Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mood LA: Store Review

The fates of these beauties, from left: Megan Nielsen Cascade skirt, Named Kanerva shirt, and ByHandLondon Victoria blazer.
I got quite the windfall of Mood gift certificates for my birthday and Christmas last year and had a shit-ton of fun this weekend. I went all Scrooge McDuck in that place.

Let's do this chronologically:
The parking
Oh hell, the parking, its not fun. I get kinda anxious when I drive around downtown LA, some people are crazy. So you go into the alley behind Mood accessed by an entrance to the left of Mood on La Brea southbound or on the road to the right of Mood. They have a few spots in the back, 10 maybe, but they were already full. I was flagged down by a man asking if I was shopping at Mood and he told me to park in this area that had a big sign saying "No parking for Mood customers, you will be towed." Really, you want me to park here? "Yes, yes park." But I'm blocking these other cars. "Park here, park now." But I'm shopping at Mood. "WOMAN PARK." Ok he didn't say those exact words, but the connotation was there. So you give him your name, number, and car type and happily go shopping. Or so I naively thought.
After happily flouncing around Mood people started running around Mood yelling my car's stats. I ran to find them, "That's my car, please don't tow it, the man said I could park there, oh god I can't afford towing bills." Turns out they park cars three deep so when someone is done rolling in fabric mountains, Mood calls all the other customers to move their cars. Its not the most efficient, but I guess it better than parking 14 blocks away. Then the parking man told me to park in the emergency spot. The emergency spot? "Yes, over there" vaguely gestures over there. Um, ok, emergency, fire lane I guess. I get as close the wall as I can park and get out. Is this what you were talking about? "No, no, no, the emergency spot" gestures again. THE HANDICAPPED SPOT??? "Yes yes yes." This man hates me by now. Are you sure about that? "WOMAN PARK."
So the parking situation at Mood is not a blast, but at least you'll be prepared now. Good luck to you.

The fabric
Wow, that's a TON of fabric. The treasures are stored on tall (20') shelves that have about 5 shelves each. Fabric is stored 5 or so rolls deep. Its a bitch and a half pulling the bottom rolls out. Each roll has a little tag either hanging out or shoved into the tube with the price, content, and (sometimes) designer origin. Note the roll might have been stored backwards and you have to pull the roll out to the get to the tag. Some rolls are stored in buckets, much easier to access but not as space efficient.
All fabric aisles are simply labeled, shirting, cashmere, silk, etc.
There is so much fabric diversity and its wonderful to handle them in person. Most everything felt quality and you could spend hours and hours just looking at everything.

The people
This is where Yelp review scared the crap out of me. I didn't want surly staff ruining fabric shopping day. Its a sacred day. The cutting staff was wonderful! Helpful, not pushy, easily accessible. They helped me pull out rolls that were under 50 lbs of other fabrics, quickly cut things, nicely teased me about wanting to cut way more fabric than I needed (yes, they convinced me to buy less fabric), and offered sartorial advice when requested. They were lovely.
The checkout staff was super surly! Whoa. But you only have to spend like 4 minutes with them, so whatevs. Yes, they do have a doggie, but he was napping.

Mood was fun! I brought back beautiful fabric and had a ton of fun seeing all the possibilities on Mood's shelves. I highly recommend the store, especially if you have a handicapped placard :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Noro Bowls

"You're going to knit bowls? What can you put in a knit bowl?" Said everyone (except Kelly!).

You can put almost anything in a knit bowl!

I saw these in a Noro magazine a few years back and then kicked myself for not buying it. Enter Ravelry and I found where I could buy the pattern, Felted Bowls, even though the magazine was out of print. Thank you Ravelry!!!! I also have a serious love for Noro. Those colors, I just want to fill my world with those colors. Specifically its Hitsuji, a big squishy, seriously wooly stuff. I forgot where I bought it, but I had to get it online because not a lot of people seem to stock this stuff (at least when I got it). The yarn was a Christmas present from my wonderful in-laws, thank you Pam and Jim!

