Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bedside Reading- Colette Sewing Handbook

The Colette Sewing Handbook came in the mail yesterday. I read every single book that I sell on my website - what if someone asks me a question? This book would be a nice gift for someone who wanted to learn more about sewing, and if I were giving it as a gift, I'd put it in a gift bag with some silk pins, a pretty pin cushion, and a measuring tape. I like how it opens up and lies flat too. The book has lots of good advice about prepping fabric and pattern tissue - stuff that I learned from my mom ages ago, but if you don't have a mom or grandma who knows about sewing, it's nice to see this sisterly advice here. There's a chapter on fitting, advice about wardrobe planning and more. I need to read it very carefully again and maybe make that cute skirt. The instructions have lots of pictures for visual learners, and are very reassuring.
Even though I've been sewing since I was a child, there's always something new to learn. Plus, it comes with five patterns! The skirt with the scalloped hem would be perfect for my daughter. There's also a pretty bias blouse with fluttery sleeves, and a couple really pretty dresses. There just aren't enough pretty dress patterns - you can't have too many.
Mr. Hunting Creek thinks reading sewing books in bed is deviant behavior. Things could be worse, I tell him - with mobile devices I could be buying fabric in bed. This effectively shuts him up about the reading material.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jasmine is my New Favorite

Even though I have not purchased any fabric in over four years (and not suffered one bit, that's how much fabric there is around here), I never stopped collecting patterns. Patterns are the crack cocaine of sewing, incredibly addictive, and each new batch leaves you wanting more, more , MORE! Not that I have a problem with that. Patterns are small. I temporarily stopped my so far fruitless search for Simplicity 3536(but now I have two completely clean closets!)
to unwrap my new Colette Patterns, and immediately decided to make the Jasmine Blouse. So pretty! So feminine! No buttons or zippers- a big plus in my book. Although I've been making buttonholes since I was ten, I hate sewing on buttons and this is a perfect chance to avoid them.
As mentioned yesterday, when I cleaned out my office closet and previous fabric storage location, I found fabrics that some unknown person had snuck into my house. Luckily this unknown person has exactly my taste, so I could make the Jasmine Blouse out of blue charmeuse or cream silk jacquard. Or possibly both.
The new Peony Dress is a very ladylike kind of dress as my mother would say, and it would make a perfect LBD, and the Clover Pants are VERY Audrey. Audrey and I look nothing alike, but we can't let little things like that get in the way.(I'm more like Elizabeth Taylor, and very few people would say that she was a fashion a good way. She had her own style, though. She didn't give a damn about what you thought of her, and that's a style worth emulating.)
I know what I'm making next -what's on your cutting table for Fall?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How Much is Too Much?

You know you have too much fabric when you clean out the office closet and find four yards of dark blue silk charmeuse that you have never seen before in your life.
You know you have too many patterns, if, when trying to organize them (a Sisyphean task)you find not two but three of the same one.
You have too many shoes if you find new shoes in the back of your closet but it's the wrong size. Did I think somehow my feet would shrink?

Monday, October 17, 2011


Overheard last week at Hancock's, where I had gone to buy patterns while they were on sale:
"How much do you want of this?" asked the cutting lady, about a pretty red silky print
"One and 7/8 yard" replied the customer.

I raised my eyebrows and whispered to Mr. Hunting Creek that I had never bought 7/8ths of anything my whole life! He agreed that that was silly - why not just round up and get 2 yards? "Who calls for 7/8s of a yard?" he asked.
The back of the pattern envelope, I told him. And those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. You might need more or less.

They didn't have Simplicity 3536 (a vain hope!)- so of course I bought ten other patterns to make up for that. This is the same kind of thinking that leads to extra fabric buying...just in case.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fabric Affineuse

When people ask about my stash/fabric collection/Great Wall o' Fabric, I no longer say that I collect fabric. Instead, I say I am a Fabric Affineuse. Affinage is the practice of aging cheese so that your favorite brie is just meltingly ripe and the wonderful English Coastal Cheddar properly sharp - but not too sharp!. Fabric Affinage is the practice of lovingly collecting fabric from all over the world - curating it, in fact, and keeping it until just the right project makes itself known for that fabric. Sometimes this can be days, or weeks, other times it can be years or even lifetimes. There is fabric in my collection from my late mother's stash, from Mr. Hunting Creek's mother's stash, from his late aunt's stash...and so on. No fabric is sewn here unless properly aged!
Sometimes the match betwen fabric and pattern results in a beautiful relationship. Other times...well let's just say that there may have been harsh words or even tears. But most of the time fabric and pattern become one and we all live happily ever after...until the next project.
Do you practice Fabric Affinage? Or, are you one of those people who buy their fabric one piece at a time, for each specific project? (Really? Not even any extra? I wouldn't even know how to do that!) Become an Affineuse - you'll be glad you did.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Favorite Pattern

Normally, I'm not a sucker for cute, but this one was too cute. Reader, I bought it.
I imagined a teeny tiny clothesline along the wall of my sewing room with little bitty clothespins holding the eensy weensy aprons.
Simplicity should made super small versions of all of their patterns. It would make great art!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy Retail

