Friday, September 30, 2011

Newsflash - New Vogue Patterns Announced

Vogue has released some new patterns!  Looks like a lot of party dresses, some fall/winter coats, and a few accessories.  Overall I find the silhouettes to be too boxy and oversized for my taste.  Even with most of the dresses I find that I either an not excited or I have something that would be similar, or better already.  Even so, there are a few of the new designs I liked and will add to my wishlist:

V1270 - I like the waist detail

V1275 - Line drawing is more appealing than the photos...

V8774 - Jeans.  
I liked these, but not enough to want to buy them:

V1267 - A little too simple, but ok.

V1271 - I liked this at first, but there is something off about the proportions

V1272 - I like it, but I think it would make me look like a clown.

V1273 - This one looks sort of sloppy, but I like the concept.

V1276 - I like the coat, but I have some Burdas that are similar.

V8781 - A nice pattern collection, but again I already have patterns that I like more.
V8770 - I really like this, but it feels very similar to V8307, and I don't really need both.
And then, of course, there were a few what were they thinking patterns:

V1277 - Big, boxy, crazy.  Dare I say?  Ugly.

V1278 - I don't even know what this is supposed to be...
 So, yay, more new patterns!  Nothing that I want right away, but I will probably add a few of these to my stash at one of the upcoming pattern sales...

Newsflash - New Jalie Patterns

Although I do not currently have any patterns from the Canadian pattern company Jalie, I have been eyeing their fabulous jeans and some of the skating patterns for quite a while.  I do plan to order from them eventually, but I want to do one massive order to reduce shipping costs.  In any case, they have posted some new patterns on their homepage.  There is a man's shirt, some baby clothes, a few women's tops, and a few leotard and athletic wear patterns.  At the moment I have a slight interest in a few of the new leotard patterns:

It's a bathing suit, but the back could be interesting...

Nice basic leotard.

Another great basic leotard.
I am more interested in some of their older patterns than the new ones, but I do appreciate that a large part of their collection is focused on skating/gymnastics/dance/athletic patterns.  KwikSew is the only other widely available pattern company that produces any of those, and even then you have to know where to look to find the KwikSew patterns.  There are a few other independent skating pattern companies, but they are highly specialized and seem sort of expensive.

In any case, new patterns, yay!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh Burda, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways...

So I have started on my wooly green winter Burda coat - the BWOF-01-2001-120/121 mashup.  The last time I made a Burda coat, I used an envelope pattern and I preemptively made a lot of adjustments because I was in a rush and I was used to Big4 sizing.  That turned out to be a very bad idea, and the coat was pretty much a mess.  This time I want to get it right, and I have the luxury of a month of preparation time.  I have decided to make multiple muslins - the first one being exactly as drafted, without any alterations.  It turned out surprisingly well:

Front - looking good!

Side - looking good!

Back - needs adjustments!

I think a mild swayback alteration will prevent the boxy shape?

I am excited about the vent detail!
Overall I am quite excited by the results.  Yes - the sleeves aren't set in well, and yes, the hem is sloppy.  But I don't really case cuz it's a muslin.  I was really just checking for length and proportions anyway.  In any case, I think all I need to do is a mild swayback adjustment and I should be good to go.  I will check the back fit with a second muslin (I worry about screwing up the way the vents hang), and then I will need to draft some lining and interfacing patterns, but I should be able to get going much faster than I anticipated.

Some notes about the muslin:

- I used gifted chair covers for the fabric.  Love free fabric!  I received 5 covers and used almost 2 of them here, so this fabric will probably be making some re-appearances.  In any case, that is why there is a horizontal seam across the back; in the real coat this will not be there.

- I always test the fit with shoulder pads in place as much as possible.  Without the shoulder pads, the arm will be too low and will restrict movement.  Once the pads were in place, this coat passed the self-hug test, so I won't be needing to do any back width adjustments (yay!).

- Although I usually do a length adjustment for my torso, I like the length on this coat without the adjustment.  The pockets are in a good spot and overall the length feels comfortable.

- I traced a size 40, and graded out to a 44 at the hem.  I think I am going to use a straight 40 on the front panels and seams - I do not need the extra room in the front and it will hang better being all of one size.  I will be keeping the larger size on the back seams, however.

