Wednesday, September 29, 2010

American Sewing Expo Q&A

My impatiens, 9/27/10
My impatiens recovered from the deer "salad bar" in time before frost to bloom again. I love it when they look like this--big and healthy and spilling onto the sidewalk.

You had questions about the ASE, and I have answers!
jillnjosh asked:
Kyle, you said that the Simplicity AF jacket that you tried on was 2284? That's a new pattern then, right, since it's at the beginning of the number set? (They've been adding patterns at the beginning of the catalog this year.) The only AF jacket I've seen is 2446, which I've purchased and not sewn yet. I love the multiple cup size patterns.
Yes, it's 2284 and it's part of the Simplicity fall 2010 collection, but it doesn't seem to be on their website yet! I had no idea that they are adding patterns at the beginning of their catalog! Multiple cup size patterns definitely rock.

Lisette M asked:
I'm so jealous, enjoy yourself! Do you remember the pattern number for the coat/dress? on your first runway picture?

Lisette, I was so jealous of everyone who attended the ASE last year and SPR weekend Portland, neither of which I could attend. So going to SPR Philly and the ASE were priorities for this year and I'm glad my sewing conference dreams came true! The orange coat on the runway is New Look 6006

Rose and Antoinette both commented on my annoying room situation. I asked for another room but they said no. I don't own headphones so I had bought earplugs at CVS but it didn't make a difference. I wound up moving to a hotel that was twice the price and equally noisy! But when I asked them if I could move to a different room, they said yes, and finally I had a quiet place to rest. I seem to be more sensitive to noise as I get older; I guess I'm becoming a diva of quiet! (or as my mom says, when I was little I said I wanted a "piece of quiet").

Kristin commented on her room and the wind on Friday night. It was incredibly windy that night! When I left the convention center I was really surprised; the wind helped me along to my car.

Antoinette guessed that the pink dress from the Passion for Fashion contest was inspired by a pink Cadillac and she is correct!

I'm already thinking about sewing this weekend. I'm going to try the New Look 6922 senate confirmation knit jacket again, but this time in an aqua rib knit. I think I have all the kinks worked out from last time, and I have some new tricks my sleeve from this past weekend. My plan is to share the tricks I learned at the ASE when I actually use the tricks in future garments.

Kristin, here's the blurry picture I took of you in your gorgeous garment during the SPR Natural Fibers contest:

Readers, it's an exquisite dress and you can read all about it on Kristin's blog.

Last night I saw David Sedaris at McCarter Theater in Princeton. It felt so good to laugh! His brand new book came out yesterday, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. I already put it on reserve at the library. I saw him in Princeton last year too. He's just great. At the end of reading from his new book and other works (including diary entries) he took questions from the audience. One woman asked how he organizes his notes. He keeps a diary and writes down what happened to him. Then he creates a master index of what's in his diary, so when he's looking for story ideas, he can easily see a summary of the stories. Pretty clever.

Good night!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

American Sewing Expo Days 2 and 3

American Sewing Expo sign
I was just SO tired last night, that I didn't post pix or write a blog posting. But I have energy tonight! And if you haven't read my account of the American Sewing Expo day 1, it's here.

Ok, so...I attended more seminars each day (4 yesterday and 2 today, including a 3 hour session on zippers and sleeves that started at 8:30am!), 2 fashion shows yesterday, and the grand prize dream sewing room drawing tonight (nope, didn't win!). I also hung out a lot at the Sewing Pattern Review booth and met fellow sewing pattern reviewers, and even you guys, the readers of my blog!

I had a BLAST and learned so much these past few days. I will have to review my notes because I think my brain is going to explode with all the sewing tips I've learned. One that I will put into practice right away (and was taught by two different instructors in their respective sessions today) is to lower the needle in the fabric first and THEN lower the presser foot. If you do it the opposite way, your fabric (or zipper and fabric) shifts when the presser foot is lowered. Genius!

On to the pictures!

The Gun and Knife show was also going on at the same time.

Gun & Knife Show

Yes, people (well, mostly men) were walking around with double barreled shotguns and the like! It was pay-to-park and the guy says to me, are you here for the sewing expo? and I said, what, you didn't peg me as the guns and knife type?
the gun show sign

No word on when this is, though:
Bed Bug Invasion Seminar

So what is the expo like? If you have ever attended an expo or conference for your job that has a vendor floor, it's just like that, only all sewing related, and the attendees are 98% female! Booth after booth of folks selling sewing related items. A few exhibits. Free demos and seminars with a fee. Hands on classes. I had to laugh, the first stall in each bathroom was "reserved for instructors and exhibitors".

