Sunday, March 27, 2011

What I didn't finish over the weekend

I hoped to complete a dress -- it has been a while since I've finished a project in a single weekend.  I didn't quite get there, but it's close -- just need to finish off the lining around the zipper, sew on buttons, and hem.   If I hadn't had to rip out so many mistakes, I probably would have made my goal.   Even re-doing the worst of the boo boos, this dress won't be my best sewing job ever, but I like it and nobody else will notice.   I used some of my favorite fabric: a cut from Joel Dewberry's "Aviary" series, purchased in 2009.   Do you have trouble cutting into your favorite fabrics?  I do, but the release of Aviary 2 made it much, much easier in this case.  :)   Since I have no dress to show, here's a preview of the fabric.

I also made labels for my pattern storage boxes.  Last weekend, I did a little reorganizing of my patterns, since my collection had, uh, grown since I set up my boxes.  I added four new ones, and made the labels below. I know I could have made nicer, neater ones using a computer, but hand-drawing them was more fun.

I buy the fabric boxes I use for pattern storage at the Container Store.  They're collapsible, but have a metal frame inside to make them sturdy.  The top zips open, with a Velcro strip sealing the flap.

The weather in Houston has been gorgeous, and azaleas are in bloom everywhere.   I wish I could take a week off to enjoy it.  I hope you had a good weekend, and got to do things you like to do!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another one of these Burda skirts

Here's the next Burda 7741.  I used a fabric I found on clearance at High Fashion Fabrics that I'll describe as a "twill challis" -- probably rayon, but it could have some cotton in there too.  Even though it has that twill texture, it's not as heavy as the twills I usually see.

This fabric is left over from a dress that didn't come together from a year or so ago.  I love it, and I'm glad I could re-use it.   I still have a little left ... maybe I can get a sleeveless blouse out of it.  

I left the pockets of this version to make it (hah) dressier.  It's lined in cotton lawn, which gives it a little more structure, and keeps it from wrinkling quite as much -- this fabric loves to wrinkle!    

Can you stand to hear about another camera?   I picked a modern one, to go with this modern pattern.  The Supersampler is a four-lens camera from Lomography -- you may have seen them at Urban Outfitters or your local museum gift shop (which is where I got my first one) too.   It shoots four image "slices" in the space of a normal 35mm negatives.  When you press the button, the shutters fire every 2 or .2 seconds, depending on which setting you choose.  There's a pull-cord that advances the film.   

My Supersampler is probably my most-used camera, and it has evolved a bit over time.   It started out like all other Supersamplers, making images like this:

But over the years, my original Supersampler has developed some quirks (and I have given it some too) and now I use it to take shots like:

... or this 

I've also used my Supersamplers with other cameras (by shooting the film multiple times) to get stuff like this:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Photos of my customized Butterick 6149

I originally posted about this one here.  I'll probably wear it as I am here, with a shirt underneath.  It just looks jumperesque to me.

The camera du jour is a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye -- this model is the one without the flash, which was made from 1949 to 1951-ish.  The Brownie Hawkeye Flash (affectionately known as the BHF --the same camera with a flash attachment) was made from 1950 on into the early 60s.   It's another simple box camera, designed for 620 film.  This camera was extremely common, and they're still easy to pick up cheap on eBay.  My parents had one, and I have a roll of film that I found in theirs that alas, I cannot develop because of its C-22 based emulsion, which is no longer processed.    I did however find and develop a roll of film in one of the BHFs I bought on eBay.   Given the angle of perspective, I suspect it was shot by a child.  Here's one of my favorites:

There goes the dog!

One last fun fact about the BHF: you can date them based on a four-letter code found inside all but the earliest ones.  It works like this:

C  A  M  E  R  O  S  I  T  Y
1   2   3   4   5  6  7  8   9  0

So if you found a camera with the code CARO, then you have 1256 -- 12/56:  the camera was manufactured in the 12th four-week period in 1956, so November or early December.  I think that's kind of cool.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My 40s gingham dress -- finally photographed!