- I need to do some sort of swayback adjustment.  There is just too much extra fabric and it looks boxy.  I have tried several different swayback adjustments before, and I think I may want to try one of my own design here since I will be making another muslin.  If that doesn't work... I will go back to one of the "conventional wisdom" methods.

Hopefully by the end of next week I will have things cut out and ready to go, but we shall see what happens.  I have read through the Burda directions which seem rather straightforward, other than the collar.  Wish me luck there...

Also, in other news, I made another iPod case as a birthday gift because there was some serious jealousy happening over the first one...

Another iPod case...

In Little Mermaid colors...

Pretty cotton print from the remnant section...

With a button closure this time!
Hopefully that will be the last S.W.A.G. item for a while.  Well, at least until November...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Interview with Brandon Sanderson

Check out this great interview with Brandon Sanderson!  He is a fantasy writer who was chosen to complete the Wheel of Time series after the original author, Robert Jordan, passed away in 2007.  He also writes great books of his own - highly recommended!  My favorite is the Mistborn Trilogy, although I have enjoyed reading all of his books.  I am super excited about the November release for Alloy of Law, although after reading the interview I also can't wait to read The Rithmatist.  In any case, his books always seem to jump to the top of my reading pile, so I can't wait to see what else comes out in the next few years.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sewing Room Tour

I thought it might be fun to give you all a tour of my sewing space.  I don't know that I can call it a "room" as I am in a studio apartment, but it is a space dedicated to sewing.  Originally I was using it as a bedroom, but I think it is much more functional to have the sewing stuff all together, and the living area feels much less claustrophobic now.  Even better - the mess of fibers threads and pins is much more contained, which means less cleaning for me!

Let's look around, shall we?

"Hallway" to the sewing space
On the left is actually the wall to my closet.  Cleverly, the closet sits dead center in my apartment, and a half wall acts to divide out the space.  Thus the sewing stuff can be nicely contained in its own area.  You can also see my giant bag of scraps.  I am saving those for a future costume project.

Pressing area, storage, and sewing table
The black wheeled container was a cast off from my grandmother.  The bottom shelf hold tracing paper and interfacing.  The contained part holds traced patterns and the Burda collection.  I store traced patterns in yellow envelopes and keep the original pattern with the pattern stash.

Growing stack of Burdas may soon need new housing...

My sewing table!
The sewing table has an old Singer base, but not the appropriate top.  It was a cast off from my mother.  In the corner is a vintage sewing cabinate, which was a cast off from my sister's "roommate for life."  At some point I would like to have a vintage machine to go inside, but my modern Brother doesn't fit, so right now it is being used as a notions table.

The notions table and pattern storage

I have lots of thread...

In here I store presser feet, needles, snaps and other things

My cutting supplies and swatch box

Pattern storage - up top Burda, Butterick, and McCall's

On the bottom - Vogue, New Look, KwikSew, and Simplicity

My dress form and sewing bag.

I love that the sewing space is now next to the bathroom - easier to look in the mirror, and less pins scattered about the floor.

My cutting table - aka the floor - with pad for knee protection
I do all of my tracing and cutting on the rotary mat because I do not have any other space that is large enough.

Fabric storage

The bins are for specific types of fabric so I can find what I want
I have seen many other sewers with shelves or fabric closets.  I would love to have the fabric out on a shelf and not stuffed into the plastic bins.  However, since my apartment is a single room I worry a bit about the fabric getting smelly since there is no protection from kitchen odors, and I won't be giving up garlic or onions any time soon.  Also, I worry about sun damage and fading, another reason I moved the fabric to the back of the apartment.  Since this living arrangement is temporary at best, I won't be planning on upgrading this until I have a more permanent living situation in a few years.

I have also been recently been cataloging the fabric stash - I haven't yet started on the skating fabric though.  And I haven't gone through my remnants yet either.  Already I am over 275 yards, which doesn't seem possible.  It is amazing how it all fits into such a small space...

In any case, yay, sewing room!  I know it isn't stunning like a lot of other lovely sewing spaces I have seen out in blogland, but it is my sewing space and I love it.  The only challenge is figuring out where to put my theoretical future serger...