The pattern was easy, but I didn't quite trust I was doing it correctly at first. This was also my first time felting anything (on purpose), which was slightly terrifying. The bowl on the right is more felted, the one in the middle is the least felted. They were all felted at different times. I think because the felting was so inconsistent, I didn't get the nesting effect that the pattern shows. I'll probably one day felt that middle one a bit more.

Shaping these wasn't the easiest thing in the world. You might able to tell the middle of the knitting circle isn't the middle of the bowl. Kind of like an off-center belly button. I have a slightly off-center belly button so it makes me feel better about myself. Lol. When the bowls are filled, who cares where the center is located? That's a deep thought man.

So what can you put into a knit bowl? I have one of work, I toss everything in there, pens, candy, hand lotion. At home, house keys, headbands, change, lipgloss. Great for keeping my messes contained!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Watson Set!

Making my first lingerie set gave me the same "oh my god I made that!" feeling as when I first started sewing a million years ago. Thank you Watson!


Let's start from the top down. I used stretch lace from Hart's Fabric, but I don't think I'd recommend it. It catches on EVERYTHING!!! I lined the cups in stretch mesh from Bra Maker's Supply and lined the band in cradle in powernet from BMS. I read the instructions like a 1000 times before I made it and I didn't catch that I was supposed to line in cradle in something with no stretch. The elastics I used were also from BMS and they are nice, so soft and strong.

I cut a size 34E but found that the cups are too small. Maybe this is due to the combination of lace and lining, maybe I suck at measuring myself. I'm going bigger next time. I thought the pattern was great, pretty clear, I love that I'm given stitch length and width recommendations. Being new to lingerie sewing, I don't know the lingo yet so I had trouble with figuring out which elastic went where and I that's where the cradle lining debacle came from as well. A big-ass arrow saying "This part of the bra needs this treatment and is called (enter lingerie specific term here)" would have helped, but I think I have it all now. Other than choosing the wrong cup size, the bra fits well, the band is angled to my body just right and the straps hit my shoulders just right so they don't slip and slide. But man, getting the hooks and eyes on are a BITCH!

The undies are pure undie perfection. Completely true to size, even though when I put the pattern together they look like enormous paper diapers. Great coverage and feels secure.

I'm not sure how I feel about making more of these yet, once I figure out the right size I'll have a better idea if this type of bra can be worn on a regular basis with a larger chest. Its so pretty, I hope so!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Winter of Wearable Shirt: #4.5

Whoops, this one snuck its way in. The Fabric Store had their end-of-season sale and I went back to buy as much of that specific merino in as many colors (except pink) as I could find. I found red and navy, but they were already out of the olive which shot all to hell my planned all olive green merino wool wardrobe. The red is gorgeous though, it has black threads knitted through it which gives so much dimension to the red, which unfortunately doesn't come out in pictures, but trust me, its fabric-mindblowing. I'm such a Fabric Store fangurl.

According to how the last Coppelia fits, I made some changes. I extended the hem by 1.5", shortered the sleeves by 2", reduced the underarm lengths by 3/4", and finally reduced the width of the back bodice by 1/2" blending to nothing at the neck. I also didn't include the hole in the side seam the wrap tie gets threaded through.

Using predominantly the serger to make this top, I can finish this sucker in one day. Boom.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Winter of Wearable Shirts: #4

Oh the Coppelia cardigan, we've been flirting for quite some time, but we've only recently gotten together. In some ways, you're everything I thought you would be, in some ways, you've disappointed me greatly.

I made the Coppelia exactly as written in Medium. I had wanted to add an inch or two to the hem, but I barely eeked the garment out of my fabric. The fabric is a GLORIOUS 4-way stretch, ribbed merino wool with some lycra. I don't use knit fabrics without lycra anymore. The wrong side has a slightly looped texture and OMG its amazing. Yes, its from The Fabric Store in LA, my new nirvana.

The good:
There is absolutely no gapping! And for a wrap, that's impressive. More than a little has to do with Coppelia being a knit garment, but still. I did not add clear elastic because I have plenty of lycra in here, but if I change my mind, I'll update you. Its also a quick sew as long as you don't screw up the front neckline. I didn't stretch it enough at first and there wasn't enough fabric for a flat hem. I serged the entire shirt except for twin-needle stitching the tie where I used stretch thread in my bobbin. There's no stitch popping here!

