Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Get OFF My Internets!!

I had to think for awhile before writing this post. After all, the world has enough negativity, doesn't it?

But, actually, there's negativity and there's constructive criticism, not to mention looking out for the consumer.

Have you heard of GOMI?

GOMI is an acronym for "Get Off My Internets". It's a forum that was created some time ago and was brought to my attention by two different bloggers many months ago. At first I looked at it rarely but it has become an almost daily ritual to check it out.

GOMI is a site that critiques bloggers. They critique all sorts of bloggers, like lifestyle bloggers, food bloggers, wedding bloggers, mommy/daddy bloggers and, of course, crafting bloggers.

Now, it might seem mean to go after bloggers. I mean, putting yourself out there on a blog can be very hard. Generally, the more compelling a blog, the more vulnerable the blogger has made herself. (Not always, but often.)

Except GOMI (at least on the crafting forum, I don't read the other forums), tends to go after blogs where the blogger is trying to monetize their blog. They specifically go after folks who sell products (be it books or patterns) that are not really ready for prime time. Particularly when said products are being hyped (loved without criticism) on blog tours, for example.

As a result, many of the blogs they snark about are not blogs that I follow, but it's still interesting.

Have I been called out on GOMI?

Why, yes I have!

When the Vogue thread was created (quite some time ago), the poster who originated the thread claimed that I had hated on Vogue, then they flew me out to Puyallup and, as a result, I'd sold out. Other posters defended me, saying that, no, I never actually hated on Vogue, but was giving them constructive criticism. Somewhere around page 11 of the thread, the original poster said she re-read my posts and she agreed. I was happy to see her redaction because, while I love Vogue and would be devastated to see them shut their doors (shudder), they have never so much as given me a free pattern. And they shouldn't, as they need the sales. In fact, if they tried to at this point, it would be weird.

Am I kinder to Vogue now? I'm not sure. Maybe. Not consciously, at any rate, though the fact that I met many of them in person and liked them has to factor in somewhere. It was a savvy move on their part to reach out to folks who were criticizing their products (not just me, by the way).

My other mention on GOMI was from a poster who said that I seemed nice (thank you!) but that I had "damned saggy boobs."

Cartoon from here.
(In fact, googling "old lady cartoon" is very enlightening.)

Ummm. OK.

Now, this might seem like a personal attack and, it sort of borders on that, but GOMI, as a rule, doesn't personally attack a blogger about weight, body issues, race, gender, orientation, and so on. (I'm not saying that it never happens, but it's not what they are about.) So I sat on this comment for awhile. I looked at some of my posted photos. I really don't think that, in general, my boobs are saggy, but I'm not saying that it was a totally invalid comment.

If you don't have a large bust, maybe you don't know how heavy those "lady boulders" can be. (I've always wondered, are fake boobs equally heavy?) Even when I move the slider all the way down on my bra strap in the morning, by evening, it's moved all the way up. And putting on a bra where the slider is all the way down is not comfortable, let me tell you. There is some happy medium.

So, I did a little adjustment to my bra straps that I will share with others who might have this problem. I adjusted the straps where I like and sewed through them.

Problem solved, and hopefully no more:

Cartoon from here

Though I make no promises. :)

Constructive criticism is a good thing and far too rarely solicited, or welcomed, these days. If I were trying to make a business out of my hobby, I would listen to it, and evaluate whether it was fair, whether I could do something different. Try to isolate the truth from the hurt feelings that the feedback created.

For example, as a technical writer, I sometimes get feedback that the docs aren't clear. Perhaps someone claims that we didn't warn them about X or tell them about Y. Sometimes, the feedback is wrong. I did warn them about X and told them about Y. But that's not good enough. If the docs aren't clear, and people are missing important information, then they need to be reworked so that people won't be tripped up. Even if the feedback was technically incorrect.

I think that GOMI is providing a useful service for the consumer.

So, if I earned money off my blog, I would listen to the criticisms on GOMI and look for nuggets of truth, to see where I could do better.

If you decide to participate in, or read, GOMI let me provide some useful acronyms (and one definition) for you:

Get Off My Internets. Used to acknowledge the blogs they dislike and generally don't read. (Though clearly they are reading them some of the time!)
Hate reads
Blogs they still read, generally in order to criticize. Some of them seem to have a blog roll dedicated to the blogs they dislike, in order to isolate them from the blog roll filled with their favorite blogs. Pretty clever, but more work than I would bother with.
Sewing Blog Community
Stay On My Internets. Used to acknowledge the blogs they like. I've found some nice blogs this way.

