Sunday, September 30, 2012

World Roller Skating Championships - Important Links

The 2012 World Roller Skating Championships are about to get started in Auckland, New Zealand!  You can check out the event website here and the live video stream here.  For those of you lucky enough to be in the area, the event will be at The Trusts Stadium.  Ticketing information is here.

I, sadly, will be at home, madly trying to straighten out time conversions.  According to the internet, New Zealand is 19 hours ahead of the US Pacific Time Zone, so you can go ahead and make your own conversions from there.  This means that, not only do I have to move times, I have to move days...  Ah, my head.  Though actually this works out because I can watch without interfering with work most days, which is good.  I just won't get any sleep for two weeks, which is bad.  But... it is worlds, so it is worth it.

EDIT:  I have been informed in the comments that, due to daylight savings time, New Zealand is actually 20 hours ahead of the US Pacific Time Zone.  If you are planning to watch online it might be good to double check your conversions before the event gets underway this week.  Thanks lovely readers!

EDIT 2:  I haven't been able to get the main video link to work, but I can get this link to show the skating, so go and watch it there!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Inside Patrones

Ok, so I recently bought a bunch of older Patrones magazines from Ebay.  Turns out that they are mostly from the early 2000's, but that is ok with me - I thought they were a great price, even though some of the pages had marking and scuffs.  The pattern sheets were included, and we all know that is the most important part.

While I am really happy with the magazines, I have to take this time to go on a bit of a rant - why can't anyone label the Patrones issue numbers correctly on Ebay????  Seriously guys, it's not that hard.  It is right under the big colored box and it says "No. ###."  Not complicated.  You don't need to know Spanish.  I have only had 1 or 2 instances where Burda has been labeled incorrectly on Ebay, but I have only had 1 or 2 instances where Patrones has been labeled correctly.  It is maddening.  I mean, the pictures have been accurate so far, but never the labeling of the issue number.  I just don't understand why it is so hard.  Seriously guys, get it together.

Anyway, though I think a lot of these patterns are a bit blocky or oversized for my taste, there are a lot I actually want to make too.  Mostly coats, which I am perfectly ok with.  Let's take a look:

From Patrones #163 (September 1999):

Coat #9 (on the right) - I love the shape and classic style.
Coat #10 (on the left) - Another fabulous classic coat (sorry the picture is so dark).
Coat #41 (on the left) - Not a fan of the huge fluffy collar, but I love the
single-breasted style, and the length is really elegant.

From Patrones #189 (October 2001):

Coat #20 (on the left) - Classic coat that makes me think of the 60s.
From Patrones #192 January 2002:

Skirts #18 and #19 - This issue has a lot of great basics like blouses, skirts, and pants.

From Patrones #202 (November 2002):

Check out the shoulders on that coat!  I am also liking the ruffly cardigan in the middle.
Coats!  I don't know why but I am obsessing over the green toggle coat in the middle.
More coats!  So many options...
From Patrones #249 (October 2006):

Coat #7 (on the left) - I am obsessing over this coat!
I love this entire wardrobe section!
The skirt with the little roses, the gathered green shirt, and the fitted jacket...
I might have to make all of these.
There were a lot of other good patterns in these magazines, but these were my favorites.  One thing I have noticed - it seems like the Patrones patterns are a bit more classic and timeless than the Burda patterns.  I mean, I have some Burda magazines from the late 90s/early 2000s and you can definitely tell that most of the clothes are from the late 90s/early 2000s.  It seems to me that Burda patterns are more trendy and current, but that the older patterns are more easily identifiable for a certain era.  With Patrones it seems like a lot of the patterns are very classic shapes, with the styling and photography helping them seem more timeless.  Burda will probably always be my first pattern love, but Patrones is coming up a close second.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recent Sewing Acquisitions