Look ma! No gapping!
The bad:
The sleeves are way way long, and I like long sleeves. The length is way more cropped than I thought it from the pattern picture. I realized this sweater looks good with this skirt which is a fairly high-waisted design and I still have to hike up the skirt quite a bit if I don't want to show off tummy. And finally like so many before me, there's a ton of extra fabric in the front sleeve, freakin' raglan. I also find myself rearranging the ties around my back all the time, but I think I'm just not used to this garment structure.

 The verdict: Winner winner, chicken dinner! Definitely something that has to be worn over a dress or a high skirt, but its completely flattering and the fabric blows all other fabrics out of the water.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Winter of Wearable Shirts: #3

How are you doing? I'm great, I just made super yummy chicken pot pie filling and I'm nibbling from it. Don't worry, if I ever cook for you its clean spoon every time I test those seasonings, but the fiance will be the only other person eating the pies so I don't care. I'm also working on writing my book, yup I'm writing a book (not about sewing) and I'm totally stuck on the 'I can't write' idea so I'll write this post instead. I know I can write this post.

I've loved the Neptune Tee by See Kate Sew since it was released, but I'm not the person who jumps on every new release. I let them stew around in my head and wait for fabric sales, sometimes for a long ass time. I waited for Hart's to have their Christmas sale and then bought this ponte to bring my total above their free shipping threshold. The pattern says that very stable knits are preferred and Hart's description seemed to satisfy that. I don't usually buy poly, but I trust Hart's implicitly even if I've never been there and only really bought from them once.

Sewing this shirt was a frickin' blast. I got all the right supplies, a stretch twin needle with the widest setting and stretch thread for the bobbin when using the twin needle. All the seams sewed so smoothly, stretch so nicely, and none feel like they are going to pop.

I'm not entirely happy with how the bindings around the neck and sleeves lay across the cutouts. I stretched the bindings to fit the edges, except at the cutouts I made sure to lay the binding completely flat. Now the bindings stick out a bit because the stretch in the neckline doesn't match how the fabric is stretch when worn. Doing it again, I would stretch out the binding ever so slightly. Not as much stretch as the rest of the neckline, just a tad.

See how that neckline is popping out a bit, that's what I'm talking about. Next time I'm making this, I'm lowering the front neckline and removing that cutout, but keeping the rest.

I love the inspiration behind this pattern. I was watching the Veronica Mars movie and and also thought, 'Damn Mac, hot dress.'

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fabric Store Review: The Fabric Store LA

I've been dying to visit The Fabric Store for a while, but keep missing the sales because my work miraculously sends me out of the country every time there's a sale there. Its like they're in cahoots to make me save money (or buy fabric online). Finally a sale email went out when I was in the grand ol' USA baby! Then I went back for the next sale and got more. I want all the fabrics.

First, I'm living in the Pasadena area so the drive is a'right, I only got lost once on the way there and like four times on the way back. There is parking on the street, but they have two parking spots in the back where you have make your way down a mildly gnarly alley, but its free so that's cool with me. When I was there, there was actually a photoshoot in the alley which made things less skeevy at first. As I walked by, the photographer actually told the model, 'Bounce more and walk towards me.' All skeevyness returned.

The store is lit well and is big enough to be airy but not cavernous. There's fabric all along the border of the room and on about four very large two-tiered tables in the middle. The fabrics are two or three rolls deep so there's a bit of digging if you want to see everything. In some areas the fabric is organized by type: merino wool, leather, etc, and some areas its organized by color. The front of the store has a little table to peruse magazines and a few patterns. Probably also a very effective partner-who-went-fabric-shopping-with-you relaxation zone.

The fabric: omg, so beautiful. This is a well curated collection, I only saw one fabric the made me go 'what the hell?' Now I wouldn't call myself a fiber snob, but I am aware of what I work with, how the fibers will wear and feel, and I do prefer natural fibers. This place is the mecca of natural fibers, silks, cottons, linen, and wool, wool, wool. Only a few fabrics seem to list their place of origin, mainly the New Zealand stuff and only a few I saw were organically grown, again a few of the merinos.

