Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Newsflash: Fall Simplicity & New Look Patterns!

Simplicity has got more new patterns available!  Of course, these were posted to the Pattern Review website a while ago, and some lucky people already managed to snag them in a sale!  They've only just been posted to the Simplicity website, and my local fabric stores don't have them in yet.  They've also got the new New Looks up too.  (I was on the website as they were updating their images, so I actually had to wait to post this...)  Actually, I'm more anxious for the the Simplicity website to update the Burda patterns section - they've been announced for several weeks already, how long does it take to distribute these things?  The one good sign is that my local Joann's didn't have any Burda books on the table, and a "Do NOT Inventory" sign on the Burda cabinet.  Does that mean the new ones are in?  Sales are forthcoming, these are things I need to know!

Anyway, Simplicity.  The most exciting thing in this release is that we have another new sewing blogger with their own pattern line - Mimi G!  I have to admit I'm a fan of her sense of style, and it looks like I'm going to be a fan of her patterns too.  Aside from that, the rest of this release is a bit... meh.  It seems like a lot of costumes and kids stuff, and I'm not overly excited by the majority of the regular clothing patterns.  Let's take a look:

S1276 - The new Mimi G dress pattern!
I really like the color blocking here - interesting, but not too wild.

S1283 - These pants!!! And this skirt!!!!  Ah, this
is the pattern I have been looking for...
S1280 - Don't really need leggings, but I do like the blouse
they've decided to photograph.  The rest of the options... meh.

S1279 - Threads blouse pattern.  The lack of shaping isn't
really doing much for me.  I sort of wonder if the instructions
are any different for a Threads pattern?

S1277 - I always hear good reviews about the AmazingFit
designs.  But I never get them because I always find them sort of dull.
Am I alone in this?

S1282 - Basic skirts.  Meh.  The high-low hem in
the photo isn't doing much for me.  It's like,
enough of a difference to be noticeable,
but not enough of a difference to look cool.
Sort of just looks like the hem got crooked.

S1281 - Poncho/vest/wrap thingy.  Too much heavy fabric.

S1278 - Vintage Simplicity.  My first thought was that neckline
is so claustrophobic, but I actually like view C (white).
This might go on the list.

S1284 - Another Vintage Simplicity.  I love the art,
but had to look at the line drawings to get a better feel for the pattern...

Yeah, just too boxy for me.

S1287 - Look, men's clothes!  Would a guy actually wear this?
I feel like view C might be acceptable...  Any input from people who
actually know guys and sew for them?

S1286 - Another man's pattern!  Actually, I think this
shirt looks like a great man's top.  It would be easy to change the
sleeve length too, if they get fussy.

S1299 - Costume pattern!  Love the details on these jackets.

S1300 - More Costumes!  I actually love the shapes of these dresses -
fun way to do any princess costume without needing to make a
full ball gown, but also keeping it a tasteful length. 

S1301 - The wings are probably the only thing extra special
about these costume pieces, otherwise I feel like I could make these
using other patterns I already have.

S1294 - Capes.  Maybe the cheap looking fabric is throwing me off but,
I feel like there are better cape patterns out there.

S1293 - Simplicity is marking this as costume (I mean,
there are wings), but it just looks like mini hoodies to me?
Maybe I do not understand the reference?

S1305 - How awesome is this dress pattern?  It is great because it
has several styles for both girls and dolls - so economical!

S1298 - How cute is this???  Those penguins are adorable!
There are several other new patterns, but I think we've seen enough his/hers nightwear and scrubs patterns at this point.  Not that there is anything wrong with sewing scrubs.  Some people are making some awesome scrubs.  Just that there are already a lot of patterns for them, so I don't feel the need to show them off here.

And here's the stuff from New Look:

NL6301 - I actually rather like this wrap dress!  The front V-neck
doesn't look too low on the model photo.  Though I have to say that the A/B
skirt looks much fuller in the line drawing than on the model (a problem I've
noticed in some of the New Look patterns I've tried).  I suppose this
is the problem that slash and spread was designed to fix.
Not a particularly new design, but who can't use a good wrap dress?

NL6299 - I know we've seen collars coming back, but it must be in a big
way because this looks very similar to a dress in the September Burda.
I think I liked the style lines on the Burda dress better though.

NL6298 - Ok, my first thought was "meh," but I KNOW some
blogger is going to make this and style it super cute and I'm going to
find myself wanting one for some reason.  It is... not logical, I know.
But the more I look at it, the more I think, yeah, I could rock that.
Even though it is a sack dress with patch pockets.  On the hips!
Ack, what is wrong with me today?

NL6302 - Sheath dress and jacket.  Fine, but not particularly exciting.
I think we've seen similar from New Look before.

NL6308 - Another pattern that I'm going to say is ok,
but not terribly exciting.  Practical for fall though.

NL6303 - Looks very similar to S1280 above.
I actually like more of these sleeve variations, but the
Simplicity pattern also comes with leggings, and I
prefer the waistband and not the high-low hem.
I guess if you like this style of shirt you can have options?

NL6304 - Boxy button down with ruffles at the hips.
It's like, everything I don't want in a shirt.

