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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Susan Sets Sail in a Nautical Border Print

the buttons are not tight, they are gaping because of my arm position

To me, sailboats are East Coast, and surfboards are West when I was up in Vancouver, B.C. last summer and I saw this fabric, I saw surfboards.  Well look at the bottom border, on a quick glance they look like surfboards, don't they?

There was a cute display of mother/daughter  dresses made from this fabric. I loved how fresh and summery and surf boardy it looked.

 Here in La Paz, you see sailboats everywhere, on anchor, underway  with sails billowing, on the hard, on a trailer coming out of the water or being launched. Yet I focused on surfboards, and unless you are doing stand up paddling, you cannot  use a surfboard in La Paz, we don't have waves.

The bolt was laying on the cutting table. I got in line at the cutting table with all of my fabric choices, and asked for five meters of the "surfer" fabric.

 A very nice woman in line behind me said that she had put the bolt there and wanted to make the mother/daughter outfit for herself and her daughter.
 "Oh, I am sorry," I said," I will wait till you have your fabric cut and then I'll take what is left."
 "No, No, " she responded, "You take what you want and I'll take what is left."
 We went around a few more times, when I just said, "No, you have to take what you want, and I am happy to take what is left and I will not argue, please take it."
So she did. Canadians are just so nice.

 I purchased what was left on the bolt. Took it home and put it in my cupboard.

I dreamed about the fabric and had more than one design in mind for it.
 Somehow I believed it was surfboards and that I had 5 meters.
 Last Saturday I decided I was going to cut the fabric. 
 What a surprise, not only was it NOT surfboards, but it was barely 3 meters!

The pattern is a Lekala style # 5558
The line drawing doesn't do it justice. It is a very nice princess seamed shirt dress and it lends itself beautifully to this border print.

 I like the  collar and cuffs on the sleeves. the brush stroke stripes ( surfboards) add a nice lift to the white section of the dress. I had originally cut the sleeves in the blue border print. But two things happened:  the shape of the sleeve was pegged and therefore too tight. and the print just seemed like too much for my small frame.
 So I used the sleeves from my TNT  blouse and made cuffs from the bottom border.
 The buttons are alternating yellow,  and blue. The yellow buttons are  a gift from a friend's mother hwo knows I have a hard time  finding buttons, she brought them to me from Manitoba. 

Canadians are so nice.

The blue buttons are from my stash and I have had them over 20 years!

 I am hooked on Lekala patterns. Look at the fit. The sleeves are perfect, the dress skims my curves and the lenght is right on.
 I have plans to make this out of a chambray, and for winter in denim.
The fabric is soft  and cool and doesn't wrinkle much. 
 I was not sure I really liked the dress on me. I sent photos of the unfinished dress to two PR friends and to my daughter.
 The two PR friends were so-so in their applause. My daughter loves it,but suggested that I weara bra! I was wearing a bra! So I went online and ordered three new bras.

We go to breakfast every Saturday with the same coupleat the same restaurant and have a standing reservation at our table.
 I was just arriving, Patricia was behind me, and she whistled at me, saying my dress was beautiful.
 On my  way to the bano ( bathroom) the owner of the restaurnat stopped me to say she LOVED my dress! So did two waitresses. And at the Farmer's Market later that morning others told me how cute I looked.
 So, I now love this dress.

I am sure that the lovley, colorful border print is what has attracted everyone. Or maybe it is my sparkling self?
 I am planning to make some very light cotton tap pants to wear under summer dresses. Sticky, sweaty thighs  are no fun.
 I do carry a purse sized can of baby powder, but it is not  easy to discreetly powder one's thighs while dining!  And the dental floss that some gyrls call panties , well,  I could just never understand having a string riding up my crack.
Here is a photo fo my frshly groomed foot at the beach north f our house. On occassion in February we will be blessed with  small soft waves and can splash around.

Yes that looks like a wave out there, but it is maybe 18 inches high!

Wow! I was Nominated for a Liebster Award!

