Monday, September 24, 2012

Vogue 8676

Isn't this cotton velveteen yummy? My plan is to make a WARM, key word here, winter jacket, one without too much bulk. When it comes to high tech power linings for warmth I am in the land of the unknown. So quilted linings, heavy fleece linings, fur linings are out. I want that stuff that makes ski wear look svelte and allows you to ski at 0º on a windy mountain. Do I use a windblocker and an insulating lining, both? Is there a product that will be one but serve the purpose of both?  I live in a climate where it can go two weeks at a time and never go above zero degrees at high noon. You can see how this warmth/lining issue is critical. Also, given my petite frame, I want something that won't let the garment overwhelm me.

I have gone to the Rain Shed and the Malden Mills websites but due to my inexperience with this sort of fabric am overwhelmed at what to buy. And this stuff's not cheap!!! The potential for a costly mistake is very high here. So basically I am asking for help with this. I will ask for samples but am still not sure I can trust a paper thin textile to keep me warm at those temps. So feedback and experience here is highly appreciated. Anything anyone can shed light on would be greatly appreciated.

This gets me to a personal quest of mine. In my sewing universe, I always want to try new experiences, fabrics, techniques, stretching myself over and over. I love developing TNT patterns but do not want to spend my life remaking the wheel.  I want to see something and feel I have the chutzpah to figure it out and do it, thereby expanding my sewing experience. I don't ever want to not try something. The way this blog shows garments from tiny smocked fluffs to tailored cashmere coats is a perfect example of that. I want to always be filling my sewing tool box with new and exciting tools. This jacket will be a hike along that journey. I don't ever want to lose that "wonder of the newbie" thinking I can try anything and pull it off. That, to me, is the fun of the sewing journey and a big part of what appeals to me about this craft, even after doing it for over fifty years.  OK, the bell has rung on Philosophy 101 for today!

The pattern for this jacket will be Vogue 8676.    This is a Marcy Tilton Design. I will use the "simple" version, letting the fabric speak for itself. You can see here the design lines are pretty straightforward.
Here you can see the tech drawing and how very plain View B is.
 This will have to go over sweaters with turtlenecks up in this climate so the shape is appropriate as well. I may give it a little bit of curve in on the sides. We'll see once it starts going together.

Because of the lining conundrum this will take a bit to figure out. In the meantime much else is in the queue and right now I will focus on the Koos Bag. Any enlightenment provided on the lining situation would be greatly experienced. Links to maybe a completed garment with such lining would be incredible to see and that would happen in a perfect universe. But in the meantime, understand that your input is greatly appreciated......Bunny

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Koos Bag, First Steps

Here are my fabric choices for the "Koos" Bag. The inspiration was the home dec tapestry you see in the middle. I have two different faux leathers, a chocolate stretch velvet that will be fused to further stabilize, and two home dec taffetas. There may be a few other odds and ends added in before it's all over.

"Koos" Van Den Akker is a designer of very colorful, uniquely shaped clothing and accessories. He has been designing for Vogue Patterns for some time now. While I find his garment patterns very visually enticing with their assertive blend of color and pattern, I just can't visualize the shape/design lines on my five foot frame. But a great bag, I can do!

This bag,  Vogue 1311, is shaped like a drum with a zipper on the very top "circle" and straps coming out of some great "buttonholes" on top as well. I think many of us have been inspired by Sham's version. It sure lit a fire under me! From what I have read if the straps are put around the shoulders this will also work as a back pack. The drum will be fused to fusible fleece and therefore result in a soft, collapsible shape as seen on the pattern cover. I am so excited to finally be starting a new project.


This piece of silk crepe de chine was going to be the lining.  It still may be. When I unwrapped it from it's folds I realized it was over two yards so I hesitate cutting into it for just this lining. I think it might even be enough for my winter coat project and that would make me happy.


Several have mentioned to me that they are also itching to make this bag. If so, follow along. The first step you see here is my "legend". You need to take a good long look at the pattern pieces needed. Then label each yardage with the numbers of the pieces you need to cut. I have a feeling this may change as the project evolves but without these labels, I think the process could be overwhelming.

