B takes quite awhile to sew.

I like the slight A-line shape. I had also considered McCall's 5424 which could be converted to A-line but I was concerned that pattern would fit tighter in the hips, based on the photos and drawings. I was short on time for sewing and I needed it to fit right the first time. New Look 6700 was also a contender, but I liked the option of the ruffle hem in McCall's 5617.

Dislike -- Once I finished the dress and tried it on, I was wearing The Great Big Beige Tent. The extra fabric seemed to be in the middle, and it was not possible to take in the side seams at the bottom after the ruffle hem had been added, so I added darts in the front and back to nip it in. I topstitched the darts to make them into a design element. This pulled the dress closer to the body and maintained the loose fit it is designed to have. I also had to take in the side seams under the arms, and taper the seam out toward the ruffle hem, which I had already completed.

Fabric Used
Stretch Jacquard Stripe Shirting - Ivory/Ecru from Gorgeous Fabrics. The fabric is cool for the 105 degree plus (!) weather where I would be wearing this dress. The stripes are actually shiny gold, so I used the reverse side for the right side, where the stripes look ecru. Becuase I'm not a shiny gold kind of person for casual wear. It is lined with Bemberg voile lightweight lining in white from Gorgeous Fabrics. I am LOVING cotton voile and batistes. In double layers they feel so substantial but still very cool to wear, and very good against the skin. I worried that this fabric looks a bit like a dhoti fabric in India where I would wear the dress, especially with the gold stripes, so that was a deciding factor to use McCall's 5617 with the ruffle at the hem, which makes this obviously a woman's dress.

This dress goes well with some Grecian gold flat sandals I already owned.

This pattern would look great in a flowy border pattern silk, and that might hang closer to the body.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I added a lining that stops above the ruffle hem. I considered laying out the ruffle on the diagonal but decided to keep a vertical flow of lines. Here's an inside view of how I finished the lining, and close-up inside view of the hem.

My labels. Wabi Sabi is perfect description for my sewing, overall.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I already sewed it again. View B out of a striped cotton seersucker from G Street remnant table. This version also for India's super hot weather. I sewed it above knee length and on vacation wore it over Capri pants, but intend to wear it over cropped leggings at home. Added topstitched darts to the back of this version.

Taj Mahal Travel SWAP - New Look 6778 Dress

Since someone stole my camera, now's a good time to honor its service by catching up with pics & pattern reviews. Apologies for the hanger pics -- obviously I can't take pics of myself in the pieces now.

I've fallen into a rut of sewing primarily for our occasional vacations. It's fun to have new stuff for vacation, and sometimes when I buy fabrics, I see myself wearing them to certain places.

Vacation is also a great time to wear colors and patterns I wouldn't wear during regular daily life.

For our spring 2009 trip to India, I needed lightweight, easily washable clothes to pull out of the suitcase and throw on. This being my third trip there, I knew to expect no irons and expect my clothes to be treated harshly if laundered. So I chose fabrics where I wouldn't be crushed if they got faded or "unintentionally altered" to put it nicely.

New Look 6778 was the namesake dress of this travel SWAP:

Pattern Description
Simple spaghetti or ribbon strap dress. Wear alone or over a T or tank. Knee and mid-calf length. For wovens or knits. Very current gathering detail at chest.

Pattern Sizing

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes. I sewed view C to wear over a T-shirt or tank.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Envelope says Easy, and they were indeed easy.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the potential quick construction if you use a knit and no zipper. With knit fabric, it's possible to pull this on with no zipper.

I should have cut the back as one piece without the center seam and zipper. My fabric is stretchy enough to pull on without a zipper. But beyond that reason, the center seam messed up the flow of the diagonal fabric pattern. Ugh!!! I called G Street to see if they had more of this fabric and if they could ship just 1 yard or even less as emergency, but they were sold out. So I must now live with this error.

Here's why I rated this "Recommend, with Modifications" -- I dislike how the pattern calls for numerous little disjointed pieces for the bound armhole and strap. I think using self fabric for the arm binding and the spaghetti strap in two different pieces, as the directions call for, could turn out looking very homemade. For those who want binding and spaghetti strap, why not cut and apply them as one single long piece? Instead of binding the armhole, I simply turned and stitched. I used grosgrain ribbon for the strap.

Fabric Used
Polyester knit with nubby texture, but still lightweight, from G Street's Rockford store. As soon as I saw this paisley fabric, I knew it would be worn to the Taj Mahal. I tested fabric layout options in Photoshop before cutting, to visualize how the final product would look. I chose the bias layout, but that's hard to tell in the finished dress photos.

I used celadon ribbon accent from G Street notions for upper chest contrast, and to pick up on celadon color in the fabric. Instead of trying to sew two rows of straight stitching as well as risk much puckering, I used novelty stitch down the center of the ribbon.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
-- Used grosgrain ribbon for the straps instead of self-fabric.
-- Turned and stitched the armholes instead of binding.
-- Did not hem because my fabric is a knit and won't ravel, and it hangs nicely without the extra bulk of hemming.
-- I laid the pattern out so that the top edge, above the ribbon, is selvedge. The fabric's selvedge has a nice edge and I wanted to feature it.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?Yes, next time out of a woven. And, yes.

Styling note: I wore the dress with the chunky coppery chain link coin purse shown in photo. It clinked, clanged and chimed as if I were wearing a wristful of bangles.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Big Bucks @ Britex

Woo hoooooo! Britex has moved from "Fabric Stores to Visit" links to "Fabric Stores Visited." I could have spent Big Bucks at Britex, but in some ways, this San Francisco trip was a Bust.

