Archive | July, 2010

All About Color

27 Jul

I’ve been reading a book about color called The Color of Style, by David Zyla.  This book is pretty detailed regarding how to find your best colors, and I do like that part of the it. However, some of his ideas about when to wear what color, and what it will do for your image…well, it’s a bit esoteric.  I mean, can wearing a color really make you look confident, or friendly, or powerful?  To some, maybe.

There is a part of the book devoted to eye color that really interests me, though. According to Zyla, you will look good in any of the colors in your eye, and most people do have several colors in there.  There was a discussion on Stitcher’s Guild about this, and leave it to those clever girls to find  a color conversion chart where you can upload an image and the conversion chart will tell you exactly what colors are in the image.

I took a picture of my eye and uploaded it to this conversion chart.  I included a little skin because, according to Zyla, you can also wear some colors in your skin and veins.  Here is the result of my color conversion:

The eyeball is pretty creepy, granted, but the color information is useful.  I couldn’t help giggling at the thought of all of us (we?) women from Stitcher’s Guild sitting around our houses with cameras, taking pictures of our eyeballs.

It looks like I am basically a brown/gray girl, with some shades of pink thrown in.  I instinctively knew that chocolate-brown was a good color on me, but that rusty color is new.  I just bought some fabric from Emma One Sock in that color, and I’ll be making a jacket for winter out of it.

I’d love to hear from anyone who gives this a try.

Ponte/Ponte Di Roma Knits

22 Jul

I have noticed that not all ponte knits are created equal.  Some have poly in them, some don’t.  Some have nylon, some don’t.  Some are called “ponte” and some are called “ponte di roma”.  So I wondered, what is a “ponte knit”? has this definition for “ponte di roma”:

“A fabric made in a double knit construction, usually produced in one color rather than color patterns. This plain fabric has an elastic quality with a slight horizontal line. The fabric looks the same on both sides.
Weft knitted, interlock based, double jersey structure. Means ‘roman bridge’ which is suggested by the arrangement of loops. The fabric looks the same on both sides.”

The Kohl Corporation has a fabric guide on their website that says this about “ponte knits”:

“Double-knit interlock fabric with stand-out stability and firmness that’s perfect for suiting. Ponte fabric has a subtle sheen and incredible durability.”

I honestly don’t think of ponte knit as a “suiting fabric”.  I am sure you can make a “suite” out of it, but it would be a very drapey affair, not a structured suite in the traditional sense.

I have four examples of ponte knit in my stash from three different fabric stores.  If I were going by these samples (which is not many), I would say there are two different types of ponte: one is 67% poly, 30% rayon, and 3% spandex, the other is 75% rayon, 22% nylon, and 3% lycra.

The one with the nylon has a sturdier feel, has better spring back, and is not as smooth or shiny as the one with poly.  It has slight horizontal lines running through it.  When I push my fingernail into the poly ponte, there will be a temporary bump left by the nail.  When I do the same thing with the nylon ponte, that doesn’t happen as much.

Waechter’s Silk calls their ponte with nylon “ponte di roma”.  My local fabric store just calls it “ponte”.  But, if is correct in saying that ponte di roma has a horizontal line, that would definitely be the ponte with nylon.  It has a distinctly different look to it that the poly ponte.

The term “ponte di roma” means Roman Bridge.  It refers to the arrangement of loops.  So, in the end, the difference between ponte and ponte di roma may be in the way it’s woven, not in the content.

Either way, the ponte I’m using for my October travel wardrobe is the ponte with nylon.  I’ve used the poly ponte previously in some TSW Trio Pants, and wasn’t completely happy with it.  I’m looking forward to working with the new ponte to see if there is a difference in the overall look and wearability.

Style At A Certain Age

20 Jul

On Stitcher’s Guild, we have a thread called “Sewing for the Middle Ages”.  It’s fun to read everyone’s idea of what is appropriate and great looking for women of a certain age.

What I’ve noticed, now that I’m in my sixties, is that each decade I’ve had to reassess my style.  In my forties, I could still get away with most current styles and close or loose-fitting garments.  Actually, I could still wear a bikini.  It seems like such a long time ago!

In my fifties, I gained a bunch of weight, and spent the last half of that decade trying to lose it.  What I wore was dictated by what would fit.  Even so, I felt I could wear shorts and jeans, and even go sleeveless if I wanted to.

Now, I am in better physical shape than I’ve been in years, but find that some things just don’t look right on someone my age.  As I write this, I realize that I am being very subjective here, and many women my age will not agree with me. This is just something I’m coming to terms with, for myself.