You know I sew 95% Simplicity and New Look patterns! The Simplicity booth had patterns for sale $3 New Looks, $5 Simplicitys, most of which are from their fall 2010 line
the Simplicity booth

The Cynthia Rowley ruffle dress is on the wall there:
the Simplicity booth

In talking with the Simplicity folks, I learned that the employees make their own clothes and that sometimes multiple people come to work wearing the same dress. Sometimes they stay late to sew, or sew during their lunch hour. How cool is that, though can you imagine the pressure on Monday morning?

The Project Runway patterns are designed by Simplicity designers, then sent to Project Runway for approval. Tim Gunn is not involved.

The person who answers the email and the person who answers the phone for Simplicity help desk type questions was there. They said they have a busy season, which is the fall and holiday season, and that the help desk drops off in the summer.

Here's PR member "Leslie in Austin" with the person who I believe is the owner of Fashionista Fabrics. Leslie is also Antoinette's friend, how about that? They're in the Pattern Review booth:
Leslie in Austin and the owner of Fashionista Fabrics

Here Leslie and I are yesterday modeling various wraps we've made;
Leslie in Austin and I in various wrap styles

Then today we wore the Jalie scarf shirt:
Me with SPR member Leslie in Austin

And here's Connie from, yesterday. I met Connie at SPR weekend Philly.
Connie from

Connie modeling her dress during the SPR Natural Fibers contest/runway show:

The Passion for Fashion runway show was very Project Runway; they didn't know what the challenge would be when they arrived; designers had to make a dress inspired by a vintage car; they had to buy all materials from the vendors on the exhibitor floor Friday morning; they had all day Friday and part of Saturday to complete their look; there was a runway show Saturday night; designers and models had to answer questions from the judges (no tears were shed). Here they are, lined up to answer questions:

More Passion for Fashion designers and models

Passion for Fashion designers and models

The winning garment:
The 2010 Passion for Fashion first place winner

Although it is simple, this dress below was my favorite (can you guess what car was the inspiration for that dress?)
My favorite Passion for Fashion dress

I fly out tomorrow morning. I'll answer your questions from my Day 1 post later this week--if you have more questions about the expo please let me know and I'll do a posting answering all questions!

Good night!

Friday, September 24, 2010

American Sewing Expo Day 1

What a day! I attended day one of the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI. 4 seminars, 1 fashion show and several booths later, here's what I have to report:

My first seminar was with Rhonda Pierce of Schmetz Needles. If you've been reading this blog since the spring you know how much I love twin needle stitching! I wound up buying a variety pack of needles from Lucy's and now use their needles exclusively. I love the quality of the needles and how they come in holders so it's easy to return them to their proper place, thereby not getting them mixed up. As soon as I saw the Schmetz super needle during the lecture I knew I had to get a picture.

me with Rhonda Pierce, Schmetz Needles

The lecture was super informative (now I know what all those numbers mean on the packaging!) and I learned about needles I never knew existed (triple needles? double eyed needles?). And Rhonda is super nice. We had a great chat in her booth. I bought the "I made this button" and Rhonda took my picture for their photo gallery.

The takehome message for me from that lecture for me was how to determine if a needle is too dull to use: run it across your fingernail. If it leaves a mark, it has a burr, and should no longer be used. (Alternatively, run it across knit fabric and see if it snags.)

I attended the Simplicity "Hot Jacket" seminar which was AWESOME. The Chanel style jacket is hot for fall, and Simplicity has an Amazing Fit jacket pattern 2284 with multiple cup sizes. Deborah Kreiling from Simplicity brought the jackets in several sizes. Her goal was to have everyone try on samples and she would help figure out the right size and any necessary adjustments. I wore my Simplicity 2473 Project Runway dress and she recognized it right away and had me model it for the class. She said I did a great job on the dress, which felt amazing coming from a person who works for Simplicity! Then she asked what size my dress was, and had me try the 12 in a B cup. The audience oooohed. I was shocked at how well it fit as I would have started that jacket in a 14. I also tried on the 10, but it was too small in most places. The 12 was too small just in the bicep. I asked her if she thought I needed a swayback adjustment and so she pinned that in. The jacket looked great. We also determined the short length would be more flattering than the long length.