The women who work there are great, not intrusive, but very available for help. They were really nice to an adorable dog who'd gotten loose and was corralled into the store by some pedestrians outside. The little guy ran all over the store while the local shelter was called, but his owners were running around the street looking for him and I'm happy to say, Buster found his way home. People who are kind to dogs are good in my book. They also helped me figure out yardage for a skirt that I have an idea for and not a pattern. They discouraged me from buying more than I needed and once I wrapped the fabric around me I realized they were completely right.

I ended up leaving with a haul of merino wool knit, cotton eyelet, silk-cotton blend, a striped black and cream silk, and a Papercut pattern. The second time I got a ton of merinos and wool coating. As long as I live in the LA area, I'm going here every chance I get. I hope they get their online store up before I move away.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter of Wearable Shirts: #2

The Boston shirt! The pattern is the Geometry Top by Katy & Laney, two cool Boston ladies. The solid black silk is from Gorgeous Fabrics, close enough to count as Boston and bought while I lived there. And the ship fabric, oh the ship fabric, that's from Fabric Place Basement, also close enough to be called Boston. I love the tall ship print because my favorite touristy thing I ever did in Boston was tour the U.S.S. Constitution. Its amazing something so old can still float and sail, let alone be in the condition its in. Seriously, check it out, unless your British, that might be treason against the Crown. I kid, I kid we're all friends now.

I was pleasantly surprised that the Geometry Top was not paraded around blogland. This is a great pattern, good lines, trendy, but not fleeting in style. I'd been looking for something to use with my ship fabric that didn't break up the awesomeness of print and this pattern made my little sewing heart pitter-patter. The pattern is great everything fits beautifully together with good instructions. The only thing is that some of the cutting lines are a bit thick, I'd prefer a bit more precise lines over super bold ones.

I agonized over the placement of the 'stripes' and it ended up being about as perfect as perfect can be. I underlined the main fabric as its a bit sheer and then hemmed them separate from each other because I worried hemming them together would cause the shirt to bubble. I french seamed everything. For some reason that makes absolutely no sense, I like french seaming the armscye more than just sewing it in normally. I'm super weird.

I left the side and shoulder panels as a single layer cause I don't care if you can see my shoulders or my side. I sewed through paper (medical exam paper) for a lot of the shirt to keep things from puckering and it worked pretty well.

The dipped hem in the back is the perfect dip amount. Maximum flatteration.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter of Wearable Shirts: #1

Welcome to the first garment of the winter of wearable shirts! I need tops that are easy to wear, don't look sloppy, and are easy to clean. I've got six planned in total and am excited to throw out the holey, stretched, and pilled shirts that they will be replacing.

I've always loved eyelets, but they can end up way too cutesy for my liking. In need of inspiration I turned to google with the search term 'edgy eyelet' and found this beauty. Then The Fabric Store sent out an email showing all their stunning eyelets and I had to have some. I found this geometric, blue cotton beauty. I wanted white, but I wanted something with straight lines to make adding the insets smoother so navy it is. The insets and lining is light silk-cotton, also from The Fabric Store. Then I saw Pattern Review's Bargainista Fashionista contest and moved this project up to the front of the queue.

I used Simplicity 1366, but I belled out the sleeves and added more room at the center to make room for my ample bosom. The finished measurements on the pattern felt a bit...suffocating. I eyeballed where to add the insets, but I find when one's chest is larger, higher insets give the impression of perkier boobs. I actually had a lot of fun putting this together, it was all a big experiment. I wasn't going to add an inset to the back, but after cutting I found a huge imperfection in the eyelet and was worried that the shirt wouldn't last past a couple of wearings which would have rocketed me into a fit of depression.

I was going to make the insides so beautiful with bound seams but I ended up running out of the lining fabric because I had to double-layer it for modesty so only the shoulder seams and sleeve seams are bound, the armcycles and side-seams are pressed open and serged in navy. The neckline is bias bound as part of the pattern.

I adore this shirt. I love the dropped shoulders and the boat neck and the loose fit. Its one of the few woven shirts that actually fit without making me feel like the Hulk about to rip every seam. How awesome would this look with a pair of high-waisted white Gingers?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Patterns: Vogue Spring 2015

I'm traveling for work and have long, lonely nights to myself. Judgements!

