Friday, October 19, 2007

Back Again

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted a new entry here. I knew that I hadn't posted in a while, but didn't realize that my last post was in July. Ouch! And when I set this blog up, I promised myself that I wouldn't be one of those people who sets up a blog and then only posts something once every three months...

So, what have I been up to? David and I took a vacation to see Tony Gwynn inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown back in late July. We then drove to Boston where we spent the next few days, including a visit to Fenway Park, where we saw the Orioles beat the Red Sox.

Other than that, I've been working my butt off for work, sewing when I actually have the time, and occasionally creating and listing a new piece of jewelry on Etsy. Work has been pretty crazy lately, with lots of late nights and weekend work.

I'm ready for a break.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Simplicity 3732, Take 2

I really loved the way my green drawstring peasant blouse turned out (described a couple of posts below). My one complaint was that it felt like it took me much longer to complete than I think it should have. (Of course, several of those hours of work involved me wrestling with the drawstring before giving up on the method in the instructions and deciding to just top-stitch the thing.) Coupled with the fact that I liked my first version of the top and that I've been wanting a pretty cotton eyelet top all summer (although most of the ones in stores right now seem to have tiny, non-bra-friendly straps), I knew what I wanted to do for my latest sewing project.

Again, I used Simplicity Pattern 3732:

This time, I made View B (with the flutter sleeves) instead of View A. I'm just as happy with the result from this attempt as I was with the first. The sewing went much quicker this time, too--if I'd started earlier in the day, I could have completed this top in a single afternoon (including laying out the pattern and cutting). Here's the final result for View B:

The only alteration that I made from the pattern instructions (other than the drawstring) was that I laid out the pattern so that the scalloped edge of the eyelet design formed the hem. I think it looks pretty and it saved me from having to hem the bottom of the top.

Another Summer top: Simplicty 4123

When I first decided that I was going to take a sewing class, I hit the local Yardage Town and picked up a couple of easy-looking Simplicity patterns. (My mom had told me that Simplicity was probably the easiest pattern line to start out with.) I even made sure that the patterns that I picked up were part of their "It's So Easy" line.

The very first pattern that caught my eye was Simplicity 4123, a basic summer top that could either be made as a tank top or as a top with small flutter sleeves:

On the same trip to Yardage Town, I picked up some very pretty white cotton fabric with navy blue flowers. I decided that that fabric and this top would be a perfect match. Deciding that I wanted the yoke of the top to contrast, I also picked up some navy blue cotton fabric that matched the blue flowers perfectly.

Fast forward about a month or so, and I felt like I'd learned enough in my sewing class to tackle making this top. Based on my own measurements and the "finished garment" measurements listed on the back of the pattern, I decided that I would make the top in a size 14. (I made my previous top--the green peasant blouse--in a size 16, but this pattern looked like it ran significantly larger).

Wow. I was wrong. Although I was anal about cutting out my fabric and my seam allowance, my finished garment wound up 3 inches smaller across than predicted by the pattern. I let the seam out a little bit, but there wasn't enough fabric to get quite the fit that I was going for. Additionally, the top wound up too short for my comfort level. I fixed this by adding a band of the leftover navy blue cotton to the bottom. (David actually suggested this, so I need to give him credit for the idea.) I think that the top looks adorable on a hanger, but it's not the most flattering style for my body type. I'll still wear it, but I'll chalk this one up to being a learning experience.

Here's the finished top:

Monday, July 16, 2007

My first completed sewing project

David had to work much of this past weekend, so I spent the bulk of Saturday and Sunday afternoons sewing. I'm working on a pair of drawstring pajama pants for my sewing class, but in the interest of practicing/improving, I'm working on a couple of additional projects, too. On Sunday afternoon, I completed my first ever sewing project: a drawstring peasant blouse.

Here's another angle:

It took me much longer than it probably should have, but I'm really happy with the end result. The fabric cost me less than $5 on sale at JoAnn's, and the pattern (Simplicity It's So Easy 3732) cost me $1.50 on sale at Yardage Town. Figure in the cost of the thread, binding (for the drawstring casing), and elastic, and this top easily cost me less than $10.

I'm planning to make another one in white cotton eyelet. :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Learning to sew

One way that I'm going to attempt deal with the issue of most clothes not fitting me correctly off-the-rack is that I've signed up for an adult ed sewing class through a local community college:

I realize that it will likely take some time and practice before I can wear anything that I make in public, but I love the idea of being able to make something to fit my weird proportions. Even better if I can make the exact pattern that I want in the exact style that I want!

