Saturday, January 18, 2020

Hexie Obsessed

Now that my hexi quilt top is finished, I thought I would share more of my process and adventures in English Paper Piecing.

Using my first Instagram post on the subject as a guide, I began this journey in April of 2018.

As I shared on the blog, part of the reason I began the project was to find a use for the smaller scraps leftover from my rag rug project.

And this turned about to be an excellent way to go about it.

The process appeals to me on many levels, one of the most obvious being my love of hand sewing.

I also like a long term project that I keep coming back to between the fast ones.

One added bonus with hexies is that the smaller chunks are totally portable.  And while I didn't spend a whole lot of time working on this out of the house, it was a welcome distraction on the occasions that I did.

And the more the quilt top grew, the more intent I was on finishing it!

Of course, that meant a whole lot of hand sewing, and more than a few pricked fingers.

When will I learn to properly use a thimble?  I am beginning to doubt that I ever will.

A project like this also allowed me to switch back and forth between cutting paper hexagons out, stitching single flower pieces together, and finally, stitching big chunks of the quilt together.

And I will say that working on smaller sections feels a lot different than wrangling a mostly finished quilt on your lap while rotating multiple parts so that the stitching faces in the right direction and the paper pieces don't pop out before those edges are stitched together!

It also turns out that I needed to supplement my fabric scraps along the way.  And it should also be noted that fat quarters from JoAnns are not to be trusted when it comes to grainline, just like the way their fabric bolts are cut.  Frustrating, but true.

I also did a deep dive through my stashed cottons and came up with a few more print options along the way.

All the while, the quilt kept growing.

In fact, after a year or so, it had taken over most of my coffee table when it wasn't laid out on the floor to figure out the placement of the next chunk of hexagons.

But eventually, all things must come to an end.

The final pieces were stitched together on January 2, 2020.

Which means I now have two quilt tops to actually quilt!

And now I need to figure out how to do that.

The batting has been purchased, now I just need to find a quilt backing that I like and jump right in!  I also have a few more paper pieces to pull out, although I believe I will keep them in for the moment since the quilt top feels a lot more stable with some of them in, especially around the edges.  I am thrilled with the finished top, but I am also having a little bit of hexi withdrawal, and may have even started another project, although on a much smaller scale!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

2019, A Year in Review

I am a little late this year with my Year in Review, but I really wanted to post finished pictures of my Haslam gown and call the project complete within a single calendar year.  And if I don't take photos of my finished garments and blog about them, do they really exist?!

Vogue 8685 / McCalls 8766
Simplicity 8509 / Eva Dress

I know that sounds ridiculous, but posting finished projects gives me finality, and after quite a few years of doing this blogging thing, that is the way my mind works.

Haslam Gown / Simplicity 1459
Butterick 4985 & Simplicity 8019 / Vogue 8772 & Simplicity 8458

So quite a few of these pieces actually belong in another Year in Review, but for my purposes, blogged in a calendar year means finished in a calendar year.

Vogue 9345 / Self-Drafted
Wearing History & Simplicity 8019 / Butterick 6484

And, yes, there are other projects that were technically completed in 2019 but have yet to make it to the blog.  Those will hopefully be posted in the near future!  Until then, happy sewing, and knitting, and crocheting, and quilting, and crafting, etc.  And here is to a wonderfully creative year!

Cap Sleeved Jumper & Simplicity 8458 / Vogue 2354
Jelly Roll Rug / Simplicity 1426 & Simplicity 8458

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A Brocade Gown

Although I didn't manage to post the finished photos of my Haslam System of Dresscutting project in 2019, I am going to pretend that I did, and add it to my finished projects for the year!

This was, by far, my most involved sewing project of 2019.  From studying the drafting system itself, to drafting a made to measure pattern, sewing up a muslin, and finally, making the dress, it was a lot of work!

I will always have fond memories of the fabric since it reminds me of my trip to New York, and visiting Elliott Berman Textiles with Peter.

And I do love the Ellen Tracey brocade, but I have also come to the conclusion that any fabric made with a fair amount of polyester (this is a wool/poly blend) is never going to be my favorite textile, to work with, or to wear.

In this instance, the partially polyester blend doesn't have the weight that it would if it was made with rayon or silk, nor does it drape as beautifully.

But despite the fabric content, I really do like the way this turned out.

The system itself was a nice challenge, and while I do think there are a few issues to contend with, for the most part, it works quite well.

In other words, I could definitely see myself making another design using The Haslam System in the future.  And it's always a good idea to try something new every once in a while!

