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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections On 2011 and Hopes For 2012

As 2011 draws to a close I am naturally reflecting on all the things I accomplished this year. 2011 was a great year overall but the passage of time is inevitable and we must all say goodbye to one year and welcome the next. I got a lot of sewing done this year, even though I started out the year exhausted and frustrated with my hobby. I didn't sew for about 5 months. Sometimes you start to over think things, every sewing failure is a reason why you  should just walk away from your sewing machine and never look back! I have had a rough couple of weeks recently at my sewing machine and that caused me to think back on my sewing hiatus of the beginning of the year. I realized that sometimes I am way to hard on myself!!! I have accomplished a lot at that sewing machine, and I always do my best when I don't over think things. This goes for sewing, and everything else in my life as well! I sewed 40 plus garments this year! Everyone of them still very wearable and cute! That is no small feat for a mother of 5! I made myself a small wardrobe of retro inspired clothing. I made my daughter a small wardrobe of her own! I finally made something for my boys! These are all great things that I plan to build on in 2012. At the same time I would like to make a resolution to not take everything so seriously! If I can never sew a couture garment, oh well!!!!!!! I will try to challenge myself, but will not feel guilty about making easy dresses!!!!! I will continue to only sew my own wardrobe and try to not buy RTW. It is just to hard to go back once you are on this train! But I will not feel guilty that I can not make all of my children's clothes at home. I have 5 children, 4 of which are boys and they grow very quickly and tear things up! I haven't the time or the heart for it!  I will try to make them whatever I can, but will not feel bad when I can't! I guess the ultimate lesson I am taking away from 2011 and setting for myself as a resolution for 2012 is this; Do all that you can, when you can, and cut yourself some slack when you can't. Almost like the serenity prayer.......kind of.
I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!! And remember, don't be so hard and yourself and celebrate the small things!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Holidays!!!!!!

Happy Holidays everybody!! I know I have not been blogging as of late and I am sorry for that!!! I have been very busy getting ready for the holidays and working my day job for all it's worth to be able to afford the holidays!! We had a nice Christmas in these parts and I hope that you all had a lovely day with your families! We had two lovely dinners, one on Christmas eve and one on Christmas day. The children could not be happier with all the fun and gifts. We spent a couple of laid back days just enjoying each others company, eating, drinking, and being merry. As for the picture up above, you will notice with your keen eyes that one of the stockings is a sock, lol! at the last minute I realized that I had not made a stocking for my youngest son! My husband thought it would be funny to hang a sock up there instead. Don't fret though, I whipped one up for him quickly after I realized that the sock was hanging there, unfortunately, these pics were already taken, documenting my epic fail as a crafting Mama for all posterity to witness.

Also whipped up was this last minute green dress. I had started a couple dresses this week that were doomed to the UFO pile. I was so busy and had such a limited time and the fabrics for the other dresses were just not fabrics that could be rushed to take form. Maybe I will pick them up another time and finish them. I hate leaving unfinished business. So I made this little dress out of a simple poly cotton blend, which is great for a rush job. The hemline is shorter than what I usually do because I didn't have much of this fabric, oops! It is cute anyways but to be honest with you, the zipper came out super wonky, one of my worsts and the dress was pretty tight. I really liked the color and the style though so I may buy some more of this green fabric and make it again, in a bigger size, and with a longer skirt!

My daughter got a simple little dress in a pretty fabric, the one she is wearing above. I will have to take some better pics of it, but she was happy. She also got a new nightgown which I surprised her with on Christmas morning. I kept it completely from her sight until she unwrapped it. I had sprayed it with some cotton candy scented body spray before wrapping it as well. I think scent memory is important and I hope that when she is all grown up and smells the scent of cotton candy she will remember the pink princessy nightgown her mother sewed her for Christmas!

So that is our lovely Christmas!!!!!!! Oh, can you see the box in the corner of the last picture of my daughter? That is my new super awesome sewing machine that my hubby bought me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Soooooooo excited about it!!!!!!!!! It is a Brother, because that is what I love to sew on and all of my presser feet from my old machine will still fit the new. It is a CP-7500. While it is not an innovis, it is a much better machine than the one I had before. I will do a full review on the machine once I get a chance to give it a good test run.You can check it out here. SOOOO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here's to hoping for a fun new year's celebration and a 2012 full of prosperity!!! Happy Holidays to you all!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Time Management and Christmas Cheer!!!