I am honored, and a bit embarrassed, because lovely Anne, Lovely Anne's Blog nominated me back in April for this award. I was thrilled. And then I could not  find her message, I thought the blog boogyman had erased it. I had to go through a couol of posts to find it. then things happened.
 So, today, Lovely Anne, I am humbly accepting your  nomination.
I also accept the conditions:
 1. thank the  person that nominated you. 
2. Answer the five questions she posed.
 3. Nominate 5 other bloggers that have less than 200 followers.
4. Copy the logo above and post on my page.
5. Ask my nominees five questions.
 The purpose of the award is to promote blogging and to support smaller bloggers  with less than 200 followers.
And I am nomitaing the following bloggers:
 1. Tanya at Mrs Hughes
 2. Sophie Lee at TwoRandom Words 
3.Bianca at Thanks I Made Them
4. Nakisha atSewCraftyChemist
5. SarahLiz at SarahLizSewStyle

 Are the five questions I will ask:
 1. Who taught you to sew and why?
2. What was your first sewing machine?
3. What is your first sewing memory?
4. What do you sew most?
5. What is your favortie sewn item?
Here are the Lovely Anne's qustions in BOLD and my answers.
1.      Why and when did you start sewing?
My father would buy almost anything that a slaeman brought to our door. We had the Encyclopedia Britannica, and a beautiful Singer 301 with a multitude of attachments. My mother refused to learn to sew. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on fabric and thread an a sewing machine. I was nine when I started, but really go involved in my teen years, and have never stopped. I live to sew!

2.      Why did you start blogging?

 My geek daughter dragged me into the blogosphere. I live in La Paz, baja California Sur, and blogging became my window on the world.

 Blogging about sewing is narcissistic, generous and just plain fun.

3.      What is the garment you have made that has made you feel most satisfied?
There have been many over the years. But most recently I worked one-on-one with Sarah Veblen to perfect a pants pattern. It was arduous, expensivetime consuming, and so satisfying. At the end when I produced a perfectly fitting pair of pants my Beloved said that he felt as if I had cancer, and now there was a cure. He suffered through my saga. But I am so glad I did it.

4.      What has been your biggest disaster?
Pants, pants, pants.

5.     What would be your outfit for attending a university graduation ceremony, as a guest?
Since graduations in the US and Mexico are usually outside in the summer heat, I would wear white. Maybe the white linen pants that I just completed with the 10” of crocheted lace at the hem, and the crocheted lace blouse and a straw hat embellished with seashells.

Thank you again Ann, I am honored!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Grrrr, Wild Animal in a Blouse in La Paz

Its mid May 2014. I am on a mission:
 To create a comfortable, stylish and functional summer wardrobe that will serve for business and casual wear.
Yesterday I competed blouse number five in my bevy of blouses. This is  another version of the Lekala princess seamed button up blouse pattern number 5114.
This is a nice, basic fitted blouse that offers lots of opportunity for adding details like piping and color blocking.
I love animal prints, I love black and white, and I love this blouse. I have been saying that a lot about the  recent garments I have sewn. Isn't that the way it should be?
If one spends the time and money to choose a pattern, fabric and all of the notions, shouldn't one be pleased with the result? This one says hell yes!

As perfectly as the Lekala pattern pieces fit together. And as perfectly as the finished garment fits, this particular project has not been without it's  travails.

The fabric was on a table marked "American Cotton". It has a nice hand, is tightly woven and posseses a wonderful soft, sheen.
Something tingled at the back of my brain making me feel that perhaps this lovely print was not  the fabric  it claimed to be.
 I washed and dried it. Nary a wrinkle in sight.
 I did the burn test, it burned and MELTED. A sure sign of a synthetic fiber.
But it is light, does not need ironing and besides I love it.  So I teamed it up with some lovely, soft black linen and red piping. Looks-wise, it  is a match made in heaven. Sewing wise, not so much.
When I drive, I drive fast, I like my coffee H-O-T. When I cook, I use high heat. When I iron all but the most delicate fabrics I use the linen/cotton  setting.
 I did test the fabric and decided it would be best to dial back the iron to the wool setting. I pressed and fused away without an issue. Then I pressed the linen pieces on the linen setting of course.

Then it was time to press the collar, which by the way, turned out perfectly with sharp points. I picked up the iron, lowered it and began to slide it...well no slidey the iron. It  stuck fast and melted my beautiful collar!

