we call this muppet buckles

there are many perfect weekends to be had, of many varieties, and this past weekend was one of them. myriad marvelous ladies, mimosas and mood on saturday, followed by a firefly marathon.  sazeracs and steelers on sunday (TROY POLAMALU STRAIGHT UP THE MIDDLE I DON'T EVEN CARE THAT HE DIDN'T BLOCK THE KICK) and a snuggly sweater dress by sunday eve.

as you know i've been stuck in the bayou with old blue, and i was one hundred percent certain i would NOT have her finished (and oh, i do mean finished) in time for my scheduled mood sewing network post.  inspiration struck when i strolled the second floor with homies devra and clio.  we were there just for a minute, having shown fine restraint when saying goodbye to wanett's crew at the door on the first pass, but a second driveby was too much.  presumably we entered to get ideas for clio...as usual i found booty for myself.  devra left empty handed, as she "wasn't looking."  i asked her how do you not look when your eyes are open.  it is impossible not to see.

whoah!  one too many weekend libation?  non, photographeur extraordinaire ruggy simply insists on taking these shots at an angle.  it is apparently more artistic.  it takes a correction of 2 degrees clockwise, to be exact, EVERY TIME.  cropping hacks off half my hair n' footsies.  i can't complain. he accomplishes in four minutes what takes me forty.  artists.

returning to the point.  holy humped up hell, there is so much to see right now on the second floor.  i never know what i’m going to find up there, but i always walk away hugging something fiercely.  like i’ve just won a prize that must be guarded with my life.  this poly sweater knit came in many eye searing colors in an aisle full of sweater knit, and it is sooooo soft, which only added to the hugging factor.  i believe the tag said it was from italy.  is that the secret to poly of quality?   italian birth?

having a bit of the italian in me myself, i’d say it’s a good theory. 

for real, i have had my share of meatballs.

i’ve always wanted to work with sweater knit, but have been too afeared.  besides getting chartreuse muppet fluff everywhere, this was way simpler than i thought it would be!  and muppet fluff is fun, let’s face it.  it was an amusement park for our 23-pound beast of a cat.

of course i did plenty to make it hard for myself anyways, like cut the all-in-one front piece out whilst leaving myself with no room for the back, necessitating an eyeball surgery of sleeves, which was already an eyeballed hack on a burdastyle magazine pattern traced back in 2008 and then abandoned, really i screwed with this so much there's no point in mentioning the pattern.

what really made it easy was testing everything i wanted to do on the many bits of muppet parts left lying around after cutting out the pattern.  meg extolled the virtues of test runs over at mood sewciety last week.  although she rightly suggests testing before cutting out the whole shebang, there is a bonus to cut-now-test-later: it makes you feel better about all those post-cutting scraps that would otherwise go straight to the garbage, unused, in a fit of MUST CLEAN EVERYTHING DONE WITH THAT DRESS BEGONE REMNANTS NEW FABRIC NEW FABRIC NEW FABRIC

what, you don’t get that part?  you save all your scraps?  scraps make me want to pick a fight.

notey notes
pattern: hacked beyond recognition
fabric: italian poly knit, 14/yd from mood fabrics (an MSN project)
notions: pellon seam binding, leather buckles from pacific trimming, twin needle, jersey needle
tips: i used the seam binding at neck edges to keep the neck from growing to barbarella proportions, and after sewing other seams, fused the same binding to one side, and overlocked the seam. kept the seams nice and flat and safe from unraveling!  though i need to find something better than the pellon, it seemed pretty cheap.  the neck and hem are folded under a good inch and twin needled down.

this poly poof was made using my monthly fabric "allowance" as part of the Mood Sewing Network.


i'm going black someday

well.  y'all really want me to finish that damn dress.  i am a bit shocked, to tell the truth.  but i'm forging ahead. and back.  and ahead.  and back.  AND #@&*! AHEAD.  i've ripped out so many seams i've lost count...and feeling in my right index finger.  

but this weekend, i'm hanging blue bayou up, sticking her in the closet, and giving her the cold shoulder.  perhaps she doesn't want to be wanted.  she has a frosty air, you must admit.  i can play that game.  i am not needy!  I DON'T NEED YOU, BLUE DRESS!  YOU AND YOUR SHIFTY SEAMS!  YOU CAN HANG IN THE CLOSET TILL YOUR COLOR IS OFF TREND FOR ALL I CARE!  I'M GOING TO PLAY WITH GOLDEN BOUCLE LIKE THE PRETTY PRETTY PRINCESS I AM!!!

