Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Surprise Late Christmas 'Gift'

When my children were little, Christmas  was time to put away old toys and keep out the new. Then, a few months later, when bordom set in, I would change back to the old toys, and it was like having Christmas all over again! Well, something kind of similiar happened to me yesterday.
December was one of those months where, even though I wasn't terribly busy with work, I was busy with lots of other things; trip to Vegas, making Christmas gifts, getting shopping done, baking, ect., ect., ect...  all those busy errands and chores that make up the Christmas holidays. And a few alterations. Straightening and cleaning my sewing studio was the last thing on my mind. So, when I entered it yesterday to try to put it back together, I was appalled! I had picked up 'Ella' in the morning, and there was no place to put her. My table was cluttered with everything from a box of vintage wrapping ribbon that was scattered and spilling out everywhere, to scraps of fur and felt, as well as boxes of  business cards that had just come in. The floor was littered with loose pins, more scraps, plastic bags, and ribbons used in a project. It took me a good 2 hours to clear the clutter and take out the trash. Finally I had Ella's place ready for her. She took her place of honor, and as I sat before her to take a deep breathe, I noticed the forgotten boxes that had gotten stashed and then promptly forgotten, in the corner. 
Forgotten packages!! They had been left so long ago that I could not remember what was possibly in them! They must have arrived at the peak of my busy weeks before the holidays. I was so excited! Anticipation had me reaching quickly for scissors to carefully open the packages. Even though I didn't remember what was in them, I was quite sure it was fabric - especially in the long roll. The small box though - I had no idea.
The long roll came open first - 

   I was right ofcourse - fabric!! A light weight poly chiffon; 10 yards worth. Can't for the life of me remember why I felt the need for it -probably got it on sale. I am sure I will use it. That is never in question!
Next,came the longer rectangular box.
Ah! Now I remember! I had ordered this lovely dotted voile for a dress I have had floating in my mind for some time. I had been looking for a sheer, dotted fabric with a bit of body, but still light weight. This was as close as I could get and I was getting impatient. It's a bit stiffer than I had planned, but I will wash it and hope that some of the stiffness washes out. 6 yards, for a tea length full skirt. Hmmm....may need more than 6 yards.
Finally, I opened the smaller box. Such a big box for such a little item -
A very pretty lace applique with 3 large crystal jewels sewn to it. I have no idea when or why I ordered this. Maybe it was sent by accident. Does anybody else ever do this? Place orders then forget you did so? I sure hope I am not the only one! I suspect that it is one of the signs of a (gasp!!!)  hoarder  fabric collector.
Now that these final packages have been opened, I believe that Christmas is truely over, and it's back to work I go. But that is ok - I have found that I have missed my work. I am happy to be getting  back to it. Although, I am not afraid to admit that I have greatly enjoyed my month or so of not doing much work at all.
Tomorrow it's back to ripping out zippers, taking in seams, replacing boning, piecing lace, and playing with bustles; all in my shiny clean room with my good as new Ella, who purrs like a brand new little kitten again!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Return to my Beloved

Tomorrow I will be reaquainted with one of the loves of my life! Unbelievablly, she doesn't have a name. Maybe Ella. Yes, we will call her Ella from here on out, for she is a Baby lock Ellangeo. So, the name seems to fit, right?
Ella went to visit the (gasp) sewing machine doctor a little over 3 weeks ago. Just before my ill - fated trip to Vegas. She goes in every year for a check-up. I put so many hard 'miles' on her, that a yearly check up is the least I can do for her. I knew, going in, that this year would be harder than in the past. It has been a difficult year for her, what with  not only the many hours she has put in, but the many DIFFICULT hours she has put in. Between having to jump over beading, mixing threads, and working with difficult fabrics, I had a feeling she would need major surgery at the least. I was not wrong. She needs a new needle plate. A new bobbin case. A new thread cutter. But that is the extent of it. It could have been worse. I am assurred that she will perform like new when I get her back.
In the mean time, I have been making due with a borrowed (dare I say it?) machine from a friend. It has been a good machine, and I have no complaints. It is a Bernina - of which I have had one of my own in the past.
 She is a work horse, and does a very good job. I had one just like her until Ella came along. Now my Nina resides with my daughter at college. I had forgotten the attributes of working with a mechanical machine as opposed to a computerized machine. There is a certain amount of personal satisfaction I seem to get from working with the mechanical machine, that I don't get when working with the computerized. I find that I have to do a bit more 'feeding' of the fabric with Nina. She's a bit more vocal; but doesn't seem to complain as much if I happen to use a different thread in her bobbin. She takes a bit more work, in that I have to actually snip the threads when I finish a seam. She doesn't have as many foot attachments, and I have to put more thought process into changing stitches. But what a little worker she is! Clackety clackety clack she goes, but she won't stop unless she gets a wad in her bobbin! Every stitch is perfectly even. Even though  she is loud and even though she isn't as versatile, she makes me remember why I love to sew. 
It's not the ease I find with Ella, in not having to 'feed' the fabric. It's not because all I have to do is flip a switch and Ella changes stiches. It's not because Ella does everything I ask without really even having to ask! It's because sewing involves a certain amount of 'finese'. A certain amount of artistic creativity that has nothing to do with the kind of machine you use or how much you use it. But it has everything to do with how well you use what ever sources you do have, be that a mechanical sewing machine, a computerized sewing machine, or simply your hand and a needle and thread. A love of the art is all you need to find a wonderful satisfaction and even a sense of purpose, in connecting thread to fabic.
So, though I will be very happy to be reaquainted with my beloved Ella, I will definetely miss Miss Nina. She has been a wonderful substitute, and a part of me will miss her very much. Hopefully, she and I will have an opportunity to work together again in another year, when Ella once again goes (gasp!) under the knife.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Adventures in Vegas