Bye sewing room!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fancy Italian Footwear, Part VII

Ok, as promised, here are some pictures of my new-new skates:

Pretty Harlick boots

Roll Line Giotto Plate

Shiny new Roll Line Giotto wheels.
I have been able to wear them a few times and so far I really like my new vice grips on wheels figure skates.  Ok, I kid.  But not really.  Anyone who has broken in totally new figure boots knows what I mean.  I never understand the people who put on brand new boots and complain because they don't feel exactly like the old skates right when they put them on.  This just isn't going to happen - especially when you have something made almost entirely out of leather.  Leather stretches.  So, really, if you get brand new boots they should be just a tiny little bit too tight.  After several hours of use they will stretch and fit just right around your foot, which prevents it from sliding around in the boot.  I break in my boots according to Harlick's directions - only lace the bottom two hooks for the first 4-6 hours, then lace the bottom three for another 4-6 hours, then finally lace all the way up.  I have noticed this helps prevent the tongue from warping and twisting in odd directions (a big problem with many other boots I have owned), and allows flexibility while the boot is still very stiff.  I have only just started to lace to the third hook this week.

Also, I am really liking the Giotto plate for figures.  My coach seemed really really happy after my lesson, and he didn't even realize I had the new equipment on until later.  I don't feel totally stable, but everyone says I look stable.  I felt much more stable after I have laced up to the third hook, so I think this feeling will lessen as I break in the boots.  I do really like these plates for turns - I feel like I have much more precise control than I did with the Atlas.  I don't plan on doing loops in these skates since I will be using my old skates for loops, but I like the Giotto much better than the Ring for the full sized figures.  I would probably recommend the Giotto to skaters who don't do loops, or want one pair of skates for both.  I think the Atlas was easier to change action than the Roll Line, but it is also becoming more difficult to find Atlas parts as the newer models are not interchangeable with the older versions.  Nearly all Roll Line parts are interchangeable, or can be more easily acquired as they are the newer plates.  I am on the hard rubber again, but I have it cranked down pretty tight.  I suppose I could try going to the clear urethane, but I don't know if I want to mess with what I have right now, as it seems to be working well for me.

As a side note on cushions - I have tried the medium (natural tan color) rubber upper cushion in the Rings for loops.  I kept the hard yellow rubber cushions for the lower position - this hard/soft combination was recommended on the Roll Line website for loops.  I was able to skate on this on two different floors.  On the tighter floor this combo seemed to work out rather well, although I was having a little trouble with creating a consistent curve on the non-loop part of the circle.  However, on the slicker floor this combo was not good because the skate started to skid when I applied pressure to skate the loop.  I like the soft/hard mix, but it is simply not stable enough for my weight on the slick floor.  I wish Roll Line had five levels of rubber like they do for the urethane - I think having a stiffness between the tan and yellow would have been a perfect match for my needs since I do not like the urethane for loops.  So I have gone back to the all hard yellow rubber, since that seems to be the best option for me.

Back to the new figure skates....

As for my wheels - I am again on the 63mm 61D hardness Giotto figure wheel.  I have been using this wheel for a long time and really like it.  I have noticed my newer wheels seem a little more narrow and rounded than my older wheels, but they still skate well.  I have been pondering getting the 60mm "loop" wheel Giotto for my other skates, but I probably won't be getting those for a few more paychecks....

I am, however, using different bearings.  I usually use Bones Swiss in all my wheels.  I have tried the Bones Reds (made in China, not Switzerland) but I did NOT like them.  Other people swear by them.  They seem to behave on a case-by-case basis, but I won't be using those ever again.  I have also (briefly) tried the Roll Line micro-mini bearings, but I did not like those either.  This time I stuck with my Bones Swiss, but I opted to get the newer "L2" or "Labyrinth" version.  These things ROCK.  They are amazing - super fast, super smooth, super quiet.  I love them.  Totally need a set for each of my skates (well, at least dance) before regionals this year.

So, all in all, I am getting along really well with my new skates.  Since the pivot adjustments, I am finally getting a bit more used to the dance and loop skates, although with the recent cushion experiment, I am still not totally stable on the loops yet.  They feel better though, so probably will settle in with time.  The dance skates are a tremendous improvement, and many people have commented that I am looking better since nationals.  Overall the whole Roll Line adventure was a bit of a hit on the bank account, but I am really liking the new equipment, and it does seem to be helping me improve my skating.  Of course, the season hasn't even really started yet, and we shall have to see how the rest of the year goes, but so far I would have to say the investment has been totally worth it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

They sure don't make 'em like they used to...

