Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School in Boston!

              Back to School in Boston!

     Boston in August - hot and humid?  Not last week!  It was abnormally nice for August - the temps were in the mid 80's, and the humidity was not too bad.  As you can see here, on Friday night, I even had my jacket on. This is me and my daughter Annie (Junior at BU) in the North End last Friday night.
     Emma and I took a red eye to Boston last Monday.  We got in Tuesday morning and Kathy Dacey (dear heart that she is) picked us up at the crack of dawn and took us back to her house for a nap before we started our day.
     We drove up to Worcester Tuesday afternoon and moved most of Emma's things into her dorm.   *DingDingDing* - we hit the jackpot and got to move in her things early on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, since we live more than 500 miles away.  Her roommate was already there - she is a cute, tall little thing from Denmark - so the room was already a little homey!
     We stopped at Target for the necessities and then headed back to Kathy's to spend Tuesday night.  Wednesday was official check in day and the beginning of Freshman Orientation.  They had several sessions for parents to go to, such as:

Security on Campus
Your Child Letting Go

     I did not go to any of these.  For one thing, this is the fourth (and last) child that I will be taking to college, so we have been there, done that.  If I really had concerns about the Campus safety, I would surely not wait until I had already dropped my child off to address them!  And my child has been stomping at the bit to go away and be on her own - I think this is more for the parents, to try to get them to stop hovering (have you heard of helicopter parents?) and letting the kids go on about the business of growing up and becoming adults.  Besides, I spent the afternoon at Clark Tech support, trying to get Emma's old (7 years, which is ancient in the computer world)  laptop to go online (after many different tweaks, they could not).  Her 'real' laptop battery died the day before we left for Boston, so my hubby ordered another one, installed the dual boot software, and it is already shipped and on its way. To bad, so sad, she will have to be without internet access on her computer for a week.  Of course, she still has her phone and many computers in the library that she can use. 
     We then went to a little reception for the kids and parents before their dinner and then we were gone!  She had 4 days of intensive Freshman O - she was exhausted, btu loved it and is settling in for her first week of class.  I would include some pictures, but she would not let me take any of her/the school/her dorm room, etc., so we are pictureless.

    Annie had been home to CA for 3 weeks and she left to go back to Boston the day after Emma and I.  I met her and her friends on Friday night and we went to the North End to Regina's Pizza (EXCELLENT pizza), and it was also St. Anthony's Feast. 

                                         Regins'a Pizza

     One of the Feast streets!  Lots of delicious food!

     We watched a chef make homemade gnocchi with ricotto and squash - MMMMM!

     Lots of little parades while we were walking around!

                                Statue of St. Anthony

     It was a wonderful evening - Annie has wonderful friends!  It is so nice to watch your children become wonderful adults and see them make good choices and be happy with their lives!

Check out my Button and Back Lap tutorial tomorrow!

Happy Stitching!


Bloomin' Buttons Smocking Plate

   Bloomin' Buttons Smocking Plate***

     Kudos to Capi for catching this!  There is a misprint in the plate for my Bloomin' Buttons dress in Issue 144 of Sew Beautiful.  Unfortunately, the smocking graph/directions do not match the dress.

     I have posted the the design/directions (Contrasting Colors) under the Newsletter tab of my website, so you can print off the correct version there.

    You can go to this link:

This will take you to the Newsletter page.  The first item should be the Bloomin' Buttons smocking plate.  Don't forget - the dress pattern listed in the article SHOULD be:
Classic Sleeveless Yoke Dress from Classic Couture for Children.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bloomin' Buttons

                       Bloomin' Buttons
                                in the new Sew Beautiful!
***Please note pattern information in the magazine is incorrect!***
The article lists the Princess pattern from Classic Couture for Children - it SHOULD be  Classic Sleeveless Yoke from Classic Couture for Children!  The pattern just got back from the printers yesterday, and kits are also available!

     I have not seen the magazine yet (seems like sometimes California is farther than China!), but wanted to post these pictures and the correct pattern info!

     She looks adorable and I can't wait to see the article.  It is hard to see from here, but there are embroidered buttons in the middle of the smocking design.
     I used the button maker to make the buttons after I had completed the embroidery on the fabric.  I sell a ton of these - they are a wonderful way to personalize your garments!

     I also used my button maker to make the butotns on the back of the dress.  I used the black gingham (that I used for the piping) to cover the buttons - no embroidery on these. 
     I have to say, I have always been hesitant about making my own buttons, but once I tried it, I am hooked,and it is not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be!
     Our house is in transition right now - one came home yesterday for 2 months, one is leaving tomorrow for the first time to go to college in Worcester, MA ( I am going with her for a few days), and another is leaving Tuesday to return to Boston U for her Jr. year.  Needless to say, my house is a mess and will probably be that way until I get back and can get a shovel and pick through all of the remains!  Hopefully, I will take a picture or two and post on my travels (I know there is a lovely fabric shop called The Silk Road Fine Fabrics, which is in Auburndale, MA - may have to hit that one again!).