I took my camera out to the patio yesterday and caught up on photographing my sewing projects.  At first I felt kind of weird -- as much photography as I do, I don't take many photos of myself.  But after a while, I started to have fun with it, and I like the shots I got.  The keys to success are good light and lots of takes, I think!

The camera I'm holding is an Ensign Ful-Vue, a British-made camera from around the same era as the pattern (Simplicity 4294, from 1942).   I thought I'd feel less silly posing for photos if I had something in my hands, and this is a fun way to share my other collecting obsession -- vintage cameras.  The Ful-Vue is a simple box camera that takes 120 (medium format) film.  Later versions of the Ful-Vue got quite strange looking, but the early model that I have is more rare.    You can read more about the Ful-Vue on Camerapedia (and the "early Ful-Vue" pictured there is in fact mine!)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Making bias tape, and the birthday beast

Kat asked in the comments on my last post whether my reference to "self bias tape" meant bias tape made from the same fabric as the garment.  And yes, it does.   She didn't ask how to make it, but if you'd like to see a tutorial, there are some good ones out there, notably this one and this one on the Colette patterns blog.   However, the question reminded me that I had taken some photos of how I get the fabric going through the bias tape maker, because I haven't seen a tutorial for that.  This was my least favorite part of the process until I found it was easy when you pull the fabric through with a needle and thread, like this:

You anchor the thread as if you were about to start stitching, at the middle of the end of the strip.  Then you can drop the needle through the bias tape maker, and use it to draw the fabric through smoothly.

In other sewing news,  I finally took photos of me in my finished dresses from earlier in the year, which I'll post soon.  And I finished my skirt -- now I need to photograph that.    Looks like my posting average will go up a bit, at least temporarily.

A vintage pattern I got recently had a facing piece cut out of newspaper, which included this partial photo, which amuses me for some reason.   Are they having fun?  It's hard to say.  The pattern this came in is a mail order pattern, and there was a date on the mailing label of 9/13/46.  The clipping looks to be of a similar vintage.

Finally, today is Dinky's third birthday!   The birthday boy got a fresh rawhide chew, playtime at the park, an afternoon walk, and pepperoni off my pizza.  All things he gets each and every weekend.  Maybe it's good he doesn't know it's his birthday -- he might be disappointed!

Here's a shot of Dinky from this morning, featuring his warm-weather haircut.  The temperatures here are already reaching the 80s!  

Friday, March 18, 2011

I made a skirt all by myself, and I photographed it all by myself, too

In uncharacteristic spurt of sewing practicality, I made myself up a skirt and am well into a second.  Both are from Burda 7741, which despite its disturbing cover art has become a pretty decent basic skirt pattern.  It ain't stylish, but it's very "me", and I'm sure I'll make more of them eventually.

I made two skirts from this pattern in 2009, and blogged about them here.  It's the bottom part of the strange bibbed item worn by the mildly possessed girl on the right in the pattern's illustration.  I lengthened the pattern about two inches for those first two.  For the current versions, I kept the length, and also added about two inches of width to the front and back skirt pieces, keeping the yoke the same.  Voila, nice basic dirndl-ish skirt.   Here it is, adorning my pantry door:

... and here, adorning me.  I wore it to work with a pink shirt from Target that and a cardigan from Old Navy that is all schmeebot's fault.  

Neither the stool nor the back end of
the dog were meant to be in this shot.

As alluded to in the title of this post, I finally busted out the tripod and self-timer and gave them a try.  The frantic beeping of the self-timer sets me on edge (and by the time the shutter actually fires, it's all I can do to keep from twitching), but I have batteries on order for my long-lost-but-recently-found camera remote, which I hope will help.    And eventually I'll arrive at a better camera set-up: it is clearly too low here!  

There isn't much more to say about the skirt, so have a look at its insides:

It's lined in pink batiste, and I used self-fabric bias tape to finish both the skirt and lining hems.  As finishes go, it's not exactly a couture look, but I like doing it a whole lot better than hemming, either by  hand or by machine.  Also, I didn't want the skirt to get any shorter.  I was originally contemplating a pleated flounce around the edge, but decided keep it simple.   While this skirt is fine for work (and I've already worn it there) I expect it'll see a lot of weekend wear too.