I am looking forward to starting to cut. That I have to do in the kitchen upstairs so will be moving my cutting mats upstairs shortly. Where there's a will there's a way. We are looking for completion of the restoration in about a week and a half and then it will be fine tuning the room, moving furniture back in, reorganizing all the mess that has been made of my sewing, etc. That light at the end of the tunnel is looking brighter all the time. ...Bunny

Friday, September 21, 2012

Boom!

Photo courtesy of "Why, Because Science" blog.

That's the sound of my Mojo exploding! I have re discovered the fact that when I can't sew, I shop for anything related to sewing. This was a bad habit from working too many hours years back. Now I have the excuse of no access to my sewing space. But this will change shortly. We are waiting for the flooring to arrive, do it's acclimation thing, and get installed. It's close.

In the meantime my machine has been found ( really, couldn't find it) and is now set up on the counter. I just have to FIND my two projects that are in the queue. One is the Koos bag, Vogue  1311      and the other is a Sandra Betzina skirt, Vogue 1292. I am determined to sew this weekend but once again it will be eclipsed by finishing some painting, doors now. Ugh.

So, if you hear the big boom, it is not Armageddon, just my Sewing Grisgris dieing to come out...Bunny

Monday, September 17, 2012

Vogue 8406, The Foiled Faux Suede Bag


Something sewn! Yahoo! Truth is I finished the bag some time ago and my big accomplishment this week is the little smocked and beaded chotchke on the zipper pull. I may or may not keep it. I do really like the bag, however and it will go into the Gift Pile, to be pulled out at a later date when needed.

Pattern:  
      Vogue 8406 , OOP, is the pattern used. It is quite easy and I encountered no particular problems with the construction other than topstitching the outside zipper pocket and that was referred to in the post here.  It is a soft tote with a pocketed lining, patch pocket on the outside as well as a zippered outer pocket. I like the size of  this bag, not too overwhelming and the straps feel right for me. If you are taller than five feet you may want to make them longer.

Fabric:
     This is a poly Faux Suede with a  metallic coppery finish on top. I love this fabric and have more left to play with in later projects. I think this may be one of the rare times I have followed Vogue's directions on interfacing. I find with totes they often recommend hair canvas. I generally like my bags to have a firmer hand and this was not exception. I see the bags on the pattern cover and they seem so structured. I have two weights in my posession of hair canvasses and have to wonder if they are using some super heavy weight hair canvas. This bag has a soft look and feel with what I would call normal hair canvas. If I made it again I would use a (yuk) sew in heavier pellon, at least with this type of fabric that can't take the heat of an iron. Any other fabric I would recommend Decor Bond if you want a firmer look, like the ones on the pattern cover.
     The lining is a black and brown stripe of microfiber of some sort. Normally I fuse my linings as well but this had a lot of body so I did not.


     Here, as I fold back the bag to show you the lining you can see how soft the bag is by it's folds.

Construction:  
     This bag was really quite easy to sew. It's only big challenge was the zippered pocket as the zipper could not be topstitched on the ends to secure itself. Instead I overcompensated and did two rows of topstitching on the top and bottom across the zipper. 
     There is lots of topstitching on this bag, per the pattern. The side seams are topstitched on either side of the well of the seam. The straps are the usual fold the edges to the middle, then fold in half, then topstitch. I don't really like that method as it usually gives you an edge that it thin and an edge that is thick. Plus these straps had hair canvas stitched in to add to the bulk. Instead I just sewed a tube, turned it right side out, moved the seam to center back of the strap and that way had the bulk equalized on the edges. The straps connect to the bag with big black rings. The closure is a typical "bag magnet".
     I thought the back needed a bit of zip but now think maybe I was wrong. I made a little whoozit from some smocked linen and beads to connect to the zipper pull. The jury is still out on this and it would be easy to remove.


In Conclusion: 
     I would definitely make this bag again. It is one of the simpler designs out there, therefore making it a fairly quick gift. My recommendations would be to use a heavier fusible interfacing or even fusible fleece to give it a bit more structure, not the recommended hair canvas. 