Ok, so I really was trying to be good and not buy more fabric...  But you know how it is when you have been looking for a very specific fabric for a really long time, and then you finally find it?  And then you start to look for all the coordinating fabrics for that project and you find them too?  And some friends to keep them company during shipping?  And then all the new patterns go on sale at the same time?  And you find a great deal on a bundle of magazines on Ebay?  Yeah, it was kinda like that.  Anyway, I have been neglecting posting my acquisitions, but I have been doing a lot of stashing in the past two months:

From  Brown textured faux leather, blue and cream cotton voile,
red/blue rayon suiting, and the cream lace that started my fabric buying frenzy.
From Fabric Mart: Metallic floral print, pale blue floral jacquard, and plaid silk taffeta.
From Fabric Mart: Teal/Navy wool (I needed some more), and teal cotton sateen.
More Fabric Mart: oat (this is more tan and less white in person) and black cotton sateen.
Fabric Mart Free Mystery Bundle Fabrics - mostly cotton sateens and poly wovens.
More Fabric Mart Mystery Fabrics - a crazy challis print and a thin knit.
More Fabric Mart Bundle Fabrics - maybe I could use the blue mesh for a skating dress?
I got half a yard of the odd quilted knit fabric.  What to do with it?  I have no idea.
I also got a free interfacing and a free button bundle from Fabric Mart.
Couldn't pass up this metallic red tag fabric at Joann Fabrics.
Also found a coordinating stretch taffeta for underneath the thin metallic.
Right now I am thinking holiday party dress?

From Fashion Fabrics Club: Teal wool, grey wool/rayon suiting, and green cotton jacquard.
Vogue Patterns!
Patrones!  No. 163, 189, 192, 202, 249, and Talles Grandes No. 23.
I will post more pictures of the insides in another post.
So, anyway, yeah.  Lots of fabric.  And patterns.  And stuff.  And now I am rethinking my end of the year sewing plans.  I mean, since I am working on my sewing challenge, the general plans are the same.  But the specific projects might have changed a wee bit.  In any case, I am excited!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Newsflash: New Marfy Patterns Announced

I have to admit, I don't own any Marfy patterns, but I have admired the many I have seen made up on other sewing blogs.  I have been informed by the BMV website that you can check out the Marfy collection here.  I really love a lot of the designs, but I have a bit of a hard time shelling out $20 for a single size pattern.  Though some of the coats might sway me...

F2901 - Lovely classic coat.

F2888 - The collar on this is pretty cool.

F2922 - Love the back detail.

F2935 - Super stylish jacket.

F2883 - Simple but very pretty dress.

F2975 - I love this gown!

So, what do you all think of Marfy?  Have you tried any of the patterns?  Are you a fan of the designs?  Are you willing to shell out for their pricey patterns when you can buy other brands much cheaper?  Discuss!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book Review: Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible

This year I have taken Tim Gunn as my style inspiration, formulating my sewing plans around Tim's essential wardrobe items.  As such, I thought it would also be good to read the books Tim has written about fashion and style - A Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style and Gunn's Golden Rules - and now his latest book, Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible.

I have to say I really enjoyed this book.  I would have to say that of the three books Tim has written, this is by far the best.  It is interesting and informative, but Tim's voice still comes through and prevents this book from being a dry history of clothing.  Though this book looks at fashion dating back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, the primary focus is on the rise of American fashion (and how WWII helped American designers become unique and innovative instead of just being European copycats), how fashion has evolved and changed through the decades, and how everything we wear today is really a derivative of history.

This book actually has a fascinating structure, where, instead of focusing on chronological eras of fashion, Tim actually discusses individual items of clothing instead.  The book is organized as follows:

1. Underwear
2. T-Shirts
3. Jeans
4. Dresses
5. Capri Pants and Shorts
6. Skirts
7. Belts
8. Dress Shirts
9. Ties and Scarves
10. Vests
11. Suits
12. Pants
13. Hosiery
14. Shoes
15. Athletic Wear
16. Sweaters
17. Coats and Jackets
18. Hats
19. Gloves
20. Handbags

I actually really liked the way this book was structured.  I felt like focusing on the evolution of a specific type of garment gave a very cohesive feel to the chapters, although Tim's writing style, as I have mentioned in my reviews of his previous books, can occasionally have a rambling feel to it.  I do think that Tim's passion for history, fashion, and education is evident in his writing though.

