Monday, March 31, 2014

Goodbye LA, Hello SF

Hello there friends! Hoping everyone is well and happily sewing up a storm out there in the land of sewasroursrex . I have had a lot of sewing related fun since my last post including  Christine Haynes book release party at SewLA, and an awesome meet up, headed by the lovely Amity of Lolita Patterns, in the downtown LA garment district. I was introduced to some very talented and wonderful sewist, Laurie of Sewexhausted,  Kathy of The Nerdy Seamstress, Laura of A Make It Yourself Mom's Diary , Jeanette and Latrice of SewTell. Here is some photographic evidence of our meet up.

Look at all of those bags in our hands! Rayon for 2$ a yard? Why yes please, thank you very much!
I went way overboard and had no self control what so ever. The only one who was the voice of
reason was Latrice. It was such a pleasure to meet everyone, and I am looking forward to keeping up with them via the internets and instagram. It made me realize that I should  meet up
with fellow sewist more often! 

Ye old fabric mountain. We didn't dive in but just hiked up the side a bit.

So on to my big and exciting news, after a few months of thinking, working and preparation,
Will and I are taking the plunge and relocating to San Francisco!
We are so excited to explore a new city and discover new adventures! 

As a going away gift to my friend Julie, I am finally giving her a project that I actually
started many, many years ago. A free hand sewing machine embroidered apron. 
Just so you know Julie LOVES frogs. If I had more time on my hands I would fill in all
of the empty space with stitching,  but I think that it looks OK with some areas
having a bit of lighter stitching.

And lastly I have been trying to make jeans. I am using the Built By Wendy Sew U book pants
pattern and narrowing the leg down the calf a bit. Unfortunately with our sudden
move, my plans to sew up the real deal have to be postponed. What I did learn
though by making 2  muslins is: 1- sew very slowly when topstitching a curve,
and 2- zip fly fronts are not that hard if you follow Sallieoh's wonderful tutorial.
Well guys- got to go, packing is calling my name.
Hope to see you in SF! xo

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Dyeing to the rescue.

Hello there! This weekend, besides being in great need of a bit of r&r, I was wanting 
to sew up something fairly quickly, something that I have been thinking 
about for awhile now, the Suzy pants by Tessuti. They are right on trend, 
I have seen these type of loose, pleated,  flowy pants
 on friends and colleagues, and in shops, but stopped myself from purchasing 
because I new that I had the Suzy pattern printed out
at home just waiting to be made. So I searched for some rayon on,
and found what I thought was the right print for some funky pants.

When I saw the scale and color of the print in RL I was very disappointed, to say the least.
I am so picky about prints, and I don't like anything that looks too junior market, or cheap.
I thought, yes funky-- or maybe just fugly. Lesson learned! Order swatches first. ALWAYS.

 I almost returned the fabric for my money back when I realized shipping would
cost about as much as the fabric did. So I opted to save the fabric by toning 
down the whole thing and over-dyeing it.
By coincidence I had another disappointing fiasco sitting in my closet waiting
to be dealt with, my favorite heather grey Madewell sweatshirt that I had gotten
a bleach stain on. I had plans to cover the stain with a block print or some trim, but  
the sinister mark was on the side middle, kind of weird  placement for anything like that.
So dye that puppy black too! I said (to myself, or whomever- ie the dog... would listen) ..

I wanted the sweatshirt to be really black so I used the whole bottle of liquid 
Rit black dye on it and figured that  I would use the left over dye
 bath to over-dye the rayon print. Did you know that basic colors like blue and
black Rit Dye are available at Ralphs? I recommend the liquid over the powder, 
because with the powder Rit Dye the particles of dye get in the air and that stuff is toxic! 
After following the dye directions from and putting the 
sweatshirt in a pot on the stove, I was pretty pleased when I saw how quickly 
it became a beautiful black, and bonus- the thread top stitching overlock
stayed white - must be polyester thread, and I think it's an nice contrast detail.
 - oh yeah, I meant to do that!

I was really happy with the over-dyed rayon fabric as well! I really liked the wrong side of the
print and thought it had a cool- almost tie dyed effect.

