Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Notion to Sew

We saw a bunch of fabulous scenery and even more fabulous family on our trip through the mid-West, and we also visited a goodly number of antique stores.

6 20-inch zippers for $1.50
While antiquing, I always keep my eye open for patterns and notions. Vintage is always a happy find, but I also love turning up contemporary items for a great price.

I got 3 big bags of seam binding and lace for a buck a piece
Buttons in colors I'm liable to use, plus enough lace to trim the neckline of something or other
 And here are the patterns:

Now I'm itching to sew, but my machine is in the shop for a going-over. I could tell it was taking a nose dive when I was finishing up my pre-vacation sewing and sure enough, Doc Stitch's tells me I have burrs on my needle plate and a big wad of thread gumming up my innards. I should be back in business by tomorrow, thank goodness. I have my June Make a Garment a Month project eagerly waiting in my sewing nook.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Traveller Returns

After 16 days and 5,000 miles The Man and I are back in Santa Cruz. We visited family in Rochester, Minnesota (Hi Jeanne! Hi Kate! Hi Charlie!) and in Chicago (Hi Mick! Hi Isabella!), we visited a couple of beautiful national parks and monuments and we came too close for comfort to a tornado in Salina, Kansas.

Cheyenne, Wyoming
It was a great trip, though we both think we're getting a little old for those long-driving days.
My grandmother's house in Lewiston, Minnesota
I took an entirely me-made travel wardrobe, which I won't bore you with. You saw everything already during Me Made May. I can report that I had all the outfits I needed, and more. Also that skirts and tee-shirts are a great option for a summer road trip.

Besides the good times with family, the highlights were visits to Cahokia Mounds in southern Illinois and Zion National Park in Utah.

Cahokia was the largest city in North America in pre-Columbian times. It was larger than London was in AD 1250, covering 6 square miles with a population up to 20,000.

Birdman, found on a sandstone tablet at Cahokia

What's left today are mounds of earth that were built up one basket at a time. They were used as platforms for houses and ceremonial buildings.

Monk's Mound, 100 feet tall and covering 14 acres. That's a lot of baskets of earth.

It's a world heritage site and is so worth a visit if you're anywhere in the area. It's just 15 minutes from St. Louis, Missouri.

St. Louis from the top of Monk's Mound
Zion National Park is about half an hour from St. George, Utah.

Lower Emerald Pool - you can walk under the waterfall and get as wet as you want to
Zion has a lot of the canyon drama of some of the bigger parks in the area, but it's small enough to explore in a day or two, and it's got some green, which is like a refreshing miracle in the middle of the desert.

Looking down the canyon on the Riverside Hike
The Riverside Hike leads to The Narrows, which most everyone has seen pictures of. The canyon walls keep moving together as you walk up the Virgin River until you end up walking in the water, reaching out to touch both walls at once.

 Dramatic and very beautiful. And, I was happy to see, full of happy travellers speaking many different languages.

We spent our last night in Las Vegas. I'm a sucker for the lights.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Put on the Red Dress

I sewed a slew of knits as part of prepping for our vacation. We're halfway through our drive cross-country to visit family in Rochester, Minnesota and then more family in Chicago. When we've made this trip in the past we've usually gone in August. Heat, cicadas singing, summer storms. So far June has been cooler and we've run into some rain. Very exotic for us drought-weary Californians. I'm figuring we'll be seeing some shorts weather, since we'll be heading home through southern Utah and Las Vegas.

Knits are always good packers. Easy-care, not too many wrinkles and not too warm.

Front view - must develop more decolletage

This is the cowl-neck dress #106 from BurdaStyle's May, 2014 issue. I had this piece of red cotton knit from Backstitch, in Nevada City. I'd planned to use it for a dress or maxi skirt. Deanna, Backstitch's proprietress, had suggested the weight would be good for one or the other. I don't usually wear red, but, hey, when you're on vacation you should live a little, right?

Side view
 It's a lot of red though.