The main takehome point from that lecture is to start with the right pattern size in the shoulders and adjust everything else to fit-- a point I had never considered before. Also it was great to see how the same jacket size and bust fit different people.

I also attended a lecture on 20 tips for improving sewing and a lecture about fitting pants.

Other highlights included attending the Simplicity fashion show with the actual outfits that were photographed for the pattern envelopes:

fin of the Simplicity fashion show

And finally meeting Deepika, founder of Sewing Pattern Review(photo taken by Antoinette's friend "Leslie in Austin". I brought my SPR bag with me that I got at SPR weekend Philly.
me with Deepika of Sewing Pattern Review

So it was a long day and I'll do it all over again tmw: 4 more lectures, one more runway show, and several booth visits!

Ok, so I'm staying in an extended stay place, and my room is right next to the boiler room, and there's something that keeps cycling on and off in that room, and it's driving me insane. My room faces the freeway and the fridge in my room keeps cycling on and off as well. I had the a/c on last night too and that was making noise. I prepaid the room to get the cheapest rate. Should I suck it up and stay here 3 more nights or should I move to another hotel? I asked if I could switch rooms and the answer was no, but maybe this weekend if someone else cancels their reservation. Maybe this should just be a character building experience? (Also, after I stayed in the cheapest place in Geneva in 2002, I vowed never to stay in the cheapest place again...I am renewing that vow now...)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Today's sewing surprise!!!! plus vegan cupcakes

So here's today's sewing surprise: Antoinette rolled into Philadelphia from Texas for an afternoon of fun!

I was late picking her up at the airport, but it was nice to remember just how gentle that airport is. Newark is always an intense experience but Philly is the opposite. Picking her up at the curb was a breeze, and I wasn't even yelled at!

We drove straight to Jomar, home of the $1 and $2 fabric selection. I had been to Jomar during SPR weekend Philly back in May, and it was nice to revisit it (and experience a shorter line!):
at Jomar, finding the good stuff
Isn't her haircut adorable? I just love it! She's wearing one of her men's shirt refashions.

Here's what I brought home; this came to less than $20.
what I bought at Jomar

And in the Jomar parking lot, she gave me gifts! A tote bag she made that includes a zipper! a book that her friend wrote and autographed, and a postcard from SugarMama's in Austin, where we had cupcakes in March.
Presents from Antoinette!

Then we were off on our PA cupcake adventure. I messed up on the way there, though, at the intersection where the blue route, the NE extension of the PA turnpike, and the PA turnpike meet--that's always been a crazy intersection but now it's even crazier. They apparently now have "high speed" EZ pass lanes, where there are no booths at all, no slowing down. So then my spidey sense was all up, because I realized I drove past the area with the booths, and was driving without a ticket....Antoinette was very calm about the whole thing, while inside I'm thinking, oh nooooo, and mentioning it out loud every few mintues or so. When I got off the turnpike at Lansdale, I obviously didn't have a ticket. The guy in the booth was really super nice though and asked if I got on at 476, which I did, and he explained I took the high speed EZ pass lanes. He gave me a "one time exemption" from paying the fine which is almost $24 without a ticket. I only had to pay $1, he filled out a form with my driver's license number on it, I signed it and we continued on our way....

I messed up

Then we drove an hour to the Virago Baking Company in Lansdale (new PA town to me!) for vegan cupcakes!
vegan cupcakes at Virago Baking Company
There were also gluten free cupcakes as well:
Gluten free cupcakes at Virago Baking Company, Lansdale, PA
but we went with the vegan ones:
our chosen cupcakes
chocolate-chocolate on left; aztec (containing cinnamon and cayenne pepper) on right, love the large green plates!

I *loved* the icing on my chocolate-chocolate cupcake, it was almost like eating a piece of chocolate rather than eating icing. I quite enjoyed the change as with most cupcakes I don't eat the icing, or at least not all of it! I could have eaten a whole cup of that! The cake was dense and moist, and its taste is reminiscent of Tastycake cupcakes (which is a good thing in my book!)

We also had dinner there.
Antoinette's dinner

Antoinette posed for a normal shot with her vegan meal, but I went for a goofy shot instead:

my dinner

I'm wearing my Vogue square cowl neck shirt that I made 18 months ago. I really love the draping of the square cowl.

