Saturday, August 27, 2011

Apropos of Nothing

Today I am madly sewing a bridemaid dress that I have to finish this weekend, so I don’t have any finished projects to show you.  For today’s blog post, I have some topics jotted down in a notebook - none of which seem to merit a their own post, however I do enjoy it when other sewing bloggers do a kind of random thoughts post.  A great example of this is Victoria’s Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing weekly post, sometimes including sewing plans, new shoes, or other “stuff orbiting her brain.”  
Which got me thinking about my hours of sewing and doing a few calculations. I started sewing around age 8,  but really seriously around age 14. From then on I have always had a project going so I am estimating a total of somewhere between 15,000 - 20,000 hours.  Whew!  Yes I was the one who made my prom dresses, my first business suits, all my party dresses.  I have always told myself that all the money I saved on clothes I could spend on shoes!  Anyway - kind of amazing for something that is a leisure time activity. 
Pattern Tracing 
Just can’t seem to do it.  I have seen some great creations from Burda or La Mia Boutique pattern magazines, but somehow I don’t have the knack for finding all the pieces and tracing the pattern.  I ordered a My Image magazine earlier this year, thought I would give that a try, and one day I took out the pattern sheets, started looking for the components of a simple dress and gave up.  Eeek!  it looks like scribbles to me.  Oh, I can make out the various garments but it just doesn’t seem worth it.  Not when my lovely tissue patterns are so easy to use.  So despite my hours of sewing, this task escapes me.  
Project Runway
Wake me up when it’s over.  OK, not really, I watch every episode but I find this season’s designers are really boring and the challenges repetitive.  The producers seem to have forgotten the show’s roots in fashion and couture, and have moved to more of the kooky challenges using unconventional materials, which I always find less interesting.  Also the team challenges means more drama and fighting, and usually fewer garments.  So enough with the crazy creations and let them make actual clothes.  The preview for next week did not bode well, it almost sounded like Halloween costumes.  Hope not.  A little of the workroom theatrics adds a nice spice to the show, but I watch it to see what they create.  My favorite season by far was Season 3 which included Jeffrey, Laura, Uli, and Mychael.  The participants were outstanding, some of them had already been in business, the skill level was a lot higher, and the challenges were mostly very interesting, my favorite being the week they had to use a famous fashion icon’s style as inspiration.  Also Season 4 was good, and with Christian being quite phenomenal to watch and Rami making some beautiful clothes.   If you want some international Project Runway entertainment, I can confess that I watched Season 1 of Project Runway Australia in its entirety on line (although it may be removed from YouTube now due to copyright)  and it was fantastic.  
Fall Sewing
Sewing for Fall.  While I do love making tailored jackets, using gorgeous wool fabrics and sewing holiday party dresses, wearing the autumn/winter items fall into the category of " guess I have to get through another winter so might as well sew something fun to wear".  Granted it is not exactly arctic here, I feel a bit guilty when I see the weather reports from the east coast, cities digging themselves out from blizzards and serious sub-freezing for weeks on end.   But I am a California girl, through and through so with a nod to the Beachboys,  I say Endless Summer would be fine with me.  Friends who are from other states say they miss the changing of the seasons.  Our seasons change, believe me, as evidenced by my heat bill and the quantity of leaves falling in the garden.  But I could not leave my home state where it snows in the mountains as it is supposed to and not on my driveway.    Late August and September find me hoping for our typical SF bay area early fall which usually brings the most sunshine in the city proper, much to the delight of the tourists.  In fact if you plan a trip to foggy San Francisco, think about  September which is statistically the warmest month in the city.  
Some of my all time favorite creations have been winter garments, such as my black wool coat, but considering my output of cotton dresses and affinity for sandal over boots I will be picking out a few fall/winter patterns and dreaming of summer by reading all the lovely Australian sewing blogs. 
Strapless Dresses
In my last post I said that I didn’t care for strapless dresses but that it was a topic for another day.  Its not that I would never make or sew them, but that they seem to have taken over the formalwear and bridal category, to the detriment of so many other styles.
Two things about them.  FIrst - it is really not a good style for many body types, a change in neckline or addition of sleeve or strap can serve to flatter a shape.   OK, some actresses like Anne Hathaway can look great, but as evidenced by many of her red carpet appearances, she can wear almost anything.  Someone a little more endowed, such as Penelope Cruz, also looks great, but I suspect that anything she wears is fitted to absolute perfection so the result is dazzling.  Other times you see a strapless dress and it is too tight, so there is too much girl on top of too little dress.  The other issue, causing an equally bad result, is a dress that gapes because it is not fitted enough to the body contour, or the bodice is too short and the wearer hunches over a bit to keep the bodice in the right place.  My second criticism of strapless dress is that they have become boring, like an evening wear uniform.  There are so many options for a dress, formal or daytime, and a strapless dress takes away the option of neckline and sleeve variations.  
Can a designer be a Genius?
Slightly facetious question, but I have been very impressed this past year with the Donna Karan Vogue designs,  some of them really are genius in the way they go together and flatter the body.  Could it be because she is a woman?  Interesting to ponder.  Based on the number of people making them I think many will agree.  I am having some great success as well with Michael Kors designs, and found a vintage pattern in my stash that will appear in a future post.
So any of your thoughts on summer vs. winter sewing, Project Runway or strapless dresses, it would be fun to hear them.

Back to sewing - next up a dress for my birthday dinner.  Thanks for the nice comments on my last dress, appreciate it.  Also thanks to all who wish me well with my back issues, especially Shannon (Mushywear)  - as I know you are quite the athlete now so that gives me confidence I will get "back" to normal, even if it takes longer than I want.

Here is my SunnyGal garden photo - a very nice plant (feverfew) I bought at the garden club sale earlier this summer, and I now realize is missing.  I hope the gopher enjoyed it.

Flower feverfew


  1. Appreciated this post...I feel I got to know you a little better. Your Project Runway section...well its like you read my mind, not even watching it anymore, so dissapointing. Like strapless gowns, but I agree enough already. I was born in San Fran, miss Calif. horribly, wouldnt miss winter in Wi. would love to experience another endless summer:)

  2. I didn't know about PR Australia! I will see what I can find on Youtube. I agree that this season of PR is horrible. I agree with many folks who feel they are focusing on "reality" and the drama that they are encouraging, over creating garments. Feh.

  3. I've never seen Project Runway, of any nationality, here on TV! I guess it must be on pay TV, which we refuse to get...!
    Like you I'm very bored with strapless dresses, particularly on brides. Very passe. And we have got plenty of sunshine during our winter, but we are desperate for more rain... it's been another fairly dry winter. But I'm still looking forward to summer sewing!
    That is interesting that September is your warmest month. We were in Calif. during July and Aug, and were amazed at how cold it was. So I guess we just missed out on the proper summer... such a pity!

  4. Just moments ago I finished watching last week's DVR'd PR episode and I had exactly the same thoughts. Crazy challenges, too much drama not enough beauty. Hope I can try the Australia version one of these days.

  5. I loved PR Australia because it seemed much more focused on design, right? My main complaint is that I never have enough time to really SEE the finished designs when they're coming down the runway. I'm just not fast enough to take in everything. And I'm not loving the petty dramas of this season either. I think the show can be best enjoyed by those who care nothing for fashion or construction.

  6. Great post. It's cool to read about the sewing related stuff on your mind. I'm totally with you on the pattern tracing. I can't seem to get into it myself. I understand what you mean about Project Runway. I watch it because there's nothing else of it's kind to watch. I've seen PR's for Canada & Australia and they're REALLY good.