Archive | October, 2010

Pants Fitting Problems (again)

25 Oct

I’m working on the Chado Ralph Rucci pants today.  I’ve already lengthened the crotch – whoops, too much – shortened the crotch, made a flat seat adjustment, taken out the waist – whoops, too much – and taken in the waist.

The font crotch is a little bulky, so I’ve scooped it out twice (not even sure this is the right adjustment, but it seemed to work a bit).  Right now, I have two layers of basting on the front crotch, so I don’t know if the bulkiness there has to do with that or not.  Here are pictures of front and back:

I think the wrinkles on the back right side (which is really my left side) have to do with the way I pinned the zipper seam together.  I haven’t put the zipper in yet.

See how bulky the front crotch is?  Maybe I’m just use to the beautiful crotch fit of the Loes Hinse Oxfords, but I don’t really like how this looks.

Also, these pants are not as slim as the line drawing would have you think.  Refresher on line drawing:

I can live with the fact that they are not as slim as I wanted, but I can’t live with the front crotch mishmooka.  Remember, I’ve already scooped the front crotch out twice.  I can never remember if that adds volume or reduces volume.  I think I need help. . . anyone?


Chado Ralph Rucci and Marcy Tilton?

24 Oct

My next project is a Marcy Tilton jacket and Chado Ralph Rucci pants. It seems like an unlikely pairing, but in my mind it works because of the proportions.

The Chado Ralph Rucci pants, Vogue1215, are slim, which I have been looking for.  Slim pants are going to be tricky, because I don’t want to look like a lollipop on a stick, a mushroom, or any other top-heavy shape you can come up with.  I want to look like the svelte model in the picture below:

That will only happen in my parallel universe, where all things are skinny and beautiful (hopefully, y’all know I’m teasing – I’m pretty comfortable in this old body).  I love the shape of these pants, though: not too tight, a bit flowy and feminine – just perfect.

I am pairing these pants with the new Marcy Tilton jacket, Vogue 8693:

I love the drape of this jacket – casual, but elegant at the same time.  This is a similar silhouette to Vogue 8582:

This pattern has become a TNT for me.  I’ve made it up in long sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, scoop neck, and turtle neck.  I like that the narrowest point is just above the waist, which is my narrowest point.  Here is a picture of last top I made out of a rayon/lycra knit:

I realize that the top and the jacket are different in many ways, as well.  For one thing, the jacket looks like it has lots of ease.  That, or the jacket on both models is too big.  I will have to be careful of that, perhaps using the smallest size and adjusting from there.  However, because of the “wings”, there is plenty of ease in the waist/hip area, so I may not have to worry about that at all.

The other difference is the fabric.  I usually look best in a thin, drapey fabric.  This jacket will be made out of an unusual cotton double knit I got from Emma One Sock.  It is a double-sided knit; one side is a gray, heathered solid and the other side is a creamy-white and gray print (sort of a small houndstooth, but not really).

Here are the two fabrics for the project.  On the left is a gray, stretch wool for the pants.  The two on the right are both sides of the cotton double knit I will use for the jacket.  The side I call “houndstooth” and the side I call “heathered solid”.

Marcy shows the latest jacket she made from this pattern in “Marcy’s Closet” on her blog.  Here it is:

I intend to play with the fabric, alternating the sides to come up with a similar effect.

This is my last week of freedom before I have surgery on my foot.  I don’t know when or if I will be able to sew for awhile, since the foot needs to be elevated for about two weeks after surgery. But, you can bet I will do everything in my power to make sewing a priority, especially, since I have this project in mind. Right now, I have visions of me sitting at the sewing machine, legs splayed, one foot on the peddle and the other propped on a pillow sitting atop a chair. Nice visual, huh? I hope it works.

Mad Men, Style, and the Shattering of Cultural Illusions

22 Oct

Carolyn, over at The Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, recently brought up the topic of Mad Men. I’m so glad she did, because I have a few things to say about this show. Since I couldn’t say it all in a blog comment box, and since I have my own blog in which to spew my pig-headed opinions, here goes.