" Oh  S#$T!", I shouted, and many more lovely blue words that are satisfying,  even if they are not productive. I gave myself time to yell and sulk and call myself stupid and decided to soldier on and cut another collar.
 I turned off the iron so it would cool down. I should have taken a dip in the pool and  given myself time to cool down.
 I cut another  collar, fused it, stitched it, turned it and realized that I  had sewn it WRONG SIDES TOGETHER. "Oh Noooo, not again you dumb $%^&!" I screamed.
 This time I dived in the pool, paddled around, dried off in the sun. Came back, made a perfect collar, and attached it perfectly!
 Now its sleeve time. Look how cute these lseeves are:
Don't you love the bright red piping? The black linen tab? And the cute buttons that mimic the piping? Remember that I said the black and white was tightly woven? And the side panels are linen? Well linen has some natural ease, the animal print does not.  The sleeve cape just would not play nicely with the linen part of the armscye. And to make matters worse one armscye was an INCH shorter than the sleeve. Don't ask ME, I have no idea how that happened.  Well, three insertions of a tiny gusset later, I had an almost perect sleeve insertion.
 I gave up on having a perfectly flat sleeve head. But it looks good, yes?
 The blouse went together fairly well with the exception of the sleeves. I was a little concerned about how the buttonholes would work. 

I used the good side of the melted collar as my test piece, and made  six perfect buttonholes. Oh I know you, dear reader, you are waiting to hear about the next disaster. Well nanner, nanner, nanner, there was no disaster. the buttonhole attachment on my "new" old Singer 301 performed perfectly.
 So take a look at me in my lovley new blouse.
My Beloved and I were on our way out to supper and he is my patient photographer.  This is a new mural near a new beer restaurant, so I chose this locale as for my photo shoot:

I do not have a clue why these photos are so blurry. I shall try to correct this.
 Here are close ups of  the buttons, and my accessories:

And here is a photo of my sewing room after a major clean up!:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Little Linen Lekala Blouse for Summer

Summer dressing; it is not easy to look stylish,and  crisp and remain cool in summer. And here in Southern Baja, where the searing summer sun cooks you as you walk, and you can see the heat waves shimmering above the sidewalk in front of you, the thought of clothing, sounds like torture.
I have a standard to uphold. I cannot go out in public half dressed. While some tourists traipse around in barely-there bikini tops and sheer pareos. I cannot, will not dress like that.

Then there are the tourists and some other Gringos that have let all standards fall, or never had them. They look like they slept in their clothes since 1968, and their hair and feet look worse. These same slobs try to do business with government agencies looking like they slept in an alley.
Here I am after driving for 20 minutes and creased up by the seatbelt.

 And this year I am on a mission to be more put together in summer gear.
 It is so easy to fall into the easy, resort wear of t-shirts and capris, or the ubiquitous open blouse over coordinating tank top. I won't do it! 

My fitted blouse solution
I was also on a quest to find a nice, fitted, button up blouse that I could make in a myriad of colors and perhaps add some detail, like piping and color blocking.
And I have found a blouse that I like  a lot.
It fits right out of the "box".

 This is a Lekala pattern Lekala website
Lekala is a Russian pattern company, founded and owned by Natasha Lekala.
 She has hit on  an innovative  way to purchase patterns.  
You  input your measurements, and you can save them for future orders. Within minutes a PDF arrives in your email inbox. All you have to do is print the pages, follow the diagram, tape them together and you have a pattern custom drafted to fit YOU. And the patternsFIT> EVERYTIME. The pattern pieces fit together, no altering required. No slice and dice, no Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) no sway back or short waist adjustments. 
And the price? $2.99 US, and if you are a registered user, you get a 10% discount.  Browse the site. Choose your designs. Pay via PayPal and in minutes you are printing your pattern.

