Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gulf Shores or Bust!

Leaving in the morning with the whole fam (plus 2 dogs!) Including dogs, we number 11. One person's torture, another person's vacation.

Nah...we'll have fun! We're like the Griswolds.

Was migraine sick yesterday and today I'm still recuperating from that, so no last minute sewing here. I'll be all rested & sewing-rejuvenated when I get back though!

See ya next week!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Yoohoo... Heidi....this one's for you!

I see lots and lots of pricey extras you can buy for your photo editing program (namely Photoshop in it's various formats.) Usually these are the form of actions: a set of pre-programmed steps that Photoshop will perform on your photos to glam them up.

Some of these are pretty pricey ($150 and up). Some are free, and really good. Usually though, I've found the techniques to achieve the effect of the action are so simple to learn that you'd be better off just to LEARN them!

Since there's no sewing going on today I thought I'd share a couple of tricks. We're going to do a popular look in photos right now...color pop and vignetting. You might also see a similar effect called "Lomo" (that's a whole other blog post that I'll just leave you to google for the sake of time.)

Ok, so we're going to take a photo from just "good" to "smashing artistic interpretation of good". Or, you know, thereabouts.

So, step 1: open up a photo and duplicate the Background layer (Right click, Duplicate in the layer's palette.) Always work from a duplicate of the background! That way if you totally hate it, your original image is safe. I also never save over my originals. I'm using a perfectly decent photo of Lu:

step 2: First let's punch up the color in this one. It's a bit washed out. To do this, we're going to play with the levels in this photograph (how dark are the darks and how light are the lights). In Paintshop Pro, you Right Click on your layer and choose New Adjustment Layer > Levels. Looks this:

step 3: In the Levels dialog box, move the input sliders on each side in a bit. You can play with these to get the perfect contrast for your photo.

and here's what we have now...don't worry. We're not done.

step 4: Now we're really going to get art-y and boost the saturation. This will really pop the colors of our photo. In Paintshop Pro, click on your duplicate layer and choose Adjust > Hue & Saturation> Hue/Saturation/Lightness from the menu:

step 5: We're going to leave the Hue at 0 and the Lightness at 0, but bump the saturation to 20. By all means play with these numbers as much as you like! Every photo is different. 20 is a good starting point though and you should see pretty saturated coloration now.

step 6: Now that we have a nice "color pop" to our photo, we're going to enhance that effect a bit by adding some vignetting. This is where the real "Lomo-effect" comes in! Add a new Layer above your Levels Layer. (Layer > New Raster Layer, or just click the little Layers button in the palette)

step 7: On this new, blank layer we're going to add a gradient fill with the Fill Bucket. Make sure you have the Fill Bucket tool selected and go to the topmost color in your Materials palette. Click on the color button and you will have 3 choices: solid, gradient, or pattern. We're going to choose the middle one: Gradient

step 8: Now we want to change our gradient to the spherical gradient. You'll have to click on the foreground swatch (the top one) to open the Gradient dialog box. Choose Black & White as your Gradient from the little dropdown arrow.

and choose the Sunburst gradient type. Before you click OK, check to make sure your Sunburst Gradient is Black on the edges with White in the center. If not, make sure the Invert is checked.

step 9: Fill the empty raster layer with this Sunburst Gradient. Don't Panic!! Yes, your picture is hidden, but only for a second.

step 10: Change this Layer's Blending Mode by clicking the down arrow next to "Normal" at the top of the Layer Palette. Down near the end of the list, choose "Overlay" as your blending mode. Yes, it's magic. :D

step 11: Wow, aren't you impressed with yourself now? As is, the picture should be pretty exciting now. But since it maybe a little "tooo" saturated and "toooo" vignette'd, we can change the Opacity of the Gradient Layer and the Saturation Layer as needed. Try to decrease either one (or both) to about 80-85%.

And's our finished, color-popped, vignetted photo. Not too shabby, huh?

Final step...Once you're satisfied, Right Click and Merge > Merge All (Flatten). I recommend saving your photo with a new name so that you still have your original saved without all the fancy PSP footwork.

