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.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tips of the Trade

Part of the fun of sewing for me is figuring things out.
After doing things a certain way
for a long time
I notice I feel 'bored'
and like to change things around.
This can make things challenging
when I'm trying to write pattern directions
(for instance)
and have to commit
to just one way of doing something
and a certain order of doing it.

Hmm, maybe I don't like to be tied down...

Make rules,
break rules,
love rules,
hate rules. 
(Love does rule though...)

As I plan a pattern,
choose the fabrics,
cut the pieces out,
and stitch things together,
many ideas move through the mind.
Some stick and some don't;
some work and some don't.

I thought I would share a few of my favorite tricks
that you may or may not know about
that I've been using in my latest projects.

Some of these I learned from other sewers;
some I figured out myself (as I know you have);
all, I find helpful.

1. Press hems in place 
when the fabric pieces are still flat.
Sleeves especially, as they can be such a pain
when trying to turn them under evenly in the round.
Even if the press line doesn't match up perfectly
when you get the sleeve put together
it's easier to straighten it out 
than to try to do the whole job from scratch.
pressing hem while fabric is flat using a cardboard template

2. Use a cardboard template as a guide when pressing hems.
This simple 1" strip
cut from a file folder or cereal box
makes pressing hems so much easier.
Actually I've amassed a collection of different widths
but the 1" is what I seem to use most often.

3. When tucking a thick seam under,
trim a small concave curve from the thickest part on the edge.
This takes out just enough thickness
to allow the seam to sit flatter.
Works well when wrapping a thick seam 
in a neckband or folding a fat seam in a hem. 
(Note: I did check the internet to find a correct/understandable 
definition for a concave and a convex curve
and thanks to those who corrected me
when I still got it wrong...)
Essentially you are cutting a little curved piece
out of the top of the seam
in the seam allowance.
Curved Kai scissors are perfect for this.
trim out a 'fat' seam

4. Make an easy 'double' buttonhole for 2 small buttons
by first making one large buttonhole
and then putting a tack in the middle.
Measure the two buttons together 
with a small space in between to determine buttonhole length.
Stabilize with Fray Check 
and then cut each hole separately.
This works for three little buttons too.
tacking the center of a long buttonhole to make two

5. Finish a serged seam 
by tucking the 'tail' threads back into the end of the seam.
Use a big yarn needle
to work the serged tail back under the seam loops.
This holds everything in place for a neat seam finish
with no hanging or fraying tails.

tucking in a serger 'tail'

Feel free to share your favorite tips
in the comment section.

Click here to link to some cutting edge clothing happenings:

Gamers creating electronic clothing
(giving new meaning to 'play clothes')

Happy stitching!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Preparing for Paris or My Take on Marcy's Core Wardrobe

Preparing for Paris
requires many levels of planning:
hotel reservations,
restaurant reservations,
museum tickets,
transportation arrangements
and the most challenging question of all --
what to wear?

I always take a morning
at least a week before departure
when I dress in my best undergarments
and get ready for a try-on.
This year I started by removing
all the lightweight/summer items from my closet first.
I have to admit that I did very little culling in the moment.
I just stored them away
("I'll think about that tomorrow...").

Then I carried the best of everything left 
up the stairs and into Marcy's studio
where she had her clothing hanging on a rack.
We try everything on.
Marcy is my other eye,
the first being the mirror.
She is uncanny in her ability to see
what works and what doesn't.

There are always those items
that go together easily for 
the big YES.
And of course those that scream out 
the definite NO.

Some things I thought were 'for sure' ensembles
did not work together at all.
Favorite items I love, 
that don't really go with anything 
must be eliminated.

Then there are the holes
that need to be filled.
This is why the try on must occur early,
so there is time to sew up a couple of new things.

Paris in October or May
has a broad temperature range
requiring layers.
 Marcy's 9 piece Core Wardrobe
 provides the perfect structure to work with.

Black is my color of choice
as it always works 
(especially in Paris where it tends to be grimy)
and can be 'popped'
with colorful accessories.

1. The coat to go over everything.

Definitely my new pattern, Butterick 5960 
in black of course.
I did hand paint the lining...

Butterick 5960

This is a classic, throw-over-everything,
make it dressy or casual,
lined or unlined,
belted or not,
wear-for-20-years coat.
It will be carried on the plane 
and double as my 'banky'.
My mind is playing with how to
finesse a denim version for spring
and my country living life style.
We're not talking Ralph Lauren country here...

2. The pant to wear with everything.

These days I'm liking 
the look of a slim pant 

Butterick 5961
I have versions of this pant
in knit and woven, black of course --
because it works with everything,
is comfortable and quite flattering.
Plus it keeps things simple for me.

3. Knit tops, t-shirts or shell (for Paris and everyday).

the top from Butterick 5961
(with multiple collar iterations)
are what I'm wearing now.
If all the tops have a touch of black
in the print then everything goes.

Butterick 5961
 The square set arm on B5961
adds a little style and I like making it 
in a texture that can provide a warm layer
over V8793 or B5925.
Butterick 5925

 I've eliminated the pockets
on both versions of B5925
to give a sleeker line when I want to layer
a jacket over the top.

Black Parisian is the perfect fabric
as it has a beautiful drape
and feels great next to my skin.
I have more than one shirt 
made from these patterns, in this fabric
going to Paris with me!

4. & 5. Distinctive jacket and/or shirt.

Butterick 5891 is one pattern
I've made over and over to wear 
as a shirt and a jacket.
I like it in a soft stretch woven or firm knit.

I also like Sandra Betzina's
which certainly works as this year's
trendy 'moto' jacket.

Vogue 1036

6. A vest that upgrades any outfit.

Marcy's Vogue 8430 made as a vest
is still an all time favorite
layering piece of mine.

Vogue 8430

Vogue 8777

As is Vogue 8777 
Simple or complicated, 
a versatile vest always adds chic
in addition to warmth.

Both Marcy and I have new vest patterns
coming out that we have been
stitching and wearing
so stay tuned.

7. & 8. Modern Cardigan and Skirt.

For me, cardigans are a little like most skirts --
when I put one on
I age 20 years and gain 20 pounds.

The only skirt I ever put on is 
long, straight and black.

is that skirt.
The pant in this pattern is great too;
a slim fit (with or without cuff) and the pattern pieces
offer options for fabric play.

Vogue 8837
9. Dress.

I love Marcy's Vogue 8876
as well as Butterick 5559.

Vogue 8876

Vogue 8904
Butterick 5559

Those diagonal lines are quite flattering.

My Paris wardrobe now consists of:
A long black coat and a raincoat;
3 pairs of black pants, including a black jean;
7 t-shirt tops and/or tunics;
4 jacket/shirts;
2 vests;
A dress in black and purple;
3 pairs of shoes;
Plus a bunch of scarves for color, warmth and style.
It is Paris after all...

This is where I am right now.
I never know what is going to sneak in
or out as departure nears.
The packing diva is a fickle goddess
and she has her favorites.

And yes, no skirts or cardigans 
have made it into the mix

See Marcy's Core Wardrobe picks in her  

Watch for my new dress coming out
in the Butterick Holiday/Spring Preview 2013/14 edition.

Now taking registration for ParisTilton
in the Springtime

Beyond the Arty T: Expanding the Creative Envelope