i'll get back to her on monday.  


the most boring thing i've ever made.

well, it remains to be seen if it actually gets made or not.  because it is boring the sweet bejesus outta me.  after all my lofty talk on choosing better fabrics, i decided to dive into this exquisite medium weight linen from mood. sallie and i picked up the same yardage, and i could immediately envision her in a sleek jumpsuit, or a flowy envelope of a dress, something fabulous and chic and saturated.  what are you going to do with it?  she inquired in her sweet, melodious voice.  oh i dunno, maybe a lining for my raffia wrap coat? 

horror flooded her face.  as it did with everyone else who caught wind of my plans.  i don't blame them, this fabric is gorgeous, hiding it on the inside would be criminal, it's just...all one solid color.  on me, that's usually lining material.  how does one wear All One Solid Color?  on the outside?

simplicity 1650 oonaballoona

of course, many of you wear All One Solid Color beautifully.  i guess what i mean is how do i do that. because i want to kill this dress every time i see it.  the ruggy test?   he loves it.  his rebuttal to my disgust: then wear a funky belt with it.  more side eye from me.  ruggy sighs:  at some point you're gonna realize minimalism can be a statement.  i don't know when that will be, but you will.


it's just basted together, sleeves tacked on the form to get a feel for it.  and the feel is MEH. yep, i'm picking up matching serger thread.  nope, a funky lining won't do it for me this time.  the possibilities as i see them are: 
  • adding a removable high low peplum.
  • a blanket stitch around neckline, sleeve & peplum edges.  
  • or maybe scallop the neckline?   
  • do away with the sleeves? 

it feels like this is supposed to be a step in the whole fast sewing / fast fashion epiphany, but it might be where i fall off the wagon.


cheep cheeeeep

i culled my stash and closet last weekend.

like a greek goddess, eyes aflame, i was ruthless.  i had to be.  inspired by a recent splendiforous sewists' meetup, which provided a bountiful haul of fabric, food, and friendship, i needed to rebalance my karma.  teeny precious scraps went, yards of years-old weirdness went, poorly made clothing--both off-the-rack and handmade--went.  ruggy, i said, holding up a purple lace bought years ago in LA, does this look cheap?


no hesitation.  clear quick answer.  do you like that about me?  he asked.


i feel like i'm better at spotting cheap fabric now... but man, i sure do have a lot of it i ventured.  uh, YEAH, my quick witted husband quipped, the amount of cheap yardage you used to bring home was baffling


no no, that's not what i said.  of course his statement is true, the evidence of my dollar yardage days is well documented here in kalkatroona.  but it makes sense.  in my past life as a shopaholic, i always made a beeline for the sales rack, and i don't mean neiman's outlet.  small budget = carefully selected well made pieces, or small budget = huge closet from chain stores?  MORE IS MORE, YO.

but lately, more has ended up in donation bags than on my rack.  

the way i shopped for clothing made an easy, seamless transition into the way i shopped for fabric.  accustomed to cheap material, buy cheap material.  and i don't necessarily mean cheap price tag, you can find bad and good for a dollar a yard, or a dollar an inch (eee, and gads), but my eye usually landed unerringly on cheap quality, even when i started to branch out beyond a dollar a yard.  for example, the tacky purple lace that started last weekend's epiphany was $20 a yard.

i can remember clearly the few pieces of really beautiful clothing in my younger closet.  in fact, i can remember one piece: a gabardine trench coat from macy's, bought on employee discount with many saved pennies from an afterschool job.  it was gorgeous, and a muted army green, which is so not my color.  but gabardine!  i had no idea what the hell that was!  IT WAS THE MOST MYSTERIOUS WORD IN MY CLOSET!  it sat next to four polyester prom dresses, which cost my parents a much prettier penny than they were worth. 

but i'm glad i spent years in RTW clothing that pilled up after the second wear, if only because my style changed every time i went to the mall.  i know, i know, fast fashion, bad oona.  but back then i didn't know.  it morphed into "fast sewing," which maybe isn't that different.  three bags of handmade garments went into the donation pile.  is that the same kind of waste as trendy outfits that last one season?

i don't think so.  like my years of RTW fast-fashion-training (um, ha, i went to FFT) helped me to better understand my style, my years of working on questionable threads helped me too.  because it takes a whole lotta hours to get your skills tight, and that can get Ex. Pensive.