So I hastily made up the pants using the wrong side of the fabric as the face. 
I figured this could be a wearable muslin, not wanting to waste any
time, I made a straight up size S as my measurements dictated.
Not that I planned it this way, but the sweatshirt and pants actually
make a pretty cute outfit. The length of the sweatshirt covers up
the high waisted part that I don't like about the pants.


  I may take apart the pants and lower the waistline. 
I would also like to make a flat front waistband and leave the elastic part for the back. 
(like Kelli at True Bias did) I would also take out the pockets, who needs that 
added bulk on your hips? (I really should have read some pattern reviews and 
mods before jumping in), Like Kelli's - Um Duh!! but that's just me! 
I might try something a bit more fitted next time, like the 

What do you think? In the end they could be a bit slimmer, but
I actually really love the print!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Put a bird on it!

Why hello dear readers and friends, and family! (mom, i know your the first to read this!)
I have some sneaky fun things in the works, which includes a dyeing project.. but in the 
meantime, I would like to share with you some snaps of my old handbag line
which I made and sold over 10 years ago, A.Denny.

Here is my squirrel purse. Because everyone needs a purse with a squirrel on it.

I always had fun picking lining and pocket fabrics.
Labels are just stamped hem tape, easy peasy.

And yes, why don't I just live in Portland you ask? Because I did make
a purse with a bird on it, I did.

Lovely giraffe purse. Aren't giraffes just the sweetest and gentlest
of animals?

All appliques were hand painted by moi then ironed on with fusible and
sewn on.

I even painted some mopeds- as in the cool, 70's honda type.
(I got a lot of inspiration from old National Geographics.)
I still can not get myself to get rid of them..

If only etsy had been around 10 years ago! Instead used to set up shop at flea
markets and craft shows, (next to the likes of some really great crafters like Random Nicole!)
I did manage to get these lovelies in a few local
Silverlake shops, which I hope some of you out there may remember..
Sirens and Sailors? Uncle Jers? Anyone? Bueller...?
And I sewed some of these little paintings to trucker
hats and actually sold a few to Kitson! Well thanks for going on
this soppy walk with me down memory lane...
xo, big hugs!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fashion Finishing School- learn how to draw

Friends, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a very special website and blog,
that involves two of the most dear people I know. Artist, author, teacher and
fashion illustrator Nancy Rieglemen (who was my drawing teacher at FIDM-
I am so freakin lucky-) has founded an amazing website which is a huge resource for
fashion designers and home sewers who want to learn how to draw fashion.
Please visit Fashion Finishing School if you are at all interested in
fashion drawing or at the very least, love a darn good blog.

 Wouldn't you love to be able to draw and shade like this? 
Nancy can teach you!

These gorgeous illustrations by Nancy Riegleman are from the 
Fashion Wedding set of cards that are available on the site. 

This is the best how to book that I know of on learning fashion illustration. 
Available here.

Wait - did Oona or Marilyn say that?
A blurb from the blog. Such cool posts.. I love learning about things like the history
of buttons and seeing historical fashion objects.

Watch Fashion Finishing School's instructional You Tube videos
Nancy Riegleman is such a fantastic teacher. 
All illustrations by Nancy Riegleman.

 And finally introducing Stefani Greenwood, who helped
 Nancy to create the Fashion Finishing School
website. An amazing artist, photographer, designer and 
craft person in her own right. Her creativity constantly amazes me!
Check out her wonderful photography, and the moving photography of
Gilda Davidian, (another dear, incredibly creative and talented cool individual)

Above photo by Stefani Greenwood and the below 
photo by Gilda Davidian was featured in Oh Comely Magazine.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Floral Crown Tutorial With Smile Heart Love

Recently I have been busy with life type things, 
so sewing has been a bit on the back burner. 
But not to worry, I have a pile of spanking new patterns calling out my name.
Until then let me share with you a floral crown tutorial that my amazingly talented
 pal Naomi over at Smile Heart Love dreamed up...

First thing to do is get yourself some gorg flowers. Being that most all flowers are beautiful..
go crazy! Be creative! Don't forget to get some lovely leafy fillers too.

