Sunday 27 February 2011

Burda gored skirt going sharky.

I don't think Allison C has had this problem with her marvelous pin-striped Burda skirt with the back gore, but I'm having problems with my black cotton version of (see post below.) I'd enlarged the sizing, because I'm not using a stretch fabric but the fabric seems to have so much body it's producing a gore shaped like a shark's fin.
No photos yet, it's way too scary. Stay out of the water.

Bookwise, cheery news that after so many years, has decided to stock A Visit From Voltaire as of March 1. Copies used to be sent over the pond from Who waits that long for books these days? And out of the blue, distributor Orion has added me to their Orion Authors twitter list. Now if only my husband could rise from his bed of pain, things might relax a tad...even the sharky fin!

Friday 18 February 2011

Another quickie Burda, a skirt, plus sewing planner's masochism

I'm buying the lining for my Vintage Adele Simpson today, and in the meantime, making this Burda skirt with a fabulous gore at the back, from the February Issue. Unfortunately, it's designed for stretch, and using my lining as a muslin last night, I realized that a 38-42 wasn't going to work with unstretchy black cotton, so I cut a 40-44. I'm nursing an immobilized husband with a serious back fracture full-time, so not much time for sewing, plus I've got so much work to do on the latest manuscript. Helping to host visiting agents and one editor at a writer's conference in Geneva all weekend.
Feeling like I'm always three days behind myself!, I made things worse by picking up the March Burda, already out on our news stands, so I see a lot of projects I'm interested in for spring. Really a masochist, right?

Thursday 17 February 2011

Modelling Goddaughter Hits New York Fashion Week, "walked" last night in the Chado Ralph Rucci show

For those of you who asked how my goddaughter's modelling is going, H was featured in Women's Wear Daily on Model Call here answering questions within weeks of hitting Manhattan. She's finishing up tonight her first ever New York Fashion Week walking for Gwen Stefani, and while waiting for those photos to roll into, in the meantime here she is modelling for Chado Ralph Rucci, Rag and Bones, Malandrino and Wayne. Talk about "hitting the ground running," as we used to say in the foreign correspondent's club....for the photo of her as a kid go back to November 1 in the archives with a photo of her walking for Christopher Kane.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

P.S. If you're enjoying my blog...

Please don't forget to list Chanel No.6 in your blog roll....I intend to update and expand mine soon, too. (Quite worried these days about the Selfish Seamstress!)

Monday 14 February 2011

Burda trousers 108B August 2010 issue

This is yet another (third?) attempt at the Burda fit in trousers, the endless search for a skinny rather than a slim. I used a mustard stretch cotton which worked well, although I would have preferred a more neutral khaki had it been available.

I think the pocket flaps in the back are a bit superfluous and when I remake these in white for summer, I'll stick with just the side pockets, which are very useful, as featured as 108B in the August, 2010 Burda. I did these in a size 38 waist, 42-43 hip and again, opted for a 2 cm. seam margin in case I had to let them out. Instead, they had to be taken in again and again at the thighs hoping for a skinny fit. I'm still getting the sous-derriere droop for some reason. As usual, I lengthened them 8cm and eliminated the zips at the bottom but ended up with quite a hem because Burda assumed we're all wearing towering wedges as styled in the mag.

I'm thinking they're going to be a useful spring item under my safari jackets....just time for the Guardian to tell me that spring/summer 2011 is the season for wide leg pants. Lord, I did those in the 70's...are we back there again already? Wedgies? Floppy hats? Peasant blouses? I'm going to pull out an old YSL pattern and see if I can get back into the wide leg mood, but I was just getting the hang of these slims with flats...Sigh.

