Binding the Edges of Knits

Melinda asked about how I finished the edges of the Jalie Criss Cross Top. I made a binding from a Solid Rayon Jersey in Beaujolais Wine. I did a write-up on how to make this kind of edging on BeSewStylish.com on April 4th. The nice thing is you don’t need a binder to do it and get good results. Taunton press will eventually be moving that post to the Sewing Section of CraftStylish, but it isn’t there yet.

I’ll post about my new toy later today.
Happy sewing!

I am SO Loving My New Toy Tool

I’ve been remiss in posting a lot recently. It’s been a crazy busy last two weeks. My sister had a big birthday, so I took her to New York to celebrate. I’ll tell you, if you are looking for a wonderful meal in New York at not-outrageous prices, Union Square Cafe is an excellent choice. Trust me. I’ve been dragged to some of the “best of the best” restaurants (and honestly, when they get on those lists, I immediately distrust them), only to be disappointed. Union Square was good food, good, attentive service (without being too-too), and well-priced. All in all, I would give it four stars. If it helps, there are only two restaurants that I have ever been to that get 5 stars. One is in Paris. The other is a little place that I will never put on the web. Sorry.

While in New York, Marie (DSis) and I decided to hit the cosmetics counters of the good stores that we don’t have in Boston. First we went to Bergdorf Goodman.
Bannnnffff!!! Oh man that was a big mistake! We could not walk more than 5 feet without being physically accosted by highly aggressive salespeople trying to waylay us at their cosmetic stations. I have nothing against salespeople. I am one. But I really don’t like having to play Lawrence Maroney knocking down the defenders as I try to decide whether I even want to stop at a cosmetic counter. Is it just me??? Seriously, I think I will write a polite but stern letter to the store manager at Bergdorfs. Even as I was standing by the elevator, a perfume saleswoman came at me with a spritzer and I thought I would have to put her into a half-nelson!

We had much more fun at Henri Bendel. I found a fabulous new cosmetic line called Solutions by Francesca Guererra. I can’t say what their skincare is like, but their makeup? Fabulous!!!! And the makeup artists who work for them at Bendels, John Henry (my newest love – well, he’s gay so it’s okay with my DH) and Alex (I don’t know if he’s gay, but he can do my makeup any day of the week) are To. Get. Thy. Suburban. Selves. To!!!! Look, I know a lot about what it takes to look good. These guys, and this makeup line, make it easier. NAYY, I’m just thrilled with them.

When I got back, of course, both kids were down with the flu. I had already committed to make a jacket for BeSewStylish.com. The problem was that I planned to make the jacket for my Chanel-style dress, based on a Marfy Pattern I ordered from Vogue. Unfortunately the pattern didn’t show up until too late to use in the webpost. Auuggghhh!!! Drop back, punt, and use a different pattern, Vogue Basic Design 7975. I’m making this pattern up with a herringbone tweed in my stash. It either came from my darling Kashi or from Fabric Fix. I’m photographing the steps to making the jacket with my New DSLR. You can see where I am with the jacket at BeSewStylish. I’ll do a full review after I post the how-tos on BeSewStylish. I have been having SO much fun photographing all the steps with my new camera! It eats up disk space, but I’m figuring out how to minimize that. I can tell you right up front: this is a GREAT pattern. If you are looking for a pattern with good bones and lots of possibilities for designer touches? Grab this pattern!

Next up? Fabulosity! Can’t say more until after it happens, but watch this space, it will be lots of fun!

Chars m’dears!

Happy sewing!

Making Stuff, but not for Me

I’ve been working like a dog making some things for SewStylish Magazine, so I don’t have much I can post right now. Talk about a rush deadline – everything needs to be done this week, and I got the materials late Friday! But it’s a very fun article, and I’m having lots of fun working on it. You’ll get to see it some time next year.

Speaking of SewStylish Magazine, there has been a lot of conjecture and speculation about the fate of the magazine. It’s still being published. It’s becoming a special interest publication, rather than an bi-monthly like it started out. But it will continue to be published. At least that’s what the editors tell me, and hey, they have me writing articles, so I believe them, you know?

I’ll be back on the sewing machine with other things soon. At some point I need to make some things for my niece, and I need to make an outfit for Christmas. Ah, so much to do, so little time…

Happy sewing!