The dress only has three pieces; back, front with cut-on cowl and sleeve. It should have been a snap to sew but once again I got stuck in the mental flypaper of the instructions. After scratching my brow for some time I turned to, hoping some wiser mind than mine had worked this one through. I clicked my way to the super-helpful review by cabinbaby. She links to her blog post, where she explains very clearly how to put together the cowl in a much nicer way than Burda suggested. Plus, she helped me understand what the heck Burda was talking about in the first place. She is a lifesaver!

This dress is kind of outside my comfort level, but I'm thinking maybe for casino wear. We're going to spend one night in Las Vegas on the way back.

Another front view - darn that neckline swings wide and low
I may mess with the neckline some to bring it up a little. I think Burda imagined the dress on someone younger and with more d├ęcolletage than I possess.

Let's hope the red brings me luck at the tables!

My review is on here:

Can't figure out how to do a URL link on my iPad.....

Me Made May - The End!

Here's the last week of Me Made May:
Monday, May 26
A warm at-home day, so I went for stripey shorts made from the Pajama Style pants pattern in the May, 2012 Burdastyle, along with an Alabama Chanin tee. I made the hat too, quite a while ago.

Tuesday, May 27
Tuesday was a work day, I so test-drove my vintage Simplicity wrap skirt along with a top that I made from a Burdastyle pattern so long ago I can't remember which issue it was in. The top is one of their boxy styles and I didn't realize the lack of shape until I'd flat-felled all the seams. I hardly ever wear it but I've never gotten rid of it because I like the fabric so much. I got it at a little fabric store in Healdsburg, which has since gone out of business. Turns out it works OK tucked into something high-waisted, so now I'm glad I hung onto it.
Wednesday, May 28
This dress was my first try at a vintage pattern. It's a Butterick which looks like it might be from the 40's that I tried (pretty unsuccessfully) to grade up a size or two. The fabric is kind of a ho-hum color so I don't wear this often either. Though during the day I thought it was pretty comfortable and I liked it better than I remembered. Looking at this picture though, I'm putting it back in the "meh" category again.
Thursday, May 29
Thursday I test-drove my diner blouse with my denim Burda pajama style pants. I stayed pretty comfy all day, so I think the top will be a winner for the road trip.
Friday, May 30
Friday I pulled out a cowl-neck tee that I made ages ago from a pattern and instructions in a Threads magazine. I'm thinking that I might give this pattern another try if I can find it in my pattern drawer (which I have to moosh down to close). I didn't like it when I first finished it, but I've come to appreciate it and I think I could do a better job with it now that I've got a few more years sewing experience under my belt. The skirt is a double-width of some Kaffe Fasset cotton pleated into a waistband. The great thing about skirts is you can use the colors you love but could never wear near your face.
Saturday, May 31
Saturday I wore my Crazy Pants (the drawstring trousers from May, 2013 Burdastyle) along with the Stylish Sweatshirt from the September, 2012 issue. I made the pants for vacation last year. Drawstring pants are another style I remember from my youth. Now that I've made them again I also remember the style issues; the gathers at the waist give me bulk where I least need it and the drawstring puffs out in front, also not a great look. But I like the fabric too much to send them to a new home quite yet. The top is made from a sweater knit that's a pain to wear, but I do like the style. I'd like to make it again in a nicer fabric. It has french darts and a low-dipping V-neck in the back, so it has a little bit of "hello sailor" to it.

I had a great time with Me Made May. As for so many other sewists, it's shown me where I have a few holes in my wardrobe. I could do with a few more black or khaki tops made from the stylish sweatshirt pattern, for one. It also sent me to the back of the closet to give another look at some older makes. Turns out I like some of them better than I remembered!

Even taking the daily pictures wasn't bad at all. Probably because The Man was so sweet about those early-morning photo shoots. We had a kind of "best out of three" rule - he'd just snap a quick three shots and I'd make do with what we got.

Another little benefit: I've gotten a bit more relaxed about how I look in pictures. The more you see yourself, the easier it gets.