One thing I did like about this book is that it focused on both women's and men's clothing history.  While some chapters (like Dresses) focused more on women's clothes and others (like Dress Shirts) were geared more towards men, I thought it was good and equally interesting to read about both.  Another thing I really liked about this book is that there were side boxes full of useful information about modern clothing styles.  For example, I now know the difference between hotpants, short-shorts, regular shorts, Bermuda shorts, culottes, gauchos, pedal-pushers, and capris.  Yes, these are technically different and depend on subtle differences in length.  There are also helpful tips about appropriate styles and situations for wearing clothes in the modern day.  I have only one minor quibble - this book is not the best for bedtime reading - it is full of pictures and images from history, movies, and art which completely enhance the points made throughout the text, but also make the book a bit heavy and awkwardly shaped for cozy reading in bed.  I think the great information and lovely glossy photos make up fot that though.

Also, while I can't really fault Tim for neglecting the history of home sewing (since, let's face it, home seamstresses weren't really creating fashion trends so much as following them), I found it to be a fun thought exercise to try and see how the history of home sewing as I know it works in the context of the information contained in this book.  Tim emphasizes that fashion only makes sense in the context of history, and it is sort of easy to see how the cultural and societal revolutions in the 1960s and 1970s led to a wan in the popularity of home sewing.  It is also sort of interesting to note how the drop in home sewing seems to have been part of the move towards dressing for comfort, obsession with branding, and throw-away clothing (which Tim does discuss in his book).  I have to admit that I took little care or pride in my appearance before I started sewing, and while I know I have a ways to go (in terms of accessorizing, etc.) I have noticed a vast improvement in the way I look and feel.  Partly it is pride from wearing my own creations, but part of it is also that thinking about making things has me think about wearing them and creating whole outfits.  One of Tim's gripes is that Americans have trended towards a sloppy unkempt look.  It seems like this is correlated with the trend away from home sewing.  Coincidence?  I think not.  As Tim himself points out - nothing in fashion is coincidence.

Another feature I liked about this book is that, though it focuses on the history of fashion, Tim also makes the reader think about how this actually applies to them and their modern wardrobe.  In the Conclusion and Appendix, Tim (and co-author Ada Calhoun) encourage the reader to really assess their own wardrobe, what function it needs to serve, what sort of style they have (or want to have).  I appreciate that while Tim is (very) critical of certain styles of clothing, he is still encouraging and sympathetic with his readership and admits that creating a functional wardrobe can be a bit daunting.  I also like the fact that while Tim appreciates quality textiles and craftsmanship (most noticeable in his discussion of suits), he is still critical of unnecessary excess and expense (most noticeable in his discussion of handbags).  He is very practical about fashion; it is clear he thinks that everyone should take care in appearance and try to cultivate a personal style, but he also feels that fashion needs to fit into a lifestyle and not dictate it.  I rather enjoyed his discussion over the hypocritical notion that a woman is simultaneously criticized for not looking her best but also for wasting time thinking about the trivialities of appearance and fashion.

In the end I have a few take-away thoughts:

* No capri cargo pants EVER!!!  (Seriously, I got the message Tim!)

* Choosing between gaucho pants and harem pants is like choosing "between the bubonic plague and diphtheria." (Oh Tim, I knew there was a reason I chose you as my style guru.)

* Tim hates 1980s fashion as much as I do!

* Tim Gunn was at Woodstock?!?!