Vegas is the city of lights - and in the month of December, it always seems to be even more so, because of the Chrsitmas lighting and decorations.
We go there every year in December for a convention, where my husband spends his days scheduling airshows for next year or taking classes. Evenings are spent dining or visiting with good freinds, or taking in a show. This year was no different. except for 2 things. First, I left with an injury. A week before we left, I had twisted my knee while working on a very busy bustle. It was very painful. I limped my way through the airport and up to our room, where I quickly got some ice to put on it before venturing out. I soon found that I wouldn't be doing a lot of 'venturing'. We were staying at the Paris; which was fortunate, because we were right next to the Miracle Mile shops.   The first evening we were there, we walked through the mall (we were looking for a diet coke, of all things!) and this is when I think I realized that my walking would be minimal. By the time we got back to our room, my entire leg was on fire. So, the next morning, I decided that I needed to run back over to the mall and find a bandage to wrap my knee in.  While I was there, I thought a more comfortable pair of shoes or boots would help also.
This is where my adventure really began. I found the bandage I needed, and put it in my purse with my wallet, zipping it all up tight in my beautiful Jimmy Choo bag. Love that bag! My leg was sore, but I found that as long as I walked slowly, it was manageable. So, I wandered into a shoe store and tried on a couple pair of boots. Neither was going to work, though, so I picked up my things and went on to another store, where I found a cute and comfortable pair of ankle wedge boots. However, when I went to pay for them, I quickly discovered that my wallet was gone. PANIC. I dumped the entire contents of my bag on the counter - surely it was in there somewhere! If you have never had your wallet stolen, I can tell you that it gave me s sense of panic and unbelief unlike anything I have ever experienced. I limped/ran back to the other shoe store, where they found a security guard to help me. Can you believe it - there were no security cameras in the mall! This is Vegas, baby! No camera's? Are you kidding? I filed a report, then limped/ran back to the Paris, where I got on my computer and found phone numbers to cancel credit and bank cards. It was so surreal. It had to have been a pro, because my bag had been zipped, and for someone to get into it without me noticing, well, let's just say, it had to have been quick.
As unfortunate as this little adventure was, I can still be thankful for several things. 1) They didn't get my $260 in cash (which was saved for my spa day) because it was in a seperate envelope. 2) My husbands bank and credit cards were not affected, so I still was able to have access to buying power! And most importantly, 3) they didn't take the whole bag! I can replace the cards (which actually arrived the day we returned home) and my drivers licence, but how would I ever replace my Jimmy?!!

The Red Dress - Finally!

It's been a while since I've done any posting - even though December has pretty much been a 'dead' month with my business. I've been keeping busy getting ready for Christmas. Making gifts, a little shopping, ect. I finally, last night, got around to downloading the couple of pics we took in Vegas of my red dress. The photo isn't the best, and the pose I am striking makes me look like some kind of hussy (believe me - I'm not!!); but it does show the dress.
I made the lace flower attachment a little smaller; I think it looks much more size appropriate.   The dress fit like a dream. I do believe that of all the dresses I have made for myself over the years, this is my absolute favorite. Love the color, love the style, love the fabrics.

I especially love the back of the skirt, how it flares out fuller that the front. It was very comfortable to wear, also.

The evening was lovely - it was my opportunity to see people I hadn't seen all year, and may not see many of them for another year. We attend this convention in Vegas every year, the first week in December.
It is the ICAS convention, which stands for International Council of Airshows. My husband is a performer in airshows; and unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend many of his performances this past year. Thus the reason I hadn't seen so many of my ICAS freinds in so long. As always, Vegas was fun; and an adventure, this year, as never before (more on that later).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finally! All About Me!

I had planned to post this a week ago, but time got away from me. I was getting ready to head out of town to Vegas and found a couple days to whip up a couple items just for me!
I had ordered these pieces of fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics and had been just sitting on them waiting for inspiration on what to make with them. First up -
This is a lovely purple silk jersey; very lightweight. I am not used to sewing with Jersey fabrics, and this one wasn't easy to work with. I would much rather sew with chiffon! It is much thinner than I had expected it to be; I should have lined the whole thing, but only had enough to line the bodice. It is tunic length, though, so I will be wearing either leggings or pants under it! I used an old out of print McCalls pattern. I don't remember the pattern number. Very easy though. Whipped it up in about 5 hours total.
Next -
Another silk blend jersey print from Gorgeous Fabrics. LOVE this one! Again, I don't have a photo of the pattern, nor do I remember the #. It's a new one, though from McCalls. I think. Maybe Butterick? I should check. Anyway, this one took a little more time. It has tiny pleats at the sleeve hem, and at the bodice as well as the waist line of the skirt. This jersey was a little easier to work with, but I still prefer Chiffon! It, too, is tunic length. Very comfy and very flattering.
 I really don't get why so many seamstresses out there love sewing with knits. They are terribly unstable. You have to change the needle so much more often (yes I am using a ballpoint), and they don't press well. Just give me chiffon.