For example, I went to the Nordstrom sale today to buy some jeans.  I’ve been wearing “Not Your Daughter’s Jeans” for several years now, so I found about four different styles to try on.  There’s nothing like a three-way mirror to shock the truth into you!  What I noticed was that none of the jeans were really my best look.  With an expanding waistline and a shrinking behind, it’s just not very appealing.  After all, jeans are all about the butt.  If you don’t have one, should you really be wearing jeans?  I have a friend my age who looks great in jeans, but she has a teeny tiny waist, so her behind doesn’t look flat.

I bought the jeans, but said to myself that they would probably be the last pair of jeans I would ever buy.  Next time I want denim pants, I’ll have to make my own out of a favorite pants pattern.   Why should I wear fitted jeans when there are so many other kinds of pants that look so much better on me?

Believe it or not, this whole discussion is leading up to the October travel wardrobe.  I just finished the Loes Hinse Oxford Pant in a lightweight black rayon hopsack, which is really a great fitting pant.  When I finished all except the hem, I decided I could update the look a little by adding darts to the bottom of the pant, ala Marcy Tilton.  It seems that pants are getting slimmer, but I will never wear pants that are tight around the thighs again, so making the pants slimmer at the bottom seemed like it might do the trick.  Here is the finished pant:

I made four darts on each leg, two in the front and two in the back.  The darts are two inches wide and ten inches long (from the pre-hemmed raw edge).  I’m very happy with the way these turned out, and proud of myself for trying something different.

I also finished a skirt in the same black fabric and a Cutting Line Design shell from the My Hearts A’Flutter pattern.  This pattern was a delight to sew.  Every part of the pattern went together without a hitch, and I love the results.  These two patterns will be future TNT garments.  Here is a picture of the shell:

I am currently working on the Loes Hinse Ascot Jacket in the same black rayon. More on that later.  Three down, eight to go:).

Travel Wardrobe 2

14 Jul

I wonder if there are many sewists out there who have as much trouble as I do putting a wardrobe together from scratch. By “from scratch”, I mean starting with a pattern and some fabric. It’s one thing to go to a department store and try on garment after garment until I find that one that looks the best on me, and quite another to sort through pattern books and online fabric stores, “imagining” what will look best. There are lots of reasons for this:

1. Lack of sewing experience
2. Not completely understanding what fabric goes with what pattern
3. Not completely understanding what colors/styles look good on me when I can’t try them on first
4. Getting over the “sew one item at a time” mentality, and thinking more about making a set of coordinates

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and am trying to make a big change in the direction of my sewing by committing to making mostly coordinates, instead of individual items. I’m sure there will be times when I need a new white blouse; but right now, I have in my closet a multitude of single items that simply have no friends.

So, the fall travel wardrobe is really my first “thoughtful” attempt at planning a coordinated ensemble. Here is what I have so far:

The black fabric is a rayon hopsack – very drapey.  The taupe is a ponte knit that has the same content as the Eileen Fisher ponte – 75% viscose rayon, 22% nylon, 3% lycra.  With nylon in the content, I think I’ll need to be very careful with the iron. The white fabric is a crinkle rayon.  The black and taupe print is a poly/lycra knit.

The dress may turn into a skirt.  I just fell in love with the simplicity of this dress when the new fall Vogue patterns came out, so I included it here, but I’m not sure yet.

I need at least one more top in a knit fabric.  It will probably be this Marcy Tilton top in the turtlneck version:

Also, I have the Eileen Fisher cardigan in a very light weight black wool, and another taupe/black tweed cardigan that I am making.

There are a lot of solid colors here (which is really my style), so I will spiff it up a bit with patterned scarves.  That makes a total of eleven items, plus shoes and raincoat, to pack in my suitcase.  All of the fabrics are light-weight, except for the tweed cardigan, which I may carry on the plane.

I’m sure I’ll make changes along the way.  I always do.  But I think this is the beginning of a workable plan.  I have all of the fabric and patterns, so I’m ready to go.

I spent one day cutting out all of the black rayon.  I’ve completed the pants, except for the hem.  I just love the way the Loes Hinse oxford pant came together, but more on that later.

Off to sew.

I Feel Better Now

13 Jul

Just an update on the Hot Patterns and wadder dress saga.  I gave the Hot Patterns dress to Elisha, thinking she might, just might, look better in it than me. Well, duh!  Here she is:

Doesn’t she look stunning?  I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that this dress fits her, she looks fabulous in it, and she likes it.  End of story.

Another Wadder

8 Jul

It kept staring at me, waiting for me to do something with it.  Every time I walked into my sewing room, there it was, begging for some attention.  At first I thought I could fix it.  After all, it had been going so well, luring me into thinking I was doing a great sewing job (I must, at the very least, be an intermediate sewist by now, since this is turning out so well and it’s so detailed and all).  All my bubbles of grandeur burst, however, when I made the fateful decision to serge.

