Monday, December 25, 2006

My Christmas list...just in case you need to get me that last minute gift

**Bernina 730E $8000
**Evolve New Wave Serger $2500
**Feet for Evolve $1000
**Other stuff I'm sure I'll need
with these two machines $1000 (better plan for, just to be safe)
**Cameo from Wild Ginger $3000
**Silk Fabric, paint, lace, etc. for my new collection, being launched later this year $1000
**Design-A-Knit Pro version 7 $500
**Some additional do-hickeys to go with my knitting machine (I'll address the fact that I'm going to start knitting with it again in my New Year's Resolution post) $500
**Yarn for knitting ...let go with $500
**Laptop I'll need to work with
all these machines $1200
**Professional shelving for my studio $4000
**New lighting for my studio $1000
**Wood floor for my studio
including installation $750 (just a guess, not for sure about this one)

Really...I'm just a simple girl with simple needs.

By the way, if anyone wants a Pfaff 7550 with tons of additional feet and the users guide, just let me know. Mine is about to get pitched out the window. We are no longer on speaking terms and I can't get quality work done with my current anger level at just seeing it sitting around my studio learing at me. I think it would be "better suited" (a term my sorority used) with a different partener.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas....

My camera battery I dead today, but I did grab a couple pics off the gazette website. They're small but I think you'll get the point. This storm is breath-taking! We've been under Blizzard and Avalanche warnings here since early yesterday morning.

Here's our family Christmas tradition:

We make paper gingerbread men to count the days from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Every year they're different. Most years they have a daily activity on them. When the girls were little, they didn't have things written on them...they "talked" to me and whispered in my ear what the daily activity was. Of course, back then it was so easy. Saying "you get to take a bath today!" would make them squeal with happiness.

The yellow one with the hat is "Jose". He told us he wants to stay and be the one to see Santa come down the chimney (across the room). The red guy next to him is superman. He's mad at the bad guys.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I'm a happy hooker

Don't know if you remember the alpaca sweater I made Kevin last Christmas, but it was frought with problems. First and sheds. I know Kevin well enough to know that alone puts it off the "I'll actually wear this" list. Second, there were design issues and the sleeves are just way to long (and grow more when on) and would need re-making anyway.

So...I decided that the yarn was just too expensive and yummy feeling to not just frog the whole thing and do something with it. I started looking for a pattern for myself with the following criteria:

*bulky yarn pattern
*pullover sweater I could wear alone (so I don't have to de-shed a shirt underneath every time I wear it)
*trendy (hard to find in a bulky pattern)
*close fitting (my personal style, I just hate things that are baggy)

I about fell out of my chair when I found this pattern:

It's even in the exact same color as my yarn!

I rock.

Plain and simple.

From my previous experience with this yarn, I'm counting on this working up pretty quickly. So maybe I'll even have it done over Christmas break.

Which is cool, because here's what my mom's getting me for x-mas (including the yarn!) that I want to get started on very soon:

I'm making it in dark lilac alpaca/silk elegance. Yummy.

O.K. so.... (drum roll, please!)'s my two ACTUAL FINISHED OBJECTS!!!!
That's me trying to figure out how to take a picture of a something on my person. This is about the best picture that came out. The lighting in my studio is horrible and I couldn't quite figure out how to angle the camera right in the mirror, but I think you get a good idea of the sweater. (someone do a tutorial on self picture taking, please!)

It's a mock rib and I really like how the design came out. Also, it's just super soft to wear. The sleeves, which I frogged in the first place because they were too small around, actually came out bigger around than I meant for them to be, but I'm leaving them as is (and, um...don't tell anybody, one sleeve is 1/2 inch longer than the other one!)

And here's the lace shrug. I'm thinking about turning this in to as it is entirely my own design. We'll see if I get around to figuring out how to do that. You can't see the lace really well in these pictures, but there's a ruffle lace that goes all the way around the neck and back and a different lace at the sleeve openings, more of a flat leave patterned lace.

Ooo, with the poor picture quality, you can't even see how bad my eye looks! It's my right eye where the shingles are (yes...still) and the inner part of the "white" is really all red. Oh, and I think I need a haircut.

Monday, December 11, 2006

My Superhero

I just this minute walked into my kitchen from putting the girls bed and found this. He's 4. That's really just all the explanation you need.

