Follow by Email

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!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Little White Dress Goes to the Beach!

Notice how beautifully the bodice fits, and how trim I look, this is the real me! I have worked hard to get to this point.
White is the presence of  all color. I love white, and I love color.
When I wear white I feel peacefully alert. White clothing  is luxurious because it needs more care.
 White can be a disaster when it comes to crowded cafes and restaurants. I once had a double mocha, extra hot splashed on my white cashmere blazer.  Th owner of the cafe was mortified and offered to replace it. I jokingly said that the jacet cost $5,000, so it would probably be better just to give me free mochas for life. He said that at the rate I drank mochas, it would be cheaper for him to buy me a $5,000 jacket. 
We settled on a free lunch and the cafe owner would pay my dry cleaning bill.

 When the Pattern Review contest  called the Little White Dress(LWD) was announced, I decided to enter. I have had my eye on this Lutterloh dress for  months:
Don't you love it? It has bodice shaping, a set -in waist that is attractive and slimming, and it is a pattern designed for knits. I have been sewing knits a lot lately.
 Most of the patterns I have used have been for wovens. It was nice to start out with a knit pattern. And it is a wonderful feeling to know that when I draft my pattern, cut it and sew it, the pieces will all fit together, and better yet, it will fit me perfectly.
The contest guidelines state that just as the Little Black Dress, is designed to go from day to evening, so must the contest entries in the LWD contest.
I have recently lost several inches ofrommy bust, waist and hips. since these patterns are based on my bust and hip measurements, I ws a little nervouse when I sewed the pieces together. That awful nagging voice of self doubt was telling me I had not lost those inches, and my dress would not fit.
Au Contrar little voice, the dress fits, and I feel great in it. And I have redoubled my efforts to stay on the straight an narrow and conmtinue to  shrink the bod.
Here I am in the dress without any accessories.
My sister-in-law was visitng and she used my iPad to take photos.  They are a little blurry, but you can see the dress.
See how beautifully the bodice fits? I was wearing one of my better and well-constructed bras.  For some reason I had decided to use a soft cup bra for some photos. Since the dress is a lovely, creamy soft Ponte de Roma knit, I though a bra designed to wear under t-shirts would work. what  occurred was that the girls became lazy and drooped below the lovely bodice cups. I did not notice this until we got home and looked at the photo. And we had some nice shots of me window shopping, and at the beach. We have spent days trying to get this right!
 Here I am walking on the beach wearing a silk animal print vest, sparkly belt and pink bag. The best shopping in La Paz is along the Malecon, and after shopping till I drop, I cross the street and treat my hot tired tootsies to a dip in the bay.
I had to include the photo with the standup paddler in the background.I live in a tropical paradise, and there are days like today when the sun is warm, the air is soft, and I have nothing pressing to do, that I wonder how I could ever leave.
Then there are days I'd be glad to toss the  house keys to the gardener and head north.

When we first arrived in La Paz and we were invited  to their home for dinner by  certain of our Mexican friends, we naively arrived a few minutes after the ppointed hour. Sometimes no one was home, other times the hosts were just setting up, and most of the time we were the first and only guests for hours.
 We quickly learned to arrive for an eight o'clock invitation at 10:00 p.m and to take a nap and have a snack before heading out. Dinner was often served well past midnight.
 Here I am channeling Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys,  greeting the morning still dressed up from the night before.
You can see the girls drooping down below the bodice cups. But  you have seen how beautifully the dress fits with the right bra...heed my warning, for this dress  wear a good supportive bra! the light was weird and gave me that bloated belly look that almost looks like a drop waist, just ignore it. I am.

Eight years ago, we built our current home. Our architects had their wedding here. The invitation said that the guest were invited to also wear white. It was the first time I had heard the term "White Wedding" and it did not mean that the bride was going to pretend to be a virgin and wear a white gown. It means that all of the guests should wear white as well Here I am in two versions of my White Beach Wedding Dress.
These are two more wrong bra photos. I won't do that again!