So, here is the dress I was attempting to sew for Elisha, my  future daughter-in-law:

There’s a lot of detail on the bodice, especially in the front.  There is piping, gathering, and facing for all this on the back.  Here’s what the back side of the front bodice looked like:

So far so good.  But I was getting worried at this point, because all that fabric created an edge that was over a quarter of an inch thick.  I should have stopped at this point and consulted some of the wonderful mentors on the links at the right… but no!  I decided to serge the edges!  Ack!  The serger basically ate up the edges of this lovely dress.  In fact, I can’t even talk about it any more.  Suffice it to say, I ended up tossing it because I couldn’t stand to look at it one minute more!

I remember a dear Stitcher’s Guild member, Liana, talking about accidentally putting a hole in a garment, and having to go lie down.  Yep, that’s how I felt.  So, I’m not going to be changing the tag on my bio from beginner to intermediate any time soon.

Today, I sent Elisha the gray Hot Patterns dress that looked like h*** on me.  I’m sure it will look much better on her.


October Travel Wardrobe

3 Jul

While I’m finishing up Elisha’s dress, I’m planning a travel wardrobe for a trip to Italy in October.  I’ve been to Italy twice before, so I have a pretty good idea how I want to dress.

The first time I went to Italy, I was traveling with my then college-age son.  We were very casual, to say the least.  It was a 30-year heat wave in Italy, so I wore hiking shorts and t-shirts, with a “trendy” pair of Birkenstocks thrown in for good measure.

Meanwhile, the beautiful Italian women were wearing gorgeous, long maxi dresses in lovely pastel colors. I remember feeling incredibly under-dressed and dowdy.  Since then, I have learned that the Italians consider it a courtesy to others to dress well.  I don’t think that means they dress expensively as much as it means that they dress neatly.  An Italian woman wouldn’t be caught dead in baggy (read American comfortable) clothing.   Not to say that an Italian woman won’t wear a t-shirt.  It’s just that her t-shirt would be well-fitted and stylish.

Two years ago, I went to Italy with my husband and another couple.  We decided to take a private tour to the Vatican, instead of going there on our own.  We were recommended a tour company, and on the day of our tour, the lovely Marina, our tour guide, showed up at our B & B.  She was dressed very casually, by Italian standards. She had on a t-shirt and city shorts, with strappy, flat-soled sandals.  For all that, she looked quite put together.  Her t-shirt was fitted, with cap sleeves to allow her entrance to the Vatican (your shoulders must be covered).  Her city shorts were slim-fitting, and came just to her knee.  The clothing was neat and, obviously, very well made.   She didn’t have on any makeup, and no obvious jewelry.  Her hair was casual, but stylish.  That’s Italian dress in a nutshell.

Why is it important for a foreigner to dress appropriately when visiting Italy?  Because, as I said before, Italians consider it a courtesy to others to dress well.  I’m sure that by now, they understand that Americans don’t have that same cultural belief (it’s pretty obvious when you watch the American tourists walking about), but, when in Rome, why not show them the same courtesy they would happily show you. Besides, it’s a great time for an American girl to dress up a bit without everyone gawking at her.  Right?

I’m not sure what the weather will be like in northern Italy in October.  It could be warm, or it could be cold, so I’ll need to be careful in my planning.  The plan is to take pieces that are not too heavy, but can be layered.  As far a fabrics go, I’m thinking  medium weight rayon wovens and knits, washable silk, ponte knit, light weight wool, etc.  Basically, anything that will pack small, be somewhat wrinkle free, and not too hot.

This plan is evolving.  I just hope this one doesn’t “devolve into chaos”, which many of my wardrobe plans do. First, I went back and forth about whether I should include jackets in the plan.  I finally decided that I am more of a cardigan girl, so I went out on a limb and bought a tan/black, tweedy, boucle knit in a wool/rayon blend.  Now I have a fabric to build the rest of the wardrobe around.

Today, I bought this black, light wool Eileen Fisher cardigan.

So, it seems that the basic plan calls for fabrics that are black, tan/camel, white, brown….very neutral.  This is what I’m thinking so far:

Black (may be rayon woven or ponte knit or a combination of the two)

1 pair pants

1 skirt

1 Eileen Fisher cardigan

1 shell

a dress (maybe/maybe not – the skirt and shell would be a two-piece dress)

Tan or Camel (same as above)

1 pair pants

1 skirt

1 tan/black boucle cardigan

1 shell

Three other tops in various colors (white, pink, brown, gray?)

1 raincoat that folds into its pocket (it’s reversible – light taupe on one side, dark taupe on the other)

2 pair comfortable shoes

It’s a plan made for changing, but at least it’s a start.  More on the patterns and fabrics later.

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