Saturday, July 31, 2010

Murphy's Laws For Sewing

These were given to me by my Fashion Design teacher at Fairfax Academy for Communications and the Arts. Lots of fun, and very true:

  • Invariably, the seam you wanted to take out is not the one that actually gets ripped out.
  • The pattern you want to copy or alter will invariably be missing a key piece.
  • The fabric you forget to pre-shrink will always shrink the most in the wash.
  • Fusible interfacings will always fuse to the iron.
  • The overlock machine only eats the last seam on the final garment.
  • If you need six buttons in a pinch, there will never be more than five in your sewing box.
  • Permanent stains will always occur in the most visible and obvious places.
  • Fabric dye will always leaves streaks on the intended fabric, and stains on everything else.
  • When pricked with a pin or needle, the amount of blood that ensues will be in direct proportion to the cost of the fabric.
  • If you have to drop something out of your sewing box, it will inevitably be the box of pins without its top.
  • The bobbin thread will only run out when things are running smoothly.
  • Your lost needles and pins will only be found when walking barefoot.
  • Since opposites attract, facings will usually be sewn to the wrong side, and darts will be sewn inside out.
  • The collar points will always match until you've trimmed away all seam allowances.
  • The iron never scorches a garment until its final press.
  • The steam iron only burps rust onto light-colored fabrics.
  • The light on your sewing machine will only burn out late at night.
  • The threads in a gathering stitch will only break in the middle.
  • The scissors cut easiest past their intended stopping point.
Hope you seamstresses and seamters out there enjoyed this. Nostalgically Yours

Friday, July 30, 2010

Project Runway - Season 8 Premiere Review

This review contains spoilers. If you wish to watch the premiere online before reading, you may do so here. Please do not read this review if you do not wish to know who was eliminated.

Well, as many of you know, the latest season of Project Runway premiered yesterday. Now, to tell the truth, I'd recently fallen out of love with this show. Last season, especially, seemed to be a culmination of drama and petty fighting, and choosing personality over talent... However, from the first scenes of this episode, there was a palpable change in tone from all of the previous seasons: the show seems lighter now, almost auto-satirical. Heidi, Tim, and the judges seem to take themselves a little less seriously this season.
I have a good idea who I'm going to like and dislike throughout this season. Casanova and Ivy are definitely my favorites at this point. I can tell I'm not going to like Jason - mostly because he thinks Bowler Hats are intimidating and has no concept of Hat Etiquette, but also because he just comes off as a jerk. I might be wrong, but I think he's definitely going to be this season's main villain. I get the feeling that Peach isn't going to be a total peach throughout the show - did anyone else get some serious Laura-from-Season-3 vibes? Also, I predict that Michael Costello is going to be the one who gets on everyone's last nerve. More on my predictions next time.
One of the other major changes fans of the show will notice is the way the contestants are introduced. In all the past seasons, the designers were shown arriving at Atlas or Gotham apartments - wherever they happened to be staying that season - they have them meeting each other outside, in the streets of New York, on their ways in to the Big Apple. I suppose this is because of the challenge I'm about to explain, but I hope they keep it that way for a bit. I really enjoyed seeing how the designers interacted outside the comfort of the dorms; the edge of competition, the awkward silences, etc.
They also showed parts of the audition interviews, which is something I don't remember from previous seasons. I liked that simply because it reminded me of American Idol and I couldn't help but picture a line of thousands of designers, each carrying a bundle of their clothes.
I suppose the main reason for them meeting outside their rooms this season was that they hadn't finished the audition process. The more observant fans (myself excluded) probably noticed there were seventeen contestants instead of the usual sixteen. This was because (according to Heidi and Tim) none of the present designers had yet made it to the actual show. They would all have to prove their worth in a 5-hour challenge before they would officially be on the show, and they were warned that maybe more than one of them would be going home.
I really did not like this about the first episode. I felt it came completely out of left field and if you're going to invite the seventeenth person to fly out to New York, at least tell them they made it onto the show.
Anyway, the designers were asked to take one piece of clothing out of their suitcases to use in this challenge. Then, the designers were asked to pass this piece of clothing to the person to their right! I really enjoy seeing the designers' faces when twists like these are thrown at them. I felt really bad for Casanova, though, who (for some ungodly reason) chose the $1,000 Dolce & Gabbana pants he had just bought and had never worn...
Most of the work time isn't really worth talking about here. Suffice it to say that I don't think Tim Gunn has ever been seen without a hand somewhere on his face.
Then came the runway show! If you'd like a refresher, you can see the runway fashions here. Here are my favorite looks: Andy's, Gretchen's, and one of the Michaels.
At the end of the show, as usual, six designers were left on the runway while the rest were sent backstage to the green room. However, the first thing they did was pick the winner - Gretchen. I was a bit thrown off by this, but even moreso by the fact that the remaining five designers were the bottom five. They really didn't treat the contestants well in this first episode.
Some guest judges tend to be a little tentative in railing on the contestants, not this week's! She went off on pretty much everyone, which I think adds insult to injury to the fact that they were tricked into thinking they were on the show.
Finally, after a commercial break, the bottom five were narrowed down to three: McKell (the sympathetic contestant), Casanova (the ESOL rating magnet), and Ivy (the talented one who misunderstood the challenge). At this point it was obvious to me what was going to happen - McKell would be out and they would continue with sixteen contestants, and I was right!
McKell, of course, was crushed, especially because she had left her nine-month-old child to come to New York. Yet, besides the whole sympathy thing, I really cannot for the life of me remember what she made... Especially since the Lifetime website makes my dinosaur of a computer crash. Clearly, whatever it was wasn't memorable enough. Goodbye, McKell! We hope your baby is happy and healthy!