Also, just to prove I have been sewing:These are Quentin's beloved "Flash Poe-jammas". When he was 2, we were out of clean pajamas one night and just had these in the back of the drawer. They were at one point hand-me-downs somebody had given me when Olivia, our oldest, was a toddler. Both girls wore them only occasionally when they were 2. When we found out we were having Quentin I pulled out everything of the girls that could be saved back for a boy. That amounted to a few white socks without ruffles and an old Toad Suck t-shirt and these pajamas. (Um, o.k. are you back from the Toad Suck site now? That's a real site. It's the annual festival in my hometown. No kidding. Just let me know if you need a t-shirt this year.)

Anyway, on the night in question, Quentin absolutely would not put these on because they were not super hero related and in his world clothing options consisted (and still do!) of 1) super-hero, or 2) naked. So DH convinced him that they were "flash" pjs. He's worn them for nearly 2 years now and they are coming apart at the seams (as well as about 3 inches shy of his wrists and ankles). I gave it a good shot at mending the very large hole in the knee, but it just really didn't work.

Luckily, I found these at Hanna Andersson:
They are #2 on his Christmas list, second only behind the Batman Sword with a button.

Monday, November 27, 2006

on the mend

My eye, henceforth known as "stupideye", is somewhat on the mend. So back to regular life I go! My eye dr. says that he's never heard of someone my age having shingles in the eye. I always was the trend setter!

Rumer has it I'm not sewing much lately. At least that's what I've heard. I did decide to "do a little straitening up" in my studio before I get started with all the camo. Didn't want the camo to have little bits of dupioni and beads, etc. stuck to it. Well, "a little bit of straitening up" turned into... I decided to re-arrange the entire room. I would attach pictures, but it would make you wince! It's not pretty.

In the interest of sewing vicariously, here's some of the blogs I seem to keep going back to:

Behind the seams I have serious machine envy of Gigi!
Hooks and needles Love her sense of personal style, makes me think about wearing something other than jeans!
KayBee's unique blog
Pins and needles
The sewing divas

and then, really who's day wouldn't be complete without The fashion incubator?

I've probably got about 25 other blogs in my folder, but don't visit them as often. These are the ones that make me wish I'd have thought seriously about having children in my teenage years instead of waiting until my late 20's. Really, if I didn't spend so much time wiping butts, I might could sew like these gals, too!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My house exploded, and other interesting 'tails

That's the theory I'm going with. (that the house exploded)

This is a current picture of my "dining" room. We don't "dine". So it's really a catch-all room: computer, bookshelves, piano, etc. ...Except right now it's holding mounds and stacks and piles of all the stuff I'm trying to sell on ebay. Want some fleece? go on over to Ebay my user id is alisabenay. This is all that remains of my line of fleece art-t0-wear that I tried my hand at last year. Cute stuff, but I just couldn't go to the trade shows to sell it with 3 little kids and I missed working on my bridal wear.

Anyway, there won't be much to blog about sewing wise in the coming weeks. December and January will be devoted to working on the hunting wear project and b/c it's propietary, I won't be posting any public pictures. Also, I'll be selling off all things not nailed down on Ebay!

This is the other 'tails of interest. Ponytails that is. It was for "crazy hair day" at my daughter's school.

Oh, and one last thing. DH (on the right) just interviewed Afif Safieh, the Palestinian Ambassador a few weeks ago. You can read about it here.

Monday, November 20, 2006


That's what I've been doing for the past couple of weeks.

No...not shingling my roof.

I've had shingles.


Have you ever heard of that? How seriously dumb.

I did get lots of vicodin, however. Oh, and I've lost 10 pounds in the last 2 weeks. I've pretty much just been laying around on the couch letting everybody wait on my hand and foot due to the nausea, dizziness, and general extreme pain my eye. One day, I even had to have Zoe (6 years old) tuck in Quentin (4 years old) for his nap because I just couldn't make it up the stairs. It was pretty sweet, actually.

No, I did not take pictures. Sorry, you'll just have to imagine. I'm still a little sensitive to light and tired as all get out, but otherwise on the mend.