* I don't know if I am a Cleopatra or a Helen!  The dress chapter and the comparison between draped (Helen of Troy) and structured clothes (Cleopatra of Egypt) was perhaps the most extensive but also the most interesting.  My recent wrap dress is very much a Helen, but my LBD from the beginning of the year falls directly in Cleopatra territory.  Seriously Tim, can't I be both?

* Tim disapproves of pleated pants.  I tend to agree, as they are generally not a flattering style for me, but I am also planning on making some pleated Patrones pants soon.  I am trying to expand my style horizons.  It is an experiment, and failure is possible.  But I think I am going to go for it anyway.  Well, after I do a muslin first.

* At some point I should make nice pajamas.  Like seriously nice silk charmeuse pajamas and a sumptuous house robe.  Up to now I haven't had much interest in this area of my wardrobe, but Tim makes a few compelling points and so I am starting to think about the possibilities of nicer sleepwear.  Not something I want to tackle right away, but, you know, eventually.  After I deal with clothes that I need to wear out into the real world.

* Tights - other than skating tights I don't really have any.  Since I haven't worn many skirts or dresses in the past this hasn't been a problem.  Looking at my wardrobe going forward I think this might need to be remedied.  But, like, real tights.  Not pantyhose.  Tim disapproves of pantyhose.

* Apparently the white t-shirt is a signal for sexual availability - who knew?

* Tim insists having one trench coat with a removable lining is enough coats for anyone (unless you live in seriously cold weather, which I don't).  I disagree, but that might have more to do with my love of making coats and tailoring than actual practicality.  Although I now want to make a lightweight trench with removable lining sometime in the future.

* If Tim Gunn is America's style guru of today, Claire McCardell is Gunn's style guru of yesteryear.  Must keep a look out for more of her designs and books (now out of print).

* I need to make a vest!  Or more than one...

* I need to consider buying more options for accessories like belts and (maybe) hats and scarves.

* George Bryan (Beau) Brummell (1778-1840) is my new style icon.

Overall I would have to say that this is a fabulous book and I am so happy I read it.  Clearly, it isn't an exhaustive history of fashion, and probably wouldn't be of interest to serious scholars or fashion historians.  However, for those of us who are interested in a comprehensive, interesting, and fun overview of fashion history this is a great book.  It is my favorite of Tim's books so far, as it feel more informative that Guide to Style and more focused than Gunn's Golden Rules.  It is evident that despite all of the hats he wears, Tim Gunn is truly gifted as an educator, because he makes learning fun.  I certainly have more appreciation for today's fashions, and a greater interest in learning about fashions of the past.  This was an enjoyable read and I highly recommend it to others.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Book Review: Legion

So although I have been working my way through George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series and have put other books on hold until I get through the next few books, there are a few authors who automatically get to jump the line.  Brandon Sanderson is one of them.  When I pre-ordered Tim Gunn's latest book on fashion (since I am doing a Tim Gunn inspired sewing challenge this year, clearly this book was a must read) I decided to order/pre-order some of Brandon Sanderson's upcoming books as well.  Happy day, when Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible and Brandon Sanderson's Legion showed up in the same box.  I have finished the Tim Gunn book as well, and will do a proper review soon.  I have to say I went for Legion first though, and I devoured it in an afternoon.

Legion is a wonderfully fun and thought provoking story by Brandon Sanderson.  A short 85 page novella length (though considering how epic fantasy writers deal with story length this is probably closer to a "short story" for him) gives a perfect taste of the fascinating characters Brandon has created. Unlike Brandon's other works, Legion takes place in a modern day real world setting.  It follows the adventure of a very special detective with schizophrenic-like tendencies and his search for a magical medium format camera.  Though brief, this story forces one to question their relationship with science, religion, world politics, and themselves.  As is characteristic of Sanderson's works, the characters are lively, diverse, and entertaining, even when they may not technically exist.  Though his story touches on serious topics, the quick pacing and witty dialogue still make it fun to read.  I read it in one sitting (well, with a mild interruption for lunch) and it was incredibly enjoyable.  The conclusion to the story was satisfying, but left open ended enough that further adventures could be written in the future.  Fans of Brandon Sanderson will enjoy the story, but I think this could be a fun read for everyone, even if they aren't necessarily fans of fantasy or science fiction.  All in all a great little book, and one I highly recommend.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Don't Bore Nina! (aka - Newsflash: New Simplicity and New McCall's Patterns Announced!)