Sunday 13 February 2011

No scrap unturned...quilting

Here is some of my quilting, which is how I use up scraps. I have a rule that I never, never purchase fabric for quilting, the whole point being to make use of discarded clothes that aren't good enough for the Swiss version of Goodwill, or sewing remnants. I dislike quilting compared to dressmaking because it takes so long for a project to be finished and I don't actually need more such items, but I can't bear to waste piles of cloth. That means my creations are less than museum-worthy and feature a lot of men's shirting, jeans, old blouse or dress fabrics and bleached out kitchen tablecloths. Perhaps some of you make toys or potholders or something more useful and less time-consuming?
I don't actually like the traditional quilt stitched down through padding to make a blanket or bed cover, but use my quilted results as duvet covers or bottom sheets.
Anyway, I like to try out new quilt patterns by making small pillows for bed as above, or stool, below.
Here are two examples, the first a Japanese pattern from Susan Briscoe's book on Japanese quilt blocks, and the other an lattice-work pattern found in many books.

Thursday 10 February 2011

production sewing...this time, men's pyjamas

Long ago, when we courted in Hong Kong, my husband wore some really classy pyjama sets in elegant striped cottons. Years later, while celebrating a book sale to editors in London, I trotted off to Sloane Square and found myself forking out 200 pounds for a pair of black Egyptian cotton pyjamas piped in white. Arggh. I realised that men, bereft of sewing nous, (except for Male Pattern Boldness' Peter, of course) were being ripped off right and left when buying good quality cotton sleep wear.
Then we moved to New York, then Switzerland, the years passed, the kids grew taller than their parents, and suddenly one night I looked up and noticed that my dearest was wearing rags to bed. He'd cut off the trousers at the shredded knees and was using a safety pin to fasten the waistband.
How had this happened?
I had a Vogue men's pattern tucked away that I'd never used, but now was the moment, and since making this my go-to pattern, the man is looking much better at bedtime.
For Christmas in 2009, I made the full top and bottom C and D in a sky blue, but frankly, we both found the top more dork than Cary Grant.
For his 2010 birthday, I "production sewed" three more cotton bottoms in pine green, black and navy to wear with a T-shirt. That was only the third time I tried assembly-line cutting and sewing. The first time was to produce simultaneously two Vogue safari jackets at once, in white and black cotton. The other time was sewing two pairs of white Burda jeans last summer.

Laying out, cutting and marking multiple items at the same time is where the big time-saving lies. It's also good to have two machines threaded when you're making jeans or other garments with contrasting top-stitching.
In 2010, I had three machines threaded up for working, stage by stage, on the three pairs of pyjama trousers at once. (None of this involved crippling expense. You can borrow machines for production events. Over the years, I've acquired a sturdy but ancient metal-bodied Brother bought in London's John Lewis in 1975, an Elna bought used at a sewing repair shop on the Upper West Side in New York in 1992, and my daughter's plastic no-name machine from the local hardware/gardening Swiss DIY outlet, which looks suspiciously like a cheapo from the Singer factories in China. What do you want to bet the Swiss cheapo will break down before the 20th-century beloveds?)

This time, I've done a pale grey pair plus a pale purple pair, so notice only the Brother and Elna machines were up and running, as above. I've just wrapped them up, and none too soon, as he's in bed with a fever and is running out of clean pj's fast. I do hope he's at least better by his birthday Saturday for a little fun.

Do you ever "production" sew? Got any more time-saving tips?

Tuesday 8 February 2011

I've got the Blues and that ain't bad....

Okay, I haven't bought Adele's lining yet, but I may be on trend by accident beyond my wildest dreams...according to The Telegraph last Saturday. Fashion telegraph "Blue-a-riot-of-colour-for-spring" Blue is in, in, in. I love how they quote the Anna Wintour character from The Devil Wears Prada in this article, regarding the descent of cerulean blue from the heights of the catwalk to the discount bin. So what is Armani's colour for spring 2011, above? My eye sees a mix of Carolina Blue/Baby Blue.
I was interested in seeing if I really knew the difference between cerulean, sapphire, cobalt, azure and so on, and was astonished to find that Wikipaedia gives you a whole chart of blues, above. Isn't that beautiful? Did you know there was such as thing as Bondi Blue or Cell Blue, or Duke Blue? Not to mention Palatinate Blue, and Egyptian Blue (I nominate that one the colour of the month!!! It's actually darker than my reproduction here but I didn't want to lose the lettering.)

