Tuesday, December 31, 2013

twenty fourteen

new moon
new year
new projects
new viewpoints

new compassion
more compassion

good health
new friends
warm friends
new connections
new creative spurts and inspirations

new love
expanding love
deepening love
true love
all love
 (simply surrender dorothy...)

cool surprises
new ease
more ease
(keep it simple sweetie...)

new abundance
new adventures
new courage
new peace
new appreciation
new gratitude
new miracles
sweet magic
new pleasures
loads of laughs

wishing you all this
and more

may your heart's desires be fulfilled
before you even dream them

what can we create?
twenty fourteen

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Toggle Jacket -- Butterick 5994

A sweet semi-fitted jacket with a toggle closure that takes it to another level of interesting and flattering. The sleek lines often seen in body-skimming French clothes work on many body types, including my 5'8" Rubenesque frame and Marcy's 5'5" shorter figure. It's a sure winner when a pattern looks this good on both of us!

Pre-shrink the fabric with washing and/or steaming as you want to avoid any shrinking once the pieces are cut. 

The center front panels, both large and small, are cut exactly the same, with the fabric ‘right’ side up. Each side of the front uses a large panel and a small panel but in opposite ways. On the right front the small panel is on the front (top layer) and the larger panel becomes the facing. On the left front the large panel is on the front (top layer) and the small panel becomes the facing. 

This is counter-intuitive so be sure you understand this to avoid using your seam ripper...

Interface the pocket facings and fronts as shown on the pattern. Check the front pieces carefully so you stitch the pocket facings on the correct edge of the jacket front.

Using blue masking tape to label each piece is a really good idea here.

If using leather, make sure it's soft. (I used a piece of black shiny leather on the sample and must admit it reads 'plastic' to me in the photos.)

The whole jacket would be stunning constructed out of a soft leather, suede or lightweight Ultrasuede.

Use a piece of computer paper on top of the leather to assure that things work smoothly. And of course practice, practice, practice.

Use a purchased toggle or make one. When sewing leather remember to make sample pieces (I use a Teflon foot and a #90 needle). Double-faced tape holds the leather in place in lieu of pins. Two buttons back to back will give the toggle more heft.

Leather can be pressed but best to use a dry iron (it is a skin after all). Make an extra long strip about 1" wide; fold in half, press and stitch 1/8" from the folded edge. Then trim the 'raw' edges close to the stitching so they are straight. Next cut the strip into two shorter pieces, one that can be threaded through a button or stitched to a button and he other knotted into a loop.


Place the finished toggle parts onto the pattern pieces to determine final placement and make any necessary adjustments before stitching to the jacket.

Toggles can be really fun to make but if you don’t want to use a toggle closure you could make a tie from self-fabric or use a lovely ribbon.

This pattern can be used with a sturdier knit like a ponte or a stretch woven. Marcy has lots of fabulous wovens that would be great in this jacket including: Sissinghurst Cotton panels, Grey or Moss Plaid cotton, Blue Cat Stretch DenimGrey Denim Dot, Versaille, or Black Velvet Denim. (I do love denim in all its incarnations!) Knits that would work well include: Sherlock Houndstooth, Calais or Tin Tin (all of which could be combined with Stanford or Leland), Obsidan and Stone Grey

This Thanksgiving Day 
I am grateful for so many things 
one of which 
is the simple joy of sewing. 

Much appreciation and love
 to everyone reading this.
As always, happy stitching!

Friday, November 22, 2013


Butterick 5986 is super simple to sew together.

It gets a bit more complicated when you come       
to folding/stitching the hem together ‘correctly’.
But really, with something like this
what is ‘right’
is only limited by your creativity.
(And hopefully I wrote the directions
so you understand them.)

Part of the dress 'hem' is stitched together 
to form 'corners' that drape
while the other side has an elastic casing
to gather the hem.

I like to mark the hemline notches
with a piece of masking tape 
(blue so it doesn't harm the fabric).
I write a letter or number on the tape
to help remind me what matches up
with what.

Always, after writing the directions
and sending everything off to Butterick,
I get more ideas of things
that could happen with the pattern.

 This tip comes from my friend Alex
who made the dress and decided she wanted
a more stable shoulder line.
So she added one...

First stitch together the body of the dress.
Try it on, arrange the neckline
and mark your shoulder line with pins.
Draw this line on the inside of the dress with chalk.
Iron a (1/4” to 3/8” wide) strip
of fusible interfacing on the line.
Stitch this strip in place
along the shoulder line.
Then continue sewing the dress.