If you're paying close attention, you might have noticed that I used this same fabric for my first Pendrell blouse but I promise I'll never wear them together!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This post was brought to you by the letter B

I have done a *little* sewing, and have a skirt about half-finished but I've been swamped at work of late so I've set it aside for now.  I hope to be back to it before too much longer.  But enough about the alleged skirt -- what's this about the letter B?

Thanks to Bea of Butterflies and Hurricanes, I was inspired to buy some Seriously Awesome Jeans.  I've been having trouble finding good jeans in this era of the dastardly skinny pant, in which I look like a freak of nature, if I can get the damn things on at all.   Usually they don't pull up over my thighs.  I have a very curvy, muscular lower half, and it wasn't meant for this look.   The good news is that for Spring we apparently are to expect a 70s vibe, and while I can't say that in itself sounds like great news to me, it apparently means that higher-waisted flare-legged jeans are on their way in.

I never thought the high-waisted look was for me -- too mom-jeansy on my figure.  However, this morning I spotted Bea's me-made March post, which included some adorable high-waisted jeans that she made herself.   Alas, making my own pair is not on the map.  (Remember from just two paragraphs ago how I am struggling to finish a simple freakin' skirt?)  Anyhow, Bea's super-flattering jeans were enough to make me pause in front of the high-waisted jeans at the Gap.  I grabbed some.  I tried them on.  They were a tad too big, but I was surprised to find that I loved the look.  I went home without them, but checked online, to see if I could order them.  Nope, they were sold out in all but one size (not the one I was looking for, of course).  Uh oh ... now I was really sure I wanted them!   I went to a different Gap, where I found some the exact same size as the first pair, but these miraculously fit.   I could damn Gap for their inconsistent sizing, but I think I'll just be delighted that I got my jeans.  :)

I also bought another, not quite as high-waisted but equally nice fitting pair.   The first pair has now been taken off the website, so I can only show you the photo.  The other pair is here.  I think a big part of what makes these work is that the waist truly fits me (I'm used to higher waists being super gappy) and the back pocket placement, which is lower than the typical "mom jeans" look.  Now I need to get cracking on some vintage blouses to wear with them!  If I ever finish my skirt ...  Anyhow, thanks Bea for the inspiration!

Though I have not been sewing, I have managed to stock up on sale Butterick and Simplicity patterns from JoAnn's.  It kind of boggles the mind how modern patterns can be $17 most of the time and then suddenly $1 on sale.  Not that I'm complaining.

There's one more B to mention in this post ... this one is for Barbara, my neighbor, who gave me all this lovely fabric:

The fabrics in the upper left (a black one that's hard to see, and the two teal tweedy ones) are heavier, home-decor-like fabric that would be good for making bags and such.  In the upper right are some smallish (about 1 yard each) quilting fabrics, which could become bag linings, or perhaps used for trim, or facings, or with coordinating fabrics.  There are also some bigger pieces of cotton fabric (the purple striped one is probably seven or eight yards!) plus a sampling of rayon and/or poly fabrics that will be good for blouses.  And that lovely pin-striped wool suiting!   Anyhow, it's a wonderful windfall, and I look forward to using all of it!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Seven things

Marie tagged me for the Stylish Blogger Award, and I am honored!   (And also slightly amused, as I am stylish approximately zero days a week.   But we can be whoever we want on the Internet, right?)  Marie has been turning out these wonderfully detailed aprons of late, and you should go check them out on her blog.  There really should be more occasions for wearing such fantastic aprons -- they are wasted on mere cooking!

Anyhow, the Stylish Blogger Award stipulates that you share seven things about yourself, and that you pass the award along to seven other stylish bloggers.   So here goes ...