     Let me know when you get your Sew Beautiful magazine - I know a few people who were having problems getting there last issue, so just a heads up that it should be in your mail box soon!

Happy Stitching,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Couture Clothes.....For Children

Couture Clothes.........for Children

    Oscar de la Renta

     I just read an article the the Style section that talked about the new target market for designer clothes..........children!  Infants, toddlers, and Boys/Girls wear are the focus, a new untapped market!  The thought behind this is that the children are an extension of their parents and the children's clothes reflect the parents.


     Oscar de la Renta, Gucci, Dolce & Gabana, and others are joining Ralph Lauren and Burberry in the race for designer duds dollars.

Dolce & Gabana

     While I am not a fan of consumerism and shake my head at spending $10,000 on a summer wardrobe for a child, there was something positive that I did take away from the article.

Ralph Lauren

     One if the things that the article talked about was 'age appropriate' clothing for children.  Previously, as some designers branched into children's wear, the designs seemed to be nothing more than miniature versions of women's styles.  Ultra-sophisticated is the word used - hmmmmm.  How does that translate into children's clothes?  Sleazy or pageant, neither of which I would want my little ones to wear!

     Oscar del la Renta hired Catherine Monteiro Barros as the designer for his Childrens wear collection.  If any of you are familiar with the Papo d'Anjo catalogue, you know her designs - classic and timeless!


Ralph Lauren

     "We're creating clothes that are comfortable, accessible and age appropriate.  It's really about the innocence of the children." said Barros.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren
Petit Ami

     That does give me some hope!  Many of the clothes that you see in the stores today are designer knock-offs.  If the designers' clothing lines are full of classic, age-appropriate designs, then maybe we will start seeing more of that in the stores.
     Our cute little smocked or embroidered dresses, while still very special, might not seem so rare.  I can dream, can't I?!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Me-Ality is for You!

Try It Today!

     No, it is not an airport scanner!  I read about the Me-Ality scanner in an article in the LA Times and thought this looked pretty interesting.  At the end of the article, it listed the Malls in SoCal that had the scanners, and the mall in the next town has one, so I thought I'd sheck it out!  First, though, what is Me-Ality?

     Me-Ality is a body scanner that scans you to help you find clothes that will fit your body!  You step inside and stand with your feet apart and your arms partiall extended from your sides.  The scanner takes 2 - 360degree scans of your body (takes less than 2 minutes).  The scanners take a multitude of measuremements from your body and then matches those measurements with the measurements from clothes that have been loaded into their database.

     Once that has been done, you get a computerized list of clothes that will fit your body, starting with those that will fit the best.  The list gives you the name of the garment, the colors and price, and the store that has it.  Sounds too good to be true!  I went with my daughter, Annie, to test it out and see how it works, and this is what I found. 
     First, it does not cost you (the consumer) to be scanned.  From what I understand, the goal is that the clothing manufacturers.stores cover the scanning cost, as it is a marketing tool for them.  If you get a list with items that fit and the stores where you can purchase them, you will go shop there first!
     Second, currently, not all clothes are in their database.  Right now the categories are Jeans, Slacks, and Women's Tops.  They are working on Skirts and Dresses (yeah!).
     Third, the clothes that are in the database are garments that the clothing manufacturers have input.  I found a wide variety, from Levi's, Talbots, Ann Taylor (my personal favorite), JCPenney, Banana Republic, Aeropostale, American Eagle, etc.  That being said, everything that they make has not been input.
     Fourth, If you are hard to fit, the scanner is not going to change that.  It will just make it easier tofind clothing that has been made for your particular measurements, IF IT EXISTS AND IS IN THE DATABASE!
     I had them do Jeans and Women's Tops.  If you have never seen me in person, I am on the small side, and while that may make it seem like that would make it easy for me to find clothes, I am not consistant in my shape.  I took a class once to draft a blouse pattern, and when I had the block drawn the teacher came around and told me it looked like it was a blouse for an alien (thankyou very much!).  Pants are not usually a problem, other than being too long (that is what hems are for), and the computer printed out a dozen options for Jeans, all of which fell into the fits well category. 
     The Women's Tops were a different story!  Altohg small, I am very broad across the shoulders.  I have a hard time finding blouses that fit correctly and when I am buying suits, I have to buy seperates to get a correct fit.  If I am looking for a dress, I can maybe squeeze by with a sleeveless summer dress (don't have to worry so much about the fit through the shoulders/sleeves, as there are no sleeves), but a winter dress is next to impossible.  I usually end up wearing skirts and tops.  On the computerized list, there were only 3 tops listed.  All 3 were blouson styles and a size Large was recommended.  While this was disappointing, it was not unexpected, and it actually made me think the scanner was right on the money!
     Bottom line is...........try it!  The more the consumer tries and uses this technology, the more the manufacturers are going to be willing to enter in their garment information.  Pattern drafting software has already started going 3-D, so the information is there - the manufacturers just need to see the demand fro the consumer (us) to have the information in these databases!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hoffman California Fabrics Tour

           Hoffman California Fabrics Tour!