I made a version with sleeves
using the same
purple and black graded stripe fabric
as shown on the pattern sample.

Any of the great stripes and other mid-weight knits
will work well for this dress.

 You want to use a knit fabric 
with some softness and drape like the
I used in this version of the pattern sample.

The dress shape skims the body
in a most flattering way.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Paris Mélange

Always a bittersweet time,
these final days in Paris.

Blue skies appearing after grey and rainy days
are appreciated.

A great apron
(but not for sale)
at the Sunday market.
He says he'll have some to sell
when we return next year...

Free range foies gras
seems an oxymoron
but M. Lafitte is quite proud of his product.
Bringing some foie gras with truffles back
to our friend Carol.

Words make an
 unforgettable t-shirt.

Great graphics
make an
unforgettable bathroom door.

at pillar 239
in the Palais de Tokyo,
after enjoying 'Virgule, etc.'
a retrospective look at the
marvelous shoes of Roger Vivier.

feather shoe by Roger Vivier

Designer Azzedine Alaïa
dazzled with his creative genius
at the newly renovated
Palais Galliera.

Alaïa's dress for Tina Turner

This Alaïa
Glacier wool dress
is available online
for €3,037.

And then...
at Le Bon Marché

I really think that
All Saints Day
is just too early
for the Christmas decorations
to appear...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Paris Color

Myrna at the mercerie

There may be more than 50
shades of grey in Paris
but color (and camaraderie) abounds as well.

cafe smiles from Bobbie, Yvette and Jan

brousing buttons with Myrna, Elaine and Marcy

We've been doing lots of shopping
for fabric and notions,
clothing and accessories
(plus shoes of course),
in various hues, patterns, textures and styles.

Such fun shopping Paris,
sharing and wearing
our finds with each other.

blotter paper from hand painting silk flower petals

Watching a silk flower being created
from start to finish
is mesmerizing
and amazing.

tiny hand made silk flowers

 The French are very proud
of their fine craftsmanship --
and well they should be.

Hermes window in yellows
Hermes window in reds

Then there's Hermes --
whose windows are always gorgeous
bright and beautiful!

But for me 
nothing compares to Giverny.

pink leaves, red berries

I am always left
a bit breathless
by the colors of Autumn.

on the path
boats and bamboo

So much beauty,
water, greenery, respite 
and tranquility
even when filled with people.

Paris rainbow

Rainbows appeared over Paris,
sometimes double as this one
(viewed from inside the bus)
peeking in and out of the trees
as we rode along the Seine.


After the rainbow
a stunning sunset
to light our way home.
(or off to more shopping...)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Paris in Perspective

Morning in the Tuilleries

Groups of French firefighters and police
run through the Tuilleries in the early morning
adding to the ambience and allure
of this beautiful (and momentarily) uncrowded expanse.

Square des Missions Étrangers

Chateaubriand's head graces this small square,
one of the many welcome bits of green
that provide respite and nature
as I wander through Paris.

Non-wandering gnomes

This creative window garden
made me smile.

Passage du Chantier
Small Passages offer a taste
of Paris before Haussmann
and never cease to charm.

Café life.
Sartorial splendor
brightens a day.

Inside out at Marithé + François Girbaud

Meticulous finishing creates
a garment that is as beautiful on the inside
as it is on the outside.
Reminder to self...
Price: €11,950 (about $17,000 at today's rate)
 I love the shade of yellow
but how could one carry this purse
when a family of four could be 
fed for a year instead?
Not that it's in my 'wants' or my budget anyway...

Send in the psychiatrist please

in the eye of the viewer.
offering new views.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Vue de Paris

Palais Royale

Into the Palais Royal
Le Jardin de Palais Royale

The weather in Paris 
has been magnificent this past week.
gorgeous clouds,
minor bits of rain
and warm temperatures.

The warmth of summer lingers.

Chez Serge Gainsbourg
Grafitti continues to evolve
at Serge's house
where the entrance has been modified
no doubt in preparation for the day
it opens as a museum.

I love the peeks into the Louvre
that are so full of light
in comparison to the dark passages 
one is passing through.

Marcy at Marly
Cafe Marly is not known for its
nourriture gastronome 
but the view is wonderful,
ambiance  exceptionnel
and the company always
au-dessus du dessus.
Especially lovely
with the warm weather.

These two darling women
are part of a Japanese dance troupe.

At the Louvre
Cello music led us into this passage.

More of the magic of Paris.