Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Robes and one set of coasters!

Need to finish photographing the others and make up another robe in anticipation of Cherry Lime Studios going live in a week - because there's no time like a recession and trouble on wall street for a new business venture. Sigh. Ok, enough sadness. Time for pretties. :)

And on another happy note, creative writing went very well today - my poem was last and when we finally got to it my prof, a published author a number of times over, read it, read it again (nerve wracking if you're on the hot seat, btw), then looked up and told me to send it for publication. As is. And the next five minutes were him and the TA gushing over it which, while a wonderful ego boost, didn't actually help that much since I'm so not sure I could repeat the act of creativity. And I certainly won't be supporting myself with it any time soon! But coming on the heels of a really frustrating encounter with the internship department it was really comforting and affirming to be told I am a competent human being, at least in one area of life. Of course it raises the question - how in the world do you go around submitting poetry? Oh well, will find out! Prof should know. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Joann's had a fresh shipment of my favorite knits - a nice, drapey, poly spandex that's wonderfully soft. I've been wanting to redraft my Lara wrap to make a nice knit cardigan, like this one:

DKNY Cozy Cardigan

So I got enough to make a first-draft. Bonus points, among some gorgeous fall colors they had my teal. Yay! I'd bought the last of the previous bolt which was just enough for a short sleeve shirt which, yes, I need ... but drat it, I wanted a cozy long-sleeve cowl to curl up in. So (fingers crossed) my first-draft cardigan will leave enough leftovers for sleeves for the shirt. Happiness!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Hannah

A piece I wrote for creative writing - thought I'd share it. :)

Hanna 's my grandmother but she'll never be “grandma.” Too country, she says. I think it makes her uncomfortable. Too soft. Hanna fits her much better. Hannas don't make cookies but they teach you to laugh. To a Hanna the world's like a mutt found, brought home, and needing a good scrubbing. It might not look like much and it might need some stern discipline but underneath there's a lot of goodness and potential. For a kid a Hanna is better than a grandma. She doesn't kiss your bruises, she teaches you to pick yourself up and not fall again. Or at least make a story out of your next tumble.

Monday, September 22, 2008

One down!

My green shirt, piece #1 for my "August" wardrobe (yeah, little behind on that) is done! I wore it all day Sunday, first to church, then to lunch with friends, then switched out my nice black skirt for a denim skirt and wore it to our first evening service where DH preached his first sermon. Well, his first sermon that wasn't done to a class full of seminarians armed with grading sheets. He did a good job, though he really excelled at the preacher-on-the-hot-seat bit after the service. And after the service we cleaned it all up and then had game time over a friends' apartment. So much fun but apparently I'm still not physically able to do that much because today was a fog of exaustion and half-hearted attempts to get anything done. Sigh. I really need to make another appointment and get this fatigue thing sorted out. But anyway, all that to say that I've got a shirt done and I love it! Usually I feel like somethings "off" about the clothes I wear - something just a little not right that keeps me from loving it. But this shirt's different. From fabric to fit to finish, I really like it. Yay!

And will post pic tomorrow. Tonight it's time for zzzzzs. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Setting up shop

I've been building inventory and a blog for my soon-to-be-opened shop. On top of classes and internship. Sigh. Anyway, a couple years ago we had a rash of friends suddenly get the matrimony bug and I had a lot of showers to go to with very little money to spend. What to do? Sew! I wanted to give little cotton robes that could go from sexy to cozy depending in accessories (or, for sexy, lack thereof) and so I went pattern shopping. And went again. And began looking through independents. For whatever reason I just couldn't find one that was quite right. They were either too big or too robe-like or too something else. It's just a robe and I've seen enough Pattern Runway to think that drafting is easy so, well, I drafted. And made up one. Gave to friend. Tweaked pattern and made again for another friend. Then a third tweak, a third gown, and by this time I was really happy with it.

Nice. And then I put it away.