     Leaving at 6:45 am the other morning, our little group hit the freeway and went to Orange County to visit the Hoffman California Fabric headquarters.  As you can see here, fabric was everywhere!

     Hoffman is known for their batiks and their 'gold' fabric.  Our wonderful tour leader went through the process of producing batiks in Bali, from making the original design,

     placing the wax resist on the farbric, adding the dye, rinsing it out, and even piecing it together before placing on the tubes.

     This is one of the batik dyes that was used.  They dip this into wax and place it on the fabric so when the fabric is put in the dye (color), the wax works as a resist to keep the color from forming in that pattern.  Each color in a batik represents a seperate dying process.

     Hoffman also makes many fabrics that have gold accent lines.  We were told that these fabrics are printed in Japan, as the quality of their gold process is superior.  As a side note, the greige goods (undyed fabrics that they use) are milled in several places around the world, then sent to the processing plant for printing.

    New fabrics arriving and waiting to be cut for sample headers.  When a new fabric (print) is made, one tube is air shipped to Hoffman, where it is cut into samples and the fabric family is put into a header (stapled together on a hanger).  The headers are given to the fabric reps, which show them at the fabric markets (Houston Quilt Show inthe fall, LA Textile Show, etc.), as well as visiting shop owners, etc.

     Here are some headers that have been completed, ready to go!

     New fabrics in the foreground and many, many, MANY bolts of fabric stacked almost to the rafters of older bolts that have already been cut to make the sample headers!

     One of the guys rolling fabric from a tube onto a bolt.  Typical bolt size is 15 yards.  Batiks are usually made in 16 yard pieces and then sewn together in Bali before being wound onto the tube.  When they get here, they are wound on a bolt until the hit the seam.  It is cut off and that is the yardage on the bolt.  You can't see it, but to the right is a little meter that counts the yardage as it is rolled onto the bolt.

     The motiff at Hoffman is definately beach/Southern California.  Rube Hoffman, originally from NYC, started Hoffman Fabrics and his 2 sons were surfers.  The grandchildren are still very involved in surfing today and have won amny awards.
     It was a wonderful trip - we learned a lot!  I think the only down side was they are strictly wholesale (no, we did not get a chance to purchase any of their fabrics)! It was wonderful to see all of the fabrics - no store can carry every fabric of every line, so it was nice to see so many different patterns!

Happy Stitching,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Christmas in July!

            Christmas in July!

    While I certainly do not like to rush Christmas, I have my own little tradition of Christmas in July!  I put on my all time favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas, and think about Christmas and what I might be making.

     From "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" to "Sisters"

to "White Christmas" and snow at the end, I sing along and look at fabric and make lists and do some sewing.  It makes me think I am getting a jump start.  I use some of my stash and think about my family.  I have always lived far away from my family.  I am in California, my hubby's family is in Arizona, and my family is mostly in Kentucky.  We don't get back for Christmas very often, so this is a nice way to think about them!

     My first project (simple and sweet!) is a pillowcase for my brother, Jeff.  While he is not a kid, he is crazy for M&M's.  He teaches high school math, from Basic Math to Calculus, and always manages to incorporate M&M's into the math lessons.  One year, before 'theme' M&M's were available for every occasion, he had the kids create their own holiday M&M's.  At this time, there were only Christmas and Halloween M&M's.  One of the students bought several bags of M&M's and picked out all of the blue ones.  Then he took a knife and cut off all the round edges and made dreidels for Hanukah M&M's!  Very creative! 

     Project #2 is this cat tote, for my mother-in-law (can you tell she loves cats?!).  This was actually a quilt panel that I bought with my MiL in mind, but I cut it in half to use it for the outside of the bag.  The pink polkadot fabric was from Cary's, a clothing manufacturer that made beautiful clothes that used to be in The Wooden Soldier and Storybook Heirlooms catalogs.  When they went out of business 16 years ago, we flew up to Berkeley, where they were located, and were able to buy fabric and clothing for a song.  This fabric was well aged before I finally cut into it!
     After finishing the pillowcase and the bag, watching the music, and making my list, it was time to come back to the real world. I have my faithful list (and I am a list person), some Christmas songs humming around in my head, some stash fabric checking out (can't only have it coming in!),  and 2 presents and counting.  A productive day.

Happy Stitching!