Also, GOMI has done something unusual: They have, collectively, started their own blog! At first, I thought it was a joke, but it's not. Check out Sew Sorry Sew Fat and see their rules for blogging. In fact, yesterday they posted tongue-in-check advice on how to write a GOMI-worthy sewing blog.

By the way, I do not have a login on GOMI, so I have never commented there. I've been tempted to weigh in a few times, but I am just a spectator.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Capes Galore


Have you noticed how capes are "in" at the moment? This is not the first fall/winter season where they've been featured, but this is the year I am noticing them more, especially worn by women in downtown SF, or on the subway.

I've been wanting to make a cape for awhile, though capes can be tricky to wear. Depending on the style, a seat belt can be a challenge, for example, as can a shoulder-strap- or cross-body purse.

I've been thinking about different styles of capes. You can go to any e-tailer, like Nordstroms.com, and enter "cape" into the search field and see capes galore.

For this little survey, I reviewed cape patterns on ebay and etsy. Capes (and ponchos, which are similar) were a big trend in the 70s—"my" high school era—but capes are well represented in all decades since home sewing patterns have been available.

A cape is basically a body tent and the challenge with a cape is: what to do with the arms and hands? It seems to me that most capes fall into one of three categories, vis-à-vis hands:

The Royal

This style of cape hangs on the shoulders and has no accommodation for hands.

That means that the wearer's hands have to emerge from the center front. This form of cape is used more for drama (opera, weddings, costumes) than for warmth in polar climates. This cape is a bit fussy to wear, but worth it for the drama, perhaps...

[Let's pause one moment for a quick trip down memory lane: When I was a teenager in the mid 70s, my next door neighbor had an older daughter who was engaged. I will never forget her gown. For her December wedding, she designed something special: a full length white velvet cape with a dramatic hood, lined in red and trimmed in white fur. It was cut longer in back, forming a train. I don't recollect that she wore anything underneath, as it did close, but there must have been some short of sheath, as shown in the following YSL ensemble. My teenaged heart went pitter patter for this gown and the idea of a December wedding, which I had never heard of before.]

Examples of this style of cape include:

Yves Saint Laurent

These patterns often feature a ruana view, which is worn more like a stole

The Poncho

In the poncho style, the arms emerge from under the hem. For this to work, the cape is generally shorter on the sides, or all around.

Another trip down memory lane: My mother, an accomplished seamstress, made a short cape from white faux fur back in the 70s. The cape buttoned and I wore it to several events (which I can no longer precisely remember).

Examples of this style include:

Fabulous neckline!

The Red Riding Hood

In the first two styles, there is no modification to the pattern for arms and hands. In this style, some form of slit allows the wearer's hands to emerge, while keeping the cape closed, if desired. The slit may land in a seam, or it might be a free-standing welt.

Depending on the location of the slit, this can be the hardest style to wear, as it can greatly limit mobility. At least that's what I remember from back in the 70s...

Designers seem to love this style. Examples include:



DKNY (current pattern)

I love how the hand emerges from the welt and then slides into a patch pocket.
A clever detail.

Style Arc design (current pattern)

Interesting Variations

I saw a couple interesting cape variations that deserve special mention.

This cape has cuffs, forming a batwing silhouette.

This pattern claims that you can wear it as a cape OR a skirt!
I wonder how feasible that is in real life...

What to Choose?

Have I chosen what kind of cape to make?

Why, yes I have. :) I hope to have something to show soon, but I will say that mine fits into the "poncho style" category.

What about you? Is a cape in your future? Or maybe you acquired one in the last year or two? Or maybe you were "caped out" in the 70s and can't go there again?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pattern Fitting and PIQF


Perfecting the Fit

I know that I am very lucky.

As I've mentioned before, I am working on a project using a very cool two-sided fabric from Marcy Tilton. I couldn't find an envelope pattern with the exact design lines that I wanted, but I managed to find one in a Burda magazine. Unfortunately, the pattern in the magazine did not go up to my size—it went up to a 46 which wasn't big enough.

So my first challenge was to trace off the 46, grade it up, and add an FBA. (In other words, I was enlarging it all around, but more so for the bust.)

I did the alterations and, because there were so many changes and I have limited and irreplaceable yardage, I made up a test muslin. It required some additional fitting, especially in the armscye. I transferred the changes to the paper pattern, but did not make up a second muslin, as I was reasonably certain that any additional fitting could be handled in the real fabric.

