Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reappearing Act

 Two of my most admired sewing bloggers wrote me in the past few days to say, basically, "You Okay?" shams and Myrna both have busy lives with lots of fun stuff going on, i think it speaks to their thoughtful and generous natures that they took the time to reach out. Therefore, i'm taking this opportunity to publicly out them as the rock solid ladies they be. So there ;)

I am fine, just busy! With less time for leisure type activities, i've been sewing instead of blogging (somewhat abashed emoticon). In this blog post i'll offer a basic accounting of meself. First, i made up Colette's Hawthorn in a 100% cotton indigo chambray from Stone Mountain and Daughter. Fabulous, fabulous essential daily dress with well thought out variations. Basic, not too dressy for everyday, comfy and cute cute cute

layers nice too
 I got complimented on this dress mid-morning after i had slept in it the night before (did i say a bit busy?). This stretch cotton twill in pale camo tones is on it's way for version the next: with sleeves and a possible frankencollar from Marcy Tilton's Beatrice dress (Vogue 8876).

Speaking of the Tilton sisters, i took their Craftsy class The Ultimate Tee. If you have any interest in sewing tees, tops, tunics, dresses or etc. out of 'finer knits' stop reading now and go get this class. Two fantastic teachers with different teaching and creative styles, Marcy and Katherine Tilton cover how to handle all the fiddly bits (like when you splurged on a special length of fabric and don't have enough to make a muslin out of part of it), as well as taking you through all the steps from fabric choice, to pre-shrinking, to aftercare, binding variations, and seam finishes. The Tilton sisters give you all the practical knowledge you need in order to freely exercise your own creative choices, a rare mix.

 When i started watching the Ultimate Tee class I'd been stuck on this tank, inspired by the Alabama Chanin Basics line, for a few weeks. In The Ultimate Tee, Marcy shows a traditional men's crewneck undershirt neckline-type finish which she found on a RTW top in Paris. The idea of creating this neckline finish, which showcases the beauty of machine sewing, all by hand tickled me pink. So i went for it, and it cracks me up every time i look at it. I used Katherine's bound finish on the armholes, both in a cotton bobbinette. I love the way it turned out.

The Tilton sisters are a national treasure. Go give them some love!!!!

rayon lycra ITY digital print from Stone Mountain and Daughter fabrics

Another must-have pattern, this one for anyone who's hard to fit in the standard leggings out there (patterns and or RTW): Cake Patterns Espresso leggings. I always get mondo bagging right in the front of the crotch and i have to fold out alarming amounts of fabric to get anything near comfort - i've actually put horizontal darts in the crotch of leggings before. Why, yes, now that you ask, it does look incredibly weird and, frankly, verges on the pervy.

Espresso leggings in Nevada City's Broad Street Inn
But with Espresso leggings i'm pervy no more! This pattern is great if you have some sewing under your belt and want to crank out some outrageous covers for your gams, or if like me you have fussy, hard to fit and painful hindquarters. The template for creating your personalized pattern is very slick, and makes it incredibly easy to adjust for any fabrics or preferred wearing ease that doesn't fit the pattern specs of 5% lycra and 3/8" seam allowances. Just wrap the fabric around your leg at the measurement points (in the same direction the fabric will stretch as you plan to sew your leggings) and note how long it needs to be to give you the fit you want.  It's a snap to transfer these measurements to the proper place on your template because you labelled everything you need to know before - as part of the pattern generation. !SweeT! Seriously, it's like a public service.

The Phoenix Rose on Broad Street in Nevada City - go for the clothes, stay for the space

I've also made a muslin of the Red Velvet dress bodice. (I'll spare you the pics - i look like i escaped from reform school, eek!) I'm so enjoying the Cake Patterns - the whole system of fit, sizing and instruction is very different from the 'Big Four' which i can recite in my sleep. It's invigorating and good for the brain to work with a new approach - especially when it really works.

I appreciate Steph C's focus on practical, easy to make designs for producing reliable, fun to wear day to day clothing. I don't work in an office, i don't go to opera openings (sob), i don't frequent the club scene. I run around doing housework, a bit of gardening, lots of walking in towns and along hiking trails. Cake Pattern designs focus on garments which work in just this type of life, and i'm thrilled.

I've managed to cut and find a couple of stencils - that's Alabama Chanin's paisley design, with an altered flower shape. Finally, Mr. E and i have spent a few days in Nevada City this autumn...i took a bunch of pics of my Espressos at The Phoenix Rose while Mr. E explored their stock of unique steampunky slash Burnal Equinox designs. I took more pics of my Espressos in our room at the Broad Street Inn. I didn't want to forget that packer boots-violet lace socks-cattails leggings combo.