I was wasting time looking stuff up on YouTube and happened to run across some of these old videos of world class pairs skaters from the early 80's.  Stunning.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fall Sewing Plans

I am so excited to be back sewing for myself and finally not projects where I feel like I want to have a big reveal when I have finished.  So I have been doing a little planning for my fall/early winter sewing projects, and thought I would share.

Project #1: BWOF 01-2001-120/121 Caban Jacket

Having just finished a coat for my sister, the last thing I want to do is start another complicated sewing project.  On the other hand, my mom and I will be attending an ice skating event at the coldest arena in the world, and I know none of my current coats will keep me warm enough to survive.  So I have decided I will bite the bullet and make myself a winter coat.  I will be using elements of the BWOF 01-2001-120 and 121 styles:


These are, essentially, the same pattern with different collars and sleeve options.  Which makes it very easy to frankenpattern, since all the pieces are made to go together anyway.  I want to use the collar from style 120, but use the sleeves and topstitching details from style 121.  Eventually I do want to make a version with the hood, but not out of my green Shipshewana wool:

I will be using the wool on the left.
I think with a hood it would be just a little bit much.  The fabric is a wool/nylon blend and very stable.  It went through the wash and dryer and came out looking like it was just off the bolt, other than a bit of warping on the selvedge edges, which will be cut off anyway.  I got a poly charmeuse from Joann for lining, and I will probably be using fusible interfacing, despite my recent success with hair canvas.  I do plan to use hair canvas with some of my more high quality wools from Yoder's, but with this coat I am going for convenience over couture.  I plan to use muslin for underlining, and cotton flannel for interlining.  Like I said - coldest arena in the world.  I will probably make a back stay and follow some of the other advice from High Fashion Sewing Secrets, because it really helped with my first coat from last year.    For skating fans here is a hint: I have approximately one month to finish this coat and if you look hard enough you may see me on tv!  In a sweeping crowd shot of course, but with a bright green coat I shouldn't be too hard to pick out.  In any case, I expect total cost for this coat to come in under $70, which to me sounds really good considering what I just saw being sold for $50 at Forever 21, and the fact that it is not possible to find really warm winter coats where I live.  What can I say, we have a very temperate climate.

Sewing Project #2: Burda Pants

Ok, I have been wanting to make some Burda pants ever since the April 2011 issue came out.  I was obsessed by these styles:

But since that time I have acquired several Burda back issues and envelope patterns, with even more great options.  From the envelopes I am coveting:

Burda 7284

Burda 7286
The September 2003 issue has some amazing styles that I would also love to try:





So many great pants patterns in one issue!  I think the September 2003 may be my favorite issue that I own.  In any case, I have some wonderfully soft grey rayon blend that I would love to use for my first pair of Burda pants.  I think I am a size 44 on the bottom, so I can use regular or plus sizes, which will be great for me if it works out that way.  In any case, right now I am leaning towards the 104A or 135 styles, because I want a nice dress pant with a side zip.  I have done fly fronts before, but I don't have any side zip pants and I think I would really like a nice pair.  However, I am also really liking the envelope 7284, so I will be debating which pattern while I make up my coat.  I am hoping to have this done before the first weekend in November, so that I can wear it for an event.  After two lined coats, unlined pants should be a fast project!

Project #3: More Skating Practice Dresses

Ok, technically I don't need more practice dresses, but I bought a lot of great fabric for practice costumes over the summer and I really want to make them up so I can wear them.  A lot of my first dresses are getting a bit worn (they are two years old, and received heavy use) or a bit large, and I like to make skating dresses every few months so that when I want to make dresses for competition my skills are sharp.  Not exactly sure which fabric or patterns I will use yet, but I want to make at least two or three.

After that - I have a list on my sidebar, but I will probably be shifting things around a lot.  I may want to make some quick tops, or a lighter weight jacket, more pants, or some pjs.  Who knows.  I can finally get to all those projects I have been thinking about, and I can wait to work down my stash.  Since much of it was bought with specific projects in mind, it shouldn't be too hard to come up with projects in the coming months.