The food was healthy and delicious, and if I'm ever back in Lansdale, I would definitely visit them again. The owner's son was super nice and talked about the food, the shop, and how it is a venue for local artists as well (photographers and musicians alike).

But then it was time for our amazing race moment. Antoinette had to pick up her rental car before the car rental place closed at 6, so we took the remainder of our dinner and the cupcakes to go. We arrived with 15 min to spare. But then due to a snafu with her drivers license, she couldn't rent the car (amazing race road block!)! So we ate the cupcakes in the Enterprise parking lot as the sun was setting and their employees were leaving. It was actually ok that she wasn't able to rent the car, since we got to spend more time together. I drove her to her hotel in Limerick (another new PA town for me!) and asked the receptionist to take our picture:
when two bloggers meet

And on the way out I saw what I think is a nuclear power plant?
is that a nuclear power plant back there?

Then I drove home with the moon lighting the way. Very pretty.

It was a great afternoon and I really enjoyed the change of pace and doing something different! We discussed a wide range of topics and it was all very fun. Thank you Antoinette for telling me you were comin' to town, and thank you for your presents and presence!

Oh! and my new calling cards arrived from today, just in time for the ASE on Thursday! I kind of wish I had used a picture of my scissors purse for the front, but I used one of their stock images instead, which comes in a color assortment
my sewing calling cards from
Good night!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Meet Emma, my first dressform


Look at what my mom found for me, $20 at a consignment store! I've named her Emma. She's smaller than I am (she has a very trim 26.5 inch waist), but I can pin fabric to her and hang garments on her, such as this unfinished cowl neck I found in my closet a few weeks ago. And she doesn't smell, always a plus. Maybe she's more of a mannequin than a dress form, but I like her all the same.


Yeah, there's a bit of a situation going on at the left side there. I need to tame that mess of cables.


The plan is to buy a dressform using the money my mom gave me last year to buy one. Since I will be at the American Sewing Expo later this week, I'm hoping a dressform vendor or two will be there so I can check out and feel up the dress forms. I like the idea of this $20 one, though, and I think I'll probably keep her even after getting a real form.

I didn't sew this weekend, and there won't be any sewing next weekend either, but that doesn't mean sewing isn't in the air! I'll be at the ASE at the end of the week, and on Tuesday there's a special sewing related surprise that I'll probably write about on Wednesday.

Oh, and here are this week's flowers from the Princeton Farmers Market. LOVE those zinnias--so red and healthy!
Princeton Farmers Market flowers

And I've been reading Tim Gunn's book
"Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making it Work". It's not what I expected at all. It's pretty wild!

Good night!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The rebirth of Simplicity 3835

Vanessa over at Sew Filled to the Brim gave me and 4 fellow bloggers an award! Thanks Vanessa! I'm supposed to write 10 things about myself. Maybe in a future post??

Thanks everyone for your comments about the Superman dress in my last post. It was a big hit at work--the color seemed to be what caught their attention. Ironically the color is a lot like the color of Simplicity 3835 that I made in Sept 2008. It's the Built By Wendy shirt that everyone's sewn--though I used the sleeves from the minidress on the shirt. I *loved* and *adored* that shirt with all my heart but it is just too small in the biceps for me and even if I sewed minimal seam allowances, it was still going to be too small in the biceps. (I made it again in a different color and fabric later on, this time making the sleeves in a much larger size for better ease).

So here you can see the struggle of the fabric against my bulging biceps:
Finished prdt, Simplicity 3835, view B
Gosh wasn't my hair short then???

Good morning!  Sept 1, 2008

I still adore those ties:
Detail of sleeve ties

So I recently gave the original shirt to my friend who wishes to remain anon, hence the lack of name and headless shot. She wore it to work today. She is super slim, so a belt cinches the shirt quite nicely. The sleeves are the right size for her too.
Simplicity 3835's rebirth

The funny part is two fold: she said the first person she saw this morning, the school crossing guard, said he liked her shirt! and one of our co-workers said to her "Kyle made that, didn't she?" I only wore this shirt to work maybe twice in the fall of 2008.

I was reading a Deepak Chopra book about how everything has a soul, even a rock. So that shirt's soul is very happy right now to be out of my closet and worn by someone who also loves it!

This is our last week in our temporary office space til we move back to our original floor. Here is a picture of my cube:
My cube

And here's the view from my cube:
View from my cube
There's a concrete Picasso out there! Well, there's more to the story than that, I just don't feel like writing it all out.