Back to the hunting project. Maybe I'll actually get that done one of these days.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Um...yeah, that's my living room in the background (and Quentin on the couch sucking his thumb). After I got this thing pressed, on the dress form, wrapped up mummie style in my king size bed sheet, and got her downtown...I made it back to pick up Zoe from kindergarten with one minute to spare. So...the pics were taken in a hurry, but I know you guys have been dying to see it, so here it is!
There's a tiny bit of wobbly fit at the top of the bust area. I would kill to get my hands on someone who has several years experience making corsets to mentor me. I'm totally self taught and there are things that just don't always work for me, the area being the most troublesome.
The four areas where I printed words say "fashion", "haute couture", "chic", and "modiste"
Again, some areas of stress I would like to learn how to eliminate, a corset should look like you've been shelacked (sp?) into into it.
My favorite part (the back view) !

I think you get a really good feel here for the print. The swirls and letters were batiked with Batik EZ from Crafters Pick, then I used yellow and green in Jacaurd Dye-Na-Flo, then went back after that was dry and added small areas of teal and burgandy. Then washed out the Batik EZ with warm water, let it dry and stamped Jacaurd Luminere in Burgandy and Gold.

I also dyed the silk dupioni under the skirt bright orange, then dyed the silk organza burgandy and treated them as one fabric. It gives a nice shimmery effect to have the 2 contrasting colors.

Yeah, that didn't take 4 days or anything. But seriously, when I saw the final result it made me squeal. It's so cool to look at something like that and say "I MADE that!"

"Coming of Age"

That's the title of my piece for the Past, Present, and Future show for FAC Modern. There were quite of bit of "modifications" made, as I put this entire dress together in 5 days. The flowers over the shoulder, the tulle on the skirt, the shrug....all bit the dust. I am actually very happy with the print. On Monday, I had just white fabric. By Thursday, I had dyed and printed every color you see on this dress. It's all 100% silk. I made it to fit my model and she's not quite the same size as my dress form, so I'm not entirely pleased with the way the fit looks on the dress form, but I'll live. As soon as we're able to do the photo shoot, I'll have those pics up as well (had to cancel that Friday due to the snow)

Update, I've tried to upload these pics for about 20 minutes and blogger just won't do it, gotta run to Quentin's paint class, I'll try again later this afternoon!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's blizzarding!

We're in the middle of a 'blizzard watch'. I took these pictures a few hours ago, it's been going strong since then as well. It's hard to tell right now if it's snowing, or just blowing around.

Oh, and here's a bonus picture of the peak taken a couple of days ago while waiting to pick up my daughter from school. People travel from all over the world to see what I get to see every day. I love it here!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

To sew or not to sew.....

O.K. well, it's more like, should I sew some more?

I've been invited to submit an art peice to FAC MOD, our local Modern Arts Museum for their first annual Holiday show. It's such an honor to be invited, but I just don't know if I've got the time. The peice has to be submitted by Oct. 30th. Here's my sketch, if I do it:

O.K., this was a lightning fast concept sketch, now that I look at it, I'm thinking you probably can't tell anything about what I'm thinking. The top would be silk with batik and stamping in purple, orange, burnt umber to look something like this in print. Then the skirt would be layers of tulle with snippets of other tulle going from darker to lighter up the full skirt. There is also a victorian style drape across the top of the skirt, gathered in the back with huge tulle gathered flowers. Remember, this is an art peice.

My con list is a mile long: not enough time, will have to push back the hunting patterns, don't have the money to buy the materials needed, too much on my plate right now (Daisy scouts, Arbonne, etc.), and on and on and on.

The pro list is just this: It's FAC MOD. Really, what kind of nut would pass that up?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Lest you think the cobbler's kids are shod...

I never do our mending. I put it in a box under the sewing cabinet and think I'll get to it when I get a break in my schedule. My "schedule" being the few hours of sewing time I eek out between every other blooming thing going on while trying to raise 3 kids under the age of 8 and keeping our domain from being declared a natural disaster area. So I just walk around telling people I make couture bridal gowns hoping they don't look down and see that my pants legs are 2 inches too long. Here's something I wrote recently about said pants and thought it would be good to list here as well:


These are the right knees of my jeans. Only the right, never the left. You figure it out, I've got too many fish to fry to contemplate the deeper meaning of one-sided holey britches. (Quite frankly, I've had enough of "one-sided holy" anything to last a lifetime.) I have 2 more pair in the same condition that would have made this picture, I'm sure, more compelling, but they went AWOL for the photo shoot. Swallowed up in the belly of the house monster (you know you have one, too) there to live until it sees something so vile and disgusting it will regurgitate them in a most inexplicable place. I expect that to be by the end of the week based on the condition of my kitchen counter as we speak.