NL6306 - More hip ruffles.  Bleh.

NL6312 - I do like the lines on this pencil skirt!
Very similar to the Mimi G. pattern, except the Simplicity
pattern also comes with pants, a top, and a jacket.

NL6311 - I always like the look of circle skirts - love the yoke
to keep it slim over the hips.  Looks like it would be fun to swoosh around in.

NL6313 - A less fabric hungry circle skirt.  I think I like the other
pattern better?  Though this has a smaller waistband if that is of concern.

NL6315 - I look at all of the individual pieces and think "boring."
But I must say I like them all together on the model.  I don't think
I need to buy this pattern, but I might consider using one of my drapey
cardigan patterns and skinny trouser patterns to create a similar look.
NL6314 - Another circle skirt option with sweater.
Apparently the sweatshirt is the fashion statement for the season?
(Also, sorry the image is so terrible - it hadn't loaded properly to the Simplicity website yet.)
So there they be.  I'm finding myself (surprisingly) responding more positively to the New Look designs on the whole, even though they aren't particularly new or different or interesting.  They are just silhouettes and shapes I tend to like.  And I'm even a fan of the pattern sporting the silhouette I don't usually like.  It is... odd.  As far as the Simplicity patterns go - I'm loving the Mimi G. looks!  Do I have the confidence to pull off such tight fitting knit garments?  I don't know.  But I love the shape of those pants, so at the very least I can frankenpattern the bell-bottoms onto another pattern drafted for wovens at the top.  Groovy jeans anyone?  Yes, yes I think so.  The rest of the Simplicity release... not overly exciting.  It is nice to see wearable looks for men, and some of the costume patterns are kinda cool, but not a whole lot of exciting fall wardrobe type patterns, though I suppose we got those in the last release.  So, what do you all think?  Are you loving the New Looks?  Or are all the shapes and styles so similar to previous patterns that they are just a snooze?  What about the Simplicity release?  Anyone else dying for those Mimi G patterns?  Or are you (like me) a bit intimidated to try those styles?  Feel free to discuss in the comments!

National Museum of Roller Skating - 2014 Visit

Long time readers of my blog may recall that I visited the National Museum of Roller Skating back in 2012 - the last time nationals was held in Lincoln, Nebraska.  I managed to get a quick visit in this trip too, and it was really fun to see the changes and new exhibits.

Even the sign outside is new!
In an effort to help my blog load more smoothly, I'm going to try to remember to add jump breaks on my picture-heavy posts... See more of the museum after the break!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: Promise of Blood

So I did quite a bit of reading while I was gone at nationals, and I'm trying to play catch up on my blog while I'm spending more time cleaning my sewing space than using it, and before work starts up again and life once again gets crazy full.  So expect to see a lot of book reviews over the next week or so, because I sure don't have any new sewing things to show off at the moment.

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan was chosen as the Sword & Laser book club pick for the month of June.  Although I didn't finish it until after the start of nationals (nearly a month late), I have to admit that it really was my hectic schedule, and not the book itself, that led to my slow pace.

Promise of Blood is a fantasy story about a French-Revolution-esque uprising in a world where powder mages use gunpowder to fuel their abilities.  The revolt is led by Tamas, a soldier who is willing to do whatever he feels is best for the people of Adro.  He employs Adamat, a detective, to find out secrets from the previous regime, and to discover who may be trying to bring down his new republic from the inside.  He is also willing to exploit the powder mage talents of his son Taniel to keep both him and his new government safe.

When I was starting the book it seemed that we were jumping perspectives quite quickly, and I was worried that that it might fall into the trap of too many people with too little personality like a certain other book I'd just read may have done.  Happily, while the character introductions are a bit overwhelming up front, the remainder of the story is told from the perspectives of the five or six main characters you meet in the beginning.  Which was nice because it gave time to understand their quirks and personality traits, while still having enough points of view to explore the world and see how all the various plot points needed to come together.

I enjoyed many of the themes explored in this book - especially toying with the idea that leadership is a divine right.  It takes a lot of religious and political tenets that have been displaced throughout history and makes them central plot points in the story.  Historical fantasy seems to be increasing in popularity of late, and I have to say the idea of introducing magic and gods into settings like the French Revolution is actually rather enjoyable, and somewhat thought provoking reading.

I do have to say that, while I did enjoy this book, I don't think I was quite as impressed with the writing as I wanted to be.  It was good, but it wasn't brilliant.  The problem, I think, is that I've read other stories that have attempted similar things, but done them better.  The idea for the magic system is cool, but it feels a little unfinished.  Like maybe all the rules weren't quite in place when he wrote it.  Of course, it could be that we just haven't been given all the information yet, but still some things (like the special abilities of the individual powder mages) felt a bit inconsistent.  The fight for political power was similarly interesting, but not quite as subtle or complex as I've seen in other books.  (I mean, if I want a good revolution story I'll just re-read Les Miserables.  Now that is some fantastic writing right there.)  Similarly, while I like a lot of the characters (especially Taniel and Ka-poel), I don't really love them in a way that I've loved characters in other fantasy series.  Overall McClellan has produced a good story with interesting concepts, but I don't think this book will go down as being one of my all time favorites.

