Saturday, December 31, 2011

German Pattern Experiment

German pattern magazine from May 1936.

Hello dear readers!  I hope this day finds you doing well.  I want to share with you something new that I wanted to try with the new year: The German Pattern Experiment.  What exactly is this?  I suppose it's best to start at the beginning.

A while back I fell in love with a few blogs that were dedicated to vintage style, and being a lover of history, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of sewing from the same pattern that someone else may have used 50, 60 or even 70 years ago.  I scoured eBay for vintage patterns and my first two purchases were won without a fight and for a very modest price.  Then I came across some German pattern magazine from the 1930's.  The patterns were very appealing, so I put in my $10 bid and carefully watched the bidding through the last day, satisfied that I was again the only bidder.  Well, the bidding on this particular  item was open until the wee hours of the night, so I bumped my bid up to $15 and went to bed confident in my winning.

The next morning, to my disappointment, I noticed I had been outbid - that darling had sold for over $50! Despite my sour feelings, I moved on and forgot all about the incident until three weeks later when I noticed the seller was again listing some similar items.  I quickly placed another modest bid and waited until the final evening of the bidding.  Hubby and I were enjoying a bottle of raspberry wine and relaxing on the couch as I sat with the laptop close by.  Again, I noticed these pattern magazines were a hot item and the bidding continued to climb.  Let me just say that after one glass of wine, the price didn't seem so outrageous, so I joined in the bidding war.  It wasn't too long before I found out that no one else was dumb enough to outbid me (doesn't anyone else drink wine while bidding on eBay?).

After the magazine arrived, I was in outright shock.  How was I going to sew from these patterns when I couldn't read a lick of German?  I turned to the internet to see if there was anyone sharing their experiences with these patterns - none (I do not claim to be any sort of research expert).  Well, I've decided that with this new year, I am ready to tackle this project.

German pattern magazine from December 1936.
Are you interested in joining me?  You can follow along as I attempt to sew my way through as many of these patterns that I can.  I'm hoping to even convert a few of these into PDFs - available to you!

Of course, these will not be the only things I sew up this year.  I will be participating in Tasia's Minoru sew along and am planning to make the Cynthia Steffe dress that you helped me decide on.

I would love it if you followed along.  Leave a note if you are interested in having me create free PDFs of these patterns  (as I'm sure it will be a lot of work, so I'll only take the time if there is expressed interest).

Live in this moment and love life!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Something to write about . . .

Happy Monday!  I know it has been forever since I last posted; truly I just haven't had much to post about.  The month of December always seems to catch me in a whirlwind.  Instead of spending free time knitting and sewing, I have been enjoying the company of friends, family and my dear hubby.

I'm hoping my lack of inspiring projects and creativity is a thing of the past (for a little while at least).  I've got a few little goodies in my hands that are sure to get me back to my sewing and knitting.  First, I have a lovely dress form!  I had been wanting one for quite a while, and had come really close to purchasing one on my own.  It was hard to justify cost (how much fabric or yarn could I buy with that money instead?).  Well, I put it on my birthday/Christmas list and crossed my fingers with all my might.

I got my dress form!  I came as a gift from my Mom and Dad.  My parents have taught me a lot about generosity and thinking of others, but it still comes as a surprise when I am the beneficiary of this generosity.  So, Mom and Dad, thank you so much for the dress form - I can't wait to start using her to work out fine fitting details and become better at sewing.  I appreciate everything you do to take an interest in my hobbies.

The only other item on my wish list was A Stitch in Time, Volume II.  (I know, a short list, and I certainly did not expect to receive both.)  Under the tree on Christmas was a gift from my little brother, who had drawn my name.  With the help of my mom, he had gotten me the knitting book that I had been wanting since I learned that the writing was in the works.  I was so convinced that I wanted this book that I even bought some yarn to make one of the projects that had been released on Ravelry.  Now that I have the book in my hands, I can get that yarn on my needles.

My much anticipated book - shown with the yarn I bought for one of the projects.
Christmas day also included a short visit with one of my friends.  She had picked up a little something for me as a birthday gift.  It's this darling little mug - that I plan to use for drinking my favorite tea and plenty of hot cocoa!

"Knitting is Knotty" - the reason my friend thought it would be fun to buy this mug for me.
The last gift I received had no monetary value, but comes of great value to me.  My hubby spent two and half hours at a church service in a foreign language!  He did it just so I could spend Christmas morning visiting some very dear friends of mine.  It was wonderful see some old friends, and have the support of my hubby with me.

As wonderful as my Christmas and birthday gifts are, I am most thankful for the real meaning of Christmas:  Emmanuel, God with us!  I am also grateful for the time with my family - I love you all.

Do you have anything wonderful to share about the holiday?  I would love to hear what you have to share.