Now go! Play!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

BWOF 6-08-123

If you find yourself humming the Flashdance theme later today...I take full responsibility.

(Please ignore the blatant jazz hands.) Yup, my photo is off-center. But I took this blasted picture with my camera timer 15 times. This was the best of the lot.

Ok, the BEST of the lot was probably this one, but I cut my head off. And the whole point of me photog'ing ME was so you could see my lovely (no shower yet --it's 7 a.m.-- no hair do, no make up) face. Plus, I look like I don't have a neck in this one. On the positive side, no jazz hands.

And I tried cropping the first one so that it was just the ME face and the top, but I look all out of proportion without ankles. I'm glad I have them in real life.

Here's my shoes, since I put them on special for the "shoot" and they were cut off by my timer suckage:

Yes my friends, to complete the post-disco era fashion statement I give you disco ball flip-flops (or as I like to call them--loudly, in front of Lu, in public--THONGS.) Tar-jay, $12.99.

Oh yeah, back to the pattern. I love it. It's not something I'll be making again in several colors, obviously. But it turned out SO cute. I'm going on vacation at the end of the week and this is a perfect beach vacation top.

It's still unhemmed, because I'm not sure about the length. I played with it last night and it actually looks cute shorter, but there's something sloppy and fun about the longer length so I'll probably leave it.

I cut the 46 and the only alteration I made was to scoot the CF over about 1.5" to allow for my chest appendages. I don't think the BWOF model had any, so I figured I better make allowances.

I did run into a bit of "I have to walk away or I'm going to rip this goshforsaken magazine to shreds" trouble with the neckline. Here' the line drawing:

So, after you bind the holes over the shoulders (easy), you go to work on the neckbands. The odd part (to me) is that you do the front & back bands separately before ever attaching at shoulder seams. The other odd part is that their directions for applying the neckband facings SUCK. (ok, not odd.) Ahem.

To save you a lot of hair-pulling, I'll share what I eventually figured out (one Fool's Gold viewing and a trip to WM for Tylenol later.) You place the front neckband & facing RST and stitch the top (neck) side completely across. Then on the bottom side of the facing/neckband, you only stitch up to the edge of the shoulder-hole binding. Then you have this little bit of a "tube" to turn right sides out. That's it. There's a whole convoluted paragraph in BWOF on this, but this is actually what they meant. Repeat for the back facing/neckband.

Then you just press under the remaining seam allowances of the facings and baste, topstitch. I skipped the basting because I'm a rebel like that. (I did pin.) To join the neckbands, you stitch the neckband at the shoulder seams, and then hand-stitch the facing closed (the facing seam allowance was pressed under earlier.)

And while you'd think watching Kate Hudson cavorting about in a tiny bikini with Matthew McConaughey would diminish my desire to wear a sexy hole-shoulder'd be so wrong! Look at my cute shoulders in those holes!

And those ankles. Wow.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Little Skirt

Just playing with fabrics today! Three little skirts that will go in my Etsy Shop!

Now it's back to our regularly schedule grown-up sewing. My BWOF June issue FINALLY CAME!! Woohoo!! Haven't fully digested it, so this is short. I'm drinking lemonade and enjoying my magazine to its fullest!

All are SOLD...Thank you!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ottobre 4/07 #33

Summer tee for my whiny girl, who has been giving me that "sew neglected" look for a couple of weeks now. ;)

This pattern is the long-sleeve tee (pattern #33) from Ottobre issue 4/2007. I used a blue & white stripe cotton knit, with a black & white polkadot for the yoke & bindings. I was feeling a little saucy, so I used hot pink thread and a double needle for all topstitching.

This blue & white knit has been in my stash for at least 8 years. (I still have about 1.25 yards left!) The top pattern #33 has long sleeves, but I just substituted the short puffed sleeve from pattern #31 in the same issue instead. The sleeve fit perfectly, which makes this a very versatile pattern!