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Some semblance or order is slowly returning to my haven. While I can't drag my goodies back into the room until the floor is installed, I can deal with the walls and did some rearranging on my shelf unit and my molding shelf.  I will know in a few days when the installation of the floors will happen. This weekend we painted more trim with wifey-poo getting the job of laying on the cement floor and painting baseboards and beadboards. Needless to say, Sunday I was glad we rain out of paint. My back thanked me. These pics will give you a good idea of the color which I find so soothing. Normally I tend to go for colors that will "activate" me in my space but I am really liking this quiet color and how it goes with the counters and cabinets. The end is in sight..........Bunny

         This is one of those days when Blogger is not letting me adjust the font size properly. Sorry if this is affecting you. I know when I look up the blog when I get to work the print seems ok, so hopefully that is the case....Bunny                           

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sewing Magazines, Yo, Newbies!


  Much great information can come from sewing magazines and any newbie sewist can really get some quality education as well as inspiration from some of these periodicals. One magazine that has really stepped up it's content is Vogue Pattern Magazine. Back in the day this was a magazine that I bought to get the latest fashions that were being made into patterns. I always liked it. But now, there is so much more substance and I find it a must have for any sewist, particularly newbies. If you say, "well, I can't sew at the level, or I don't use Vogues for whatever reason" don't let that stop you from the great content in this mag. I will just give you a run down on what's in the current issue. 

Of  course in the back are all the newest patterns and their specifics albeit in condensed form. There's a great fashion spread of the same patterns like you would see in any fashion magazine. But there is more! There is an article on invisible zipper installation and it's appropriate feet and another on how to install a zippered pocket. If you are into upcycling, a great refashion of a big old plaid shirt (remember grunge?) ends up being a lace embellished contemporarily cut beauty. Looking to arm your sewing space with the latest and greatest? There's an in depth article on garment presses, very informative. For the more adventurous sewist we have some great play with oil based paint sticks. Luv that one! Couture Maven Claire Shaeffer's article gives numerous ways to trim a jacket a la Chanel. One of my favorite pieces is on "Sewing Clothes You Will Love to Wear" based on the CASE method. I found it very informative and nice to see it underline some thoughts I had about my own style choices.  And there is more and more. Suffice it to say this magazine is now a great resource for the sewist of every level, whether you sew Vogue or not. Highly recommend!
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Threads Magazine is another great sewing mag. It has been around since the eighties??? and I think I have nearly every issue. Other than a couple years under different management, it has been very inspirational and educational and sometimes even controversial. On the Threads website you can access their index to get an idea of the amazing depth of information that exists from this publication. From sewing fur, to lace, to lessons from the top instructors in the business , to interviews with couturiers, and so much more you will have another great education going with this one. Many of your favorite bloggers have been featured here as well. Another solid buy and a classic you can rely on. They also have an "insider" program that gives you even more on line. I can't tell you how many garments I have made inspired by Threads, many, many, from new techniques to challenging new fibers. If you feel that it is too "beyond" your sewing level, newbies, well don't. You have to aim high and any information gleaned will go to making you a better sewist. There sister magazine "Sew Stylish" is oriented to a less experienced sewist and quite good as well.
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Ah, the best of any heirloom sewing magazine out there, bar none, Australian Smocking and Embroidery! Guess what? Their last issue, issue 100, is out shortly and I am in their queue. This mag is published by Country  Bumpkin in Australia and I can honestly say it is/was without equal. So if you are interested in learning heirloom techniques, seeing breathtakingly beautiful children wearing "royal" worthy designs, and learning some very special techniques with clear instructions, buy up these on ebay or direct from Country Bumpkin. This is not all gloss and glory. Every pattern I have used form AS&E has been extremely precise and clear, beautifully drafted and provided the results wished for. The clothes here are timeless therefore the age of the magazines still offered truly doesn't matter. The skills taught will ratchet up your sewing abilities big time. Get these while you can. They are an education. One of their separate publications, "The Best of Australian Smocking and Embroidery" , a one time issue, was going for 600.00 on ebay last I looked a few days ago. Really! This is the quality of this mag. You can be confident buying any of their issues other than the earliest as those did not included the pattern centerfolds. Make sure that is included in any purchase from Ebay or elsewhere "cause those directions are what it's all about. 