Promise of Blood is only the first book of the Powder Mage Trilogy, and the ending definitely acts more like a set-up for the start of book 2 than as a conclusion for book 1.  I think there was enough of interest in this story that I'm willing to spend the time to read the second book and see where things go.  The first story leaves a lot of questions about the world and the state of our characters unanswered, so I don't really feel as though I've gotten a satisfying conclusion, and I'm invested enough with these characters to care about finding out what happens to them.  So I expect I will read the other books in the trilogy at some point, though I don't feel the need to rush out and power through them right away.  Definitely on my long-term list of to-read books though.

In the end I would say that I give this book a "maybe" recommendation.  If you love fantasy then I think this story deals with some common tropes in an interesting way, and it is probably worth the read just to keep up with the modern authors and stories in the genre.  Otherwise... I might say that you can give this book a pass.  I think there are better fantasy series out there at the moment, with more compelling characters, more complex worlds, and more sophisticated writing.  This book was good, and worth the read if you decide to pick it up, but I also think you can skip it without missing out on too much.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sewing Things About the Internet

It seems like I've poked my head back into the sewing blog-o-sphere just before it is ready to explode!  I know there's always a sewing blog event going on somewhere, but it feels like there are going to be even more things coming up than normal in the next few weeks.  Aside from Self Stitched September and National Sewing Month (which always happen next month), a few other big announcements caught my eye:

(1) McCall's company has a blog - and they are going to do their first sewalong! I'm waiting to see what pattern they pick.  I sort of doubt I'll participate - I just don't know if I can get excited about someone else telling me what to sew right now - but I am very interested to see what sort of pattern they pick, and to see what sort of insights a sewalong from the actual pattern company will provide, as opposed to, say, another website trying to sell fabric.

(2) Speaking of selling fabric, Fabric Mart blog will be hosting The Fabricista Fashion Challenge 2.  On the one hand, if I were going to try to participate in something like this, now would be the time to do it.  The skating season is over, and it couldn't hurt to have a little inspiration to jumpstart the mojo.  On the other hand, I'm sort of back to the same problem as above - I don't know if I really want people telling me what to do, especially not right now.  I'm a bit torn, but I suspect if I'm feeling hesitant, it isn't the right move for me right now.  I am definitely going to pay attention to the challenges/contestants/results though!

(3) Pattern Review is always hosting at least one (but usually two, or sometimes even three!) contests.  I've entered a few in the past, but the most recent contest - the One Pattern Many Looks contest - actually might be worth considering.  Partially because my *eep* ten year high school reunion just got announced this week.  And I have a few other concerts/performances/shows I am planning on seeing during the rest of the year, and I would love to make some new clothes to wear for slightly dressier occasions.  Oh, and I would like to make myself some stuff for work too.  Not to mention that one pattern/many looks means maximum stash usage in a minimum time window.  If I can find the mojo to get me in front of the cutting table, it would be all good.  Luckily, the contest just started on the 15th, and while I would love to make myself a closet full of trench coats, that isn't happening for this contest.  I know the goal is to use one pattern to get as many garments as possible... but I'm thinking of doing at least 2 patterns with multiple looks.  Maybe.  We'll see what happens, but of everything this is the most likely thing for me to participate in.

In the meantime... I'm cleaning the sewing space.  Like, major overhaul reorganization.  It's good, so far, I think.  Playing with the stash is good.  Nothing inspires more than handling miles of pretty fabrics.  I'll post photos once I'm done.  It won't be the awesomely epic sewing cave-rooms of other bloggers, but I think (hope) it will function better than my current set-up, which had been feeling frustratingly cramped and claustrophobic lately.  Especially when it started acting as a fabric storage facility for half the dance skaters in Southern California.  Yet another thing on my list of reasons why I was avoiding my sewing space, and yet another thing I am going to try to fix moving forward.  So, I'm thinking about getting back in the game, one step at a time.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Simplicity's Got Frozen Patterns! (Sort of...)

Somewhere in the past few weeks Simplicity has posted some new costume patterns based on Disney's Frozen - one for girls and one for dolls.  It is hilarious to me that it has taken Disney this long to release an officially licensed pattern for this product.  Even more hilarious, the girl-sized pattern is on back order until mid-September.  It's like they are still shocked and confused that this movie has been so popular.  And, what's more, they are incredibly behind the times.  I mean, let's face it, nerds scrutinize movie costumes the way fashion bloggers obsess over photos from the latest couture runway shows.  Disney/Simplicity really should have had this pattern out at the start of the year, when the movie was just hitting theaters.  What they should be pumping out now is a Guardians of the Galaxy family costume pattern - with Star-Lord and Gamora patterns for the adults, Rocket Raccoon for the kids, and a potted Groot onesie for the babies.  Actually, thinking about it, this is totally going to be the carnival feature in next January's Burda, I'm calling it now!

Anyway, new-ish patterns.  That you can't really buy yet.  And are mostly for kids.  But, hey, at least they exist!

The doll patterns are so cute!
Love the little green Anna dress.

Good luck getting this before Halloween...