Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Loot! From Eddie's Quilting Bee

When the sewing bug first bit, I lucked out when I discovered that I live so close to Eddie's Quilting Bee.  Yes, they are geared more towards quilting, but they have been expanding their fabric selection to lure in (garment-sewing) suckers like me.

I live in Palo Alto, CA, yes, that Palo Alto, where Stanford is, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard, etc., but it's not exactly the place where you'll find Mood Fabrics à la Project Runway.  It's the 'burbs.  The closest thing we have to Mood is Britex Fabric, the famously expensive fabric store in San Francisco.  I thought I was SOL until I discovered Eddie's secret stash of fashion fabrics.

The story goes like this: a San Francisco fabric store by the name of Edward's (ironic, no?) went out of business some 30 years ago and someone has been holding on to all the leftover fabric.  Eddie purchased the whole lot of vintage fabric and it is now available for purchase at his store at ridiculously low prices.  I bought beautiful coating wool for $9.99/yard.  Say what?!  This is my favorite place to buy fabric right now.  One of the gals at the cutting counter routinely recognizes me when I come in for a fabric fix.  That's embarrassing.  There is also a growing selection of new bolts of fabric.

Anyways, check out some of my recent acquisitions!  I'm really excited to get started on projects with these lovelies.

Floral cotton for a spring/summer dress

For a blouse (it's more emerald in person)

Gonna make this into a scarf!

Swiss cotton...need to find the right dress pattern since there is only 2.25 yards

Wool for a cropped coat.  I have fantastic pistachio green silk crepe to line it :)

For a flowy blouse (sorry it's blurry!)

Skirt wool

Gorgeous, albeit spendy, vintage lace.  $80/yard now, regular $150/yard in 1970

If the photo quality is kinda bad, that's because these are all iPhone photos.  I just didn't have the time to re-take the pictures with my DSLR.

Can't wait to see my wardrobe start to take shape!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Dress: DONE!

My Christmas dress is finally done!  I'm so excited!  This is the first dress I have ever made and I had a lot of fun putting it together.

Front of dress on my new dress form, Betty (get it?  my sewing machine's name is Peggy? *cough, Mad Men, cough*)

I used Vogue pattern 8766 and had no problems assembling the dress.  The instructions were very clear and easy to follow, even with the few adjustments that I made.  My waist and hip measurements were more on par with a size 14 and my bust/shoulder along the lines of a size 12, so I cut the pattern accordingly.

After assembling the bodice I tried it on and found it was waaaaay too tight across my tummy.  I removed the front darts and put smaller ones in their place.  After attaching the skirt to the bodice and installing the zipper, I tried it on again for fitting.  Apparently I am very high waisted (basically where my ribcage ends), so I ended up taking the dress in about 1.5" where my waist is.  I evened out the skirt with dressmaker's shears before hemming it (hemmed the lining about 1.5" shorter than the lace).  I finished the raw edge of the sleeves with bias tape before hemming it because the lace is really unbearably itchy on my skin.  Lastly I installed a hook and bar above the zipper.

Closeup.  Sleeves were lined and cropped.

Back of dress on Betty (her new nickname is "Big Butt Betty" after fiddling with the sizing dials)

After all that I thought I was done, but then I decided to treat the hem of the skirt with trimming from the lace border.  It just looked more finished when I pinned a test swatch.  I cut enough of the border to cover the circumference of the skirt.  I attached the trim with a small zigzag stitch to prevent the raw edge of the trim from unraveling; the stitching is discrete enough that no one will notice...except maybe me because I tend to be a perfectionist like that.

Lace border trim

Overall the pattern worked well for me and I loved the fabrics that I used (vintage lace and silk/cotton blend lining).  I finished just about all the seams with bias tape which is something I had never tried but was pleased with the results.  I can definitely see myself using this pattern again in the future.

Yay!  I can't wait to wear my dress!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Prettiest Wrapping Paper Ever

Having grown up in a family that appreciates aesthetics (my grandfather is a retired master carpenter, uncle is an architect, sister studied graphic design), I really love quality goods with great design.  Which is exactly why I have a crush on really cool paper.

Sometimes if I find I have time to kill over the weekend, I might wander into Paper Source and check out what they have in stock (Paper Source also happens to be next door to Sur La Table *drool*).  I love their gift wrap, cards, envelopes, etc. because they are made well and have clean lines.  So of course when I found out one of my friends at work was getting married, you betcha I went to PS to buy gift wrap.  It's not necessarily the cheapest, but seriously, how many times is a close friend going to get married?  ...I hope the answer is only once...

My colleagues and I pitched in to buy the bride a Le Creuset pot, so I needed the prettiest paper I could find.  I chose PS's Marigolds Wrapping Paper.  I added a little raffia accent and was thrilled with the result.  Paper Source gift wrap is heavy and creases nicely, unlike most of the crap you will find in stores these days.  Oh, and since it's so thick, I wasn't concerned about the LC logo showing through the paper.  Not bad considering the pot packaging is orange, white, and black.

If you have the cash and want to make a gift extra special, I recommend Paper Source gift wrap.  You can also buy single sheets of various handmade papers from all over the world.