hip

Fabrics from India

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I had two days in India before my surgery to power shop for fabric. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting around too well at that point. We hired a car and driver to cut down on the walking, but it was a bit difficult to communicate with the driver. He took us to places he knew about and I found what I could, though I had hoped to find much more.

I’m an A#1 procrastinator. I freely admit this and I’m always vowing to change. I have gotten a little better as my kids have gotten older and I have more time to myself. E. is unbelievably the polar opposite–he thinks of something that needs doing and he does it. Boom, done, off of his mind.

Usually he leaves me to my demons and doesn’t comment too much about how long it takes me to do things. Packing for travel is another thing. He gets his suitcase out a week ahead of departure and throws things in it as he thinks of them. I’m always thinking about what to take, but fail to make a list or start packing early like he does. He doesn’t like this, I always assure him it’ll be okay.

When we went to Ireland on a cycling vacation, I was at Banana Republic the morning of the flight grabbing clothes to take. This was before we were married and I left my bedroom in a cyclone mess of clothes, shoving things in my suitcase to get to his house by the time the cab to the airport arrived. The outcome: I forgot to pack my cycling shorts. Anyone who rides a road bike knows, you gotta have padded shorts. So, on our first day in Ireland, we were searching for a place to buy cycling shorts instead of cycling. E. took this pretty well. (But, like I said, this was before we were married!)

Our next big vacation was to France for our honeymoon. This time I sewed most of the clothes I took and was pretty smart and packed them as I finished them. This didn’t stop me from running out the morning of the flight to buy an adapter and exchange some dollars for euros. The outcome: the cab was waiting and I couldn’t find the euros (the bedroom was kind of a mess), E. found them at the bottom of a pile of discarded scarves. The cabbie was perturbed because he had to wait while this played out, E. was a little edgy on the way to the airport, but by the time we were flying over the Atlantic Ocean, he was over it.

For India I was perfect! I started putting things in the suitcase a week before departure. I made arrangements for the kitties and the mail, I tied up all my loose ends at work and shut down my computer. I was ready for the cab early! Here’s the glitch, I had surfed the web for fabric stores in Chennai and made a list of names and addresses, which I forgot to print out and bring with me.

So, we were at the driver’s mercy; he was a very nice and patient man.

First he took us to a very fancy store where the merchant laid out his wares, one at a time. We have a large Indian community in Chicago and Devon street is an authentic Indian experience, without the cows mingling around. There are multiple shops that offer sari fabrics and some yard goods, mostly silks. This merchant in Chennai had more or less the same things. Less expensive, to be sure, but still pretty pricey and mostly silks. For example, he had some beautiful printed silk Crepe de Chines for about $16/meter. (Of which I purchased three pieces, pictured above.)

I was hoping to find cottons. The silks are beautiful, but my lifestyle calls for more casual clothes and I’m always disappointed with the cottons I find at the fabric stores here. I know there are cottons in Chennai, it was formerly known a Madras and we know what fabric carries that moniker. I was hoping to find cottons with Ikat prints and large florals and maybe some embellished cottons.

So, the first shop was lovely, and I did purchase the three pieces of silk print and a beautiful scarf for my daughter. But I had a feeling because it was such an elegant store that it might be overpriced, so (I’m still kicking myself for this one), I passed up beautiful pashmina shawls in every color of the rainbow that turned out to be a very fair price. (I never did pick-up any pashmina shawls.)

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We asked the driver to take us to a bazaar of street sellers, hoping for more cottons and better prices. I did find some beautiful cotton fabrics that are used to make the Salwar Kameez (pictured above). Some are very sheer, like a batiste, and have 4 yards or so of usable fabric with lots of border print. Some are lovely fine cotton, like a soft pima cotton, with a border print piece of about 2 yards and another plainer piece for pants that’s about 2 yards and a border print scarf. The sheer cottons will have plenty of yardage for dresses, the heavier cottons, probably only enough for a skirt (about 44″ wide). At $12-$20 for each bundle, they were a steal. At one shop I finally found some madras plaid by the meter and purchased 4 meters at a very reasonable price:

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For the madras, I have in mind a “farmer’s shirt” for E. (I copied a favorite summer shirt for him a few years ago in a yellow seersucker check and I’ve always teased him and said that all he needs is a pair of white pants and white patented leather shoes and he’d fit right into the farming community where he was raised.) And a pair of Bermuda shorts for me.

The Salwar Kameez fabrics will work themselves into my sewing endeavors. I’m seeing sheer tunics and sundresses and hippy-chic skirts.