I cut out the Tilton fabric, and a contrasting fabric (after spending a lot of time dithering on which contrast fabric to choose), and sewed up one of the back princess seams.

Immediately, I saw a problem. Due to my armscye alterations, my garment had developed "back boob".

I decided to partially sew my piece together. It features front and back princess seams, so I sewed the bottom of almost every seam seam, then I pin basted the rest. I also pin basted the side seams and the shoulder seams.

And now we come to the part where I explain why I am lucky.

Last Sunday I had a sewing day planned with some of my local friends up in the hills of Saratoga. One of these friends is Georgene, a professional pattern drafter who started her career studying in a couture school in Paris. (I really enjoy hearing her stories about this.) Not only is Georgene an excellent pattern drafter, but she's really good at fit, too. (The two skills do not necessarily go hand in hand.)

(By the way, I googled and saw that, at one time, Georgene drafted patterns for Modcloth. She never mentioned that fact to me. She's written at least one article for Threads, and she was one of the Sewing Divas.)

I had planned to only ask Georgene to re-pin the back princess seam with the garment on my body, so that she could remove the back boob, but she pointed out some other tweaks that would improve the line. After reshaping the back princess seam, she also slightly reshaped the front princess seam, moving the seam one-quarter inch towards center front, but only at the bust. Then she noticed that the side seam could be moved maybe half an inch back, also only at the top of the seam. Finally, she re-pinned the shoulder seams.

These tweaks were subtle, but the resulting garment was much more flattering! It was like one of those ads where they only put the makeup on half of the face. She had only modified the right side of the garment and, side-by-side, the improvement was so obvious.

My next task was to thread trace all of these new seamlines on the garment, replacing the pins with lines of thread on both sides of each seam. I then had to rip out the sewing I had done (my new seam ripper got quite the workout that day) so that I reduced the garment back to the individual pieces. Next I will transfer the changes back to the paper pattern and recut the contrasting fabric pieces (luckily my Marcy fabric pieces are fine).

When all is done, I will have a TNT pattern that I can use over and over, changing the details.

This process is slowing me down, but it's completely worth it.


It's been four years since I've been to PIQF, but I decided it was time to take a day off work and visit the Pacific International Quilt Festival once again!

Lots of thread at PIQF!

Even though I no longer quilt, I enjoy buzzing around the juried quilts. There are some amazing works there. But, of course, for me the main event is the vendors. If you want to buy a sewing machine, or an iron, they have those items. (Often with special show sales.) But I kept my eyes peeled for buttons, zippers, notions (tons of Steam A Seam Lite 2 was there), and smaller sewing tools.


I didn't buy much, but I did find some metal buttons from Italy for $2 a bag—I bought an assortment of those—and I purchased a seam allowance device for the sewing machine. I am keen to try that out. My only other purchase was at the tools booth.

Wow, I love tools.


I bought some very nice tweezers and some cute fingernail clippers. (I know, very mundane.) And I bought some clips that can be used as closures.

Olfa had a booth, as did Bernina

And that's it! Not a large haul, but a very nice outing.

If you are local to Santa Clara, PIQF runs through this Sunday.

Clever repurposing of the convention center's bathrooms!

Gayle's Vest

Have you laid your eyes on Gayle's fabulous vest? She made it using an OOP Marcy Tilton pattern and a fabric from Marcy. I was so enamoured of her brilliant use of the black garter belt tape for the closure, that on my way to PIQF I stopped at the store where she had found it. I bought some for myself and Margy (don't worry, I left plenty behind).

I have only been to Fabrics R Us in San Jose once before, but it is an interesting experience. It's sort of like traveling to a different country, as most of the clerks speak very little English. But with lots of smiling, pointing, and repeating oneself, it all works out. If I still made costumes for my kids and lived closer to San Jose, it would be my goto location, as their prices are very reasonable. (For example, I also purchased a poly polkadot charmeuse to use as lining for $3 a yard.)

Today is a work day for me, but I'm looking forward to a productive weekend. Enjoy!

Lollipop! (and My Favorite PIQF Quilts/Wearables)

The Android L statue has been unveiled! L is for Lollipop.

Whimsical dress made of men's shirts. The sleeves decorate the skirt.

A fun use of fabric yo-yos

My favorite quilt of the day

Another beauty

I love the fractured blocks

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday Miscellany

Happy Saturday, sewing folk!

I am still working on my project with the Marcy Tilton fabric, so nothing to report there.

