24 May 2008

Made in Japan

On a tip from Tany, I purchased a Japanese pattern book, Retrospective is Stylish by Yoshiko Tsukiori. I purchased it from the eBay seller, pomadour24 (and I was very happy with this seller BTW).

There are 21 retro inspired projects in this book, created through tweaks of a few simple patterns. The outfits include skirts, dresses, vests, jackets and blouses. Each garment is found on a full scaled pattern sheet included with the book.

The patterns come in four sizes, with bust, waist and hip measurements listed in brackets: S (79 cm, 59 cm, 86 cm), M (83cm, 64cm, 90cm), L (88cm, 68cm, 94cm), XL (93cm, 74cm, 98cm). All patterns are drafted for a person that is 160 cm tall. To say that I am pleased with these measurements is an understatement - I am a M bust and waist and a L/XL hip and the height is perfect. It's not often that I find patterns drafted for a smaller person. Many pattern companies seem to forget that there are women of smaller stature out there - New Look, Silhouette, and Marfy are just a few of the companies that routinely start their sizing at a point that is too large for me. This is one of the reasons I use so many vintage patterns - the sizing is more up my alley. I guess women came in smaller sizes back in the day!

The only problem is that everything is in Japanese and unlike Spanish or French, it will be impossible to use the internet for translations (my keyboard doesn't have Japanese symbols on it). Thankfully, the patterns are all fairly simple, so I should be able to muddle my way through. If worse comes to worse, I can always ask at school to see if any of my kids can read Japanese (another one of the joys of being at a school with many cultures).

I am really looking forward to using this book and if all goes well, I may pick up a few more Japanese pattern books - there are some other really cool looking ones out there!

ETA: I just found this page, full of pictures of the projects in this book.

21 May 2008

The Great Coat Sew Along

Marji (kind soul that she is) has put together a sew along for several seamstresses wishing to create a winter coat. A blog has been established to which all participants may post.

The Sew Along has the following time line:
May - Gather materials
June - muslin for fit and style
July - begin cutting/mounting/interfacing
mid-July - pockets and buttonholes
August - finish construction of shell, sleeves
mid to late August - construct lining
Sept - lining into coat
Goal - finish by end of September

At first I wasn't going to participate, but I enjoy the feeling of community that surrounds an event such as this one. Also, the last two winters I have been schlepping around in a down jacket. Although this jacket is warm on cold winter days, it is rather less than stylish (especially over work and formal clothes), so I would like to add to my wardrobe of coats.

Like Marji, I would like to sew up three coats: a long coat, a short coat and a fun coat. Since I have the summer off (nine glorious weeks in July and August), I should have the time to complete all three coats (and even if I only manage to get one done, I'll still be ahead of the game). At this point, I am a bit unsure of which patterns I will use, but I have some ideas. I love the following vintage, re-released vintage and Burda World of Fashion patterns.

***** LONG COAT *****

Advance 9560
I adore the collar and the A-line shape. It would function quite well over pants, as well as skirts in the winter.

I have a dark brown wool that should work well with this pattern.

Vogue 4137
This coat is designed to be reversible, which would double my potential wearing opportunities. I'm not sure at this point if I prefer the version with or without the tie at the neck.

I have a gorgeous camel double faced fabric that might work quite nicely for this project.

***** SHORT COAT *****

Vogue 2884
I have loved this pattern for the longest time and it would make a gorgeous short coat. The collar and pockets are sublime.

I think it would look great in this teal wool/cashmere blend.

Vogue 1023
I love the lines of this coat, but I'm not sure I won't freeze half to death because of the open collar.

This brown mohair fabric might pair up nicely with this pattern.

***** FUN COAT *****

Burda WOF 9/2007 - 104
I will call this my "Ode to Tany" coat. I still remember the first time I saw the coat that Tany made - I was beyond smitten. I knew I had to have one of my own.

I have always wanted a funky and fabulous leopard print coat. Now, thanks to Tany for the inspiration and to Marji for the push in the right direction, I should be workin' my animal magnetism by early fall of this year. Rowr!

ETA: I have been asked where I got this fabric - check out the faux fur category at Fabric Mart.

So, I just need to decide between the two long coats and the two short coats and I should be ready to rock and roll (assuming I don't change my mind altogether and come up with some other options). Any opinions?

18 May 2008

Burda World of Fashion Organization

In my last post, I described how I have been inspired to actually sew from my BWOF magazines. I mean I have issues back to 2005 and at this point, I have made up maybe 4 patterns, so I figured it was time to start using these fabulous patterns.