I think any drafting system is always going to require some tweaking and at least one muslin, so for the moment, I have other patterns and projects that are taking my time and attention.  But someday, I am going to have to go through and look for another dress to tackle and draft from scratch.

And I have not completely decided against making another version of this design, probably knee length, and with a couple of design alterations - this time in a rayon to see how that turns out.  I also have a need for more of this style sleeve in my life, so I definitely want to use that pattern piece again.

I mean, after all that work, I might as well get a second dress out of it, right!?

Dress:  Made by me, self-drafted with The Haslam System of Dresscutting
Shoes:  Remix "Miranda"
Purse:  Vintage
Hair Braid:  Made by me
Earrings:  Vintage
Bracelet:  necklace from Banana Republic

Monday, January 6, 2020

The 2020 Golden Globes Red Carpet

And so the 2020 red carpet season has begun.  First up, the Golden Globes.  And here begins another review of the outfits that walked the red carpet, and a look at what multiple agents, stylists, managers, makeup and hairstyle artists can accomplish (or not) when money is no object and access to the best of the best is available at a moment's notice.  Therefore we do not treat these woman as mere mortals, but expect perfection.  So here we go . . .  

ZoĆ« Kravitz chose polka dotted Saint Laurent, and I am thrilled with her choice.  If I had  to quibble, I would say the size difference of the competing polka dots might be a little bit extreme, and perhaps a more substantial strap on those black heels would have been my preference, but this is pretty wonderful, right down to the deep red lip and those polka dotty earrings.  The pixie haircut tops the whole thing off wonderfully.  An off the shoulder neckline and polka dots . . . I am beside myself!

When I first spotted Phoebe Waller-Bridge in this textured tux, I expected that it was Chanel, however, this is a Ralph & Russo original.  I love the overall look, including the length of those pants and the pointy toed pumps!  I could do without the organza hanky on her shoulder, and I don't think that the lace edging throughout it necessary (just a touch at the wrists and perhaps the ankles would have looked more polished because those lapels are just way too overdone), but I love the tweed fabric in place of the traditional satin.  And I am not sure what the hair is doing, but overall, not too shabby.

We know by now that Ellen DeGeneres knows how to rock a mens wear look, and this Celine is no different.  The patent leather shoes might be overkill with the suit fabric, but I suppose that was her bling since she isn't one to wear jewelry.  She definitely knows what works for her. 

Here we have Jennifer Aniston in Dior Haute Couture, and you can probably guess what I have to say about this.  Why can't she do something with her hair?!?  You are wearing couture and you look like you have been on the beach fighting a windstorm.  Aarrgggg.  Also, what happened to the lipstick?  Girl's got a tan, but she still looks washed out with no lip color.  On a positive note, Dior manages to hem the dress properly and there is no pooling or horsehair to be seen.

But then it gets ugly.  What on earth is this thing on Kerry Washington?  The more I look at this, the worse it gets.  The only real way to save this is to block out anything below the clavicle.  Hair: gorgeous.  Makeup: flawless (she even managed to find a tube of lipstick!).  Maybe the jacket could be saved, but why are her hands covered?  The epidemic of ridiculously long hemlines is spreading to the sleeves?  Say it isn't so!  Add trashy bedazzled bondage gear and a cheap looking and ill fitting satin skirt with a completely unnecessary slit to the mix and this is just painful to look at.  I suppose the shoes were supposed to tie in with the harness disaster on the torso, but they really don't compliment the texture properly.  It might be improved by removing the rhinestone rope, but really, not by much.  I never really know what to think of Kerry Washington's fashion choices, but this may be the worst yet.

Tony Shalhoub is one of my favorite actors, and I think he is adorable.  That said, I really hate dark blue pieces paired with black.  Unless it is a print, it doesn't belong together.  I love the double breasted velvet and the white tie, but I am seriously disappointed with the ill fitting black pants.  Still a very cute guy, though.

And here is more double breasted blue.  The fit of this Armani on Glenn Close is perfection.  I only question the frosted lip with the velvet.  But I will forgive a lot when they get the fit just right; this bodice of this dress looks like it was sculpted directly on her.

Now, this cutout style has mystified me for years.  Taylor Swift is wearing Etro Couture, and I am sure that textile is amazing (not my favorite color combo, but still love the oversized floral).  The triangle adds width to the waist, exactly where you don't want it, and it looks like the knot between the bust is sitting away from her body.  I also question using pleats when they ruin the random nature of the print.  Overall, this is very striking, but it has its issues for me; it looks more Macy's prom than couture.  At least they did something with her hair, and I do like the choice of earrings.

