Friday, February 28, 2014

Newsflash: Simplicity and New Look Spring Patterns Announced

The new spring collections for Simplicity and New Look have been posted on the Simplicity website.  The Simplicity release seems larger than normal, though there does look to be more home dec than normal.  Of the adult patterns, there are a few that I think are fairly cute, some that are rather generic, and others that are so boring they aren't worth showing.  In any case, let's take a look:

S1415 - A Project Runway Pattern.
This dress is pretty, but I have seen many very similar patterns before.

S1418 - Another Project Runway dress.
The options for the back interesting, though the front of the dress is nothing new.

S1416 - A Suede Says pattern.
Pretty, but, again, nothing I couldn't make from a current pattern.

S1419 - I always think the lisette patterns are cute, but a bit sweet for my personal taste.
The jacket (view C) has an interesting collar, and I can appreciate the ruffles,
even if I wouldn't want to wear them.

S1420 - I actually really like these evening gowns.  Very pretty!

S1417 - An Amazing Fit pattern.
I don't know how the rest of the world feels, but that peplum on my hips?  No.
The neckline is nice though.

S1406 - Another fancy dress.  I actually really like the idea in the
drawing of using the high-low hem over a full length skirt.

S1427 - A tulle skirt pattern.
I am actually sort of interested in this, for costuming purposes.
I mean, I'm willing to pay $1 for instructions and yardage estimates.

S1426 - A Vintage pattern.  Not sure I will be needing any 50s bra tops,
but these are actually rather cute.  Very Gidgit.

S1421 - I actually really like the styles in this unlined jacket pattern.

S1425 - Peplum tops.  These are actually pretty nice,
but I think I have some from Burda that I like a bit better.

S1423 - Oversized blouse tops. Actually the dress (view A)
isn't too bad.  The neck opening looks pretty wide though.

S1422 - More oversized tops.  Meh.

S1424 - More blouses.  I can't see these being very practical to wear with a bra.

S1429 - A Knits Only pattern for skirts and pants.
I actually sort of like the pants, and I think the pleats will drape well in a knit.
Might be tempted to try this...

S1428 - Easy to Sew pattern.
Drawstring/elastic waist pants and skirts.  Meh.

S1430 - Nothing wrong with this wardrobe pattern,
but nothing that makes me super excited, either.

S1431 - A very generic wardrobe pattern.  Snooze.

S1445 - Skirt pattern.  We've seen similar style lines before,
but I think it is a flattering cut.  Especially view F.

S1444 - A Simplicity DANCE pattern.
Love the styles in this envelope - very typical/classic for dance wear.

From New Look, there doesn't seem to be anything particularly innovative, but I will say that they have managed to package their patterns quite well.  I think they have made some great fabric and styling choices for the envelopes.

NL6261 - I LOVE the photographed lace version.
The ribbon detail on the stomach is lovely.
Actually might be tempted to get this pattern for some fabric in the stash,
despite having too many sheath dress patterns in the already.

NL6264 - A Project Runway Workroom pattern.
I actually like the photographed dress - looks great for summer.
The giant ruffle on the drawn version... not so much.

NL6262 - Sort of generic, but fine.

NL6263 - Sack dress.  Meh.

NL6269 - A Project Runway Workroom skirt pattern.
On this pattern I like the drawing better than the photograph.

NL6271 - Drawstring skirts/pants.
I do love me a wide-legged trouser,
but I don't think I need a drawstring pattern.

NL6273 - Wardrobe pattern.
I actually really like the jacket and the top.
I can't see wearing draw-string pants as part of a work ensemble though.
Seriously, New Look - what's with all the drawstring pants???

NL6272 - Wardrobe pattern.
Not terribly excited by anything in this pattern -
though the tank tops for wovens could be useful.

NL6266 - Having just finished The Hunger Games,
all I can think of when I see high-low hem shirts is, "Tuck it in Little Duck!"

NL6268 - Some of these styles look overwhelmingly voluminous,
but the photographed view isn't too bad.

NL6267 - Basic tunic tops.  Meh.

A few thoughts - I am sort of wondering if Simplicity going to pick up any designers from the new show, Under the Gunn, to add to their Project Runway tie-in collection in the future.  There are definitely a few designers I am very excited about on the show at the moment, and I would be really excited if they made any patterns for the Simplicity line.  Guess we will have to wait and see.  Secondly, I am SO happy that Simplicity is adding a DANCE collection to their line.  With Kwik Sew retiring their skate/dance patterns faster than you can blink (seriously, nearly ALL of the Kwik Sew patterns I use on a regular basis are OOP now), and Jalie being somewhat pricey, I think Simplicity is making a very smart move in becoming the brand in the Big4 that will offer these sorts of patterns.  I hope they add more to their DANCE line in the future.  Fingers crossed!  As far as the overall collections go, well, it seems like a lot of the trends this year are very similar to the trends from last year.  Can't say there are a ton of patterns here that are exciting me, but there are a few I might pick up on sale.