Fast forwards to this summer. I knew I needed a part-time job that was highly flexible. Bonus points if it was on-campus as we only have one car. Started thinking about robe pattern. And Etsy. And how happy I am when sewing.


Fortunately I had a fourth robe that had been cut out but not sewn for whatever reason. Time for an experiment. Pulled it out and timed myself.

Forty-five minutes. Not bad. And my serger's earning her keep. Figure I can only get faster ... and I love how the robe turned out. It's going to be hard parting with it! And I had fun. Hm, at this rate, if the product finds a market, I can bring in around $200 a month doing what I enjoy. And that's including time to tweak the pattern into a few other products, like a knit wrap, an oriental dinner jacket, maybe even a summer dress (though that'll have to wait a few seasons)....

It's at least worth trying, right? I mean, it beats working janitorial or at the cafe for minimum wage.

So I bought some trial fabric at Joann's and whipped up two more robes today. They're not finished quite yet - they need to be hemmed and ironed. But all the serging is done. What do you think?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Shopping list

Life is going well ... my adult ed class I'm teaching through the school starts this week and, while I'm not exactly ready, I'm also not panicked. My creative writing class is going better than I expected - I'm really enjoying the process and having an excuse to write and my ego's getting stoked a bit by my great classmates and prof. Sewing class is a lot of fun, I'm done with my regular job, and I've got a shirt in progress that's actually coming together fairly well. Unfortunately it's at that stage where it really doesn't look like much, just a collar and some pockets, so it's not photogenic. I tried taking some pictures and it looked too much like a wad of fabric to be worth posting. It's just on hold until I reassemble my new machine enough to make button holes on it. I tried on my old machine (scrap fabric, thank heavens) and realized why I avoided buttonholes for so many years. They're TERRIBLE. I don't know what the problem is but, wow, they're so very, very ugly.

So more incentive to get new machine fixed.

Until that point, J's is having Buttericks on sale soon and heaven knows I need more patterns.

On my list this time:


I'm not certain I'd get around to actually making this in this century but I love the look. One of my RTW dresses (it's from Target - shh, don't tell!) has this same shoulder treatment and it's totally fabulous. Great 40s vibe but still current. So just in case I come across a good knit, it'd be nice to have a great pattern to go with it!


I love the idea of a large, cozy cardigan for the library or classrooms. Version E is my current favorite though D's worth a try as well. And these CAN'T take that long to make, right? I also like A and B once I get past the images and start thinking - it's the collar that throws me at first. However ditch the collar and it's a really nice kimono-eque top that can be seriously chic. Nice pattern overall.


With Wisconsin just a year away I'm suddenly realizing just how unprepared I am. This isn't a super-fab coat but it's a nice one and that tube collar looks warm. Plus it'll sew up quickly with a minimum of fitting and is make for (shudder) fleece. Which means cheap, at least for poly fleece from Joann's. I know, I know. But it would buy me a little time and, really, it'd be cute. At least I think it would be ... worth a try, anyway.


Because you can never have too many costumes. Specifically nice, surprisingly accurate patterns. Look at that muff!


See above :) I LOVE that coat!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

If it's not one thing...

I had this grand idea of whipping up a bunch of felt coasters (among other things) and opening a little shop on Etsy. Good way to make a few extra dollars (very much needed this semester) while keeping the flexible schedule I very much need. No problem, right?

Got the felt, got the thread, practiced a bit...

Realized in practice that, of my two machines, only the Bernette can do this. My viking's pressure foot is non-adjustable and stretches out the felt too much as it sews. That's ok, the Bernette needs to earn it's keep anyway.

It doesn't agree.

To get those nice, thick lines I need a size 3 zig-zag. Fine, the Bernette goes up to 5. But therein lies the problem. It not only goes up to 5, it really, really, REALLY wants to sew 5s. And only 5s. I set to 3, start sewing and suddenly the dial spins and we're at 5. Stop, reset to 3, try again... dial spins and we're back to huge zags. Arg!