1.  I am a huge animal lover, and I've had a lot of different pets over the years, including birds, fish, reptiles and invertebrates.  I currently have a four year old canary named Sunshine (but called Eeper for the most part, because of the little sounds she makes) and a dozen land hermit crabs who dwell in a 75 gallon terrarium.  Hard to say how old the hermit crabs are (they cannot be bred in captivity, and thus were all wild-caught) but I've had them for five-plus years.  A little less than three years ago, I got my first dog.  You've seen him lurking around in my sewing project photos.  His name is Dinky, and he's a "ratapoo" -- a rat terrier / miniature poodle mix.   And let me tell you, my dog is amazing.   I never knew I was a dog person (though my husband did!) but clearly I am.   I could go on and on about my dog, but I'll stop now.  :)

2.   My husband is also amazing!  We celebrated 20 years together last month (we've been married 16 of those).   He's my best friend and supports me in everything I do.  We've always had fairly different hobbies and interests (and sleep schedules!) but we share fundamental beliefs and aspirations, and have a similar sense of humor.   I think at this point he knows more about me than I know about myself.

3.  Besides sewing, one of my other major hobbies is film photography.  I also collect vintage cameras, the crappier the better (so long as they work), and I have over 300 of them.  I use digital cameras some too, but for me, film is where it's at.  I love double exposures, light leaks, cross processing, scratches, colored gels, long-expired film, dirty lenses, you name it!   My flickr stream is here, but this is a sample:

4.  I'm a software developer, and have a Master's in Computer Science, but before I figured out that I enjoyed programming, I got a BFA in Fine Arts (Drawing) and a PhD in Cultural Anthropology.   I was in school a looooong time, folks, but I'm happy to say that I did finally end up with a career I enjoy.  

5.  I'm a native of the state of Florida.  I was born in Tallahassee, and went to college in Gainesville (where I met my husband).   As far as I'm concerned, North Central Florida is the most beautiful place on Earth.  Fun random fact: Samuel Coleridge's description of Xanadu in the poem Kubla Khan was partly inspired by descriptions of North Central Florida written by the naturalist William Bartram.   Yep, paradise ...  certainly it will always feel like home to me, no matter how long I am away.

6.  Another thing I love to do is run.  I've been running regularly since I was around eight years old, though back then it was because my parents made me!   At this point, it's more of an ingrained habit than a hobby.  I do pretty much the same run (about 3.5 miles) every day, and just relax.   I have no interest in pushing myself or being competitive, I just do it because it feels bad if I don't.

7.   I am a major introvert, and my husband and dog provide all the social life I could possibly need.  I feel uncomfortable at social gatherings because I've never mastered the art of small talk.   I can geek out about hobby stuff, but I don't know anyone in real life who shares my hobbies (so I'm fortunate that my husband is happy to listen to me prattle on about them!)  Lately I've been doing more presentations for work, and that has actually helped some, but I'll always be a loner, though not at all in an unhappy way!

So there are my seven things, and here's who I'd like to nominate ... some of these folks may not read my blog, but I won't let that stop me.  :)

1.  First off -- schmeebot!  We met a few years ago through our shared interest in photography (and specifically, in sending Polaroids through the mail) and have become close friends despite living a thousand miles apart.  Or maybe because of it -- who knows how I might drive ya crazy if you had to see me every day, schmee!

2.  Georgi is a fellow animal lover, and of all the photographers I know of, nobody has a closer photographic aesthetic to mine  She has many breath-takingly beautiful film shots in her flickr stream.

3. Shannon of Hungry Zombie Couture's blog was one of the very first sewing blogs I started reading, long before I ever imagined I'd blog about sewing myself.  I love her sarcastic wit, her gorgeous sewing projects, and I would happily kidnap her shoe collection.  And of course, she also has an amazing dog! 

4.  Bea of Butterflies and Hurricanes who keeps turning out these enviable vintage garments -- I love each and every one! 

5.  Little Black Car, possibly my closest vintage sewing neighbor, who has brought many a 1970s-does-1940s gem of a pattern to my attention.  Plus we both love rick-rack!

6.  Jenny of the ironically named Chronically Uncool who brings us Tetris fabric and gorgeous full-skirted 50s numbers.

and finally, 

7.  Marianne of Dancing With Poodles, who hasn't posted in a while, but I hope will post again soon.  I love her sense of style, and what an awesome name for a blog!