Don't worry, I'll keep watching and giving you the skinny on what's going on up at Parson's!

Nostalgically Yours

PS: Did anyone watch that new show "On the Road with Austin & Santino"? Well, at least it's a more creative follow-up than "Models of the Runway"...

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Food for Thought - Implied "Consent"

In a post today, friend of the blog "The Annoyed Feminist" mentioned an article on Jezebel. The article talks about a recent St. Louis court case that found the victim of a sexual assault in a Girls Gone Wild video didn't need to give consent (or somehow had actually given it) for her breasts to be distributed in videos nationwide.

"Patrick O'Brien, the jury foreman, explained later to reporters that they figured if she was willing to dance in front of the photographer, she was probably cool with having her breasts on film. They said she gave implicit consent by being at the bar, and by participating in the filming - though she never signed a consent form, and she can be heard on camera saying "no, no" when asked to show her breasts."

I wouldn't be surprised if we end up hearing about this again. I certainly hope the victim (known only as "Jane Doe") will appeal the St. Louis court's decision.

This is exactly the sort of thing that has influenced my decision to pursue a law degree after I get my bachelor's. I want to work pro-bono and help people like "Jane" get the justice they deserve. If women can have their tops ripped off and their breasts filmed against their will, the sick logic of the jury implies that if any of those girls had been raped, their "consent" would have been "implied" by being involved in the filming.

There is certainly a fine line between an "entertainment" company and a company of sexual predators. This is not to say that the people at Girls Gone Wild all seek out women to assault. There are plenty of women (drunk and sober) who are more than willing to expose themselves for the camera. However, that just brings about the question of why the camera person at this shoot felt the need to remove this woman's top, when they were at a party full of dancing girls... It doesn't make sense.

Think about it.
Nostalgically Yours

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Sewing Tips Series #2 - How to Let Out a Blouse

One of the most common complaints amongst my friends when it comes to finding clothes that fit in stores is a lack of accommodation for women who are anything over an A cup. Well, if you're one of these women, and if you've got a sewing machine and a basic understanding of sewing, then I've got a solution that's relatively easy and minimally invasive.

In my posts on the Medieval Gown (Part I, Part II, Part III), I mention a popular feature of clothing in this period: the gusset.