Live in this moment and love life!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wrapping Up My Colette Fall Palette Challenge

I knew in my heart that I would probably fail to complete this challenge - it's been over for a few weeks now and I completed one garment within the duration of the challenge.  When it came to my second piece - this skirt, I had full intentions of finishing it in early November.  A number of things got in the way of that, including putting my sewing machine away for a whole week while our house was being painted.  Not to dwell too long on the negative - I have a new finished skirt that I love!  This is a 1940's a-line skirt with front welt pockets.

Although the pattern didn't call for it, I decided to make this a fully lined skirt.  It all started with the pockets, I didn't want to use the wool fabric because it is a thick, winter-weight and I thought it would add too much bulk where I wouldn't want it.  Not having much else that was appropriate, save for three yards of silk that I was hoping to use on a 1940's slip, I wasn't sure what to do.  Then I found myself thinking surely I can use a minuscule amount for the pockets.  This spiraled into I bet I can squeeze my skirt lining and the slip out of these three yards.

So, I did what I could to creatively place (while still following the pattern grain lines) all pattern pieces onto the three yards of silk.  It was a good choice, I think the taupe silk is a great compliment to the dark wool.  And nothing feels better next to the skin that silk, plus an extra layer means more warmth.  With winter fast approaching, I'm happy to have a warm skirt in my closet (this time last year we already had a lot of snow on the ground).

The more I sew, the more I see the importance of the extra steps taken to finish a garment.  For this skirt I used a lapped zipper (using Casey's method), bound button hole (using Gertie's method) and a ribbon hem.  Additionally all of my seams are surged and finished with french seams or bound seams.  I love how it looks just as great on the inside as the outside.

This will wrap up my fall sewing challenge.  I know I planned to make the blouse from the same pattern - but I feel good about leaving it until summer and making another one of these skirts.  I can see it made up in a pastel light weight wool or pretty floral cotton with a contrasting color for the waistband and welt pockets.  How about you, do you have any ideas of how you would make this skirt?

Live in this moment and love life!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wanting Your Help Choosing a Fabulous Dress

Hello dear readers!  I feel like it has been forever since I last posted.  (Though it is far from my long stretch of absence during the beginning of this past summer).  Perhaps you thought I was basking in my own awesomeness or reflecting upon the greatness of my talent a la the Selfish Seamstress?  Most certainly not!  I assure you that I have not gone down that path.

In fact, I have felt the need to create a post, any post - so that my most recent entry is no longer the "look at me, I had fifteen seconds of fame" post.  That being said, I also didn't want to create a post just to ramble aimlessly.  This blog is not to become a place of meaningless chatter just to have my voice heard and I am far too thankful for your time to be waisting it with such.

So, I am coming to you seeking advice.  With my sewing I tend to get a quite distracted as my mind is constantly reflecting upon images and ideas that I hope to turn into finished garments.  So much so, that I often can't make a decision about what I want to sew next.  Looking ahead to this coming year, hubby and I have six weddings to attend, and many of these will include bridal showers and rehearsal dinners.  A girl needs to have a fancy new dress or two for such occasions, wouldn't you agree?  Will you help me to decide on a dress or two to make for all these weddings.  Most will be spring and summer occasions, so I am planning ahead a bit, but I don't want to be finishing the dress the morning of the wedding as I did with my first dress.

The first option is a modern Vogue pattern by designer Cynthia Steffe.  This was actually the first pattern I bought and was planning on using it to make my first dress a little over a year ago.  I think this would have forever ruined sewing for me, so I'm glad I went with the much easier McCall's pattern.  But with a year of sewing underway, and the knowledge of available resources, I think I am ready to tackle this one.

Love the pockets!
Next up is a 1940's mail order from The American Weekly.  At first glance this may appear to rather ho-hum and not something one would wear to a wedding.  However, notice the open back and consider what it may look like sleeveless and in a brightly colored sassy fabric.  (You're liking it a bit more, right?)

Not sure if I would use the bow or not.
Going along with the idea of an open back, I am coveting Tasia's Vogue 1116!  I don't own this pattern (yet), but think it would make a fabulous dress for a special event.  I love how she used a bright and cheerful fabric, I have trouble finding anything like this.

Lastly, I have the two 1950's patterns I picked up at a thrift shop.  I'm thinking about making the strapless one and omitting the bolero.  But I also like the idea of dresses with the cap sleeves.  These would require making a crinoline and some serious pattern grading (even petite little me does not have a  31 1/2 inch bust - and of course the waist would be even more of an issue)

Oh so many choices - and I even eliminated one based solely on the fact that I was too lazy to scan it in.  So, my fellow sewists and anyone else who wants to put in their two cents, what are your thoughts?  Which of these patterns is a sure win for an wedding ensemble?  Do you have ideas for fabrics or colors?  Your input would mean so much to me.

Live in this moment and love life!