So, what do you think? Anyone else oohing and aaaaahing over that lace New Look Dress?  Are all the oversized tunic tops doing it for you?  And what is the deal with all of those draw string pants?  Feel free to discuss in the comments!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Newsflash: April Burda Early Preview Posted

The Russian Burda website has changed their main page, and I haven't seen them posting any good Burda news there yet.  The German website, however, has posted the first look at the April issue.  It looks to be something of a mixed bag... There are definitely a few photos that excite me, though Burda's continued love affair with crazy sauce prints does make it a bit difficult to see a lot of the style lines.  I withhold judgement until I can see line drawings this month, but there is enough here that I am intrigued.

This dress!  I want one!  I am loving the draped collar.
Definitely makes me more excited for this month.

I actually rather like this dress too.
The neckline looks a bit low, but that would be easily adjustable.

Burda is doing a good job selling me on this maxi dress.
Actually, I think the neckline detail is pretty interesting -
I might even consider making this in a shorter version.

I like the look of the coat, but I would like to see the line drawing.
The pants... look a bit baggy in the crotch.
I also really appreciate the use of the fabrics on these pieces.
Not something I would think to wear together, but I like it.

Is the top a top or a vest?  Is the belt keeping it closed?
Definitely need more info before I make a call on this one.
I do rather like the fabric though.

Makes me wonder if the 1930s are going to make a revival?
I would be more excited by that than all the 90s revival stuff.

Not sure what the sewing pattern is here...
so I will have to wait for the magazine.

Jumpsuit?  It actually looks kinda classy.
Though jumpsuits aren't really my thing...

The top looks similar to styles we've gotten before.
The pants?  Meh.

Not really excited by anything here, either.

The Plus section isn't nearly as impressive as it was last month.
Maybe it is the scale of the print, but I just can't see this being flattering on anyone.

The shirt collar makes me feel claustrophobic. 

This trench coat is pretty sweet though.
Can't wait to see the line drawing for this one!

And this blouse isn't too bad either.

So - what do you all think?  Anyone else excited by that white dress?  What about the maxi?  Typically I am not impressed by the April issue, but this year it might be more interesting than March.  What do you all think?  Feel free to discuss in the comments!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora

It is probably all too obvious based on the number of recent book review posts that I am dealing with the flu.  Which was fine during the Olympics - online replays left me thoroughly entertained - but afterwards I turned to my big stack o' books to fill the hours.  It is one of those lingering sorts of things - where I have enough energy to be board easily, but not enough to actually deal with sitting at the sewing machine.  Taking my soup bowl to the kitchen is exhausting.  So I sit.  And I nap.  And I read.

I first heard about The Lies of Locke Lamora through the Sword & Laser book club podcast, almost a year ago.  At the time I thought it sounded like fun and put it on my mental list of books to check out.  Then, a few months ago, a friend recommended it so it jumped up a bit higher on the list.  I started reading it at the end of December, and have had to set it down and pick it up several times since then, as other books have jumped to the forefront.  I've finished, but I am a bit conflicted in how I feel at the book's conclusion.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is part fantasy, part mystery, and part heist.  Locke Lamora has been trained since his youth to run the city's high class gang of thieves, The Gentleman Bastards.  He is in the middle of a particularly well thought-out plan when the natural order of the city is disrupted by the arrival of the mysterious Grey King.  Locke and his friends must solve the mystery in the attempt to prevent total chaos from descending on the city of Camorr.

I have to say I am not entirely sure how much I really liked this book.  Perhaps it was my flu-induced ADD, but I found myself oscillating between being thoroughly entertained and mildly bored.  Normally I am one who loves descriptive passages, and the world of Camorr is wonderfully different from so many other fantasy realms, yet by the end of the story I was getting tired of what I felt were repetitive explanations.  I will say that I did love the interactions between the Gentleman Bastards - my only complaint is that there weren't enough of them!  Perhaps I am just a sucker for the large group of friends working to pull off a bit of sneakery, but I really wish we had gotten to see more interactions of the team plotting, planning, and working together.

The tone of the story runs from good-natured jesting between the Gentleman Bastards to rather explicit violence between mortal enemies.  I have to say I am not one to be put off by violence or offensive language in books, but for some reason I didn't feel like they naturally flowed in this story.  I found the tone of the characters to change too often at odd times.  Granted, as con artists, that should be something they are quite skilled at, but the timing of it made the main characters feel too inconsistent.  Their use of language kept throwing me out of the story and into modern day.  Well, that and everyone's need to give lengthy exposition on their terrible sad childhood.  I mean, giving people terrible sad childhood stories is a great way to build a character - but I don't necessarily believe they are all going to sit around and actually talk about it after beating the crap out of each other.

I will say that the end of the story was quite exciting though - which conflicts my feelings even more.  With about a hundred pages to go I was reading just to finish it, but with about sixty left I was reading because I wanted to know what was going to happen.  The conclusion was satisfying, though this story did leave several important things unanswered (well, really, barely touched upon them at all), which I suppose is a good way to convince us to read more of the series.