Forget about sewing directions, they are in RussoEnglish, supposedly translated by a native English speaker, hard to believe.Even if they were comprhensible, the instructions are minimal. I have been sewing without instructions for years. so this is not an issue for me. 
 I love the styling, the fit, and the instant gratification of ordering and receiving a custom pattern in minutes. 
The pattern sketch:
This blouse is exactly what I wanted, basic, nice lines, clean. Never one to leave well enough alone, I decided to emphasize the lovely princess lines with flat piping. Flat piping  is using a folded piece of fabric without cording. I used scraps of the floral print I use for my gorgeous fluted neck blouse.the floral funnel neck blouse

Piping front and back views:

 What does not show up in these photos is that this is a tissue linen with a silver thread shot through. It sparkles in the sun.

And here I am still in the grocery store, still looking a touch crumpled. The pants are last year's from Chico's and they are too big now.

The tabs on the sleeves are also made from the scraps of that floral blouse.

 Up next?
I am working on a zebra print top, but the side panels are black linene, and with the added pop of red corded piping.
Here is a sneak peak:

And here is a sultry early morning photo of my front yard:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Vogue Blouse That I Love So Much, I Made TWO!

In my last post, I talked about being out of summer clothes, and feeling desperate for some new togs!
Well I made three new blouses, a small start to a summer wardrobe.
 I saw this Vogue pattern reviewed three times on Pattern Review. One reviewer had made it out of home dec fabric lenghtened it and left off the buttons to make it a smashing Spring coat.
 Two other reviewers made the blouse. I was sold, I had to have this blouse. I broke my rule and paid retail  $25.00 US for this baby. Well $22.50 with my  Friends of PR  discount. I had it shipped down by my mail service, which means  that by the time the pattern crossed the border, traveled down the Baja, went to Cabo San Lucas, then back up to La Paz and to my  front door, I paid over $30.00.

I usually  use Lutterloh patterns for all of my sewing. But this blouse fulfilled two of my demands for my new wardrobe:
  1.            It must be stylish
  2.            It must be fitted
And I had no idea how to duplicate the fluted collar. I read that there  were EIGHTEEN darts in this blouse. And that properly marking them was crucial.
The pictures on the pattern envelope do not come anywhere near showing how gorgeous this blouse is.
 I read the pattern instructions, and thought that I must be crazy. The instructions called for tailor tacks to mark the darts, remember EIGHTEEN darts. And it also says to HAND TACK the facing at the seam where it joins the blouse.
Hand Sewing is something I avoid whenever I can. I hate it. I try as often as possible to sew my buttons on by machine.
Well I had cut the first blouse out of a black gauze with a silver thread shot through it, and the facing was in the same fabric but in pink. 
Some of my enthusiasm was starting to wane. I looked at the black fabric, and my marking pens, and my hand sewing needles and thread, and  quietly closed the door on my sewing room and took a dip in the pool.

This is a Sandra Betzina Today's fit pattern designed for Vogue. I visited Sandra's website purchased and watched  the video.   She showed a few finished versions of this spectacular blouse, and she showed how to make it. She used a marking pen! She never mentioned hand sewing or tailor tacks! I felt like a weight was lifted from my soul.

And here is the black gauze version. It needs the covered buttons sewn on. I will do that in the morning, when I am fresh. We are having some guests for an early  Sunday supper and I want to wear it. The gauze is light and airy and stretchy, no Lycra, just the way the fabris behaves.
 It is not as sheer as it appears on the hanger, the sun was starting to rise when I took this picture and was shining through.
 I made self-covered buttons for this one, and will show it off in my next blog post.
 So Sandra who is an eccentric San Franciscan, is a wonderful designer, seamstress, and presenter. Every time she presents a pattern, she says, "I Love it!" Her enthusiasm and passion shine through.
 I had so much fun making this blouse, that I made a second.

The pink floral is the first one that I completed. the flower in my hair is a gift from my friend Debra Fairweather. She said it was for me to wear when I took pictures of my garments for my blog.
Everywhere I went today, I received compliments . People that Imet as we did our Saturday errands all over town said
 " You look gorgeous,."  " I like your flower." "Your blouse is beautiful."
I felt beautiful.
 My Beloved said I am beautiful and  that this was a smashing outfit.

 Even tough it has raglan sleeves, the neckline darts help to shape them. There are long fitting darts in the front, and back and  each sleeve hem has two darts. It was really very easy to make, and a lot  of fun.Sandra points out that the facing is the key to getting the fluted neck made properly. She says to block interface, which means interface a chunk of fabric, then cut the facing.
The darts are marked on the  right side of the facing and the wrong side of the blouse then matched up and sewn. Truly easy. But outstanding results.