Happy Thursday y'all!!!! Christmas is fast approaching and time is a precious commodity when you make home made gifts! I also have this crazy tradition where I make something for myself and my daughter to wear for every holiday!! If I don't do this, I feel like I am just not getting things accomplished! The other day the subject of time management came up on one of my Burdastyle project posts. One lovely comment complimented me on my pants and blouse project and asked me how I find the time for my sewing with being such a busy mother. This got me thinking that I should write a little bit about my time management. As you all know, or maybe not, I have 5 children ages 2-11. I also work part time from home as an interpreter. As you can imagine, my day is beyond busy and everyday feels like I am running a marathon! However, sewing is very important to me so I make the time to get a little done almost everyday. I think that it is important for a mother to take time for herself and her own endeavors. Sewing makes me happy and when I am happy, the rest of the family is happy too. I wake up early in the morning, before everyone else in the house and get things done! First I make my husband his food for his work day. I know this sounds a bit archaic but I look at it as something nice I can do for him that offers some comfort while he works his long back breaking hours. Then after I send him off to work, I sew. I usually sew for about 40 minutes to an hour and you would be surprised by how much you can get done! Of course I don't get anything done in one session, my projects are a result of many small sessions. I used to try to find big blocks of time to make projects and I never got anything done! As you can imagine, I never found that big block of time. It became frustrating and I was always upset about my abandoned hobby. So I decided to take just a little time each day to do this for myself and the results have been amazing. The rest of my day is crazy! So sewing is really my only quite time. Once my children wake up I feed them breakfast and get the older ones ready for school and get them off to the bus. Then I work for 4 hrs a day from home and my sister watches my 2 younger kiddos. When I get off of work I make my kids lunch and straighten up the house a bit. I have a little extra time then to just catch up with my little ones before the big ones get home. When everyone gets home, the kids from school and hubby from work, we do homework. I have to sit with each of my kids one at a time and check work and help them with what they are having trouble with. I also do some work with my younger 2 to help them prepare for all the learning they will have to do when they start school. I then make dinner, or my sister does since she is living with us right now. After dinner I give my kids baths and get them ready for bed. We read a story and I tuck them in. After that, I relax with my hubby and watch some TV or if he is playing xbox, I will prepare a pattern or cut some fabric. That is it! I also sleep 7 hrs a night. I do alot while I work as well, I am a multitasking expert. I have a little pedal bike thingy( not a real term!) that I pedal while I work on the phone. I do squats while I brush my teeth and push ups and crunches before bed. It is a sad work out routine I know, but it is all I can manage to squeeze in. So are my days are hectic, yes, but it is a good life that I live filled with great moments and small accomplishments!
So back to Christmas gift making! Next Thursday is the last day of school before break. So I have 1 week to get the teachers gifts done! I always make gifts because in my humble price range, I don't like the store offered gifts. I also like the personal touch of something home made. This year I am using the book One Yard Wonders as my life saver!!! I will be using this book to make some gifts for my kids as well. The greatness of this book is that everything takes just one yard, as per the title of the book. So that is a pretty affordable gift wouldn't you say?  For the teachers I will be making bags. The folklore bag to be exact. It is stylish and easy to make! Will I get them done in time? I need to make a minimum of 3 but would like to get 5 done for a total cost of $30. I am armed with coupons and a free Sunday of sewing with my 2 year old on my lap and my kids playing with Lego's under foot!  Wish me luck on maneging my time!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Finished- Pants and Blouse

I have been sewing!!!! Always, no matter what I have on my plate, I am sewing! What a marvelous hobby sewing is! You get to relieve all the stresses of everyday life and in the end you get a wearable work of art! This week I made a much needed pair of pants that I have been meaning to get to for 2 months now!!!!!! It is freezing over here so pants were a must! If you are going to make a new pair of pants than of course, you need a new blouse to go with it!!!!! So I made that too.

The pants were made from this Burdastyle pattern that I made some alterations to. The original pattern has a front fly closure and side seam pockets. I decided that I wanted pants with a side closure and front patch pockets, so I did that. I used the pattern almost exactly. Where the front fly was, I just traced the center front line all the way up, eliminating the fly. I sewed up all of my pieces and left the left side unsewn for a lapped zipper. With this pattern you have to draft the waistband yourself any ways so I drafted it to be closed on the side. I used 2 cute snaps for the job. My buttonholer is not working, but the snaps were cuter anyway. I drafted the patch pockets myself, and am very happy with the way they came out.