First of all, if you haven’t watched this show for the clothes alone, you’re in for a treat.  It is 60’s retro on steroids.  The period clothing is well researched (as is everything else in this show) so you can look at the clothing knowing that this is what city folks were wearing at that time. Here are a few pictures:

Not only is the clothing amazing, but the photography is stunning!  They only shoot about 8 episodes a year, so it looks like they spare no expense on those episodes.

Now for the meat.  This show is a culturally accurate depiction of  the era that begins before the civil rights movement (actually, the movement is taking place in the background), the feminist movement, the anti-war movement,  and any other of the huge social and political movements that began in the very late 50’s and continued into the 60’s and beyond.

Pay attention, get past the gorgeous clothes and the pristine photography, and what you will get is a cultural history lesson, my friends.  Life in the USA was not always as it is now. . . a good thing to remember.  What you will see are depictions of male/female relationships and office politics before the feminist movement, gender identity issues before it was possible to “come out”, racial attitudes that will make you hang your head in shame.  And it’s all accurate.  This is the way we were.

As I commented on Carolyn’s blog, I sometimes have to remind friends my age who are living in a nostalgia vortex, that those were not the good old days. If people who actually lived through it can’t remember how bad it was, then it occurs to me that people who didn’t live through it might be taking what we have for granted.  And judging from some of the things happening in our political system right now, I think that’s exactly where we find ourselves. We’ve come far, not far enough, but far.  The point is, we don’t ever want to return to those attitudes, so a little reminder can’t hurt.

So, look at those gorgeous clothes, marvel at the beautiful cinematography, but pay close attention the message, because Mad Men is more than a soap opera. . . much more.

Lovely Middle-aged Italian Women Part 1

20 Oct

I began thinking about taking pictures of middle-aged Italian women way back when I started planning my travel wardrobe.  I was trying to see if I could plan a wardrobe that would help me fit in a bit in Italy.  I have no illusion about looking like anything other than an American (actually, someone in Italy asked DH and I if we were Canadians, but that’s probably the only other nationality for which we could pass), but I don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb, either.

As I googled “mature Italian women street scenes” and various other similar words, I discovered…virtually nothing, nada, rien. I became determined to take the pictures and put them on my blog so that others who google “mature Italian women” (and I’m sure there will be many :)) will find pictures of them here.  So here we go:


I saw this a million times if I saw it once. . . grandma's pushing strollers. Notice the no color color.


I like her short hair and shorter skirt. Notice the no color color.

Tourists on the left, native on the right.

Look closely. . .this is a very interesting outfit. You can tell they are Italians because he is carrying a "European shoulder bag".

Women do wear jeans, but they are never sloppy looking. I saw the penny-loafer type shoe a lot.

These quilted jackets were very popular with the middle-aged set.

These folks were "dressed up".

One of the things I noticed is that women don’t go bare-legged, unless they are wearing flip-flop-type shoes, which I didn’t see much of since it is fall.  Another thing that was interesting to note, Italians tend to dress for the season rather than the weather.  On this trip, I saw many Italians with jackets and coats, even though it was in the 70’s most days.

As soon as I can download the rest of my pictures onto flickr, I’ll post some of the lovely women of Venice.

Thanks so much for all the nice comments about my travel wardrobe.  Karen and Sharon commented on getting that many clothes into a carry-on.  The answer is “knits”. Knits fold very compactly.  I don’t think I could have fit those clothes into the carry-on if they had been wovens.  Also, remember that I had a tote, as well.  I carried the raincoat, cosmetics, and toiletries in that.

Kathleen wanted to know about my cross-shoulder purse (which I carried in the tote while traveling).  It is a Kate Spade purse that I got at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale in August for $98.00.  I thought it was a pretty good deal.

Trip Pictures and Wardrobe Critique

17 Oct

It will take awhile for me to get all the pictures I want to share up on my blog. I made the mistake of trying to download all of the trip pictures to Flickr, just so I could go through them and choose the ones I wanted to post, but I went over my monthly picture limit, I guess. I had no idea I had a monthly picture limit!?