 The dress is lovley, I have received compliments  from friemds and strangers, and I have plans to make it in red next week.
 Please leave a comment below and if you are a member of  Pattern Review, please take a moment and read my review, and make comments there as well. Here is the Link to my review: My Review

Hey YOU in the frozen north, follow this guy's advice!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Jungle January A Subtle Savage on the Way to Being Svelte

Jungle January, a subtle addition to the wild things, and a celebration of my commitment to  my health.
 There comes a time when one must say: " Enough is enough!" that could be  enough work, enough  suffering, enough alcohol or enough  chocolate. And in my case,  I had enough of  being overweight, sluggish and unhappy about my self image. For years I was always so skinny I didn't feel grown up or at all sexy.  Then I gained weight, lost weight, looked great, looked awful. This Thanksgiving, I decided it was time to get serious about my health and beauty. No more funny foods, fads or fasts. I knew deep down in order to lose weight I had to get serious, and make healthy choices about everything I put in my mouth. I didn't tell anyone  what I was doing. When my undies started to fit better, I announced to my Beloved that I had been eating more carefully and after only a week, my underpants were comfortable. He was pleased, and said he could see the difference.

Within a few weeks, my pants were  falling down, and I could see my  sexy hourglass shape peeking out from the flab.
And now I am doing yoga every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 
 I have had little to no luck fitting pants of late, and decided to make a few dresses.
While looking over some reviews on Pattern Review, one of the reviewers I like to follow mentioned that the dress she was reviewing was for Jungle January. I followed the link and was  immediately engaged.
Jungle January is  an entertaining sew along, where sewists post  photos of themselves in a garment they made in a jungle related print usually an animal print.
" This is fun " said I.  "I think I'll make a bunch of  things I have  three animal prints."
Easier said than done! I sell real estate here in  La Paz, and I write for the  English-language newspaper The BajaCitizen.
Gone are the days when I could cut out a pattern and sit down and sew it in half a day.
So here it is the 26th of January and I have one garment done, and it is simply  trimmed with an animal print. But, I love this dress! I love that I had to use deeper seam allowances than I had intended because I have lost  FOUR INCHES on my hips and inch each  from my bust and waist! And there was no feeling of deprivation, or sacrifice. I read a quote by the model, Kate Moss, she said"...Nothing tastes better than being thin..." When I start to reach for a cookie or cracker, I repeat those words.

Here is the Lutterloh pattern that I  drafted:
It is designed for a woven fabric, but I have lately been enamored with knits and I decided that the wonderfully soft and supple Ponte knit I had on hand would look smashing. Enter Jungle January, and the cobalt blue faux wildcat print. Is it mini leopard? Is it cougar?  No matter the cobalt blue is striking on the black.
And my favorite of the full length fotos my Beloved took this morning.
I promised some of my sewing sisters on Pattern Review that  live in colder climes that I would send them sunshine and pictures of the pool at the Costa Baja Resort.  We had Sunday brunch with some friends and were there for hours laughing and talking. And I did not even look at the bread basket, nor did I have a bagel or toast.

Please note my leopard print shoes! I love them, and had to wear them with this dress today. I almost wore the Barbie flip-flops, but it was a chilly 80 degrees !

These pictures and the  lovely lines of this dress  make me look a lot thinner than I am. I have a way to go with my downsizing. But I am committed to losing 40 lbs this year.

 If you are in the reading mood and want to be inspired to lose weight safely, and without  silly diet plans pick up  this book: The Shift. I stumbled upon Tory Johnson's book after I had already embarked on my plan, and just when my panties were getting more comfortable. Tory's story is inspiring. She lost 52 pounds in a year, that is an easy 1pound per week.

My favorite month is coming up, February, I was born on February 21st, and I own the month. I look forward to celebrating my 64th, in a form fitting dress that shows off  how much less of me there is!
 Keep Sewing!
Just before sunrise at my house on the beach.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Susan Sews a Little Black Beach Dress

After the great success of my va va va voom dress, I decided to make another dress that would accent my curves and would be appropriate for dinner out or lunch at the beach.
Should I make a hot pink number with striped knit trim?  Or an animal print? I decided to make a little black dress, one that would be fun to wear, and have nice lines, have a little interest, and a lot of sex appeal. 
 I like princess or empire line dresses. they accentuate the lovely part of my curvaceous shape. 
So I leafed through my Lutterloh pattern book and came up with this dress:

 I can hear you now, " That is NOT a dress, it is a slip!"
 And right you are!  
"And it does not look the least bit sexy."
  " How can you consider going out in public in that slip?"
Well dear ones, here is the truth about sewing and fashion: It is all about, color, line and fit.
To be a success at sewing and designing, you must be able to look past the obvious, and see the lines, envision this garment in say, red silk with black lace trim.
 That would be sexy wouldn't it?
 Wouldn't it?
"Yes, but then it would not be a lunch at the beach dress."
You are right again.
But if I made it in a luscious cotton double knit with a bit of zebra print trim it would have that nice bit of wildness and not be too dressy. And it will look like this:
 Now what? What is bothering you now?
"It doesn't look that exciting on a hanger."
And there you go being right again. But I showed it on the hanger  so you can see the shape of the dress before you see it on me.
You can see that the zebra print curves nicely in the front and follows the top edge of the dress all the way around. 
The straps fit me perfectly, by the way. No sliding off my shoulder. No pulling. They fit perfectly.
 Actually the dress fits perfectly because the pattern was drafted from my measurements. 
After an expensive six-day retreat trying to use another pattern making system, I temporarily lost my Sewing Mojo. It was such a terrible experience that I was convinced  that I was a fat, ugly misshapen dwarf. I wrote to my friend Sonja Bezuidenhout, the Lutterloh maven and told her how badly I felt. Sonja lives in New Zealand. Back in June she held a two-day hands-on Lutterloh workshop in Dallas where my daughter lives. I zoomed up there and learned so much in two days. I had already paid my money for the torture course. So  I went. All I can say is,  taht I found some delicious pinot noir and made a few new friends. The best thing  that I learned was that I was on the right path with Lutterloh.
Sonja told me to pick a pattern and draft it and she would work side by side with me until my Mojo returned. That is all it took, to be treated nicley and made to feel like the intelligent person that I am.
 I made a dress, sent the photo to Sonja and she sent back raves, and said that I inspired her.
Back to the dress here are some photos of the finished number. Oh, BTW the responses from friends were:
 " Wow, sexy!" 
"You look fabulous!"
"It fits you perfectly."
 And I love the dress, I feel wonderful in it, and it is comfortable. 

I was a windy November day, my hair was almost stanidng on edge, but I just felt so pretty.
So, see, that pale green slip looked prim and proper, but with a little imagination became a  subtly, sexy Little Black Beach dress.

I think I shall wear it or something like it when we have a holiday dinner on the beach in our front yard.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Polka Dot Lutterloh Blouse, Saved from Oblivion

This was supposed to be the lining for the color blocked version of this top(shown below that I had made for the Mini Wardrobe contest. 
However, the main fabric was a  cotton Lycra stretch, and this had none. It shredded when I removed it, so I lost the seam allowances. it was on It's way to being a wadder, but I fixed it.
In stead of the front crossing and covering the girls, there was quite a wide opening. So I cut some fabric from my "Cherries on Top" yardage and made a little bib that looks like I am wearing a cami.

Since the fabric is so light, and I had to find a way to attach the bib, I sewed it in on one side and used Velcro to hold the bib and close the top at the waist.

I sliced the Velcro down the center to make a smaller strip that would work better with the lightweight fabric
The top strip of Velcro is wide and you can see how it would be too much for the fabric. I love rotary cutters! I just sliced it down the middle.

I used Steam a Seam to hold it in place. Note: I pressed the Velcro through some vellum that I use as a press cloth. Then I zig zagged it for a permanent attachment.
Here you can see it sewn in two places.

The buttons are a little heavy as well, so I did not make button holes, Ilet the Velcro do the heavy Lifting.
I have an eye problem, and I am no longer an ace at top stitching. But I love to topstitch. So when I want or need to add top stitching, I use a decorative stitch. That way, if i am not sewing perfectly straight, it doesn't show, and I also am sure I will catch the edge of the inside that I may have turned under.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes I will. When I started the original I thought I would make one side red, one side cherries and the bottom panels black. It looked too busy on the cutting table. So I changed my plan. I now have half a red version and half a black version cut out.

I love polka dots! I love red and white! So by saving the lining, and making it work, I have a perky, cool, crisp and red top.
I like this style, and I can see it in all black with black pants for our monthly Jazz nights. anyone that has any fitting issues, should try using Lutterloh.
I am also happy that I did not throw this top in the Oh Shit drawer to later end up in a bag of donations.

Here I am in a couple of views.

The red skirt is another contender that i did not use for the mini wardrobe, because my Beloved said that mixing it with the black knit top made the outfit look like the Nazi flag. 
I have enjoyed wearing all of the outfits that I have been blogging about. And being compolimebnted everytime i wear an outfit , is a lovely feeling.
 Here is the view of today, November 2, 2013, and the very high tide. You can see a big bird of prey in the distance gliding on the thermals.