Here you can see the facing with some of the markings.

 I purchased this fabric several years ago at JoAnn's in Thousand Oaks. I always had in mind to make a nicely shaped and fitted blouse.
I lamost cut it  several times, but something told me that the pattern I was going to use was just not really perfect enough for this lovely fabric.

Many years ago, before I even had this fabric, my daughter gave me the earrings I am wearing.

And during our Chrustnas visit to my daughter in Dallas, in December 2012, I found the sandals I am wearing.  We always make forays to Designer Shoe Wearhouse, where we can find sandals even in the dead of winter.
 I showed them to my daughter, and she immediately remembered the earrings she had given me years before.
 Here  are the accessories that I wore today:

Naturally when people complimented my blouse and flower in the hair, I also said:
 "Look at my earrings." the responses was always, "How pretty and perfect for that blouse."
 then I would say, "Now look at my sandals."
Everyone thought that I must have made them.

Notice my buttons, please...
 Back in the last century, just before we decamped for Mexico, I had my 50th birthday party. A black tie affair.  Everyone was asked to bring a button that  reminded them of me. Some people brought  political buttons. Some brought just one button. Some gave me five or six buttons so I could complete a garment.
 These pink Bakelite buttons were a gift from my hairdresser. His mother went through her collection and chose these for me. Aren't they  the final detail in a very personal outfit?
Just because I love the look, and had so much funs sewing and wearing this blouse, here are a few more snaps.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Summertime and I Have No Clothes to Wear!

It's that time of year when the temperatures start to rise, and our clothing get's more minimal, lighter, and brighter.And I go crazy if I don't jump in the pool several times a day.
 I have been on a quest for a good basic blouse to make in several colors to wear with shorts and capris.
 I refuse to wear t-shirts and capris everyday. Falling into this  trap is just not for me. I like to wear lots of different styes. I like to be put together, and I like to be stylish.
Sometimes I wear a pretty blouse over a tank top and capris or cuffed shorts.

 My friend Mary has called it a uniform. And as I looked around the ex-pat community here in La Paz, I realized that she was right. Women of all ages and sizes were wearing shirts and tank tops.  NO more! I pledge, dear Mary, never to wear that look again!
 My reliable Lutterloh pattern book  does not have what I  am envisioning blouse-wise.
 I have this pattern from 2008:

Classy silhouette, yes? I loved it when I purchased it. I did not look closely at the pattern picture nor the line drawing. It was only when I got home and started to lay it out that I realized it had dolman sleeves! Not my most flattering style.
I have rounded sloped  and narrow shoulders, this  style.accentuates that sloping roundness
But still...
I was heading to  northern Baja with my husband on a business trip and I need  something stylish and with long sleeves, it is cold up there in June. they call it the "June Gloom".
I liked the blouse, and I still wear it and receive many compliment.
 I possess very few commercial patterns, most of what I sew is made from Lutterloh, because of the reliably superb fit.
When I purged 55 patterns from my stash a while back, I kept this blouse pattern and I am glad I did.

In the last century way back in the 80's I lived in Fresno, California, which is located smack in the middle of the roasting hot, land locked San Joaquin Valley. I hunted for the lightest of fabrics, and the iciest of colors for my summer clothes.
And that is my encompassing hunt right now.
 Summer is coming soon, we have already had some 100 degree days, and we are just closing the first week of April!
I am losing weight, and I need clothes. I have been wearing the same white cuffed capris for weeks, I need clothes. My blouses are too heavy, and my tanks and other knit tops have seen better days.
 The fabric I used for this latest version of the Vogue top is a light, soft, plisse-like cotton with a batik design in teal.
 Here is a photo of the blouse hanging  outside my sewing room window so you can see how soft and light it is:
The sun was not up yet, and still the light shows how whisper soft the fabric is.
When I frist tried it on, it felt wonderful! But I thought it looked like a pajama top. "Okay", I said to myself, "I'll wear it after my last swim of the day, when I am showered, powderred and wearing this and only panties."
 NOW WHAT?  I still need blouses.
Remember no tees and tanks.
 I decided to sleep on it.
 When I woke the next morning I pinned it closed and took a long hard look.
 Not bad, said I!
 So the other morning, I sorted through my dwindling stash of buttons and found some basic blue buttons, sat down  at my "new" old Singer 301 and made perfect buttonholes. Can you believe I purchased this machine just to make buttonholes?
 Well I did.
Back in Fresno ( what is with that place) I broke my promise to my mother and I sold  the old black Singer 301. Yep, the workhorse with the beautiful gold scroll work. My Singer is the beige version, Just as much a workhorse, but not a work of art.  I wrote about the  arrival of the black Singer here