There has been talk on the internets about the possibility of this becoming a movie.  I have to say I actually think it would make a much better TV show than a full length film.  Partially because I feel like it would be difficult to reduce all of the nuances of the plot to only a few hours, but also because the way Scott Lynch breaks down the chapters feels very episodic and almost soap-opera-esque in style.  Also, I think the "mystery" portion of the story would play up better over the course of a season rather than in the time constraints of a film.  I don't know if it would be possible to retain quite the... flavor... of the characters in a TV series, but I think it would be better for developing the overall mystery and plot.  Especially if it were taken on by a network like HBO.  Normally I am on team "The Book is Better," but in this case I might actually be more excited by a well done television series than I am by the novels.  I would definitely love to see the world of Camorr on screen though - be it big or small.

So, I don't know how I feel about the first book of the Gentleman Bastards series.  I suppose I did enjoy it, off an on, but I also didn't feel like the story was quite as tight as I wanted it to be.  I liked the characters, but I never really fell in love with any of them.  I still have a lot of  questions about their pasts, but I am not sure how much time I want to put into finding out the answers.  Also, I can't be entirely sure how much my hesitation comes from having to read the book in pieces, how much from having the flu, and how much from the writing of the book itself.  This might be another book I have to file under the "written for dudes" category.  Certainly a lot of things I can see some of my male friends getting really excited about that sort of left me disinterested.  I mean, I think there is enough interest for me to pick up the second book in the series, Red Seas Under Red Skies, but probably not right away.  Definitely want to give the series another shot, but I am going to wait until I am no longer suffering from flu-induced ADD brain fog, and until I have time to sit down and read it without lengthy interruptions.  Which might be a while considering that Sword & Laser just announced the March pick (Altered Carbon) and Brandon Sanderson's massive Words of Radiance comes out next week!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Newsflash: McCall's Spring Patterns Announced

McCall's has just announced their new spring patterns.  About half the collection is for kids, and the rest is... less than inspired.  I don't know, maybe I am starting to hit a pattern saturation point where I feel like I've seen it all before, but all of the designs in this release just feel particularly generic and boring.  I suppose we should take a look in any case.

First up, the dresses:

M6924 - A Phoebe Couture design.
The dress is fine, but feels sort of basic.

I do like that the opening on the back is high enough to cover a regular bra.

M6920 - Basic sheath dress.
This pattern does come in McCall's plus sizes as well.

M6922 - A nice halter dress.  Pretty, but basic.

M6923 - Does anyone else feel like it is the attack of the 90s?
The grunge vibe is trying to come back.
I wish it wouldn't.
There are also a lot of tops in this release:

M6926 - I feel like something is off about the proportions of this boxy top...
Perhaps the neck is too high?

...though the version with the ribbon at the hem is a bit more pleasing to my eye.

M6925 - I feel like this top wants to be a dress, but doesn't quite make it.
I don't know... the bottom just feels a bit too full to me.

M6928 - This tank top has a rather interesting fabric detail.
Not in love with the other versions that come in the envelope though.

M6927 - Very basic t-shirt pattern.

M6928 - This top pattern seems a bit overwhelming.
Sort of like she is being eaten by the fabric.
And the other styles with this pattern are even more voluminous!

M6932 - A Palmer/Pletsch pattern.
Not a fan of unisex tops - they end up looking good on no one.
They also had a few bottoms:

M6931 - An Easy McCall's pattern.
Maxi skirt with elastic waist and slit.  Could probably draft this myself...

M6930 - Shorts in several lengths.
Actually I think they are pretty cute!
Not sure how I feel about the zipper being in the back though...

M6933 - A "Learn to Sew for Fun" pattern.
Ummm... I get that these are supposed to be easy to sew,
but nobody wants to wear cargo shorts that look like baggy diapers.
 I am way more excited about the costume patterns than anything else:

M6940 - McCall's jumps into the Game of Thrones knock-off costume patterns.

Just in case you didn't get it, they really wanted to make sure you realized that it was Cersei.

M6941 - They also have a Daenerys pattern if you are more into dragons than lions.
(And, I mean, who isn't more into dragons than lions?)

M6938 - A Linda Carr doll's pattern.  The ice skating dress is cute!
It also includes tennis, swimming, and skiing costumes as well.
Perfect for kids who got obsessed with watching the Olympics.
 And, finally, because it was too good to not show it:

M6937 - Chicken pin cushions and seam ripper holders!
Ok, now, seriously, who isn't amused by those crazy chickens?  I can't see myself taking the time to actually make one, but the thought of having one makes me giggle.

And that's that.  So tell me - am I missing something?  Should I be more excited?  Or do all of these patterns seem rather generic?  I mean, I am going to be adding the Game of Thrones patterns to the stash, but other than that?  Not too much I am excited about.  Feel free to disagree with me in the comments!