would i say mine are tight yet?  nope, that's what's delicioso, there's always something more to learn. but i've hit a point, this very summer in fact, where i've become proud enough of what i make to want to wear something i make, every day.  not just on a special night out.  i want to feel good fabric against my skin, as well as look good in it.  and 90% of the time, i DON'T want to rush through accomplishing that, i want to make it right.  

working with yummy fabric is bending my fast brain into all sorts of surprising shapes.  

the next thing i need to do is either learn to love making some solid staples, or start saving some pennies for well made (in every sense) staples.  the silk peacock print and gold sequins up at the top were bought after telling fellow sewist devra i really needed some good neutral clothing to wear to auditions. the chiffons and jersey knit above are my "neutrals."  the knit has been put in the corner for a time out, the chiffons are untouched.

but i do feel a bit better about what's on my shelves.  and in a case of coming full circle, i'll be taking all those scraps and garments to one of the biggest enablers of my ex-cheapo RTW habit: H&M.  yep, that's right.  in what i can only think is an attempt to earn better karma, they're running a recycling program, which accepts clothing from any store, even competitors, even the store on your very own sewing desk-- and they also take fabric.  your payoff for this good deed is a 15% off coupon, which i am sure they're hoping will start the vicious cycle of fast fashion all over again...

not for me, i'm being careful.  been there 4 times already, with 6 bags, and haven't picked up a thing. i'm not saying you'll never find me in the checkout line again, or flying through a one hour sparkly poly batwing dress... but i think the scales are shifting.

how about you?  fast sewing?  slow sewing?  on trend?  under trend?  where are you at?

(pictured top to bottom: 1. sequins & silk from chic fabrics, 2. linen & silk organza from mood, 3. raffia & shantung from mood, 4. chiffon & sweater knit from it's a material world & chic fabrics.)


on a mixed denim kick

i don't know why i'm looking away in all of these pictures.

(i mean, this one doesn't count, as it's the back view)

seriously, i'm not exactly what you'd call shy.

hey there i am!


the notes

pattern: a mix of by hand london's anna (bodice), plus my own draped skirt
notions: metal zipper from pacific trimming, $6
fabric: embroidered stretch denim from it's a material world (that janky store on 39th, which apparently is "closing") $5 / yd
cocktails: french gimlet
time: about 2 days of sewing

pattern tips

  • well, by now y'all are very aware of the wonder that is the anna.  can i just say be VERY, VERY careful when tracing & cutting out your size?!  the uk/us gets me every time, i've traced it for four versions now, wrong twice, and it's highly likely i swerved to another line here.  to wit:
  • for this one, i tried sonja's back alteration to reduce the slight gap there.  unfortunately, my slice was a whole inch of overlap, and i think that was too much-- it threw the front neckline off.  this dress has been road tested, with the help of tiny safety pins as bra carriers... i think if i add those permanent like, that will solve the front neck.
  • do you spy a back princess seam?  i do.  same thing happened here as in my silk chiffon anna...excess upper and mid back!  this is interesting, my raw silk anna (yet to be blogged) and my polyanna (HAHAHAHA) do not have this issue, just two teeny upper back darts solved the slight gap.  maybe this extra backage is due to the fragility and/or the stretch of the fabric used? maybe it was a UK swerve?  mebbe it was the gimlet.
  • have you ever tried to take two rectangles and make a skirt out of them with nothing but pleats for shaping?  you can't just pleat two rectangles and expect the best (at least not with an ass like mine). you have to angle those pleats or add a dart to help it lie right.  this is the first time i think i've done that right-- no side seam stress at the hip!  i always used to pleat the front and back until it equaled my waist, with no regard for curves. i didn't realize what was causing stress on this type of skirt until i had a dress form to look at, and those lovely laurence king books to assist me. this might be common knowledge for most of y'all, but i likes to ramble.  
  • i wish i would've added double pleats to mirror the bodice, but c'est la vie.  the wide selvage hem eases my pain.
  • you don't have to use facings on the anna iffn you don't want to.  one should always do what one wants.  i like to use self made bias tape (oh be quiet it's not that hard), about an inch wide.  sew right sides together at neck & arm holes, understitch, grade seam allowance, press tape to the inside, and get to blindstitching.  (OH BE QUIET, IT'S NOT THAT HARD.)

    one more sideways for the road.  oooh...sidecar...there's one i haven't tried...