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Little More Happiness

To my utter shock, not only was my skirt a featured project last Friday - I noticed that it found it's way to "Best of October".  Sorry to have an almost duplicate post here, but I might be just a little excited.  My husband claims it could only have happened because of his photography skills.  (To give credit where it is due - thanks honey, you are the best).

It is such an honor to be featured at the same time as the gorgeous Liz of zilredloh.  Check out her fabulous blouse on her blog or BurdaStyle.

Live in this moment and love life!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Little Happiness

It was so exciting when I logged into BurdaStyle today and noticed that my Circle Skirt was a Featured Member Project!  Like most people in the sewing world, I'm not seeking out fame and recognition for the work that I do, but it still feels good to have a little call out.  It's just as special as all of the sweet comments I receive on this blog.  (Which by the way - a HUGE thank you to all of the wonderful people who follow this blog and leave comments, I have found it so encouraging!_

Since picking up sewing about a year ago, I have become a bit obsessed with it.  So much so, that my mind is a little too concentrated on patterns and fabric while I am commuting to and from work.  What I think has really propelled me into the on-line sewing community is that sense of community.  I still remember when I posted my first dress on BurdaStyle - and all of the encouraging comments to keep sewing - it made my day!  I was honored when I dear friend became my first blog follower - and she has been so faithful in encouraging me in my little endeavors.

Now here I am a year later, still learning so much and still eager to keep sewing (and knitting).  As I have been blessed with the spirit of encouragement found in the on-line sewing community, I want to pass it on to you.  Do you have a project that you are especially proud of?  Some thing that pushed you out of your comfort zone.  How about a project that just makes you smile?  Feel free to leave a link to it in the comment section so others can easily find it.  Depending on the responses I get, I may even put up a post with pictures and links to your beautiful work!

Again, thank you for following, commenting and allowing me to glean inspiration from your work!

Live in this moment and love life!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mermaid Teal Pendrell

I bought this teal silk charmeuse with the intention of sewing up a Pendrell blouse.  Unfortunately, I was afraid to cut it up.  A while ago I shared some of my work in progress which included a toffee colored silk blouse that I was working on.  Needless to say, it did not go well.  I pretty much ended up destroying the fabric in the process of cutting it out - not a good way to start.  I gather up some courage and tried working with silk again - this time to line a pencil skirt - and it worked out really well.  So with the confidence of a successful project involving silk, I decided it was time to use up this beautiful fabric.

I'll be honest and say that it did not turn out perfect, but I am still really happy with the results.  The pop of color is a little brighter than I am used to, but I love color - so it won't take long for me to love it.

From this angle, the sleeves look a little like wings.
If any of you follow Debi's blog, you know that she made pretty much the exact same version of this blouse.  Really Debi, I didn't mean to copy you - I had this planned out forever and was just afraid to cut the fabric.  What do you say - we should dress like twins sometime?

I love fall!
Live in this moment and love life!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

1940's Knit it in Kiss Stitch

This is my new favorite sweater!  I cast on last winter, but put it on hold to participate in Tasha's Briar Rose Knit Along since both sweaters called for my size 3 needles.  Once I finished my Briar Rose, I wasn't too much in the mood for knitting with the uncharacteristically hot summer we had.  Now that fall is here, I made it point to finish this sweater.

Maybe it's the knitted lace edging, or the delicate detailing of the stitches, or that fact that it's a fuzzy pink sweater, but I am loving wearing this.  I even made it a point to use some of Emma's snap fasteners to close up the neck opening in the back - it has been fun trying to incorporate some of her sewing notions into as many projects as I can.

A close up of the stitch details.
Finishing this darling little sweater has me really excited to start my next knitting project.  I still haven't decided if it will be another sweater or some stockings, but either project will be a fun knit.

The pattern is from the 1940's and is called Knit it in Kiss Stitch.  You can find it for free on Faded Splendour's website.  This was really fun to knit up, I loved how the criss-cross stitches kept things interesting.

Live in this moment and love life!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

This Ain't No Sock Hop

Please excuse the grammar of my title.  When I first thought about making a circle skirt for Casey's sew along, my mind went back to grade school and the sock hops my family attended at my elementary school.  I always wore a bright pink poodle skirt - complete with an applique poodle covered in cotton balls. I knew that I did not want my skirt to look like the skirt I wore as a child, it was after all a costume.

Of course, picking out my lovely wool fabric already elevated this skirt to a level above the last circle skirt that I owned.  Then there are all of the details that make this more than a circle with a piece of elastic through the middle.  I loved learning the lapped zipper method, it will definitely find it's way into a 1940's skirt that is on my list of things to sew this fall.  Using sewn-in interfacing, rather than fusible interfacing was another great tutorial that was included with the sew along.  This was also the first time I used a rolled hem, which just makes sense with a skirt like this.  Though I must say, my favorite thing to learn was the lapped zipper.

