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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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Baby it's Cold Outside!!!!!!

BRRRRRR!!!!!!!!! It has been a chilly week here!!!! We have already had 2 snow storms and it is only November! I of course have a cold, a result of trick or treating in the chilly air maybe? My children and hubby are sick as well. Since I have not been feeling well, you can imagine how lovely it was when I got a surprise in the mail today!!!!!!!! 2 artisan soaps from reader YARNDIVA!!!!! She was the winner of my pattern giveaway and sent me the lovely gift as a thank you!!!! You brightened up my week, thank you so much!!!! Your lovely sentiment left me feeling toasty warm!!!

Another thing leaving me toasty these days are the special holiday teas by celestial seasonings!!!! My favorite of which is the sugar cookie sleigh ride flavor!!! This tea really tastes like sugar cookies, which are my favorite cookies, it's genius!!! Celestial seasonings is also based out of Boulder Colorado so I always feel like I am doing something good for local commerce by buying their teas!!! You can pick these up in a local grocery store or online here. The candy cane flavor is delicious as well!

As far as sewing goes, I have done none this week! I have a lot on deck for November so I better get with it! I have actually been working on a pattern drafting project, so it hasn't been all tea drinking and tissues this week!. I am working on drafting a sloper! A sloper or block pattern is a main basic pattern that one can use to adapt and basically create any pattern they'd like. I will be doing a full post on Monday about this topic so look out for that! I have the book pictured above, How to Make Sewing Patterns by Donald H. McCunn, you can buy it online here. This is a fabulous book!!!!!! It is a must have for the home seamstress who is interested in taking design on. I have had it for a while but just decided to dig it out and follow it to the letter so I can get some of my own designs drafted! I will be making the bodice and skirt blocks and then the pants block. To do so I have the tools below, also in my stash for quite some time now and I use them for pattern alteration all of the time!!! You can but them online here.
So I will be drafting up my blocks and then making them in muslin, which I will then rip apart and keep for endless use! I would like to make 2 dresses, a pair of pants, and a jacket this month. Ambitious? Maybe...... We will see what I can get done, and of course I will be posting all about it here. Have any of you ever tried your hand at pattern drafting?
I hope you all are keeping warm!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween with The Kiddos!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope you all had a fun and safe evening and got lots of candy and pics of your little ones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Last night was fun, and crazy hectic!!!!!! Halloween costumes were a race to the finish this year with my oldest son not deciding on a costume until the 28th and my costume getting done within 2 days at the very last minute. In the end though, I got a new blouse, a new skirt and a kitschy jacket, never to be worn again at the same time however, it was to much pink at once, I blinded some of the neighborhood kids.

Here we have(from left to right) a vampire, a lalaloopsy doll, a skeleton pirate, a wild animal, and a ninja. The ninja was a no sew project. Remember it was so last minute. Sometimes Halloween is about what you have and what you can make of it.

My Daughters dress was a success but her hair was not! I bought 2 different types of spray for our hair on Halloween. Mine was streaks and tips and hers was color bombz, both bought at Sally's. I can now tell you that the color bombz was a waste of money! It barely gave a vague tint to her black hair. I curled it and put her bangs into a pin curl.

My baby boy did not want to take any pictures, this was the best I got.

And here I am, in all my pink glory!!! I had to wear a black cardigan under my jacket because it was very chilly outside and my jacket was unlined. I ended up drafting the skirt and jacket myself because of a shortage of funds for pattern buying. Halloween should not put you in the poor house.

I used black fabric paint and free handed my jacket lettering, I think it came out swell.

Well that is it for my Halloween. It is November now, the year is just flying by. Time to get back to reality and start planning for the next holidays. I have a lot of sewing to do and meals to plan!!! I hope you all will continue to join me for those projects!!!!!