Two pattern releases in the same day!  Can we handle it?


After driving me batty for a whole day due to a broken link on the main page, I have finally been able to look at the new Simplicity collection.  Overall... I am not too impressed.  There are a lot of pajamas, crafts, and kids clothes, which don't interest me at all.  Of the remaining patterns... well they are just kinda there.  Basically the only patterns I feel are worth showing are the Project Runway patterns, some knit tops, and the costumes.  There are a few other bland items available (like a skirt) but not too much of interest.  Let's take a look:

Project Runway Patterns:

Simplicity 1718

Simplicity 1726
Can I just say - what the heck happened?  That top pattern is ok-ish (well, I think the designs are rather boring, but they did at least style it well enough to make it look ok on the envelope), but they bottom pattern?  If you sent that down the runway, you know Nina would be sending your ass home.  I can hear Nina now - "Where's the design?" and Michael Kors would throw in for good measure, "It looks a little cheap" (wrinkling his nose on the cheap in that way that he does).  Usually I like the Project Runway patterns somewhat, or I find them interesting or at least attempting to be on trend.  These just seem so generic.  If we have only learned one thing over the years, it is this - DON'T BORE NINA!

Knit Tops

Simplicity 1716

Simplicity 1733
Ok, on these I am totally torn.  The first pattern could be ok maybe - I do like the line drawing of the white top.  Make me think of Tanit-Isis and her quest for the perfect cowl.  On the other hand, the photo image of the draped cowl top isn't all that impressive.  Of course, it doesn't look like they used a particularly flexible knit either.  I am not a fan of the other top in the pattern - to me the gathers hit in a very unflattering place.  So, I am on the fence with that one.

As far as the Khaliah Ali pattern goes, doesn't it look a might bit similar to this New Look pattern?

I mean, sure.  With one pattern you get pants, and the other one you get a skirt.  But the tops and dresses are pretty identical, and the cardigan could be with a very minor adjustment.  I haven't got the New Look pattern yet, and I don't think I need to get both of these patterns, so I will just have to sort out which one I am actually going to buy.

Trendy Items

Simplicity 1715

Simplicity 1727
The dress pattern is ok - looks pretty cute, but I don't know if it is something I would necessarily want to make up.  (For some reason this pattern also reminds me of Tanit-Isis.)  Anyway, I think the pattern is cute, but not for me, so I am going to give it a pass.

As for the collars, well, I am sure the Puritans would be proud.  Though somewhat horrified at the leopard print.  Apparently collars are all the rage right now?  As far as this trend goes...  I think I will pass.  I mean, unless the pattern has a collar already there.  But... no.  I guess I will just have to walk around with my neck all uncovered like a floozy.


Simplicity 1728

Simplicity 1732

Simplicity 1737

Overall I have to say that the costumes might be my favorite part of this release, and I don't even find them all that impressive!  I mean, I like the first Snow White gown, but I didn't actually get to see either of the Snow White movies that came out earlier this year.  But if you did, Simplicity has got you covered. As long as you want to be Snow White.  If you want to be the Evil Queen...  well, then you have to turn to McCall's.  I will still probably get this pattern, as having a pattern for giant poofy sleeves could be very (very very) handy for some theoretical costumes I have planned for the future.

Love the coat!  My favorite pattern from the entire release.  Of course, knowing how rabid those Steam-Punk lovers can be at pattern sales, I expect I won't be able to find this anytime soon.  Which is ok as long as I get it eventually.