Wednesday Miscellaney

It’s been a very hectic week around here. There are a ton of new fabrics up over at Gorgeous Fabrics and I have a ton more to put up. On top of that, I’m readying a recital for December 3, followed by concerts on the 8th and the 16th to keep me musically occupied for a while. The recital will be fun, if I memorize everything in time. We just added two songs by Puccini last week, and two Mozart songs today. The program will include Puccini and Mozart arias, along with songs by Brahms and Hoiby. I feel like that old FedEx commercial “How am I gonna do that?” It’s easy. I won’t sleep.

DS the Younger’s competition went very well this past weekend. He danced in 10 dances, took 1st place in eight of them and 2nd place in two. He’s made the discovery that the girls are all angling to get him as their partner. As Sewing Diva Phyllis said to me, there’s always lots of opportunity for a boy in ballroom dance. Something tells me his teen years are going to be interesting.

I made curtains for a post for BeSewStylish.com that will go up tomorrow. After that, I need to make some gifts for my niece. It’s never ending, you know?

I read an interesting post on a website I like yesterday. The website owner was feeling that she (maybe it’s they) was being treated badly by ‘mean girls’ on a forum. It showed up the day after Miss Conduct (the politesse guru in the Boston Globe) wrote a column about how to handle snarky anonymous comments on one’s blog, when you know who the anonymous poster was. There was also a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about how global companies are having to be on the lookout for sarcasm and snark in internal communications, mostly electronic. There must be something in the ether. I’ve noticed this happens on a cyclical basis.

My observation on forums is that someone offers an opinion about something, and that opinion usually is rather bland and harmless. Then other people add their opinions, often also harmless. Occasionally you’ll get the odd flamer, but not always. But what happens after a while is that it starts to feel like a pig pile, regardless of how inoffensive each individual poster believes they are being. And pig piles are never pleasant, especially if you’re the pile-ee. Feelings tend to get hurt, and bad karma ensues.

The reasons for this are myriad. First and foremost, when reading a post on a board, blog, or even when reading an email, we can’t hear the inflection and tone that the writer is using. I had a personal experience recently where someone asked me a question. The wording was ambiguous enough that I couldn’t tell if the person was chiding me or simply being direct. My first reaction was to feel put out. After considering my options for response, I put my position in as bland a way as possible, asked DH to proof it for OQ (Offensiveness Quotient), and when it passed his scrutiny, I sent the response off. I spoke with her recently, and she is a lovely lady, and she meant no offense by it. Written communication with strangers can be fraught with misinterpretation, you know?

And even when I think I am being cute or funny, it can be interpreted exactly the opposite. I took to moderating comments on my blog after one episode where I thought I came across like Jon Stewart, but several readers thought I was being mean. And their comments weren’t witty; they were just nasty. We all know it’s a rough world out there. I don’t have any solutions to offer up, I just know how I’ll handle it when it happens to me. And I’ll keep on keeping on. It’s what I do.

Happy sewing!

It's Too Darned Hot…

With apologies to Cole Porter, but it is! I haven’t felt like sewing for the last two days. Fortunately, I had some things to keep me legitimately out of the sewing room: a new post for BeSewStylish.com, and dogsitting Tessa the Rottweiler:

Tessa is Hoover’s best bud, and she’s a great dog. She’s a showdog, and working toward her championship. And she is such a whiner! Man, I’ve never heard a dog talk so much in my life, and I had Labs for years! She’s a sweetie though, and always fun to have around. Here she and Hoover are enjoying edamame on the deck.

The other funny thing that happened was regards my BSS post. If you take a look at it (it’s the one called “Serger 101”), the first comment is really nice, but the person who wrote it thought that David Page Coffin (one of my sewing heroes) wrote the post. An understandable mistake: the credits list him as the photographer. I had this funny flash to a favorite movie when I read the comment. Did anyone see Galaxy Quest? It’s a fun movie. In one scene, Alan Rickman’s character rescues a group of people, who are all hero-worshipping the character played by Tim Allen. As Rickman walks in, holding up his arms waiting for applause, they start shouting, “He has saved us! Commander Taggart (Allen) has saved us!” Rickman gets this great look of “can’t win for trying” on his face. I know how he feels!

So I think the A/C has cooled off the cutting room enough where I can think about going back in. We’ll see. Tomorrow I’m taking the whole family to Lenox to see Emmett McCarthy. He’s doing a trunk show, and we gotta go to support him! Not to mention my kids would kill me if I went alone and they didn’t get to meet him. So off to see Uncle Emmett tomorrow.

Happy Sewing!