Here's why:

  • I lost a London Fog coat, maybe on a SuperShuttle, but they didn't find it so who knows where it is.
  • Worse, I lost a credit card.
  • Someone stole our camera from our booth at the Dreamforce EXPO. Cameras are replaceable, photos are not. Sure would appreciate if they'd just anonymously mail the media card to us.


  • The walk from Moscone to Britex was a little chilly.
  • I was spendthrift due to using a debit card instead of credit card.
  • And waaaaaaaaah, no picture of fabulous fabrics now.

I did get a pic of the Britex building sign with my camera. I was so excited when I spotted the sign from down the sidewalk. Then I noticed a guy sitting in a van at the curb staring at me in his sideview mirror. What a creep, I thought. The next moment while taking a picture of the Britex building, I nearly backed up into a woman carrying an open coffee. OMG, so sorry!!! I hate when people do that to me. Now I'm one of those people. The guy in the van was watching for the whole catastrophe to happen, he said. What a creep.

At Britex, buying yards of fabric would have alerted my husband's Big Purchase Detector (I've already set off that alarm way too many times this year), so I focused on 3rd floor notions and 4th floor remnants. Let's just say, remnant prices at Britex are not like remnant prices at Vogue.

Shown above are some notions I got, not readily available in shops where I live:

  • 20" Riri zippers in silver and bronze -- I cannot find these specific ones anywhere online easily; they have a fine thin dressy zipper pull instead of the round sportier pull
  • really cool closures in antique bronze, silver and copper for handbags or innovative coat closures -- will bring a more expensive look to anything made with them
  • Dill buttons with slots to use ribbon instead of thread -- yay!!! been on the hunt for these for long time
  • LFNTextiles ribbon with vegetables for a fun apron, because we're vegetarian
  • 20" flexible ruler
  • Japanese silk buttonhole twist thread
  • Chaco chalk pens & refills
  • Iris super fine pins

Bought only two fabrics, both remnants:

Striped Burberry lining -- this will be a great lining with any ol' quality black or khaki jacket/coat fabric and make it look like Burberry, especially with the really cool closures from Britex.

A small piece of striped sage-gold-orange silk with embroidery accents in exact colors of our dining room rug. A 2010 planned project is to give the dining room a casual banquette feel with a wrap-around plush bench on two sides of the table, filled with pillows. What an excuse to sew, huh? This fabric is gloriously gorgeous, and should be at $89.99/yard! Needless to say, I got a small remnant. The pillow made from it will surely be in a corner where no one can drop blueberry waffles or tandoori tofu on it!

I had intended to today photograph & post pics of the Burda WOF copper jacket I made in October ... um, drat ... One of my pet peeves is losing things. I never lose things. I put much energy into making sure I never lose things. My husband loses things, so one of my jobs is to keep track of his stuff too. I am so bugged & bummed by losing the camera.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Marfy Coats

Seeing as I'm not willing to spring for a vintage coat pattern, but I want inspiration for a winter coat, here are some Marfys I like. After years, I have finally built the confidence to think I can sew well enough without directions.

Although there is the matter of the herringbone coat that's been in "idea gestation" phase for over a year now. All fabrics are ready and pre-shrunk. I even have several choices of buttons perfect for the project. I knit a scarf this summer to go with the coat. So when the heck do I plan to get started sewing the coat ...

Obsession for Vintage Patterns?

I've never caught the vintage bug. Even though the shapes from the 40s and 50s would look good on my hourglass shape. But I'm totally a "today's classics" gal.

I never caught the vintage bug ... until I found Modes Royale patterns! Good thing they cost more than I can justify paying right now (much cashflow going to a business start-up now, not as fun as sewing purchases). But all the power to those who do buy these patterns. I'm envious! Check out this jacket. I love the collar. I love that horizontal detail on the chest. On eBay, right now. And no I do not have a vested interest nor is this an endorsement of this seller, just an acknowledgement that this isn't my original photo. And if anyone wants this, here's how to get it!

There's even a glimpse of upper back/shoulder darts. I like the shaping those give. I recently bought a Talbots jacket with back shoulder darts. Love that detail.

I also must this weekend photograph the Burda WOF jacket posted about previously. How rude to post but not show it. And, sew a Vogue dress out of some very nice black Super 190 wool. Whoooo! But first, must finish two "work" things before sewing reward:
-- Prime and paint a few prominent peeled spots on the house while the temps are above 60 this weekend.
-- Write marketing materials about predictive analytics for sales. Helping the hubby. I may get a serger as compensation, how can you beat that!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Another Sewing Library Addition

Many of the clothes aren't my style, but I'm interested in the techniques. While I don't quilt, I would like to make a very textured comforter cover, like these from Sundance catalog:

It's hard to see unless you zoom on the original photo here, but there are rows of hand-stitching. Similarly, this is a great way to use remnants without getting into quilting with smaller pieces:

Quilts like these are shown in the Sundance catalog with this bed I posted about previously. Ten months later, I still remember this and still so want it!

Our previous comforter cover was made of silk I found at Nalli in Chennai, India. After years of sun streaming through the windows on it, the silk shredded. I may repair those sections and disguise the repairs with Alabama Stitch techniques. And then on a future trip somewhere, buy yards of cotton for a new comforter, not silk ...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spadea's in My Sewing Library

Whoo hoo! Found 'em on etsy.

Out of the Closet: Coats

It's time to wear a coat. I resist wearing a coat until I absolutely must. Thus far, no coat worn to work yet, and I got an extended warm weather reprieve with a business trip to Orlando. Now it's time to face reality. A luscious coppery corduroy is in the dryer right now, to cut into a jacket. I flipped through all my coat patterns today but they feel so utilitarian and boring. However, they will all do the job.

For more fun, what about this Modes Royale on eBay right now:

I've never gotten into vintage patterns. Maybe I should! Like I need another sewing-related spending habit ...

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