Finally, the Girl on Fire dress.  This is obviously Simplicity's attempt to re-create the Girl on Fire dress from The Hunger Games movie:

Overall I think they did a pretty good job... but I don't know if I would get this pattern.  I can't see myself using it.  I mean, I feel like so many people were disappointed with this costume from the film specifically, and there are been a lot of other imaginings of this dress on the internets.  If I wanted to re-create it I would probably use a Burda pattern I already own, but honestly I would probably try and make a dress more in line with the description in the books (which I haven't read yet - shame on me).  I predict this pattern will be popular with the mom crowd who sew for their almost teenage daughters though.  Either for Halloween or prom.

So, overall this Simplicity release is kind of a yawn.  Not that much excitement, unless you are into Puritan collars or extra puffy sleeves.

However, if you head over to the Simplicity website you can find this really cool poster:

For only $15!  It sounds like there is going to be a set of 7, spanning the decades that they have been in business.  Just imagine a wall of these.  Could look really fun in a sewing room...


The McCall's release had a better chance to impress me because their introduction was bit more on the "fashion" side of things, though they certainly have done their part to increase the number of strange crafty patterns into the world.  However, I must admit, I am rather underwhelmed.  I know it is fall/winter and we are all about layering... but, seriously, you guys, these are all potato sacks!  There is a serious lack of structure going on, and the few patterns that have a shape to them are, well, boring.  I have to admit too, that, while I usually try to overlook the styling in favor of line drawings and diagrams, McCall's made that really really hard this time around.  It is almost like they wanted to sabotage the decent patterns so people will buy the boring ones? 

M6659 - I have been blinded!
M6648 - Boring.

M6652 - Boring-er.

M6653 - Boring-est.
(No, your not-included-in-the-pattern sequined leggings do NOT distract me
from the fact that her top has roughly the shape of a used diaper.)
M6650 - This patten is ok, but nothing I haven't seen before.

M6650 - The alternative view is also cute, but expected.

M6649 - This top is actually fairly fitted, pretty cute, and comes with cup sizes.

M6649 - Though since this is the version shown on the main page,
makes me wonder how many they actually want to sell.
M6658 - This slouchy pattern seems sort of whatever...

Until you look at the line drawing.  Nice tank top and v-neck shirt pattern!
M6644 - Quilt re-fashion?

M6657 - This is styled well, but the pattern is pretty basic.

M6655 - This Palmer/Pletsch Jacket is probably the best jacket pattern in the release.
The draped collar is ok, but again I think overall it is sort of basic and not that interesting.
M6645 - The color blocking trend apparently is still totally a thing.

M6647 - This dress seems fairly cute (if a bit short)...

...but for some reason I find the back to be a bit... vulgar?
[Pause for rant on this dress:  I don't know why I dislike it so much.  We all know I love open backs, so the cut-outs in theory don't bother me.  We all know I love lace, so the fabric shouldn't bother me.  And yet... The combination makes this woman look like she is naked and totally covered in tattoos.  Which also shouldn't bother me (since I don't really have anything against people with tattoos).  Maybe my big problem is that this woman looks like she should be dressing as a mature adult, but she is wearing a dress styled for a young teen?  I really don't know.  All I know is that some combination of the the length, style, fabric, and model have given me a very strong distate for this pattern.]

M6646 - A sickly pink puffy dress wasn't exactly the palette cleanser I wanted...
Though this would have been AWESOME if I had had time to go to Promaballoona...
Dang it, now I have to get this pattern.

M6669 - Sad when the dolls get better clothes than you do...

M6670 - So cute!  I think I need to get this pattern...

The hat!  I have to make the hat!
So... yeah.  Not too much of interest in the McCall's patterns either.  I think it bears repeating: DON'T BORE NINA!!!

So, we know what my (rather strong) opinions are about this collection - what do you all think?  Did you find anything you like?  Am I being too harsh?  Is it silly if the only things I want to buy are costumes and doll's clothes?  Feel free to discuss in the comments!