I apparently spend quite of bit of time on my hands and knees. Make no assumptions about my piety, as I certainly make no assumptions about yours (and, I might add, love you just the same). It's more likely from washing the kitchen floor with 409 and a rag as yet another incident of "oops, sorry mommy, I may or may not have just placed an entire gallon of orange juice somewhere other than my 8 ounce Dora cup" is going to make my socks stick to the floor and I'll be stuck in the kitchen forever (which is my second worst nightmare) if I don't get this cleaned up. I would buy more jeans, but the size on the tag needed to adequately cover my back porch frightens me almost as much as the house monster.

New pics of Arika!

I just love to see great pics of my brides! These just came from Arika this week and look really awesome. I've got them together in a photo collage, but can't figure out how to post it here. They'll be up on the new webpage in a couple of weeks, I'll link to it when it's up.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Picture this

**Update** you can see better pics of Brooke here

I'm having trouble getting my clients to give me their pictures. Does this happen to other people? It's just frustrating to need a picture of the client actually in the dress in order to get a good quality photo for my portfolio and not be able to get that. They all say they will get it to me as soon as possible. ....Then I get nothing. I'm going to start charging a picture deposit included with the initial deposit. Fully refundable when I get the pictures. I'll let you know how that goes. I'll be ready to go live with my new webpage (online business card) in about 3 weeks and REALLY need my pictures. We'll see what I get.

On to better things.

My garment is up on the American Sewing Guild site. I'm the 3rd and 4th pictures on the top line.

I finished Brooke's dress:

In the end, I think 2 things bother me about this dress (and by the way, please tell me I'm not the only person who says there is something wrong with every single thing I've ever made).

1st) I think the seams in the self could have stood to have been opened just 1/8th on each seam. The stress around the waist is not from ill fit. I'm pretty certain it's from the outer fabric just not being big enough to stretch around the foundation.

2nd) I used coutil for the foundation. I really thing in hind sight that it's just a bit too heavy handed for this satin. Brooke was on a very tight budget and ended up using the Casa satin from Joann's. I think it's just a bit too thin to sustain coutil underneath.

3rd) (yeah, I know, I said two things....) The puckering over the butt area happened because Brooke ended up wanting a mermaid style dress, when originally it started out as a traditional shape, much fuller over the hips. I would have planned the inner workings differently if I had fully understood what she was looking for (she wasn't being fussy or anything, she just saw how she wanted it different after she has seen the dress on herself).

Other than that, I've been doing alterations lately. I DON'T DO ALTERATIONS. Except...people I know keep asking me if I can do just this one thing.....and I really need the cash.

I start on my hunting wear line pattern work next week. (it's not my line, I've just been hired to do the patternwork). I'm really ready to move on to something other than ripping out seams. Did I ever tell you that I don't do alterations?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Snip, Snip, Snip

Cut today: (pictures of all garments to follow in later posts)

*Holly's dress: organza layer of satin, full '50's style cocktail dress, to be finished before Sept.23
*Sylvia's nightgown: very simple gown for a dear (60?70? year old) lady who called me up and asked if I could make her a gown from a pattern she's been using for over 25 years. The lady who originally made the pattern and all the other gowns just passed away and Sylvia needs a new seamstress. Who could pass that up?
*Kelley's pattern: Kelley is my favorite person. She babysat for me all summer for no cash on the agreement that I would make her custom fitted shirts. I trade hour for hour and owe her right now about 21 hours of shirt making. We've just knocked out the last kinks on the muslin and are ready to go to production.
*Brooke: under layer for bridal gown to be finished by this Sunday. Got the whole thing made and you can see her corset layer through the top. The corset is white and the gown is cream. I'm adding a white underskirt to even out the color.
*CBD: skirt, jacket, top, hat, and purse I'm making to list on the Custom By Design section of EBay to see how well I might do with some of those projects.

Whew, my hands hurt from all that cutting. Now to get to sewing, this will be a busy month getting projects out on deadline.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Arika's pictures

Just got this picture of Arika at her wedding. I think her dress came out great!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Brooke's wedding gown

I have several pics from the process of Brookes wedding dress. I'm very frustrated with how blogger loads my pictures (always at the top, never where my curser is) so I don't know how many I'll actually show you before I start cursing.