My right back is all annoyed again. The good news is I no longer feel my left SI joint. Pain, pain, go away and never return! (that statement, by the way, would not be endorsed by my meditation CD, as it says something like "fighting against your pain and tensing up around it only worsens and intensifies it").

Good night!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Simplicity 2766 Superman dress Done

Princeton Farmer's Market flowers
I haven't been very good about posting flowers from the Princeton Farmer's Market like I was last year. This bouquet was neat because it has basil in it! It smells delicious!!

My laptop has a virus, sigh. It's the first time I've ever had a virus on my computer and I really don't know how I got it. I have to figure out how to fix it. I'm writing this on my netbook, which has virus protection.

Ok, so this afternoon I finished my Superman dress, Simplicity 2766 view A. Last week I was in a quandary about what to do with the sleeves. Today I decided to leave them long, but taper them from a 16 at the bicep to a 10 at the wrist. The days are getting cooler and I was thinking if I keep the sleeves long I can wear it for a little while longer. It is just too cold to wear dresses in the winter here. I'm cold all the time to begin with!

Here, my left arm has the size 16 at the wrist; the right has the 10.

Simplicity 2766 view A my left sleeve is 16; right sleeve is 10

Here's another view of the right sleeve, so you can see how full it is even at the size 10. But this I can live with. I think it might even be cute!
Simplicity 2766 view A done

Here it is without the belt (in the first picture of my posting last week, the sides hadn't been sewn yet and I was wearing it over another dress, making it look even larger)
Simplicity 2766 view A done

and here it is with the belt
Simplicity 2766 view A done

Although I graded to a 14 at the hip, I might have been able to get away with a 12?
I think it's a great little pattern that doesn't take too much time to make. Big thumbs up!!

Good night!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Simplicity 2766: sleeve dilemma

Simplicity 2766 view A in progress
Reminds me of bat robes in college.

First of all, whoever commented and told me the trick about using a bobbin as a second spool for twin needle stitching--you're a genius! I just love that!

It is a gorgeous Labor Day here! Went to the gym, then started working on a dress. Last night I asked which one to make, and I went with Sue's choice: Simplicity 2766 view A in a "beautiful deep blue color" as Sue says. The color reminds me of Superman.

I made a 12 in the neckline and shoulder, a 14 in the bodice and a 16 in the sleeve for room in the upper arm.

It's all done except for the sleeves. (and I'm thinking about lowering the hem. I cut 1.5 inches off and hemmed at 1.25 with a twin needle. Is it too short?). These are in progress pix so I haven't ironed.
Simplicity 2766 view A in progress

So my left arm is done the way the pattern says, but in a 16 instead of the 12. The styling is supposed to be all pouffy baggy at the forearm, but this is too much for me, too Holly Hobby. Maybe it would look better if I made the 12 at the end of the sleeve, the proportions would be better.
Simplicity 2766 view A in progress

The right arm is just ungathered for now.

This is, I dare say, the best neck binding I've ever sewn. I didn't follow the directions on this, I used a technique I learned from someone's review on SPR for beloved New Look 6922, where you sew the facing to the front, flip it to the inside and then topstitch it down from the front. The binding is not finished on the inside, which is ok in my book.
Simplicity 2766 view A in progress
The neckline is pretty cool, I like how it scoops without being too low or showing any bra strappage.

I was at a loss about what to cinch it with. As you know I'm into the ribbon thing right now but I didn't have any wide long brown ribbon. I tried a belt instead. I think it looks very Mary Nanna (moreso if I wore it with boots. which I don't own).

Simplicity 2766 view A in progress

This is pretty shapeless and if I wasn't wearing it with a belt, I'd definitely need a swayback adjustment. It might actually need a swayback adjustment anyhow, based on the side view picture I took and hated and which you will never ever see.

Simplicity 2766 view A in progress

I can see myself making this again as a shirt, and possibly for sleepwear.

Also the pattern instructions don't mention anything about gathering stitches for the sleeve at the armhole. I had some funky adjustments anyhow, but I wonder if I had made the armholes and sleeve all the same size if it really would all magically fit together without basting? (I didn't baste, I just winged it, meaning there is a bit of shaving I need to do at the sleeve cap.)

So...will I...
  • cut the sleeves to short sleeved length?
  • remove the sleeves entirely?
  • try the gathered sleeves but in a size 12 from the elbow down?
Stay tuned!