 ETA: Sadly, since this post was published Australian Smocking and Embroidery has ceased publications. It is so important we support this artform otherwise we could lose our wonderful and inspiring publications. 

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As I offered the post on the Sewing Masters of the Universe for our newbies to know where failsafe information can be had, I also offer this one. All three of these magazines will inspire and educate. Yes, there are other sewing mags out there but in my personal opinion, these are the best, the ones with the quality info that won't fail you. Credits counted for your sewing PHd. ; )     Bunny




Saturday, September 8, 2012

Not Too Glamourous!

Actually it looks like short prison matron painting her cell! Right now hubby and I have completed all the walls. Wow, am I liking this calming taupe color for the cave! It works beautifully with the counter tops and cabinets and their knobs. The floor will be a dark stain so that should be interesting to see. The same hardwood hickory dark stain floor will run throughout. I am liking our decision to treat the two rooms as a unit. I may change my window treatment in the cave to the same as the family room, wide blinds and simple white side panels. Time will tell.

Everything has now been removed from my space so sewing is D O N E for now. The good news is I found my beads. They were under something that was under something else. So I at least have some handwork to fiddle with. I have been enjoying rereading some great sewing books too, particularly Nancy Zieman's Fitting Finesse and Claire Schaeffer's Couture Sewing. That Nancy book is a treasure!

Oh, how I yearn for my former  organization! Everything is stuffed everywhere. We are just trying to keep our eye on the prize.......Bunny


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bunny's Roasted Tomatoes

I think it was Rhett of The Gazebo House that initially and graciously gave me this recipe. Since then I have tweaked it a fair bit so here is my version.

 * Start with garden fresh tomotoes. You will have a better end product if you use either Romas or what our Amish neighbors call "Canning tomatoes". I don't know which variety they are but they are very meaty and not too wet. Give them a rinse under the tap.

* Cut the tomatoes into chunks. Cut out the green core at the top. That's what you see in the bowl. Keep an eye out for little critters who love to make tomatoes a home. I found one in that whole box you see.
* Fill a cookie sheet with enough tomatoes to fill the pan in a double layer of chunks.  It will take a bit of focus to mix everything but this will shrink down to A THIRD of it's former self by the time it is done.  Preheat the oven to 425º.
Here is where you can get creative.

*  Chop three cloves of garlic and throw it in the pan.

* Coarse chop some sweet onion. These are usually labeled as such at the market, like Vidalias, Mauis or Texas sweets. I only use a 1/4 of a big sweet onion. I don't want my sauce overpowered. Add the chunks to the pan.

* Next is up to you. Sometimes I throw in a half of a chunked, peeled eggplant. You can add some fresh basil slivers, or capers, or even jalapenos. Use what is handy. This sauce can't miss. Trust me on this.

* Now I sprinkle the top with a full teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper and a heaping teaspoon of Kosher salt. After that I pour over about a half cup of extra virgin olive oil, not that light flavorless stuff. Save that for frying eggs. I try to use the darkest oils I can find. I love Berio and it's the best I can get my hands on up here.

* With your impeccably scrubbed hands toss the whole magilla together well so all is coated with oil and spice. Put it in the hot oven. After twenty minutes take it out and give it a toss. You will see lots of juice coming out. You will cook this approximately an hour taking the pan out every twenty or so minutes to turn it around with a egg turner/spatula. See it all getting runny and shrinking down?