For some of you, this is a 3-day weekend. Not for me - Columbus Day (or Indigenous Peoples Day) is not a holiday in Silicon Valley, for the most part.

But I have noticed lots of sales for this weekend. For example, Craftsy is having a sale. I was bombarded with emails about it and also saw a notice on Facebook, if you "like" their page. Now, depending who you are, you will see different sales prices. For example, some folks see the bra-making class for $19.99, while others see it for $39.99 (regular price is $49.99). I am one of the folks who see the bra class for $39, which I find rather annoying. (You won't see the sales prices if you go directly to their website. You need to use the link through an email ad or the Facebook ad.)

I did buy one of their classes, however.

Maybe you'll remember when I was excited about the re-publication of Susy Furrer's book, Building Patterns. Suzy Furrer runs the San Francisco based school Apparel Arts, which opened during my sewing hiatus, when I was raising kids, and after I had already taken many classes at Cañada College and Sewing Workshop (back when Marcy Tilton owned it).

(Another note. Someone emailed me recently to ask what I thought of Suzy's book, after having used it. I admit that I have still not used it. I know it's a good book based on what many folks I greatly respect have told me, but I haven't yet needed to reference it.)

Anyway, Suzy is a pattern drafter and she now offers several classes through Craftsy. I was curious to see, so I bought her class called Pattern Drafting: Creative Darts and Seamlines. I have watched the first three-plus lessons and, I can tell you, it's good.

I took pattern drafting at Cañada College and, so far, I have not really learned anything new from Suzy's class (though there is more to come and boning up is never a bad thing), but if you don't live where you can take classes in person, I really recommend this route. If you are completely new to pattern drafting, start with her basic pattern drafting classes (she has one for the bodice and one for the skirt), and then progress to her classes on sleeves, necklines, darts, and collars.

(I will give one caveat to Suzy's Dart class. Her drafting advice is aimed at a standard figure. So, for example, when she talks about backing a dart off from the bust apex by no more than 1", that is advice for folks with a standard bust. For people like me, with a very large, very round bust, 1" is probably not enough. I often back my darts off by 2 or even 2-1/2 inches. The best thing to do is to draft the dart, and cut out the fabric, but then to drape the dart directly on your body. That will tell you, for sure, where the end of the dart should be. Just keep this in mind as you study pattern drafting anywhere, not just in this class. Drafting advice is always aimed at a standard shape, and you might need to amend it for your particular silhouette or figure vagaries.)

By the way, one of my IRL blogging friends is taking classes at Apparel Arts in San Francisco. Jean, of J. Kaori Sews, was already a published knitwear designer and is now mastering pattern making and sewing. Her work is impeccable (I have a feeling that everything she does is impeccable) and she is having a lot of fun designing and sewing gorgeous, classic pieces.

And speaking of pattern drafting...

I was scheduled to work in Seattle this week, but the trip was postponed and I toiled away in my regular routine. Yesterday I took the subway to the office in San Francisco and was absolutely delighted to see a woman wearing a beautiful red wool coat. (Our weather has changed dramatically from the heat of a week ago.) Because the subway was crowded, both she and I were standing and she had one arm up to hold the ceiling handle. (I wonder if there is a word for that thing that you can pull down to hang on while the subway is moving and, when you let go, it snaps back up so tall people won't get beaned.)

Anyway, the sleeve on her coat was fabulous. It was a two-piece sleeve, but one of those seams was curved. The coat was very nice—standard lapels and double breasted with gold buttons and multiple welt pockets of two different kinds—but was otherwise unconventional. I studied her coat until she got off in the financial district, even taking a couple discrete photos of the sleeve. At one point, a seat opened up directly in front of her that she didn't want, so I sat down and was able to study the front of the coat, as my face was inches away from her torso. Sweeeet. (I would have told her that I loved her coat, and maybe asked who was on the label, but she had earphones on and didn't give off an approachable vibe.)

Expect to see this sleeve as soon as I have the right fabric and pattern together, which might not be for awhile. Oh I wish I had more time.

Enjoy your weekend! I should be sewing right now, but wanted to report on the Craftsy class (after watching several lessons this morning) and I'm also "enjoying" the rare attentions from an otherwise cantankerous and aloof kitty. He's been fed and watered, so he really does seem to be in the mood for copious neck scratches.

P.S. Maybe you noticed that Kathryn Brenne left a comment on my last post, where I reviewed the recent collection of Vogue patterns. I knew (because Robin D had told me), that she had an article in the last issue of Vogue Patterns about the making of the bag pattern, but I didn't realize that it was her own design. I am so glad to see her designing patterns for Vogue! (Though I wish Vogue would put her name ON her patterns so we can follow her as a designer.)