For those of you that didn't read the Medieval Gown articles, a gusset is a piece of fabric cut on the bias that is usually shaped as a triangle or a variation thereof. This piece of fabric is then inserted into a seam wherever extra breadth is necessary. In modern times, gussets are most commonly used in the crotch of a pair of pants.

The gusset should not be confused with the godet. Though they are cousins, two major differences separate them:
  1. Gussets serve a fitting purpose, whereas godets only add flare and are more decorative.
  2. Gussets are cut as a variation of a triangle, whereas godets are always a circular sector.

On with the show. My aunt had a similar complaint to ones I mentioned at the beginning of the article. A blouse she loved was too tight in the arm and the bust and when she saw how I solved the problem for the Medieval Gown, she wondered if I might do the same for her blouse. The first thing I needed to do was to find extra fabric to use for the gussets. Here are some ideas:

Use a duplicate. For instance, if the blouses were on clearance for dirt cheap. Then you can convert one of the tops into something else.

Buy some fabric. It can either match the rest of the garment or act as an accent for it.

Use part of the existing garment. This is what I did with my aunt's blouse.

The first thing I did was to take out the side seam and the underarm seam, while keeping the sleeve attached to the bodice. Luckily, most manufacturers attach the sleeve before closing the side-seam, so this shouldn't be too much of a problem. You might have to take out the hem of the sleeve, as I did, and you may have to mess with the hem on the bottom of the garment. Remember, if you're doing this to a dress, especially at the waist, you don't necessarily need to take out the entire side-seam.

Next, I cut out the section of the sleeve I was going to use for the gusset. I used my grid ruler to cut out the shape, and to ensure both gussets were the same size:

Just make sure you true everything before you finish, to avoid having to rip seams:

That's it, really. Once you've cut out the gusset, it's simply a matter of placing it correctly and sewing it in. I give more specific instructions for insertion in my Medieval Gown Post.

Also, just a quick tip: when using kite gussets it's important, though not imperative, to make sure every corner touches or meets a seam. This avoids bunching and gaping that can occur if you put a corner into a smooth seam. If you have to put a gusset where it does not intersect a seam, then use a softer oblong shape instead:

Hope this helps!

Nostalgically Yours
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eat Less

It seems a new Urban Outfitters [UO] t-shirt has the entire fashion community in a tither. In an article on her blog, Sophia Bush (star of the CW's One Tree Hill) has vowed to boycott UO and has demanded an apology and a recall of the controversial t-shirt. You see a picture of the actual thing on her blog. Above you can see my take on it.

I do agree with Ms. Bush. The idea it conveys, though hopefully ironic, can have impact with the impressionable teens UO caters to.

Do I think that UO has the right under the first amendment to distribute these t-shirts? Yes. Do I think that the people at UO meant it ironically? Yes. Do I think it's a good idea to market "ironic" t-shirts like these to impressionable teens who already have enough body image issues? No.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a firm believer in the fact that it is possible to find humor in any (and I literally mean any) situation. This is probably why I appreciate comedians such as Kathy Griffin or Joan Rivers. However, when dealing with humor, you have to tailor it to be effective towards your audience. Instead of using the words "eat less", which could be interpreted as promoting unsafe weight-loss practices, UO should have used a t-shirt with a more clearly satiric message.

UO messed up, and they will undoubtedly pay for it, but they are, after all, a company, and companies have to answer directly to their customers. UO has the right to put out these t-shirts, but if they don't want to lose the business of "One Tree Hill" fans, then they'll have to stop selling them. Effectively, it's democracy at work... Certainly more directly effective than with our government.

Nostalgically Yours

Summer Project #1 - Medieval Dress - Part III

Well, it's been a while since I wrote about this, so if you need a refresher or you haven't read the first two parts, please see Part I and Part II.

So the cutting was going to be a challenge. I had a very limited amount of fabric and a set number of pattern pieces that I absolutely needed to cut. Since I wanted to waste as little fabric as possible, I decided to create a marker. If you don't know what that is, and/or you wanted a detailed explanation of how I went about making my own makers, you can read that post here. Here's what I ended up with:

Creating my own marker helped me see that I had enough room for five godets!