Deep breaths. See this as an opportunity ... an opportunity to pull apart the dratted thing and see how it works on the inside. I like pulling things apart and seeing how they work inside. This is good.

Whoever designed the Bernette shell does not agree. Their previous employment? Puzzle boxes. The sort where you push here to slide this lever which opens that hatch... it's the only explination for the shell design.

A half-hour later (!!!) I finally get the back off. Woot. Look inside. See this:

See also that there's no way to tighten from this angle. And the front panel is NOT coming off without doing far more dismataling of internal parts than I'm comfortable with. Seriously, there are far better places to put the screws than where they did. It's a plot. An evil plot.

I did try to delay the inevitable by attempting to jury-rig the dial with tape and a rubber band for traction. It didn't work. No duct tape in the apartment so can't try that. Not sure what else to try.

Anyway, posted problem on PR and hoping that the machine geniuses will have an idea. Sigh. Until then the machine's in pieces, the sewing on hold, and I'm out of excuses to put off some research and reading. Ick.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Towards a complete wardrobe

According to the standard SWAP guideline a basic wardrobe consists of 11 pieces - 1 jacket, 4 shirts, 2 tops, 2 pairs of pants, and 2 skirts. Switch out skirts for pants, tees for blouses, and a dress for any of the basics depending on need. Simple. Doable. Challenging but attainable.

So that's what Julie Culshawl, a seamstress in Australia came up with and it's been seconded by many, many others.

But what do New York fashionistas call a core wardrobe?

I pulled out my copy of the Lucky Shopping Manual (we all have our secret indulgences, this is mine) and chapter by chapter added up what they consider essentials, give or take a coat or summer skirt based on your latitide:

11 skirts
_ 2 all season work skirts
_ 1 day to night skirt
_ 2 summer work skirts
_ 1 denim skirt
_ 2 summer weekend skirts
_ 1 summer evening skirt
_ 1 winter evening skirt
_ 1 Leather or suede skirt
12 Tops
_ 2 Basic neutral color tees
_ 2 black tops
_ 4 tanks
_ 1 polo
_ 3 fun tees
15 Shirts
_ 6 work tops
_ 3 fun tops
_ 4 weekend tops
_ 2 fun tops
11 Dresses
_ 3 Summer weekend dresses
_ 1 summer evening dress
_ 1 summer daytime party dress
_ 2 summer work dresses
_ 2 winter work dresses
_ 1 winter weekend dress
_ 1 winter evening dress
7 Sweaters
_ 2 Fitted pullovers for work
_ 2 cardigans
_ 1 turtleneck
_ 2 weekend sweaters
7 jeans
_ 1 pair for heals
_ 1 pair for flats
_ 1 weekend pair
_ 1 color pair
_ 1 pair corduroys
_ 1 pair of favorite
_ 1 fun pair
9 pairs of pants
_ 3 pair winter pants
_ 3 pairs summer pants
_ 2 pair all season work pants
_ 1 pair evening pants
4 suits
_ 2 classic suits
_ 1 trendy suit
_ 1 fun suit
5 jackets
_ 2 wool blazers
_ 1 short jacket
_ 1 denim jacket
_ 1 summer blazer
8 coats
_ 1 classic coat
_ 1 parka
_ 1 spring jacket
_ 1 raincoat
_ 1 fall coat
_ 1 evening coat
_ 2 fun coats
_ 1 lightweight jacket

That's ... 90 items.


SWAPs sound so much easier now.

And, because my inner logician demands it, I'll admit that there's some apple to oranges comparisons going on. A SWAP is just to get you a working, basic wardrobe to tide you over so you can add more, trendier, or more specific items. Lucky's trying to prepare you for all contingencies. Even so, this Texan girl is pretty sure that even the oddest of contingencies won't require 8 coats. Or 7 pairs of jeans. My little wardrobe would burst trying to hold them all.