When it comes to stickin' it to the man, of course I am all in favor. I am cheered by the Occupy Wall Street Protesters. Who doesn't dislike greedy plutocrats? I'm surprised that no one has shown up with flaming torches and pitchforks yet.
Last night while Mr. Hunting Creek was watching yet more football, I had an epiphany.
What women needed to do, I realized, was go on strike and occupy something. Why, people are still talking about those feminists who burned bras, although as I recall, no actual bras were burned. But it's a vivid image, and one that people remember having happened. Women on strike is not a new idea, of course. From Ancient Greece on down, poets and playwrights have fantasized about women on strike. But I wasn't thinking of going on strike like Lysistrata (although being anti-war is an excellent reason to go on strike). I was looking at fashion on my Steve Jobs memorial handheld device (thank you, Steve Jobs!) and wishing that the technological changes that have improved our lives might be applied to fashion.
If you were to ask any women, tall, short, thin, curvy, woman of any size, almost all of them would tell you that they have a horrible time finding clothes.
Of the women that sew, they will say that they sew because they can't find anything that fits, or that the workmanship is horrible on RTW, or that they like to customize what they wear to suit themselves. In the business-computer-land, where I work, we customize workstations to each individual user. But fashion has not embraced this possibility. There are hundreds - maybe thousands of designers, but it seems like they are almost all designing for some imaginary woman who is six feet tall and wears a size negative 2. In other words, not me. Not you either, probably. When I see fashion, I'm always mentally raising a neckline or lowering a hemline, always taking away excess fabric here, adding some extra there - customizing the look to fit my preferences. That's why I sew, of course. But in my fantasy, women everywhere occupied the malls and fashion districts and demanded clothes that FIT. Clothes that fit them and their lifestyles. Clothes that came with clearly labeled sizes inside, with dimensions and with different cup sizes. Yes! Standardized sizes! Tops and dresses with cup sizes! Pants that weren't always, eternally a foot too long (my complaint) or too short.
So good luck to my brothers and sisters occupying Wall Street! It's difficult to start a movement without backing from huge moneyed interests. Well done bringing attention to the plight of the millions of unemployed.(Some of whom could be making clothes that fit and beautiful fabric right here in the USA if those afore-mentioned moneyed interests hadn't shipped all of the jobs overseas to sweatshops and near-slave labor, but I digress). And if you can spare a few moments, can you make room for my sisters who want clothes that fit?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Jeans and a Turtleneck Can Change the World

My kids and I used to joke that Steve Jobs' closet had a row of 30 identical black turtlenecks and a row of just-cleaned, worn-just-the-right amount jeans.
He showed us the power of knowing what his personal look is and sticking to it. When you know your personal look, you don't have to think about fashion and can focus on changing the world.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Into Thin Air

The drawback of being a messy person who is married to a OCD cleaner person, is that items belonging to the messy - I mean, Creative Person, tend to vanish into thin air, never to be seen again. When guests are expected who aren't family members, Mr. Hunting Creek transforms in a manner not unlike Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde/Incredible Hulk and goes into his cleaning frenzy. Things that have disappeared, never to be seen again, include Simplicity 3536, which was last seen on top of my cutting board with dark green stretch velvet last December. The green velvet is visible on a shelf in the Great Wall of Fabric, the pattern is MIA. No matter, I thought, I'll buy another when they are on sale. But, Alas! The pattern is both out of print and out of stock. Heavy sigh. Also missing - my 9 inch round cake pan, and the 24 muffin mini muffin pan. Where on earth can he have put them?
When confronted with the fact that these items are missing, Mr. Hunting Creek denies all knowledge of their existence. "I know I had it," I tell him, "I even took a picture for my blog!" Confronted with proof, he looks somewhat shifty. He says I must have put it away somewhere different. Since I never put anything away, this is clearly a delaying tactic on his part. I can buy another cake pan and muffin tin, I tell him, but the pattern is out of print. I make a sad face. He claims that I just haven't looked hard enough.
If you see a copy of Simplicity 3536 around, let me know. The dining room, my office and the sewing room are all unnaturally clean. I suspect foul play.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Can it be too clean?

When my sewing space is too clean, I don't want to "mess" it up. Does having a too clean space affect your creativity?
I have found that I like things out where I can see them. It helps me make connections, think of cool projects I could make, put fabric and patterns together to live happily ever after. One of the reasons I asked Mr. Hunting Creek to build my Great Wall of Fabric was so I could see what I had. I have some fabric still in those big plastic bins, and I don't like it at all because I can't see it there.
When I am working on a project I like to have everything out where I can see it. It's all over my desk, and if it is a large project, it might also be in stages on the dining room table, the kitchen table and maybe even the chair in my office. I work messy. Which is funny in a way, because in my professional life I am famous for being neat, orderly and a martinet about organization. Do you suppose that's because I am free to be messy creatively?

Last weekend I made tissue paper collages, to make Christmas garlands with. I haven't had that much fun since second grade. They were SO messy, involving glue, tissue paper, paper snowflake doilies, glitter and Angelina. I'm going to add foil and paints today. They are only meant for fun, and how often do any of us do something just to make a mess nowadays?
Some of my friends assure me that they can't get a thing done if so much as one thing is out of place. They have to work in a neat and orderly environment or they just can't stand it. Secretly I feel sorry for them.(I tell myself that messiness is a strength!) I grew up in a large family with many dogs, cats, fish, kids and working parents who ran their own business. Things were chaotic,messy, noisy and disorganized but the experience gave me a very high tolerance for working in chaotic conditions.
How about you? Messy or clean? Messy but won't admit it? Neat and proud of it? Neat but trying to be be messier?