Nevada City shines as a beacon for eccentric dandies of all species. I believe that style encompasses what you do, even more than what you wear. Here's to all of us finding inspiration in our lives, and expressing that inspiration in what we choose to make.


  1. So glad to hear that all is well, Stephanie! And you have been busy! What a beautiful Alabama-style tank and I love love love those leggings! I understand your excitement. :)

  2. Good to hear from you again :) And wow, you really have been busy with sewing, love the dress especially (and the tee, and the leggings)!

  3. It's great to see you again, Steph! You're still creating beauty, I see - love those leggings.

  4. So very happy to find you back online, and glad to hear that all is well and that you have been busy sewing... (boy howdy have you been!)

  5. Yay!! Welcome back. Love the tights, especially the pic in The Phoenix Rose! So glad to see you again!

  6. Thanks for the prompt to check out Cake Patterns. I wasn't aware of their sizing system and it sounds interesting, worth exploring especially with basics that can be interpreted in so many ways. GREAT to see what you've been working on. I'm glad you found time to post and really glad you've reappeared. Don't go too far now.

  7. Glad to hear that your wanderings have been productive and happy.

  8. Sharon and Myrna thank you again for your kind thoughtfulness :) Sharon, i bet you're excited about those leggings ! ;) heehee, we're sisters in the "FBA" school - adjusting for full busts and flat butts! You're encouraging me to do a full review of the pattern - i want and intend to, just need to do.

    my little mouse (big hug but not too big ;) you are very kind. i like the Hawthorne as it's so easy to wear and has a bit of vintage feel without being twee or kitsch. The straightforwardness actually feel modern - it's a great design. (and i love your 'cats at work' - quite brave picture taking for a mouse :) !

    Hi Patti! you're becoming a media sensation, an advanced style superstar and i LOVE IT!!!!! woman, represent!!!! and thank you :)

    Hi Sweetie! thank you. it's so nice to have a sewing friend out there who takes sewing and making at a similar type of speed, not to mention how inspirational your work always is. How you find the time to make for yourself and friends is beyond me - though i have a little idea (in the nooks and crannies.....) (big hug)

    Hullo Ms. Ortiz! i am glad to be here too :) the best part about those leggings? i have enough fabric left to make a dress, too - wo0T!! and definitely check out The Phoenix Rose next time you make it up to Nevada City - lots of inspiration, in the clothing and in the store itself.

    Hi Myrna! i like Cake Patterns' approach as it's very focused on beginners having success, and producing flexible basics that don't take forever to make and work for 'moms on the go' as Angie Cox would say. i'd recommend taking some time to look around Steph C's 3 Hours Past website as well as her Sewing Cake site - she talks a LOT about her design process, her goals and how they affect her decisions.

    i'd been following Steph C for about a year before i bought the Espresso leggings pattern and the Red Velvet dress (both as .pdfs). So i was prepared for a very different experience than the typical Big Four approach. I was interested in the different approach to sizing as well as an anti-couture approach to dressing - the non-preciousness of it appeals to me. Debbi of Stitches and Seams wrote a large number of posts on her experience with the Red Velvet dress, and while i think the bulk of her points are unfair/personal preference and her refusal to contact the owner in order to stay 'objective' is ridiculous on it's face - if you are going to get tremendously upset by spending $15 on a .pdf that does not conform completely to your expectations read her posts so you can make an informed decision. And yes i said all this and more to Debbi in comments on her posts.

    On a happier note - i love this post by StephC on how she translated Charles James' extravagantly boned and constructed Four Leaf Clover ball gown into her Hummingbird Peplum top - a fabulously wearable little piece!:

    wow! and thank you, and i won't :)

    Hi Elle! heehee, thank you :)

    Happy day all! steph

  9. Glad to hear you are pervy no more. I was beginning to worry ;).

    Love all above, but particularly enthralled with the leggings. Oh someday, someday ... I'll sew something more exciting than a pillow cover. In the meantime, I have only to nav to your blog for vicarious thrills.

  10. P i love you!!!!! Call me!!!! i'm always with the fone and unless i'm driving i'm thrilled for the interrupt - how much better if it's *you*. :) big hug, steph

  11. oh i forgot the most important part - leggings have nos sleeves ;)

    your ever-plotting friend

  12. 'no sleeves'

    (oh for bleatin' out loud)

  13. I agree. I believe you are a enlightened person. Rita

  14. First she's here, and now she's gone again. I hope all is well and full of adventure!

  15. okay your fans are missing you. Come back come back we miss your posts.....

  16. Just came across your site, due to your Fluevogs. Love your journey towards signature look. Thanks for the link to "into mind" !!