The pattern calls for ribbing, which I missed in the instructions when cutting out. AFTER I had cut all the pieces and sat down to read through construction, I discovered that part. I worried the bindings wouldn't fit, but they went together PERFECT. The only problem is that the neck opening is a just a tad small. Lu can pull it on over her head, but it would have been a lot easier if I had used ribbing instead! Ditto for the sleeves, which I doublechecked the fit of before stitching just in case.

I love Ottobre! This was a fast & easy project! And all the pieces just go together perfectly (even swapping out the sleeves and nary a hiccup!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pattern Sale!

It was time for some Spring Cleaning (um, Summer Cleaning?) in Ye Olde Pattern Chest. I'll be putting them up all day, so if you don't see anything you like right now, check back later!

I'm letting go of lots of basic ladies patterns, most are sized 14-20.

I've also got a few bundles of Children's Patterns & costumes.

And best of all...several Vintage Patterns from my collection that aren't my personal style, so I'm letting them go to new homes.

All have low starting bid & no reserve. This is just a sneak peek. There's LOTS more! If you're interested in adding to your pattern hoard, come see me on Ebay!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Simplicity 3887

Talk about a fast & easy top! This is a super fast project, and it turned out very nice. I plan to wear it today, in fact!

I made View C with short sleeves in a very lightweight cotton gauze. The fabric is aqua, white and olive stripes and there's a tiny silver thread running through every 2 inches or so. It has kind of a sparkle when it hits the light, but not "Disco Queen" shiny so all's good. I also added a bit of lace trim, mainly because I had a piece the exact correct length lying beside the sewing machine from a different project.

If you look really close at the neckline, you'll notice it's a teeny bit distorted. I did interface the neckband, but it still stretched out. I think this was the fabric more than my technique (lalalala). Next time I'll staystitch the neckband piece before applying the neckband facing. Here's a closeup of the neckband and lace trim.

I'm so glad I went ahead and made the tie belt! Without it we're definitely talking maternity wear!

I think it's a combination of the pale colors, round neckline and cutesy puff sleeves that give it that "new mama" appearance. The tie belt really makes all the difference!

On the subject of the tie belt, it's pretty dang long. I cut it longer than the pattern, worried it would be too short, then ended up shortening it even more. I don't want to be tripping over tie ends (I'm sort of exaggerating.)

One last thing, I did add a small FBA to this pattern. I rotated the dart to the neckline (which is gathered all around.) You would think maybe you could get by without one in this style, but I think I would have gotten pulling and even more distortion around the neckline.

Adrienne & I have been talking about doing a sew-along for the BWOF sundress from 6/07 (see yesterday's post for the line drawing.) We've both got beach vacations planned, but I think this is just the cutest summer sundress, even without sand and surf. Anybody want to join us?

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Holy Grail...

of FOE (foldover elastic)!!

Yes, in about a million colors. (ok, 95 colors) Also that cute organza ruffled edge elastic you see so often in Ottobre, in the same 95 colors! Not to mention a few other elastics. I'm going to go through my knit stash over the next few days and try to sort out what colors I'd like to have on hand. If you're anything like me, you tend to buy the same color-way over and over!

New project to start this afternoon (the Cindy McCain knockoff is on the back burner until I'm out of the casual summer sewing phase!) I think I'm going to do a couple of quick summer tops. Here are the contenders:

Simplicity 3882 (I like both of the short tops.)

Simplicity 3887 (probably the cover photo view)

New Look 6562 (v-neck, no ruffle)

I've already altered all with an FBA, so it's just a matter of cutting out (my least favorite part) and stitching up! I'm not terribly concerned about fit, since they're all pretty easy-going styles and I will probably be using crinkle gauze and knit.