The blouse is New Look, 6937. I picked this up this weekend and even though the neckline is a bit tricky, it was really easy to make. I made a size 10, because I didn't want it to be so big! Like I said, the neckline, which is a tunic style was a bit tricky, but I vow to find an easier way to do it because I really like this top. I am on a hunt for blouses with no closures, because of laziness and because of above mentioned button whole problem.

Here are my snaps!! Please excuse this pic of my uncut threads, bad seamstress! I get my snaps through snapsource. They have an amazing selection, great prices, and excellent customer service, which is so important! They also sell their own snap setting tool, which is a good tool to have. And below is a close up of my pocket!

This outfit came together quickly and was really fun to sew. I love it when things turn out the way you wanted them too, it is so encouraging! Now I just have to figure out how to apply that to the rest of my life!

Monday, December 5, 2011

1950's Pepsi Ads

I got these pics off of the website Retronaut.co. You have to check it out, they have lots of great stuff to look at on those days when you have nothing to do but cruise the internet.

I love this one, it's totally me! I can't believe how in all of these ads, they keep repeating how slimming Pepsi is! I hope it's diet Pepsi!!

Love the sewing reference!!!!!

I love the look on her face, she's saying "not so quick buddy!!"

I will leave you with this one, stay lovely!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cuba, A Land of the Midcentury

I'm not sure, but by now I think most of you Know that I am a Latin girl. My roots are in Cuba to be exact. I am a girl who is deeply in touch with her roots and at the same time have sprouted new ones, American ones. I was Born in the United States and in fact, my mother is an all American girl from North Carolina. I grew up with what I think is the best of both worlds, in Miami. Growing up in a city like Miami, you have the Cuban culture in front of you at all times! I speak fluent spanish and my day job is as an interpreter. So you could say that the language of my forefathers has allowed me to live out my American dream. Cuba went through it's "revolution" in the 1950's, when a dictator came in to power, and froze the country in time. As a result, the island is said to be like a trip back in time to the 1950's. It was a time of elegance and the people dressed the part. I guess mostly, this post is about the inspiration that this time and place has upon me. When I sew my vintage inspired clothes, I always feel like I am sending a shout out to my grandparents. I heard many stories and saw many pictures as a girl growing up in my Abuela's house (grandmother's). The pictures were so glamorous and my Grandparents were always so poised, not like the random pictures of today, where people have shiney faces and bed hair and make silly faces in their pajamas. I always wanted to go back to that time and place some how. My Grandmother is one of my greatest style influences. I always aim to have even the tiniest amount of elegance that she has always had so much of. Today Cuba is a run down country, hanging on by a thread due to the mania of a corrupt government. I have never been there in person, but the Cuba I know is the one of the 1950's shown to me by my Grandparents in all of it's glamour and gleaming night lights.

Here are a couple of pictures of my paternal Grandparents in Cuba. these are the images I grew up with. Weren't they spectacular? I am lucky enough to still have my Abuela with me, even though she is on the other side of the country from me. She is still a phone call away, even though I must admit, I don't call her as much as I should! My Abuelo passed last year, and it was a hard blow to my family. He will always be with us though, he is a part of everything we are and everything we do. Isn't he dapper in these pictures?

It is nice to have a real life reference to your vintage style isn't it, and even nicer to have a link to all of the past that makes you who you are in the present.

Here is a bit of the past from La Reina Celia Cruz singing Guantanamera, in a fabulous dress by the way. Enjoy!!!!!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope all of you had a fabulous holiday with your loved ones!! I ate far too much, of course! So today is a day of rest and maybe some shopping if I feel up to it. So here are a few pics, well more than a few, of what I made for us to wear on the day of thanks! Enjoy!

Matching dresses for me and Missy Xiu!

This is the same New look 6723 view B. The belt is a bow belt I made from grosgrain ribbon and some white fabric for the bow and it closes with a snap.

Missy Xiu got new look 6309 in view D made with the same fabric as my dress, a linen blend, and grosgrain ribbon.

This is a burda jacket that I made recently, which has a whole story behind it which will be told in another post. Let's just say that it came together without a hitch and then did not fit me. Super sewing fail! But it looks great on my sister with a belt cinched around her waist!