* As the hour nears it's end watch it closely. The tomatoes are done when you have brown carmelization in the corners of the cookie pan, just like in the picture, not a minute more or less. When you see this take the pan out and put on some sort of rack to cool. Take your spatula/egg turner and push the wet tomatoes into those carmelized  corners and edges and  let them sit for about fifteen minutes or so. This softens up the brown bits and makes them easier to scrape up. Don't even think about not mixing in the carmelized edges! They hold a very very intense tomato flavor. When cool get your spatula our again and scrape all that Brown flecked, garlic strewn, sweet onion scented goodness into a gallon ziploc. One cookie sheet does one gallon bag of tomatoes. I usually do these all day and celebrate with a nice pasta dinner the same night so we can try out our hard work. It's fabulous with shrimp!  The other bags go into the deep freeze to bring out their rosy wonder around the middle of January.Stack them on a cookie sheet to freeze so they get like boards you can stack once frozen.  I said it before but DH and I both felt like crying when the last bag was gone.  I hope you try this and let me know how it works out. The most important part is cooking it to that stick to the pan carmelization part, usually about an hour. Hope you like!


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The local tribe of 35 wild turkeys has decided to take up residence on our property. They sleep in an old white pine at night and roam around eating crickets all day. Our Buff Orpington chickens weave in and out of the tribe like one big happy family. It is really funny to see. No one is threatened. The really funny thing however is to see all the turkeys jump out of the pine tree in the morning. They don't fly out. They just jump down to the ground and it is quite a spectacle to behold.........Bunny


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bric a Brac

We have been painting. It took four sample bottles of paint but we found the right color, not what you see on my prized painting shoes. We have decided to also repaint the sewing room while we are at it. Once one gets a dedicated sewing space it only seems natural to want to decorate in a way distinct to the inhabitant, I'm no different. But you know what I did for a living most of my life? Interior design. I never would have advised a client with my situation, layout, etc to do that. So now I am finally going to follow my own best advice. The sewing room is open to the much used family room with almost always open French  doors. The two spaces work together. I watch TV from my sewing room. I do my sewing ironing in the family room a few feet away. These are two contiguous spaces that function as one many times. So my advice to myself is to paint them both the same paint or at least the same value in the same color family. Will do, Madame Designer.

You know that means a total shutdown of the space. It is chaos in there already. I have managed to finish my bag but the embellishment I was dieing to complete and show you has disappeared among the chaos. I can't find my beads!!! I've looked everywhere. They are gone. I punted and searched other options. No, I want my beads back and all my usual orderliness as well. I know it will come but for now it is chaos.

There is also produce calling. You can't ignore one of God's greatest gifts, the tomato, when it's time has come. You just have to deal. So I have been putting up tomatoes between paint brush strokes. As of last summer I no longer can them. I roast them! Once you taste this red gold you will never buy another Kerr lid again. I promise you. If any are interested I will post how to roast them. Let me know. That I can find time for. I already took all the pics of the process.


We are in a drought here, big drought. We had a half hour of light rain all summer at our home. I am not exaggerating. Our beautiful river has turned to a nearly dry stone infested river bed. Not quite a swimming hole, is it? But tonight the remnants of Isaac are hitting us and for the first time all summer we have pouring, drenching, thirst quenching rain! Alleluia! We are so glad about this and the rain sounds so good clanging on our metal roof.

This sewing drought that I am in is just making me want to sew more and more. I have been to Joanns on work lunch hours and bought some Vogue patterns and fabrics for a couple of projects. Sham's has inspired me once again with her "Koos" bag and I have all the pieces lined up to put that together. I know she has inspired many of you out there as well. Her blog is so inspirational. 

Last but not least I have been coping with some health concerns, nothing that will kill me, but can certainly ruin my day, and my nights! I am on the track to getting things under control with a neurologist who is very committed to finding a solution. In the meantime, I get extremely tired from little sleep and dealing with the symptoms. No worry, I am feeling more positive about this than I have in a long time so things are on track to resolution. I am hoping it will all be worked out very soon.

And Bric a Brac? Retro term for all the flotsam and jetsom clogging life right now but in it's time it was a word for all the odds and ends, doodads, knicknacks that a home can accumulate. You know, that salt and pepper shaker collection your grandmother so proudly displayed. Well this post was the current Bric a Brac of my life. Thanks for listening. I can't get back to my cave soon enough!...Bunny