Something about this Miu Miu dress on Bel Powley caught my eye.  I believe the overall effect misses the mark somehow, but I do love those dramatic sleeves with the plunging decollate and tapered ruffle.  It leaning dangerously towards a Victorian style nightgown from the late 80s, but there is still something about it that I like.  Maybe in another color it would work better?  Actually, I think the proportion would be improved by moving the waistline slightly higher, so there is a bit less ruffle, or narrow the ruffle, or maybe remove the ruffle completely?  The red eyeshadow makes her look sickly, though, so not sure what that is about.  I just can't make up my mind about this one.

I am calling this one "when bad things happen to beautiful fabric."  I don't know who 
Jodie Comer is, and I don't know what mean spirited person put her in Mary Katrantzou (don't know who that is, either), but it was a very cruel joke. I adore the color, I even like her ice blonde chignon and makeup. But what on earth is happening with the fit of this dress?That bust line is terrible: too tight above the chest, darts in the wrong place, and completely unflattering.  Don't look at the stitching on the hemline, and try to ignore the random feathered clutch that appears to have nothing to do with the rest of the ensemble. I think the pink satin shoe could have worked with the green shade of the dress, but put this all together, and nothing about the ensemble works. I do like the statement sleeve, though.

Okay, Isla Fisher, I adore your color choice!  I wish the hair was a little less messy, but you can't win them all.  The hemline of this Monique Lhuillier is definitely too long for her, but that color is distracting me from the problems.  Okay, the bodice is nothing special, and the sleeves are slightly off somehow, but that color!!  Did I mention I love that color?  And it's hard to go wrong with an off the shoulder neckline.

Why did no one tell Joanne Tucker that her Burberry was caught on the back of her shoe?  But never mind.  I love the 1940s style of this number.  I do love a long sleeved formal, and the high neck is a refreshing change.  The satin is a little wrinkled, and I think the sleeves could be shortened by about an inch, but overall, I like it.  And I wonder if the back is cutout?  Because that would definitely add to the drama!

But my favorite pink gown of the evening was definitely Priyanka Chopra in Cristina Ottaviano.  I would actually have preferred a deeper pink color for the dress, but the bodice draping and the train are fulfilling all of my late 1990s romantic gown fantasies.  Love the hair, love the classic diamonds, love the dark lip, love the whole thing.  I question the Jonas brother on her arm, but no one is perfect.

The Monique Lhuillier dress that Busy Philipps chose has a lot of possibility, but the greasy hair, and the strange choice of jewelry takes me out of the classic bombshell silhouette and into cheap knockoff.  Definitely a shame since that silhouette look great on her.

But then we have Helen Mirren in Dior Haute Couture to class up the joint.  That neckline is gorgeous.  I am not completely sold on the necklace choice, and it's too bad that the under layers of chiffon that create such an amazing depth of color to the gown are visible and give a little of the magic away, but overall, this is stunning.  And I would expect nothing less from Dame Mirren!

Nicole Kidman is wearing Atelier Versace.  The fit is impeccable, and while I am mostly sick of slits in the skirt, this one doesn't bother me all that much, especially since I can see that I love her choice of ankle strapped stiletto.  I am pleased that her hair color is getting darker instead of lighter, but this brassy shade is not my favorite.  I am also distracted since her purse seems to match her hair exactly, which seems a strange pairing.  I do love that bracelet, or could it even be a formal wrist watch?

I think Lauren Graham's color choice was excellent, although the design of the Azzi & Osta gown is a little confusing.  Is that supposed to be a sleeve, or a drape of some kind?  And it almost looks as though the belt is holding the ruffles in place.  This design has potential, but it needs a little more finesse.  The hair and makeup are spot on, though.  Red is definitely her color.

Scarlett Johansson's Vera Wang gown doesn't fare quite as well. I really hate the mesh holding the bodice together below the bust. I am getting very sick of that trend, especially on a structured gown that certainly doesn't need it. The mass of fabric she is dragging behind her looks sloppy. And again, no lipstick.  But I suppose I should be happy her hair is out of her face.  