Brooke is having a simple garden wedding. She wanted a formal gown that reflected the casual feel of the intimate outdoor wedding. Here's how it's going:

This is the coutil interlining. My opinion is that almost every gown should be able to stand up on it's own if you hold it at the waist. My gowns consist of self/shell underlined in silk organza (yummm...I love what silk organza does for a gown. The crispness, the body, the full look of the seams, the swish when you walk...), then the coutil layer with spiral steel bones and grossgrain waist stay, then the lining. Sometimes I put a layer attached to the bottom of the coutil with netting to fill out the skirt. That just depends on the style.

Here's the progress on the shell:There are obvious issues with the fit over the bust. I think I cut the self and the under lining the same instead of remembering to make the self 1/8" bigger per seam, which is what I usually do. Also, it's not clipped on the curved seams yet.

This is the "bustled" view, forgot to snap a pic before we pinned up to measure for the bustle hook. I'm hoping that the addition of the waist stay and grading will take out the stress lines pointing towards the waist in back. The pins over the hips are due to Brooke wanting the skirt more fitted on her hips than originally planned.

Another fitting for this one on Wed to determine:
* if the take up at hips is enough
*to look at edge finishing samples
*to re-visit the puckers over bust after minor alterations have been made
*to determine if waist stay and grading to enough to eliminate waist stress in back
*exact zipper placement

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Sewing snafu

Oops. This happened to me yesterday. I'm totally
embarrassed. Olivia's best friend Karen spent the day with us b/c her
mom works at the school and had to work today. When she came to pick
up Karen, I was down in the basement working on a fitting with my
babysitter Kelley, just sewing and chatting, blah, blah, blah.

Kelley is a saint. She's babysat my kids all summer long when I've needed to run to the store or whatever, maybe a total of 25 hours over the summer. She's done is totally for free and I'm exchanging sewing business clothes for her. She's a size 6 and wears a 34F bra. She loves button down tops, but obviously they don't fit her. I'll blog about her muslin tomorrow.

Anyway, I'm just down in the basement sewing away on her muslin, trying it on her here and there and all of the sudden I realize that Quentin (my 4 year old) sounds like he's talking to someone upstairs. Then I realize it's time for Karen's mom to be here. oops!
So I go up and she's just sitting in my living room chatting with
Quentin (who I've not paid attention to for at least 45 minutes, just
left him watching tv while I worked with Kelley). I think she may
have been there 20 minutes or so already. Then, get this...I don't
know where the girls are. OMG. Well, I had told them they could go
play at the neighbors house about an hour before and the neighborhood
girls all move from house to house, nothing unusual, but really not
what I needed right then. Then, (oh, I'm not done yet), when I do
find them, they're all red in the face, too hot or sunburned, couldn't
tell right away, they'd been jumping on a trampoline at the
neighbors). I'm wondering if Karen will ever be aloud to come back!
I think I could get some bad mom award for that one.

Ya know, when you get in that sewing zone, all else just melts away!

Friday, August 11, 2006

What am I doing wrong?

I just spent an hour looking through all the other sewing blogs I've bookmarked. What I can't figure out is how you people have soo much time to sew. Why don't I? O.K. O.K. maybe spending an hour blogstalking isn't the best way to have spent an hour. Maybe I could have been sewing. Well, not really. I currently have 4 children upstairs slamming doors, screaming, and trying to get the littlest one to streak buck naked down the street. It seems that retreating to my sanctuary in the basement might be somewhat neglectful.

I want to sew! I can't wait for school to start Monday, maybe, just maybe...I can actaully sew then. A friend asked me if I was excited about the kids going back to school. I said "somehow 1 1/2 out of 3 just doesn't really feel 'there' for me yet"

Olivia (8) = 3rd grade
Zoe (6) = Kindergarten (um, for the 2nd time, we'll not talk about that)
Quentin (4) = home with me. preschool was too dang expensive.

So, this is where unprotected sex has gotten me. :-) No sewing. Only naked little people running down the street. Well, at least my lifes got flavor!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Navella's placemats

My dear 76 year old friend Navella asked me to make her placemats to match her new lovely decor. January. They've been on the back burner for so long, I can't believe I finally got them done. I love a finished project just sitting there all lovely. Here's some pictures of the process, including my neat little trick for burying the french knot after hand stitching the bias binding.