As I was unpacking, Willy decided he’s the Maharajah! picture-012.jpg

The kicker is, as we were driving to the Fisherman’s Cove resort after my surgery, we passed a very modern looking two story store called The Cotton House. I drooled as I saw hundreds of rolls of fabric in the windows. I was on crutches and just a few days post surgery and so we couldn’t stop. Maybe on my next visit to India, let’s hope it’s not for another new hip!

Ta-ta for now!

Project MyWay #5–Nanette Lepore Knock-off Blouse

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Yes, I did finish the outfit I told you about in my very first post titled Welcome to The Feed Dog. I wore it with the TSE black silk skirt that I re-designed in Project MyWay #1 and my beautiful cashmere knit coat from Project MyWay #3 and my cute booties that I got on sale at Macy’s (marked way down in February). We went to the city for dinner and then to a jazz club and I looked very ou current!

This beatiful silk satin burnout fabric was in my stash, next time I’ll try it in a solid color so the details won’t get lost in the print.

I started with Simplicity 4277 and made some simple changes:

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Here is a picture of the Nanette Lepore blouse I wanted to copy:

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And here is another Nanette Lepore blouse that shows the details better:

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I wanted the cross over bodice with pleating and the sash under the bust, but the sleeves are too “girly” for me, so I wanted a simple cap sleeve.

Simplicity 4277 was a good place to start, it has the basic design of the Nanette blouse and the changes were easy to make.

For the pleats on the bodice, I slashed and spread the front pattern piece to add more ease to the front and I extended the front past center to create the cross over:

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I figured out the pleating by folding the new front pattern piece and matching it up to the top of the waistband until it fit. After cutting out the fabric, I pleated each front piece, then lined them and basted the 2 fronts together at the center front. 

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For the sash, I used a pattern piece from a dress I made a couple of years ago:

neue-mode-23326.jpg  I used the hip sash from View C and cut it to fit when I was constructing the waistband. I made the sash for the front only–from side seam to side seam. I didn’t want to deal with it in the back as it would have ended at the center back and made the zipper application very difficult.

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Speaking of zippers, I used a looooong invisible zipper and as I had mentioned, I tried the application I learned in the tutorial on Sew? I knit!–

http://sewiknit.blogspot.com/2006/03/invisible-zipper-tutorial.html

It still had a bubble at the bottom, but it was better than the zipper on my black silk skirt. I’ll keep trying…

The cap sleeve offered in this pattern is gathered at the cap. I didn’t want the gathering, so I used the set-in sleeve of view A and re-drew it into a cap sleeve. 

I then tried something new I saw on a Banana Republic dress, I put a piece of elastic at the center of the hem of the sleeve, about 2″ on either side of the center, for a total of 4″, to pull it in a little.

I love cap sleeves because they are great for summer dresses and blouses, but give a little more coverage than sleeveless tops. But cap sleeves look awful when they point straight out like wings. I find the best looking cap sleeves have plenty of ease in the cap (without being gathered) and this Banana Republic method of inserting elastic at the sleeve hem makes the sleeve nice and fitted. I always self line cap sleeves, it looks so much nicer than narrow hemming the sleeve.

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Ta-ta for now!

Welcome to The Feed Dog!

I’m excited to come to a time in my life when I can make sewing a top priority. I’m an almost empty-nester (youngest of three kids is a senior in high school) and my honey is supportive emotionally and financially. My working life is very tolerable and I have a loving ear to which I can bounce ideas off of and crazy plans for becoming a famous blogger.

I want to use my stash, try new patterns and techniques, update my sewing room, organize my tomes of magazine and web pictures, find new fabric and notion resources and establish relationships with other sewing bloggers.

Where to begin? I need and outfit for an evening out on April 12th and I want to look good! It’s always easier for me to design an outfit when I have an occasion in mind and this is a good one. I look for opportunities to dress-up a little and we’ll be going into the city for dinner and a concert.  

I bought a great black silk skirt by TSE at Off Fifth (Saks Fifth Avenue outlet), marked down from $675 to $54. I can see why no one picked it up, it’s very long and lean, only a six foot 100 lb. string bean could wear it. This is one of my favorite advantages of sewing–I’m going to cut it off at the waist (to keep the pleats at the bottom) and shorten it to knee length. This will make the waist bigger (it is currently the hip area). I think it will work.

Then, I’m going use a fabric from my stash to copy a top by Nanette Lepore that I saw at Nieman Marcus.com. As soon as I figure out how to post pictures I’ll show you everything I’m planning on.

Then the piece de resistance–accessories. I bought a great pair of booties ($75) at the end of the season sale at Macy’s and I can’t wait to wear them. (Especially because I’m afraid they’ll look dated next winter.) And the fun stuff, because this outfit will cost less than $150 to pull together, I can splurge on some new earrings or other jewelry to top it off. (I love being able to sew!)

 Ta-ta for now!

Nanette Lepore at Neiman Marcus