 I wore the blouse to show property and to have a cortado doble descafinado ( Double decaf espresso cortado) with my friend Melanie. She took this photo of me at Cafe Exquisito.
I am going to put some very  light shoulder pads in to make it look like I have shoulders. The "batwing" look of the dolman sleeves bothers me, I like more crisp blouses. But in the searing heat of "Summer Hell" the so named fifth season (my Beloved named August15-October 15 th that way.) it will be nice to have any part of the slightest  breeze swirl around those batwings.

Stay tuned for my two Fluted neck blouses I made from Sandra Betzina's wonderful pattern.
Here is some seasonal fun for you:

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Black Dress that Became a Red Top

 In honor of recenlty past Valentines Day, I am finally reviewing my Lutterloh, red faux wrap top. I will write a review on Pattern Review as well.
 Yesterday, my Beloved came back from walking the dogs and found a lovley box wrapped in hearts and ribbons inside our gate. He brought it in and told me my secret admirer had left me a surprise.
Surprised I was. I have no idea who would have left this lovely treat. "Do you think it is a bomb?" I asked, he scoffed and said "This is Mexico, not the US!"
I closed my eyes, and pulled off the ribbon and plastic wrap. No explosion. It was full of the best Mexican cookies. I had strayed a little from the straight and narrow of my new eating habits at dinner on Valentine's Day, so I figured the cookies were not so bad. In fact they were delicious.
What a nice surprise!
 The box was wrapped in clear plastic with a lovely red bow and a gift tag with no name.
On to My Red Top!

Last month we had some fun sharing our animal print garments for Jungle January.
I made the dress in the pattern pictured below in black  ponte de roma with cobalt blue and black faux leopard print bindings. When I tried on the bodice I loved the look and declared
 " I shall make this as a top. I love the fit!" I never miss an opportunity  to add trim, or contrast colors or to mix prints. I just cannot leave  well enough alone.
I had purchased an oddly shaped pieced of a wonderful red and white striped four way stretch cotton  knit. It was a high quality sumptuous fabric.  My favorite fabric store here in La Paz has tables piled high with knits that Jaime the owner must buy in bulk when he goes fabric shopping in Los Angeles. I was in love with this fabric. My ever-patient and supportive Beloved agreed to help me dig through the piles of knits for another piece of this luscious stuff.  There wasn't the smallest scrap. not a square, not a  three inch piece, Nada! I bought the odd piece and have used it on my Red Faux Wrap top.Here is the top  on a hanger: Note the red and white band on the bottom. It looks wonderful nez pas? There are even little bands of striped trim on the cuffs.
 I could not wait to wear this beauty. The red fabric is a wonderful cotton knit that was labeled "Otoman". Whatever it is, I love the hand, the drape, the color.
I was not so thrilled with the striped band on the bottom.
 See for yourself:   The band accentuates body parts best left anonymous. I wanted to show off my weight loss.
I am not pregnant and that is not my belly button popping out. My pants are now way too big, and they were drooping and the snap on the fly front was sticking out.
Here is a little better view. I just did not like the red and white band on the bottom.
I cut it off and made a self fabric band. I saved the strip I cut off to use somewhere else. Did I mention I just adore this striped fabric?
Here I am at the Farmer's Market a few Saturdays past showing off the top with the plain red band
This looks much better. I love the top, and I receive many  compliments. And I may be able to eke a tank top from the remainder of the stripes.
Just a tropical scene from my  home.  Those of you still dealing with ice, snow , cold and storms, there are places in the world where it looks like this!