And finally my Lil Lu!!!!!!!! Isn't she so cute!!!!!! I made her this little dress and a matching headband!!!!!!!! She left it on for just enough time to take these pictures and then wailed until we removed it! She crawled around happily after that in her diaper!No appreciation for fashion!

I am thankful for all of the wonderful people in my life, my wonderful  husband, my beautiful children and my awesome sister and beautiful niece, and of course, each and every one of you who have stopped by to read my little blog this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Work in Progress

Well here is my sloper in progress, this is the first close muslin I've gotten. There are still some fit issues but at least it is not so far off as the first few drafts were!

Please excuse the horrible pics, there really is no way to photograph this well!

Here are the paper drafts of the above sloper with seam allowances drawn in. I still would like to refine the fit a tiny bit and then put it to the real test and actually use it to design an actual wearable garment. When I first started sewing I used to draft my own patterns all of the time! They were simple garments with little design detail. My husband and I got married in a courthouse wedding and I made my own dress, a simple sheath, with my own pattern. Since I became more comfortable using big company patterns however, I got more and more afraid of drafting anything. With this whole sloper experiment, I am trying to get get my footing back. I have also been doing regular sewing all along as well. I made not only my date night LBD, but a fully lined jacket, and 4 more dresses, in the last 2 weeks alone. To say that I have been busy is an understatement. I will however see this project through to fruition! I still would like to get the skirt portion of my sloper, which should not be as hard as the bodice, done.  At the same time, I will take it slow and do this step by step and try to learn to do it well.  Pattern drafting is on my new years resolution list!

Well now, it is time for me to get back to prepping my turkey for tomorrows impending feast!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Date Night LBD

So sorry that I have been absent this week!!!!!!!!!!! Things have been crazy here this week in Casa De Lucha!!! I did get my sloper done and hopefully will get that post done before Thanksgiving!!!!!! But here is a finished project post to tide us over in the mean time.

First of all, look at the severe red eye here!!! I didn't correct this pic because I thought it was very interesting how my eyes completely match my lipstick!!! These red eyes were highly appropriate as I was all dressed up for a date night with the Mister to go see the latest installment of a guilty pleasure vampire flick that shall remain nameless due to the mixed feeling that run rampant about it!

I made this dress using New Look 6723 view D, which I have had for like 6 years believe it or not and just used for the first time!!!! I have to say that this pattern was very easy to make, it took me maybe 3 hours of actual sewing. I have even made it again in view B for Thanksgiving! For a pattern I haven't touched in 6 years, twice in one week says something! It is a great pattern and I only recommend a couple of changes, one, the arm holes seemed a bit, and I mean a very little, bit restrictive. Next time I may make them just the tiniest bit larger, but this is probably because I have a larger upper back, this alteration may not hold true for everybody. The second thing is that I don't really like the skirt. It is not full enough for my taste. I would draft a fuller skirt to go with it, I did for the Thanksgiving dress in fact.

I tied a red ribbon around my waist for a pop of color. It was ok, but the bow was wonky all night! I am experimenting with making some bow belts to add to my wardrobe, if I make anything good, I'll let you know how I did it!!!

Well that's it for my date night LBD. I will try to get my finished sloper post up by Tuesday and then hopefully I will have lots of pretty pictures to share of my thanksgiving celebration. I hope everyone is having a lovely time preparing for the impending feast!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Little inspiration...

I have officially named November as "Bite off more than you can chew" month. I am still working on getting a working sloper and have found a couple more resources to share on that front. I have no idea why this is turning out to be so challenging for me! I want it to be just right and am not having an easy time of it. The sloper I generated with the free software did not work out. It wasn't horrible, but it was far enough off that I would rather stick to trying to draft it by hand. I'm not saying that the software isn't good, it was more likely my measurement taking, which I stink at. It is hard to measure yourself! I hope to get this chapter in my personal sewing book closed by this weekend!!!! I have been getting a bit anxious with the whole thing and decided to start another project to work on simultaneously. This project is one from a pattern that I already have. It is a bit refreshing sometimes to just get started right away with a pattern and just sew away. So as far as  the sloper resources, here you go, a website here, where you plug in your measurements and then get detailed instructions on how to draft the front of a bodice sloper. And a youtube channel by the author of the book I have on drafting sewing patterns. If I can't get a sloper done using all of the resources that I have collected through out this time than I am truly a lost cause!