As I was finishing my skirt, I wasn't loving it.  It felt a little matronly - even my husband said it reminded him of something one of his teachers (who wasn't a young fashionista) used to wear.  Not the look I was going for.  But after shortening the length a bit, and pairing the skirt with a few cute pairs of shoes, I am starting to like it.

Interested in seeing a few more circle skirts?  Casey will be posting a circle skirt party on October 17th, make your way over to her blog to check them out.

This was my husband's favorite photo.  He took it just as I
finished pulling myself up on the deck railing.  I wonder
what he likes about it?
Live in this moment and love life!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sew Along Blues

I have always considered myself a creature of habit - really once something becomes a habit (even subconsciously) it is terrible difficult for me to change it.  So, it came as no surprise when I realized all of my sew along participations have resulted in a blue garment.  And do you want to know the worst of it, blue is not even my favorite color!

In case you need a refresher: there was Casey's Swing Dress Sew Along which resulted in a lovely navy blue dress.  Most people in the comments told me they liked my simple black dress, but really it is navy.  Perhaps wearing it with black shoes did not help matters (yes I know I shouldn't do that, but at the time I didn't have any other options).

Really, it's navy - if you see black, tilt your computer screen a little :)
Then Tasha's Briar Rose Knit Along produced a baby blue sweater.  To be honest, I like this color of blue the best, but I am still not overly eager to add blue to my closet.

Add to prove I do not need more blue, this is paired with a navy skirt.
Finally, Tasia's Lonsdale Sew Along gave me my blue Hawaii print dress.  Again, not a bad dress - but how did I unintentionally choose blue for everything?

So I was well aware of this fact as I started shopping for another one of Casey's sew alongs.  This time a circle skirt.  I actually picked up more than one bolt of blue fabric before reminding myself that I was in search of anything else (perhaps it's not just a habit, but rather the selection of the store?).  Not quite sure of what I wanted, I ended up in the suiting section.  Glancing at the fabrics I thought about how wool suiting wasn't exactly my first choice, but how wonderfully warm a wool skirt would be during winter in Minnesota!  Yes, this was the perfect choice.

In real life the thread matches quite a bit better.  The green ribbon was for the
interfacing.  At the time I bought it, I was hoping it would be visible, one of
Casey's recent posts reveals it won't be, which is fine.
I found this delightful grey plaid that had some green and blue running through it.  So I didn't avoid blue completely, but this grey neutral will be the perfect wardrobe staple.  I can't wait to see how this turns out.  I am a little behind, as with all sew alongs, and was hoping to finish on time.  Unfortunately, things got quite busy at work, so I don't think I will have any sewing time this week.

Here is a good close up of the fabric detail.
Speaking of sew alongs, have you heard that Anna of A Few Threads Loose is considering a lingerie sew along?  I am so on board with that.  I will surely be avoiding blue for that sew along . . .

Live the moment, love life!

Monday, September 26, 2011


This past Friday I went to an event at my favorite yarn shop.  They were celebrating a new partnership with Rowan Yarns & Westminster Fibers - making Amazing Threads one of only two new concept stores in the US.  Having no idea what kind of excitement this celebration would muster up, I showed up just minutes after the celebration started.  To my surprise, this little yarn shop had a line out the door!

Keep reading to find out more about these lovely images and luscious yarns.
As I patiently waited in line just to get in the door, I found myself thinking how this excitement paralleled that of Missoni for Target.  Okay, maybe not that much excitement, but still far more than I had anticipated.

As I inched closer to the door I was given a number 58 (door prizes for the first 60, I just barely made it).  In addition to the bustling excitement, the best part for me was seeing so many familiar faces from my Tuesday night group.  I told them I was there to start building my stash (since they like to tease me for my ability to resist buying yarn unless I am about to start a new project - however, I must admit that they are rubbing off on me).

Since this event was held in honor of the Rowan partnership, I decided to treat myself to some lovely lace yarn.  This deep purple was the exact color that I had in mind for a vintage pattern (that I have yet to buy).  The lighter purple-grey may be used for some stockings.

Doesn't it just look like it would feel good next to your skin?
Once at checkout I was completely surprised to receive the Rowan Knit & Crochet Magazine #49.  They were giving this away just for making a purchase!   I love my yarn shop. 

This is a gem filled with lots of beautiful images for knitting inspiration.  I am now looking more forward to football season than ever.  Having this gorgeous yarn on my lap and these romantic images before me - I may not even notice that ESPN is on all day at my house!  (Yes, my wonderful hubby loves football - college and pro, so we watch a lot of football here).

I love how the models have a simplistic look to them, and the light airy knits
look so wonderful. Even the backdrops are gorgeous.
I just wanted to share my happy day with you.  Hope it inspired you to create something beautiful.

Live the moment, love life!