Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Embarrassment and resolve

I haven't been spending much time in the sewing room lately. Mostly it's because work around the house and my husband's business has kept me hopping. But it's also because my sewing room is just an unholy mess.


Don't believe me? Here's a picture of just the sewing table.

I can't see more than a few square inches of the surface. I haven't even stapled the canvas cover down. And I'm coming to the realization that one of the roadblocks to my sewing creativity is this mound of mess on the table. There is simply no room for me to lay out cloth and pattern and actually create anything.

The piles of fabric on the left are for window treatments for the house. Haven't started 'em.

The rolls of white are patterns printed out to be sewing into garments. Haven't started 'em.

So where do I go from here?

I'm going to declare the month of June as "Rebooting the Mojo" month. I'm going to write down all the projects I have rattling around in my head and assign them a spot on the calendar. While I certainly won't take care of the backlog in one month, I'm sure I will make a big dent in the stack.

The familiar demon will arise: "I paid good money for that, and can use it for... something!" Well, it's time to put that demon to rest.

I hope to post every day during June, with progress reports and (hopefully) pictures of projects that I have been able to complete. Any ideas, suggestions or encouragements are greatly appreciated!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

L'Amour Fou

(French for "Crazy Love")

I was in New York last week and got the chance to see this film at the Paris Theatre, next to the Plaza Hotel. It is a movie about Yves Saint-Laurent, his work and his relationship with his longtime partner Pierre Berge. While half of the film focuses on the auction of the art collection they amassed over their 40-year relationship, the other half was about the clothes. There was a lot about Saint-Laurent and his personal demons; he was incredibly young when he took over the House of Dior when Christian Dior died. Then he opened his own house (I think he was 27?) and the rest is history.

One of the funny stories in the movie is that Saint-Laurent created his iconic "Mondrian" dress because he had a deep desire to own a Mondrian painting but couldn't afford one.

Naturally, I wore my own Mondrian dress to the show.

A few people outside the theater asked to take my picture, which was enormously flattering! And even while walking from the subway to the theater, I got a few "Nice dress!" comments. Those really made my evening!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rustic Rucksack!

A few weeks ago, my daughter sent me a picture of a rucksack she admired, and asked if I could replicate it.

Looked pretty basic; so I said of course.

Me and my big mouth.

I couldn't find any patterns that came even close to this type of bag. Finally, after spending too much time searching pattern sites and catalogs, I figured that I was going to have to wing it.

The Amazon product site was kind enough to list the dimensions of the bag, so that was my starting point. From there, I eyeballed some pattern piece sizes (drafted on Pellon Tru Grid -- wonderful stuff) and threw together a muslin. Diana gave her approval on Friday evening, and said she hoped it would be finished in time for our trip to New York City... tomorrow.

Somehow, it got done. And the daughter has pronounced it "perfect!"

Here she is, testing it out:

She was looking for the "wicker basket" look, and while she had hoped I could do leather accents, I just found the leather I had on hand too difficult to work with (it was really too thin). Maybe next time. The outer fabric is from Joann Fabrics' outdoor collection; the lining and contrast pieces are Joann Fabrics' linen-look.

There are four outside pockets; two on the front panel:

And one on each of the two side panels:

There's also a zippered pocket on the inside:
The bag closes with a braided leather drawstring, and the flap is held closed by threading the drawstrings through one of two grommets on the outer flap.

This upcoming New York trip will be the "trial by fire" for this bag; I'll let you know how it works out!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go pack my own suitcase for the trip!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Purse Sewing

I signed up for a swap on one of the blogs I follow, and my swap buddy and I decided to make each other a bag of some kind. It could be any kind of bag; I elected to make a handbag.

One of the members of my PatternMaster group brought in a bag she made using Simplicity 2676. I really liked the idea of a "base bag" with interchangeable outer covers. So I decided to make the bag for my swap buddy.

I did make one change to the pattern: rather than use the flap-and-snap closure as called for in the pattern, I substituted a zippered panel, using the same technique I developed for the Professional Tote.

The bag was very easy to construct; I'm going to have to make one for myself soon!

This shows the purse with its cover, fastened to the purse body with elastic over the buttons. You can make multiple covers for the base bag (which is solid black).

This shows the zipper panel closed. I really like this type of closure; it is much more secure than a simple tab and magnet, yet the zipper placket lays flat and out of the way when open.

Here the zipper placket is open, and you can easily see into the purse interior (and its integrated pockets!).

I hope my buddy likes her new purse!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sometimes, the Universe smiles for you.

Hard to believe it has been more than a month since my last post. I actually got an email from a follower asking if I was okay; I was so touched! Yes, I am fine; circumstances have just kept me out of the sewing room lately. I've been engaging in a lot of project planning, so that when I manage to carve out some sewing time, I will be ready!

A few weeks ago, while I was babysitting my next door neighbor's adorable son, I spent some time thinking about the storage (or lack thereof) in my sewing room. I was also trying to address the lack of a mirror, which, one would think, would be an essential fixture. My sewing room has very little available wall space, so I wondered whether I could combine the storage and mirror issues by building some kind of free-standing unit. So I started sketching out the idea, and here's what I came up with:

I started pricing out the materials I would need, and figured it would come to between $100 and $125 for the boards, mirror and hardware. But since I was still lacking the time to actually build it, I held off buying the components.

Fast forward to yesterday. My daughter is home from college, and we decided to go to Tyson's Corner Mall for a few hours. On the way home, we took a detour to Great Falls Park, where the rain-swollen Potomac River was running so high the Park Service closed the Olmstead Island Walk. Still, the sight of the roaring river was quite impressive. This detour meant we would be taking the back roads home. As we were enjoying the drive, Diana spotted a sign: "Estate Sale, Friday, 10-3". It was just after 2:30 when we saw the sign, so we figured we'd see what they had. Following the signs (which, luckily, led us in the direction of home anyway), we pulled up at the sale location at about 2:50pm. I headed into the basement and spotted this:

Okay, so it's missing the cork board and the pegboard, but I don't think I could have found anything that was closer to my sketch than this!! And it was just $40! I think it is from IKEA, but I'm not sure because they didn't have anything like it the last time I checked.

So, I will be spending some time figuring out what goes on the shelves, and appreciating that I finally have a full-length mirror in my workroom!