So, I decided to first do a little organizing. Many seamstresses photocopy the "All Styles at a Glance" pages and place them in a 3-ring binder for easy perusal. I had been doing that, but I always found myself dragging out the actual magazine each time I was curious about suggested fabrics and fabric requirements. As well, as useful as the line drawings are, I find myself far more inspired by the actual model shots - showing the garment made up and on a real person.

So, decided to undertake an organizational odyssey (sometimes us obsessive compulsive folks have to make up our own brand of fun). I went through each issue that I own and put together pages (arranged by month and year) containing model shots, line drawings, fabric suggestions and yardage for any and all patterns that struck my fancy. Burda made this all the easier for me by putting archives of the last three years on line. I have included a screen shot of the February 2008 page. Although it was time-consuming, it was really easy to do in Word (any word processing program would also work) - just cut, paste and add text boxes.

Now I can flip through these pages to determine what will make it on to my sewing list. I already have a bunch of "must-sews" and I am in the process of matching fabrics to these future residents of my clothes closet.

There are a few things I noticed during this endeavour. Firstly, some months I am in love with almost everything in the issue and other months I am really quite apathetic about the majority of offerings. Does anyone else find this to be the case with them too?

Secondly, it is amazing how often Burda repeats certain style lines. They usually spruce things up by adding different details, but on the whole there is a lot of overlap. I guess this just goes to show that Carolyn is right - when you find something that works, why reinvent the wheel? Even Burda has a whole slew of TNT patterns that they periodically revisit.

ETA: Burda Archives 2004 - 2008 - thank you Sigrid!!

13 May 2008

Mojo, Where Art Thou?

Every year, after the SWAP contest, I can't seem to get my arse in gear (as my grandma used to say) and get sewing again. I have a multitude of ideas, a megaton of fabric, a bazillion patterns...but, I can't seem to get it all working together. Lately, I think about sewing while at work, I make plans for sewing while at home, I daydream about patterns and fabric, I scan the internet for inspiration, I design wardrobes in my head, but I cannot for the life of me sit down in front of my machine and do anything useful. This lull in my sewing life has made me cranky and snarly. I hate that I'm not sewing, so why then am I not sewing?? Ah, that is the question...

I think my major problem is the change of season. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic that the weather is warming up, that the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing. However, I looked in my closet and I am not in love with my spring and summer wardrobe. Most of it is just plain yucky. I feel like I have nothing to wear, so I feel compelled to whip up a ton of quick and easy garments. But, I have learned in the past that quick and easy usually equates to cheap and nasty. So, I am determined to only tackle projects worthy of my time and energy - classic, elegant, sophisticated garments with a certain je ne sais quoi. The problem with that scenario though, is that I'm going to be naked until this fabulous new wardrobe materializes! Upon thinking about all of this, I become overwhelmed and like any procrastinator worth her salt, I give up and eat ice cream instead.

Well, no longer. I have seen the light - I have a plan, a mission, a goal. I pulled out my back issues of Burda World of Fashion and snagged all the spring/summer issues (March - July). I went through the last three years worth and compiled a list of all the patterns I love, along with model shots, line drawings, fabric suggestions and requirements. I have begun matching pattern to fabric and soon I should have a working list of projects. Wish me luck!

6 May 2008

Book 'Em

Nancy (nanflan) of SewWest (I love that blog title - it tickles me every time I say it in my head) tagged me with a literary meme.

Here's the deal:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

Okie, dokey, you're all gonna love this...the closest book? Chemistry, the Central Science. Yes, I am a huge dork!

The bicarbonate or carbonate salt is added until the fizzing due to the formation of carbon dioxide gas stops. Sometimes sodium bicarbonate is used as an antacid to soothe an upset stomach. In that case, the hydrogen carbonate ion reacts with stomach acid to form carbon dioxide gas.

Now, let's see...I tag Carolyn, Tany, Summerset (another science geek!), Angie and Alexandra.

5 May 2008

SWAP Results

Here are the results of SWAP 2008. I am struck by the variety of locales represented in this list - SWAP is bringing together nations. It's like the U.N. of sewing!

First Place - Laura P. in Bucarest, Romania

Second Place - Shannon M. in LaSalle, Ontario, Canada

Third Place - Maria G. in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Fourth Place -Johanna L. in Goteberg, Sweden

Fifth Place - Heather D. in Wellington, New Zealand

I was flabbergasted that I took second place. Seeing as today is my birthday, I can't imagine a better present!!

I want to extend a congratulations to everyone that was involved with SWAP 2008 - this was a most successful year. Most of all, I want to thank Julie, of Timmel Fabrics, for sponsoring this event. Over the last few years, she has changed how I approach my sewing and I am indebted to her.

Now, if I can shake the nasty cold I have right now, I will be diving into warm weather sewing over the next few weeks. I have so many ideas...I better get crackin'.