You will need scissors, wire, wire cutters and floral tape.
Cut a piece of medium weight wire (with wire cutters) to fit around
 your head and then twist  the ends together. Next, choose a  
flower, cut the stem about 2 inches long and wrap your 
floral tape around the stem and your wire halo.

Keep on adding different flowers and leaves and attaching the stems to the wire
wreath with the floral tape. 


You can choose to wrap flowers all the way around the crown, or leave some areas
less heavy. I kind of prefer this more asymmetrical look. (Naomi was keen enough
to make hers that way, I lumbered as many flowers as would fit on to mine!)

The lovely Naomi..

Her floral crown was particularly elegant, I love the movement
that the leaves create. 

Thank you Naomi for a wonderful afternoon of girly fun.  Can't wait to see
your tutorial (with much more professional photography), over at your blog!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Light as a feather Anna

OK, so I'm a bit late to the party.. the Anna from By Hand London party that is! 
I have enjoyed everyone's versions so very much, all so elegant and sophisticated, just
as inspired and beautiful as the pattern itself, in its impeccable packaging..

I was so excited to try this pattern right away when I received it in the mail, and I was equally
excited about my feather print rayon from Mood. Only catch was I had only bought 3 yards,
and the maxi version of the Anna dress calls for 4.4 yards..
so I was resolved to make the tea length, variation 3.
I opted out of the neck facing and instead used a self bias binding.


Here is the inside view, I am so proud, all french seams. I just wanted the dress to
be light and airy and effortless. 

It could stand to be shorted it a bit more, it almost looks matronly at knee length,
god forbid I go for something sexy!

I did 2 top muslins to get the ease at the waist right.. I just didn't want it to be too tight
and  uncomfortable.

And here with my Gerard. I definitely think it could be shorter by an inch or two.
All in all I am pretty pleased with pattern, I think it is very reminiscent of the 40's..
who knows, maybe I will wear this swing dancing? Now I am raring to go and join the 
maxi Anna club!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Behind the scenes look at made in USA, introducing Alma

Following in Maddie's footsteps in her Portrait of a Seamstress series, I would like to introduce to you one of my sewing gurus, someone who is forever behind the scenes, a lady that I work with on a daily basis and is responsible for overseeing the cutting and sewing of all things "Shabby Chic", this is Alma!

Basically the way I would describe Alma as a seamstress is just that she can sew anything.
I am always blown away by the constructions and detail that she can figure out,
without a pattern she can just make it. Everything she sews is neatly and beautifully
finished and care and thought put into every stitch. You can tell that she loves
what she does, and is one of the hardest working people that I have ever met. 
I have so much to learn so much from her, if only I could sew with here skill and talent!

Alma was originally born in Mexico City. She first learned to sew on her mothers
old machine when she was very young, and basically learned from watching her.
When she first started to sew professionally, she had never used an industrial machine
before.  "It was scary, but I told myself I have to do it, so that's the way that I started
doing it for a living." Upon asking her what her favorite thing to sew was, she joyfully
replied, "I enjoy making everything, but most of all I like to keep learning new things,
whatever helps me to learn I love." Besides Shabby Chic she has worked
for Tocca and Catfish. When I asked her how
she jumped from being a sewer to managing a sewing room and cutting she said, 
"I was faster than the other sewers, so they asked me to do QC 
and help out the cutter so that's how I learn to cut."

Her goal for the future is  to learn clothing pattern making to create more of her
own designs for herself. Alma is most proud of the slip covered chairs that she
made for her church. She beamed, "They were just beautiful." I asked her how she
learned how to make such complicated things without instruction or training and
 she said, "I think a lot about how things are made, sometimes taking them
apart to learn." Her nickname is "betty homemaker" because she can cook,
knit and sew. A woman after my own heart.

Can you believe that she cuts many layers of fabric with this deadly looking machine?
 Most cutters in the industry are men but this mighty lady can do it all.

The once feared industrial machine..

I thought I would introduce the rest of the Shabby team.. 
This is Beatrice at the button hole machine.

Don't you wish you had one of these babies at home? 

This is Alicia. All of these ladies are so talented!

Sweet Myra..

Norma does all of the meticulous folding and QC. 

Some perfect pink ruffles.. 

Christmas party 2013.  You can see all of the things that these women make here.