Saturday, May 15, 2010

Having a Baby, BRB

That was my joke at the end of my pregnancy when it seemed my clients would never cease their last-minute requests! But I did have the baby in February - a healthy happy boy - and I am back now that my postpartum weight has more or less stabilized. In the meantime I've been reading up on pattern drafting and am excited to get going on some slopers.

But first, a little project for the summer: I have a tunic/minidress that's great for cooler weather, but I want to copy it in a shorter length in my white swiss dot cotton that I still haven't used. Keeping a baby entertained all day means little time for drafting and sewing, so projects are taking a very long time now, but it's all good as long as I'm moving forward. Pictures to come soon.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Flailing Tailor

Danger...awkward basting in progress

If I could download any skill set instantly, a top contender would be that of the bespoke tailor. I adore fine little details that lead to perfect results, no matter how long they take. I don't have any training in such matters, though, so I flail around as best I can on my own.

Recently my husband brought home a ratty blazer from Salvation Army that he immediately hacked the lining out of in an attempt to reduce its bulk and hastily dispose of its horrendous shoulder pads. After that it was still way too big so he asked me to take it in for him.

I don't know the first thing about menswear or blazers, unfortunately, but I'm game to try, and this particular blazer was already in such sad shape I couldn't possibly make it much worse. So without a plan I tore out the side seams, sleeve seam, and half the sleeve cap and re-pinned it as best I could.

The next step was to hand-baste new seams and have my husband try it on, so I pulled out my Complete Guide to Sewing (If you aren't familiar with this book I recommend it - the patterns referred to are extremely dowdy and old-fashioned, but the techniques are timeless and explained clearly.) for some direction. Why baste by hand? In this case, I didn't have a linear plan for how to put the pieces back together. I wanted to sew in a more roundabout way to be able to figure it out as I went, rather than being forced by the machine's timing to make quick decisions. It also provided more control for tricky corners such as the underarm area.

I know how to sew by hand in the most basic sense, but I love learning the tried-and-true methods to better understand the depth of these techniques. Sure, at the end of the day my previous skill set would have held two pieces of fabric together in a more or less adequate way. But that method and the one outlined in the book are two different animals. After spending a couple minutes reviewing the diagrams, I produced a superior knot, a better method for securing the beginning and ending of my row, more even stitches, a thread length less likely to tangle, and the entire process took much less time to boot.

There are reasons why perfecting a quarter-inch hand-basting stitch, and knowing when to use it, is a worthwhile endeavor. Part of the joy in sewing is in raw creativity, but I get just as excited by a simple stitch executed well.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

For the Love of Glove

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

There was a wonderful article in today's New York Times about glove maker Daniel Storto: Heir to a Glove Town's Legacy. Pure, straight-up craftsmanship is what I'm always inspired by, and this guy is it. I love that the dynasty of glove makers bequeathed to him their tools. I love that he has connections to high fashion, but isn't ruled by it and still expresses his own creativity. And of course, I love his gloves. Bravo, Mr. Storto.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Project Ticket: Eternity Scarf

Thick Knit Eternity Scarf, $68,

I like the look of the infinity scarves that have been popping up lately for Fall/Winter. The key is for it to be chunky for some textural interest, but not so bulky it overwhelms you. I would make mine a cream double-looper that would be wide enough to also use as a cowl, but I'd eyeball it as I knit and figure the width on the fly.

This is a project that could be knit in any number of combinations, but I'd go for some Wool-Ease yarn (about $3.50/skein) and this Knitty pattern, originally for a wrap/shawl. Of course I'd have to swatch it first to see it all first-hand, but I am planning on making this soon so I'll update with the actual project details when I start.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spring 2010: Black and White

Here are three very wearable looks for Spring 2010 (images courtesy, click for more details), if you'll pardon the whimsical possibility of actually using that racquet in the third. From left to right: Hermès, Marc Jacobs, Hermès. Jumpsuits have never held much appeal to me for the sole reason that I can't imagine my breasts flapping in the breeze in a public restroom (I'm always one for practicality), but strangely number one is holding the most appeal for me right now. Perhaps because the task of breastfeeding is coming up - I can almost picture a little nursing action in that ensemble at a spring/summer luncheon, tucked modestly behind my casually slung blazer of course. Ok, dream on, but I still admire the silhouette.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Project Ticket: Flocked Chiffon Blouse

Flocked Chiffon Blouse, $148, Mise en Scene by Ruffian for Anthropologie

I'm a big fan of neutrals with a little something special, as well as feminine details. This blouse would be a great project to celebrate the return of my waist after having a baby this coming January - hopefully that's not wishful thinking! So I'll shelve it until my body is back to normal, but wanted to save it here for future reference.

I love the silk/rayon they've used, especially with the metallic dots. But I happen to have some white swiss dot cotton in my stash that I would use instead - plus the more dry cleaning I can avoid these days, the better.

Flocked Chiffon Blouse