Hmmm, I'm Not Sure I Can Make This One Work


I’ve got my muslin put together for McCalls Jacket 5478. I’m just not sure about this one. Have you ever had a pattern where the flat pattern mesaurements are all correct, but it just doesn’t fit you right? That’s what is happening here. The amount of ease on the jacket should be fine. I have about 3″ of ease through the torso, and the shoulders are perfect, so I know that the size is correct. But it pulls funny and it’s not comfortable, and I am pretty sure I don’t want to make it up with my silk taffeta brocade that I was thinking about. I think the problems lie partly in the fact that this jacket is cut on the bias. I’ve always had problems with bias cuts on me. The other part of the problem is that I am an inverted triangle, and I’m not sure that this style will work for my figure type, especially cut on the bias.

Sorry, you’re not going to get any pictures of me in it – it makes me look fat and I’ll be damned if I present myself to the Internet that way. But I may draw back and punt on this one. I’m going to do a couple of mods to the pattern and try another muslin, but I suspect that the taffeta will have to wait for another pattern. I think it would look good in this jacket pattern:

It’s in my stash, and it is cut on the straight grain for the front and back, with the sides cut on the bias.

Well, the consolation is that it did give me fodder for a tutorial on BeSewStylish

Happy sewing!

Ha! Remind Me Not to Post…

… while trying to fix my frickin’ digital camera. Olympus = piece of trash. Grrrrr!

Here’s the real link to the music.

Big shout of thanks to Isabelle for pointing that out. I fixed the link in the original post too.

One note of clarification to people who are worried that SewStylish is going away completely. It’s not. It is going to continue, both as the blog BeSewStylish.com, where you can read the text and comments from Amber. It will also most likely continue as a SIP (special interest publication). They are just ending the subscriptions.

Happy sewing and listening!

Musical Notes

I’m working on a post for BeSewStylish.com, where, BTW, I was rather shocked to see the current post about subscriptions. Hmm….

Well, when the going gets rough, this lady gets Singing! I’m preparing to do a big recital in the fall. Lots of Mozart, Brahms, probably some Purcell or Arne, Debussy or Poulenc, and I’m leaning toward some Sondheim. I think I’ll be doing a duet recital around the same time, too. It gives me a hobby, you know?

Well, if you’re interested, you can hear a couple of old performances. The recital I did with my dear friend Monique Argent was great fun. Our accompanist for this recital is probably the best collaborative pianist in the Boston area, Bill Merrill. Bill is an absolute dear to work with, and a doll! The recording is rather ringy, thanks to both the quality of the recording device (a mindisk recorder that my husband used to have) and the acoustics of Boston University’s Marsh Chapel. Interesting trivia tidbit. Marsh Chapel is named for Daniel Marsh, former president of BU, and coincidentally, father of my very first voice teacher, Nancy Marsh Hartman.

The set with Ryan, who is my choir director, friend, and amazingly talented musician, was recorded in a recital at a private home with the most amazing music room in it. Unfortunately, the recorder gets pretty overwhelmed in that close a space. And where Hoiby’s “The Serpent” got off to, I am not sure. Oh well.

Anyway, back to my sleeve. Happy listening!

Miss Me?

Oy! What a couple of days it has been! Sorry to be out of touch, but I have been up to my eyeballs in alligators while searching for the swamp plug. Here, I’ll let you in on what’s been happening. DH’s company is just about to lay of 20% of the staff, so he’s been going crazy on a personal and professional level. The likelihood is that he won’t be let go, but sometimes that’s not a good thing, you know? And two senior members of his department (he was the third) left the company 2 months ago, so he’s been a crazy man trying to keep up with the workload.

That means that yours truly gets to do the baseball playoffs runabout. Both kids are still in the playoffs (Gawd, please, when will this end???) No really, I’m thrilled for them. Really I am… Really. But between that, work, and getting my latest BeSewStylish.com post in the can, life has been a little hectic, you know?

But I’m still around. And I’m just about to start on another dress for my niece. This time I’m going to make her a HotPatterns Tee-Shirt Dress.

I’m going to make it from a cabana striped jersey I have in a bright pink and white.

She picked it out, and I think it will look adorable on her!

Alas, there are only so many hours in a day, and since I signed on as a contributing editor to BeSewStylish, I can’t keep all my usual balls in the air, so I’ll be bowing out of The Sewing Divas Blog. I’ll still post here and at BeSewStylish.com. I will continue to be an avid reader of the pearls of wisdom that my Darling Divas disperse. And I’ll always be a Diva. After all, I did coin the term, “La Sewing Diva, C’est Moi!”

Happy Sewing!