So I cut out all the pieces and started sewing them together. I first attached the godets to the dress panels, aligning the bottoms (which would later turn out to be a mistake). After the godet was inserted into the open seam, I pinned up from the point of the godet up the rest of the seam, like so:

1) Lay out the godet within the seam, not forgetting to true your pieces so the ends all match up nicely.
2) Pin and sew the godet to one side of your seam, right sides together
3) Now do the same with the opposite side.
4) Finally, close the rest of the seam - if you're ambitious you can combine steps 3 and 4.

Of course, I managed to forget to true the seams, so I ended up with this:

Neither of my seams matched up...

So after I re-finishing all the seams and godets, I cut the sleeves and inserted them. I decided the gown needed something more, though, so I went out to my local fabric store to pick an elegant lining for the sleeves. I was very lucky to find the perfect fabric on sale for $5/yard. It had an elegant border which I decided to use to my advantage.

By placing the sleeve pattern right against the decorative border, once I set the sleeve in, I would be able to wrap the border around to the exterior side. I also used some of the border along the open top seam of the sleeves and around the collar. Here is the end result:

The wrapping of the sleeve border is clearer in this picture.

This detail of the sleeve shows what the border looks like on the outside of the sleeve.

Once that was done I had my cousin come over for a fitting. Unfortunately the chemise was too tight around the bust, and she couldn't easily lift her arms - which was a problem considering she needed to dance in this costume. So, back to the drawing board... After careful consideration I decided not to re-cut the bodice. Instead, I chose to rely on a good old Medieval friend again: the gusset.
As I will explain in my main article tomorrow, gussets can be used in a variety of ways to expand seams where extra movement or give is necessary. These are not to be confused with the godets mentioned above (more here).

Side view of chemise with arm raised, before expansion...
...and after the expansion.

Before I added the gusset, the area pulled and tugged around her bust and bicep. After adding the gusset, it fit quite well. I think it's clear from my illustration exactly why it is called a kite gusset.

Once I finished fitting the chemise the second time, I had only to finish the neck. I decided to use bias for that. I made two eyelets near the center of the front bias, then wrapped this around the front of the chemise, where I had already attached the two pieces of cording.

I think the whole thing turned out pretty well, and I heard the dress received nothing but compliments at her Medieval Fair. She was the only one there with a home-made costume.

Stay tuned for the final installment in this exciting series: Pictures!

Nostalgically Yours
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

N'Awlins - San Fermin Pictures!

Here, finally, are my pictures from the running of the bulls from last week. If you didn't read the article, here it is.

90% of people in the French Quarter that morning were dressed for the Running, getting many a perplexed look from locals out of the loop.

Here they come!
The running begins - and I've forgotten to change the settings on my camera...!
Of course, not everyone remembered that the Running of the Bulls happens in Spain, not Mexico.
Here come the bulls... and a mysterious mustached lady...
Mimes are totally relevant... right?
Fairies too? Porque no?
Grandma's got game!
Never stop to retie your scarf when being chased by bulls.
Would this be an amazing publicity pic for them or what?
Run Away!
Whatever you do, don't let this one catch you!
Cultural Bastardization seemed to be a recurring theme...
Even dresses wore mustaches! (Second from the left)
Of course, the San Fermín festival would unknowingly coincide with Spain's FIFA World Cup Victory a few days later.

Some Country-Appropriate Costumes
BAM! Apparently Mario decided to join the parade after his sex change surgery...
A very brave mother!

Another  great action shot. Check out the REAL mustache on the left!!

Cute girl in a not-so-authentic Sevillana dress.

Lovely Authentic-Looking Sevillana Hairdo

Elvises on Parade

It may not be culturally sensitive, but it sure is cute!

Some people forgot to wear red... He forgot to wear white.

Some Recycling from the Pirate Festival
What's Jack Black doing here?
Vikings are totally relevant
More recycling from Cinco de Mayo

Hope you enjoyed them!
Nostalgically Yours

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