I'm also really wanting to make this sundress from BWOF 6/07 #109 for our beach vacation in 2 weeks. Perfect "throw on over your swimsuit" kind of dress!
On the other hand, I received this awesome, bright pique from Gorgeous Fabrics last week, and I really want to make McCall's 5593 (short sleeve - view A)

And with that, I'm off cause I haven't figured out how to surf blogs/PR and sew at the same time.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dress Envy

I spent the past 10 minutes scouring the internet for a picture of Cindy McCain's dress (worn today while visiting a Virginia coffee shop with her husband.) I caught a glimpse of it on the evening news and just HAD to have a closer peek! Look at those cute pleats at the neckline & waistline...and the neck treatment itself is wonderful!

I'm thinking a modification of this BWOF 09-2007-117 would work:
and this top from BWOF 02-08-101 has a similar neck treatment:
And that's about it as far as sewing goes around here the past week!! This is my last week of school (just 2 more days!) so hopefully things will slow down enough I'll have some ME time with the Bernina by Wednesday!

What's everyone else been sewing??

Sunday, June 01, 2008

BWOF 08-2007-105

One down!

I decided on the #105 knit top from the 08/2007 issue of BWOF. I really think it turned out cute too! I graded this pattern up to a 46, but I think I would have liked it a bit better in this clingy rayon jersey if I had went up one more size. I also did an FBA on the front pieces. It wasn't that difficult and made a huge difference in how the front fits.

The chest/shoulder area fits well...but I have some back rolls that aren't terribly attractive. Of course this top was meant to be slim-fitting, I think, and I'm probably too fluffy to wear 'very fitted' garments well. As such, I will probably wear a microfiber cami under this to smooth things out. I'll try to get a pic of the top on me tomorrow when there's lots of light outside!

Other changes...I added an inch to the armbands, and they are still pretty snug. Not unwearable tight, but I could have used another inch I think. The V-neck is also pretty low (isn't that just like BWOF though? Tight arms and deep V necks??) But the V is such a neat look when it goes together!

Mind you there are next to NO instructions for putting the V together. They state something to the tune of "stitch front bodice top to bodice bottom. Fronts will meet in center". Except that the bodice bottom comes to a point at the center, and the bodice top is in 2 pieces (each in a point). How do you meet two point pieces at a point? I pinned all of this really well, butting the top bodice pieces together as close as possible to the point, then hand-basted it before stitching. It came out nicely!

The rest of the instructions were very straightforward. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the facing strip on the neckline. It is a long strip of fabric folded lengthwise, then stitched on top of the color & neckline. Trim and turn under, then topstitch with a twin needle. It's a nice look from the topside, but my topstitching isn't so perfect on the underside. Oh well, I guess no one's going to see that part!

Lu wants a top like this so I might just trace off the smallest size and see if I can get it to fit her. Not right now though, I'm tired of this one and ready to move on!

Lost & Found

Have you seen this BWOF? I have spent the better part of 2 hours, on 3 different days, looking for this little bugger. It has vanished.

Actually, I don't recall seeing it for many, many moons. I'm guessing it got tossed out by accident during the last big fabric cleanout/stash straightening. See, yet another reason NOT to organize. ARGH.

Of course I WANT IT NOWWW. There are at least 2 tops and a dress I want to make. I posted a Want Ad on PR, but just in case one of you lovely lurkers has a copy they don't want...give a girl a comment?? Or an email?? jemimabean at gmail dot com.

Yesterday I picked up some cute fabric while in town. This tone on tone jade stripe rayon jersey is very nice! The stripe has bit of sheen.

I have several pattern contenders for this one, and 3 yards, but I'm leaning towards these two BWOF tops. I have a thing for tie neck tops, but I don't really need long sleeves as in #101. I really like the short sleeve top #105, but I would have to do some serious bust altering to get the girls fitted into this one. Hmmm.

And this fabric is an unknown fiber, but I'm guessing a rayon. I have a couple of other pieces like this and they are both crinkly rayon. It's lightweight and very drapey. I love the turquoise vertical stripes! Like lightening bolts. But what to make???

I've been through my BWOF (you know, distracted while searching for 05-07) and nothing jumped out at me. I need your help bloggers! Pattern ideas? I have 3 yards, so a dress or top, almost anything goes! Give me your best shot!