Note they don't have cobalt, royal, and curiously, I don't see anything labelled plain ol' turquoise on this chart. I bet there are a lot of charts out there on paint websites, too, and they really jog the imagination away from school blazers and the Virgin Mary.

Now how do we get these blues into our wardrobe when we shop at the discount bin and not the catwalk? I mean why wait two seasons for these gorgeous colours to trickle down?

I discovered the most amazing tool for helping home dyers, which allows us to buy that bargain "natural" silk off Thai Silks etc, and choose a colour and discover the proportions of dyes to make it. (Frankly, not being a painter, I couldn't wrap my head around anything more complicated than yellow plus blue And all the Playdoh mixed together makes it just a muddy mess.
 It's something called the Dye Mixer, linked here The Dye Mixer Applet, and you just add colours in various proportions and get...WOW! I could play with this thing all day. Although computer colours and dye-makes differ, this is a huge help to the dreamers in us who see, "Glaucous Blue," and don't know how to get even close.

Had a great chat today with my literary agent in London and I noticed a book moved off amazon. Even if you paid only a penny for it, thanks for reading, whoever you are. My agent notices these things.

Saturday 5 February 2011

I had no idea I was so ahead of the curve

According to the Guardian newspaper fashion gurus, we're going to be looking at dropped waists, a lot of beaded hems, long knotted pearls, and a rectangular silhouette in 2011 because of the influence of the television series new to the UK if not the US, Boardwalk Empire.  (Thanks, Steph!)So long, Mad Men.

This means that my retro vintage Vogue "Adele" in the cut velvet with the dropped waist tied overlay and possible beaded tassles will be very fashion forward, if I could only get the silk dyed in time.

I finally dyed the Thai silks' cut velvet this morning, and you know how sometimes you think your life is going to be complicated, so you procrastinate? I nervously bought dye sachets of navy, royal blue and dark grey, only to find out that one sachet of royal gives me a gorgeous blue. I'm into blue, thanks to the success of the ruffled satin blouse the other night. Please nobody remind me that this is "Our Lady's" colour, or they'll send me back to Catholic school days. I prefer to think of this as a true Renaissance colour. I leave the New Yorkers to their eternal black.
In case you find my dyeing completely boring, you can gaze across our front yard for a glimpse over the fog covering Geneva and the lake of Leman at the Alps. In this photo, Mont Blanc, Europe's highest mountain, sits dead centre. It looks a little low to the ground because our farmhouse is already at 1300 metres.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Burda March preview

After three years of regular reading, I realize Burda WOF/Style Mag dances to a very fixed schedule. March gives you the wedding feature, because you get married every single June, right? Perhaps more useful is their preview of summer resort looks which, given our rainy mountain summers (now, now is when we have the blinding sun!) are not high on my list, but if you're in Florida, Texas, California, Australia, this is for you.
Burda is betting on the continuing appeal of the maxi dress in 2011. From this distance, it looks like she's having a good time or auditioning for Carmen, but the details of the dress/overlay, bodice details are left to our imagination. Tambourine optional. Does anyone wear chiffon maxi dresses when not on holiday? 

Burda is also imagining us in tie-dye, which I thought was sooo over, but apparently not at Burda Resorts:

I'm going to assume that wedding-wise most of you aren't the bride this year, and might prefer this pistachio dress, which won't look good on anyone with an ounce of pudge, but the ruching is a nice touch for Skinny Minnies. Baby optional. Man accessory with removable bowtie, first come first serve. There are two more nice dresses and although I suspect the white version is supposed to be a bridal dress, I could see it in black. The rose -coloured one has a nice Audrey Hepburn line. 
One worry. Does it look to you like Burda Bride is having second thoughts? Did Vogue Man show up uninvited to remind her of the summer of 2008?