Moving on to some lighter fair, here are some pics for inspiration. These are pics of Jaime King on her new show "Hart of Dixie" starring Rachel Bilson. Now I have not seen this show so I have no Idea if it is any good, but by the wardrobe worn by Ms. King it may very well be worth a look, even if just to see her outfits every week. The various websites that have mentioned her style as an inspiration for fall, have dubbed it "Southern Belle" style, and while I can understand this reference, I would like to label her style as "Retro Fabulous" Do you agree?

Love a nice flower in my hair as well.

Love her use of cardigans!!!

This look is definitely a 70's look, but I love the seventies as well, it's a guilty pleasure of mine.

Here with the cast, she is a definite stand out!! Yellow is obviously a good color for her, not so much for me! But her look here, day dress with a cardi and neatly retro styled hair is a great every day look for any one who prefers a retro aesthetic. If it is cold you can throw on some stockings and a coat and this look goes through every season!!!!!
Have any of you seen the show? should I tune in? or is Jaime's wardrobe the only high note?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Slopers, a Resource.

I am going to talk to you today about the value of a sloper. A sloper is a basic fitting garment that can used as the basis of endless designs. It has many names, sloper, block, or fitting shell. As far as design goes you can employ a couple different methods. You can drape a garment, using a dressform and a persons measurements combined or you can use the flat pattern method. For the flat pattern method you will need a sloper. You can then use this sloper as a foundation to create virtually any style you would like. This is achieved by a process of cutting and pivoting. You would cut your pattern and pivot to achieve dart placement and fullness in different places. You can change the neckline and style as well, and add fit and design ease. The sloper is like a second skin, made to fit the exact measurements of the wearer, threads describes it as a 2D dress form. Dress forms are actually made from slopers that are made from "ideal" measurements for different sizes. You can actually use your sloper to make a dressform, a process which is described in the book that I previously recommended, "How to Make Sewing Patterns" by Donald H. McCunn. Having a sloper is great not just for drafting patterns from scratch but also for altering your favorite name brand sewing patterns. You can use your fitting shell to compare to your pattern of choice to get a better idea of how the finished garment will fit and what alterations, if any, need to be made to the pattern. Making a sloper and on paper is of course not enough, you have to make the sloper in muslin and really judge if the fit is spot on or needs adjusting. Once done in muslin, you can rip it apart and use this a a durable pattern without worry that it could be damaged like a paper pattern.

Now to make a sloper you have a few options. You can draft one out by hand using the help of a good book that describes the process. This can be a bit involved and trying. It is a great experience though. I spent my entire weekend trying to draft my muslin from scratch with little success. I have gotten close but not close enough. Granted, I was battling a cold all weekend and just don't think my mind was sharp enough for taking on this endeavor. So I took to the internet for some assistance and found some great resources. The book I have is great but I was looking for a quick fix. You can purchase a pattern for a fitting shell from mcalls, here. You can buy this and make alterations if needed. Burdastyle also has some free downloadable options for slopers, here. Free is great right?! The only thing is that it comes in one size, and if you are far from that size, you will have to do a lot of altering, so you may be better off just drafting from scratch and using that burdastyle one as a reference. As far as how to use your sloper for pattern alterations, please read this threads article! Threads is an amazing resource for any home seamstress, and this article is no different.
Now to take sloper drafting to the next level, you can use a CAD software program for pattern drafting. Now I am no techie, by any means so this type of software is scary to say the least. It is something that I am interested in so it would do me good to get over it and quick. I started a google search on the topic of these software programs and found a good article about the different options out there which lead me to this program. PatternMaker has a free basic reader option that with a few measurements, will generate a free basic bodice sloper for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's right, and it is free!!!!! This is only for the bodice though.You can then print it out from your home printer, just like a burdastyle pattern!!! They also offer programs that you can purchase and do a whole lot more with, I may consider buying one in the future, if I work up the guts to spend my money. So I tried out the free portion of the software and generated my bodice block. I printed it out this morning and plan on making a muslin between today and tomorrow to see how accurate the fit is.
The value of a good sloper speaks for itself. This is a great home sewing tool that we should all have in our arsenal!!!! My hope with this project is to be able to recreate some vintage styles that I may not be able to get a pattern for. I hope to have a lot of fun with it and I hope that these resources are helpful to some of you who may be interested in making your own sloper. Happy Sewing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!