And what is going on here?  The top it too big on Michelle Williams, the skirt hangs totally wrong at the hemline.  And is that a random blue orchid on her shoulder, Louis Vuitton?  I hope the flower is making some kind of statement, otherwise, what the heck is it doing there?  The color is all wrong with her washed out hair and pale skin.  The bodice makes her look matronly, and her bottom half looks emaciated.  I am reminded of that multi-option bodice from a Butterick vintage reproduction that boasts multiple looks, but none of them actually work on a human body. 

Now, if this was any other color, I would need this dress in my closet immediately.  As it stands, I can look at this garment objectively on Zoey Deutch because it's not a color I enjoy.  The fit of this Fendi is almost perfection, and I am willing to say that the uneven stance has more to do with that folded hem than anything else (and look - no horsehair!, just what I would guess to be appropriate underlining material, since I see no stitches in that hemline).  The strong shoulder paired with those bishop sleeves and the dramatic neckline is phenomenal.  I think there may be a little flesh toned mesh holding the lower portion together, which I am not thrilled with, but I am going to let that pass because the rest of this is so very good.  The slicked back hair even works with the gown.  I might have picked a less heavy necklace and went with a more delicate chain to hold a pendant, but overall, this is pretty close to perfect.  Can I have one in emerald green or royal blue, please?!   Those sleeves!! Have you ever!  I think Anne of Green Gables wanted her puffs at the shoulder, but I much prefer these, and would certainly be thrilled with an upside-down puff!

Cate Blanchett's pale shade of yellow is actually one that I would consider wearing . . . the Mary Katrantzou dress, not so much.  I actually like the proportion of the multi level columned skirt with the volume at the top that looks very classically Grecian, but the jewel encrusted harness with that middle rectangular piece pointing to her chin is just odd.  I also hate that mesh stuff.  Did I already mention that?  Build the dress so it can support itself - don't just stick a bunch of stuff on some "invisible" fabric that everyone can see.  The only time that stuff should be used is on a stage where no one can tell exactly how your outfit is held together.  The daffodil color really makes her complexion look amazing, though.  And I appreciate that Cate takes risks and can pull off the avant guard stuff that no one else can.  But what is that middle piece about?  I am so very confused by that bodice.

Kudos to Joey King for choosing something surprising like this Iris van Herpen   I think the dress and hair/makeup work quite well for her; she is wearing the dress, and not the other way round.  However, those shoes were a terrible choice.  McQueen's Armadillo shoes from the Atlantis collection might be too much, but those Jimmy Choo shoes are certainly not the right choice.  Makeup and hair are great, though.  

And here is proof that a tall and thin frame cannot wear anything and look good, no matter what the fashion magazines would have you believe.  Gwyneth Paltrow needs to stay away from sheer red carpet looks.  Remember that bare breasted Goth-esque monstrosity from a few years back?  That was a mistake, and so is this.  The color looks terrible on her, the sleeves are deflated and sad, and someone suggested she wear the diamonds under the tulle?!?  Her abs look great, but the Fendi outfit, not so much.  Maybe more volume in the skirt and a different colored fabric could have saved this, but I highly doubt it.  I think this is the ugliest dress I have seen in a very long time.

On a more positive note, Gillian Anderson looks gorgeous in Safiyaa.  That asymmetrical cape with the twist at the neckline is stunning.  But wait, are those jeweled bra straps peaking out of the dress.  Okay, so it's not perfect, but it's pretty darn close.  The fit is superb, and while she could probably go darker, at least there is some pigment on her lips.  Definitely a stunning look.

I think I understand where this Valentino dress was headed, but it veered off course and went very, very wrong.  The bows are oversized for no reason, they look wilted and sad, and the proportions are totally wrong.  Jennifer Lopez usually does 1960s inspired stuff really well, but this totally misses the mark for me.  I also wish the braids in her hairstyle matched her hair color a little better so they didn't look quite so fake.  Overall, a total mess.  Did she not have any other options available?  It's hard to imagine she looked at herself in this dress and thought it was a good choice.

And finally, Mr. Billy Porter.  I have to say, I am disappointed with this.  I feel like he thinks he has to go even more over the top for each red carpet, and in the process, he has gotten a little sloppy.  The details get lost in all that white, and the feathers look heavy.  One of the reasons his previous over-the-top looks were so wonderful was because such attention to proportion and fit was taken.  This looks thrown together, and too costumey.  But I expect he will come back strong for the next red carpet.

And now it's time for bed.  I am very pleased that the reign of the poorly executed horsehair hemline appears to be over, and while there were some definite misses, there were also some beautifully put together looks.  Also, I have decided that I need all the bishop sleeves in my life!  Which was your favorite look of the evening?