I have never met Kathryn in person (though I would love to) but I feel like I know her a bit, and I love her style. Maybe you have followed her blog. She doesn't seem to post there anymore, which makes me sad, because Kathryn's Fine Sewing was a great blog. She is now writing articles for Vogue Patterns magazines, and excellent articles on sewing different fabrics for Emma One Sock, which are a gift to the entire sewing community.

ANOTHER Columbus Day sale: Britex is offering 30% off all fabrics on Monday. They do this every year in the brick and mortar store, but this is the first time that it also applies to their online store.

And speaking of Vogue patterns and weekend sales, BMV is having a sale this weekend. I put my order in yesterday, and have patterns from Marcy, Sandra and Kathryn winging their way to me. I think my first make will be the Marcy skirt. I already have a fabric in mind, but I do change my mind a lot, so we'll see...

P.P.S. Marcy Tilton is also having a Fall Sale!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Holiday Vogue Collection 2014

Vogue 1426

OK, it is just me?

I have been studying the new Vogue patterns, which came out today, and I am filled with the desire to beat myself into a stupor with bunches of invisible zippers, tied together with horsehair braid.

Vogue 1423

Yes, there are some lovely dresses, with beautiful silhouettes, unusual cut outs, and interesting inner seam lines.

Vogue 1424


I work in a company filled with women in their 20s and 30s. And, yes, some of them wear dresses. But MANY of them wear separates to work! Many many many.


In fact, MOST.

You know I love you, Vogue, but OY. I would love to see a little more balance in the offerings. I mean, even the vintage ladies and girls got dresses (which makes a certain amount of sense, especially for a holiday release).

Vogue 9072

But you missed an opportunity with the men. They got a combined vest/cumberbund/tie pattern. If you had offered a view with an attached kilt, sort of a kilt onesie, if you will, you would have accomplished an all-dresses-for-all-categories release!

Vogue 9073

(And, yes, some of these dresses would look great on my daughters, but I don't sew for my daughters, for the most part. Down that path lies misery and suffering.)

In summary: WHERE ARE THE PANTS?!??! I mean interesting pants. Pants with details. Pants with character.


OK, now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's talk.

But not about dresses.

So, this should be pretty short.

Let's start with my absolute favorite pattern of the release. And it's a bag.

Vogue 9074

I don't make many bags, but this one is gorgeous. Both of these bags are staring at me imploringly, with their little zipper mouths. Yes! Yes, I will buy you, little zipper mouth bag pattern! I will!

Marcy has three new patterns in this release, making up for the fact that she had only one last time. But not one of them is pants! [insert unhappy sniveling noises]

I love Marcy's new raincoat pattern. This photo looks a bit weird, but the line drawing drips with promise. (Though I hope that the collar won't actually funnel the rain in.)

Vogue 9070

This may be my favorite new pattern of Marcy's. A skirt! (I rarely wear a dress, but I love me a skirt!)

Vogue Vogue 9060

Marcy's final offering looks like a nice top with several views.

Vogue 9057

Sandra Betzina has two new patterns this release, also featuring zero pants. The first one (either a dress or a top) has an unusual neckline, which is a bit hard to see in this busy print, though I like the creative use of a border print. I like the line drawing very much. It's a dress I might actually make.

[ducking to avoid hurling projectiles]

Vogue 1429

Sandra's other offering is a loose, drapey top and a skirt.

Vogue 1430

On the right person, this top is chic and dramatic. On someone like me, with a "full front" with my large bust, it can be a bit much.

So, what other patterns jump out at me from this batch? Not a whole lot. Some of the remaining separates look similar to past releases. But there are a couple that I will probably pick up on sale.

Vogue 9063

I like this top, which has an Issey Miyake-like hem. It would look best in a very drapey fabric, like rayon batik. But I would wear it as styled here, with skinny pants, and not as shown in the second view, with the skirt. This could skew frumpy very fast.

I like view A of this pattern, though I'd add sleeves. (I do not care for views B or C at all, which look like maternity smocks.)

Vogue 9054

But, I am sorry to say, that this top looks all kind of wrong to me.

Vogue 9064

I don't know, maybe someone out there can make a version that proves me wrong, but it seems, to me, like it draws attention to the most problematic part of the body and creates some weird proportions.

So, that's it for me! What do you think? What did I miss?