This batch of patterns is kinda dishwater dull, but there are two that I really like.

Vogue 1440
This yoke gives me life! I'm making this with a white front/yoke and a black back to really emphasize that point. I could leave the rest of the pieces though.

Vogue 1437
Love this whole outfit...almost. That top is fantastic, I adore loosely draped tops and with a wrap too, sign me up! This skirt is fantastic, color block, slit, weird-ass ties. Wait, weird-ass ties? Fiance thinks they look like the orthodox jewish string-things and I think they look like they could blind a child standing close if you turn around too fast. I know fringe is a trend this season, but you need more than two 'fringes' to really count as fringe.

So if I buy anything from Vogue, I'll buy these two.

Onto the, 'let's just say these aren't for me.'

Vogue 1435
She's so pretending she's Nicole Kidman right now.

Vogue 1432
Whoa, gotta respect that seaming detail, musta been a bitch of a pattern to draft. Have fun adjusting this for different bust sizes.

Vogue 1434
For all the fanfare Vogue was making about Mizrahi's first pattern in a long time, this is bad. So so so juvenile. Photoshop out the model and put in a child and this is a lovely Easter dress. But for an adult women who is legally allowed to consume alcohol, this is sad. Also after Mizrahi's 'is the moon a planet or a star' moronic drivel, I can't even.

Vogue 9096
For the distinguished karate madame.

Vogue 1431
This looks like a fitted drum major uniform, I should know, I was a drum major. Band nerd forever!

Vogue 9077
I actually really like this one, but only with the contrasting bands, without them its just a shirt-dress. The extension of the constrast into the collar makes this really special. I have a feeling this is a ripoff though, it looks familiar.

Vogue 9091
Incontrovertible proof that Vogue follows Lily Sage & Co. (I love her fearless style)

Vogue 1442
She got her dress caught in her underwear and they forgot to photoshop it out! Heads are going to roll in the Vogue Pattern offices.

Vogue 1438
Back that thing up, gurl.

Vogue 1433
Ok so I have this weird thing where a movie comes out and I could swear up and down that it came out a year or two ago. I can remember the red carpet and the commercials for it, but people just call me crazy. This dress has already come out right? Fabric and all? I'm from the future, shhhh

Vogue 1436
So boring I'm falling asleep.


Friday, January 9, 2015


Originally conceived as a light summer sweater to wear while watching the sun set in the cool evening breezes of the Hawaiian islands, this monstrosity holds none of that poetic promise.

Gargantuan is loosely based off Pickles Good-Morning Sweater, I say that because they only offer one size for free and being the cheap fuck I am, refused to buy my size. Now I'm pretty good at sewing, I can riff pretty well, hell I can even pull off some baking improv, but I do NOT have the experience under my belt for knitting improvisation. So I went for it, like the idiot I am. No fear! The first incarnation of gargantuan ended up being about 4 times my circumference, yes gargantuan was preceded by colossus. Colossus was frogged for that reason and there was no yarn left for sleeves. Just the world's biggest sleeveless sweater.

I used Blue Sky Alpaca worsted cotton which feels amazing, like velvet. I purchased from Jimmy Beans which has the best customer service ever. Brick and mortar yarn stores always seem to be manned by the snarliest women so I generally buy all my yarn online. Plus if Jimmy Beans does not have a picture of a certain color, they put up a picture of one of their dogs. That makes them good people in my book.

My main problem with gargantuan is the neckline. Nope not the giant sleeves, I like those although they ended up a tad or two bigger than intended, nor the giant body, its the neckline that really gets my goat. Its too high and too tight. Being a lady who likes sweaters that don't choke me, I'm going to do something about my predicament. I wanted to get pictures up before I ruin this thing because I'm performing never before attempted (at least by me) sweater surgery. I have grosgrain ribbon which I'll sew to the sweater at the neckline I want, cut away what I don't want, then turn and sew. I'm essentially bias binding the sweater.

I'll probably ruin gargantuan and I've already thought of several reasons why this won't work, but its better than never wearing my beautiful behemoth.

Oh yeah, I went to Hawaii almost a year ago, so that didn't work out.