Since some of you wanted to know about my travel wardrobe, I think I’ll start with that. Overall, I loved my travel wardrobe.  I was able to travel light (one rolling carry-on and a tote bag that slipped over the handles of  the carry-on). I saw so many people struggling with copious amounts of luggage. I’m so glad I’ve finally figured out how to pack. This is what I took:

2 ponte knit pants (one taupe, one black)

1 ponte knit skirt (black)

1 knit dress (black)

3 knit cardigans (one taupe, one black, one brown)

7 knit tops in assorted color to mix/match with bottoms (most of them worn 2 times)

1 Babette blouse (the crinkly kind that doesn’t wrinkle when it’s folded ’cause it’s already wrinkled)

1 raincoat with detachable hood

2 infinity scarves

1 skinny belt

enough underwear for half the trip (I handwashed one time about midway through the trip)

3 bras (one was on me during flight over there, and yes, I did wear them two days each)

1 pair of black tights (I never wore them)

3 pairs of shoes (one semi-athletic shoe for hiking that I wore on the plane and two very crushable flats – Kenneth Cole Gentle Souls – highly recommended)

make-up and toiletries (very pared down)

I wore a Lucy athletic workout-type thingy on the plane, both to and fro. I never washed the pants or skirt or dress or cardis.  That was kind of hard for me, but it worked and I think it’s a must if you want to travel light and not spend your entire trip at the “lavendaria”.

The knits were perfect and I would definitely travel with knits again.  They wrinkled in the suite case, but the wrinkles hung out very quickly so I never felt like a wrinkled mess.

The ponte knit was a mixed bag. It is very comfortable and the wrinkles hang out, but my taupe ponte knit did pill after awhile. It was a 75% rayon, 22% nylon, and 3% lycra ponte that I got at a local fabric store.  The black ponte was the “black butter” I purchased from Marcy Tilton. Marcy doesn’t always indicate the exact fabric content for her fabrics, but this was called a ponte knit. It had a very different feel than any other ponte I’ve worked with – a lot beefier and not as drapey. This ponte did not pill and held it’s shape through many wearings.  The taupe ponte began to lose its shape toward the end of the trip (but I wore those pants many, many times so I’m not complaining).

The thing that bothered me the most was the pilling.  Next time, I would take some kind of brush to get rid of the pills.  Other than that, I was pretty satisfied with how well the wardrobe worked.  Here are some pictures:

These pictures were all taken in Lucca, a beautiful town.  This is enough for now.  I’ll post some more tomorrow.

Back from Italy

14 Oct

It was a wonderful trip!  We had a few unexpected delays and canceled flights, but it all adds to the adventure. Rick Steves says “when traveling, be eternally optimistic”, and I agree. Forevermore, I have the story of the 48 hour trip from Pisa to Portland. We’ve made another memory. Honestly, if you can’t look at it that way, then it’s probably best not to travel.

I have lots of pictures of lovely Italian ladies to post once I go through them. There were some fashion surprises for me on this trip. For one, Italian women are not taking to the mega-platform-spike heel look as I thought they would be. I saw maybe a handful of those torture devices in my travels and that’s about all. It appears that even the über fashion-conscious Italians are rejecting them. Perhaps if I had been in Milan, I would have seen more. Or maybe they are just so last year. I have no idea.

I did see flats. Lots and lots of flats, including flat boots. Cowboy boots with small heels were popular. Middle-age women were wearing flats or small, chunky heels. Converse-type tennis shoes were everywhere on younger women. Also, rubber rain boots are definitely popular. Leather riding-type boots that either come up to the knee or go over the knee are ubiquitous.

I didn’t see much in the way of leggings, unless worn with boots. Leggings with boots is definitely a look, but leggings without boots or with short tops, not so much.

Speaking of Italian style, you really can’t find an Italian in the fall without a scarf. Everyone wears scarves, men and women, and they tie them in many different ways. So, I want to go back to the infinity scarf and answer a question posted by Sheila when I was on my trip. She asked if the measurements for the infinity scarf were correct, basically 60″ X 1 1/2 yards minus a very small rolled seam. The answer is yes. That is how I made my scarves. They come out very “chunky” with these measurements, but you could alter the measurements to suite your style. You could make the scarf longer by using 2 yards of fabric, and make it narrower by using a narrower width. It’s up to you, but the 60″X 1 1/2 yards does work. I hope that answers your question, Sheila.

Time for me to do all those things one does after a trip:  recover from jet-lag, unpack, do laundry, answer phone messages, go grocery shopping, go to the gym (ugh!). More later.

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