So far, we've had two classes, and we've learned about basic sewing tools, how to read a pattern, and how to lay out a pattern over fabric. We'll be using our sewing machines for the first time in the next class. Our "class project" will be to make a pair of drawstring pajama pants.

I have to admit that I got so excited about sewing that when I saw that Yardage Town (a local fabric shop) had easy Simplicity patterns on sale for $1.50 each, I picked up four of them (one for the class, three for me):
I'll be posting more about my sewing adventures as they happen...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What people buy vs. What I wear

One thing that has been really surprising to me about my limited time on etsy is what has sold in my shopt vs. what is still sitting there (and in some cases, what has been sitting there for months). In most cases, the pieces that are selling are fairly different from the pieces that I've made for myself and wear frequently.

For example, I love vintage glass beads. I have several simple necklaces that I've made with pre-WWII vintage glass beads. I've paired these with pearls and/or crystals, and I think they're very cool looking--a nice mix of retro and modern. I love the one pictured above with the brown beads and the pearls. It's a great length and neutral enough that it goes with almost everything...and yet, a copy of this necklace has been sitting unsold in my shop for two months.

Another piece that I love and wear but that seems to have received a lukewarm reception is my paua shell pendant necklace. I sold a similar one a little while back--after it received a ton of views but took a while to sell. I have one that I made for myself and I think it's really striking, so I decided to create and list another one. The jury is still out, but so far, it's received a decent (but not great) number of views, but no "hearts" yet. (An etsy "heart" means that someone has marked an item as a "favorite."

On the other hand, it seems like most of the sterling silver chain necklaces that I've made have sold. Also, anything made with opalite generally has sold quickly. Now, opalite is very pretty, but I'm surprised that it's as "hot" as it seems to be. I do have a sterling silver chain necklace with little garnets that I made for myself a while back (there's a similar necklace in my store), but it's such a "fancy" necklace that I only wear it when I'm dressing up for something. In fact, many of the necklaces that I've sold I would consider to be too "dressy" for everyday wear.

Maybe it's just my personality and the fact that I tend to focus on practicality in my own wardrobe and accessories than anything else. It'll be interesting to see if my sales trends change at all as the holidays approach in a few months.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Summer of the dress

They're everywhere this summer: dresses. In every women's clothing store, Old Navy ads, and pretty much every fashion article you see, the big "must have" right now is a pretty, feminine summer dress.

I love dresses, but most dresses don't love me. After having lost nearly 75lbs over the past year and a half, I want to be able to wear the new summer dresses. However, I'm short (5'2"), and have a very large chest, and trying to find a dress that fits me properly and is flattering is nearly impossible. Everything in Ann Taylor Loft currently has tiny little straps and really wouldn't look good on anyone with a larger bust than a B-cup. I'm SOL there right now.

A dress needs the following characteristics to make a dress wearable or preferably flattering for me:
  • Straps. Real straps--not little tie things. I need straps that I can wear a real bra under.
  • Can't be too low cut. Not everyone needs a free show, and I spill out of a lot of the current wrap-style and kimono dresses. Granted I could layer with a tank top under there, and some dresses are intended for this, but it's still frustrating.
  • Fitted waist or some sort of tie belt. Because my chest is the biggest part of me, most of the time, for me to get clothes that fit in the chest, they're way too big everywhere else. Yes, I could get things tailored, but it would be nice to occasionally find something that fits without needing it.
The frustrating thing is that now that I work from home most of the time, the freezing office air conditioning is no longer an issue for me, and I'd love to be living in sundresses this summer.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be making a series of posts highlighting some of my clothing sources that I've found that work for us gals with large chests, but who aren't necessarily large anywhere else. Enjoy!

Relax. Don't do it.

For the first time in weeks, I actually got to have a calm, relaxing weekend this past weekend. Between my car accident and having been crazy busy with work (including having to do some QA stuff at 10:30pm after the last episode of the Sopranos last Sunday), I feel like I've pretty much spent every waking moment either running around or doing chores. Today, I took a "me day". I went to the gym, watched the Padres kick some Cub butt (we won 11-3), made a new necklace, bracelet, and a pair of earrings for my etsy store (I'll be posting these in another week or two), and am now tv-slumming with Celebrity Fit Club and am about to give myself a pedicure. As much as I hate David having to work most weekends, I think that this was a much needed "recharge my batteries" sort of weekend for me.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Introducing Etsy

As I mentioned in my first post, I recently started selling my jewelry designs online. I found a really cool web that allows you to set up your own "shop", and listing fees only cost $0.20 and you're allowed up to five photos. I tried selling a few pieces on eBay a while back, but I didn't do very well, and the fees quickly started to add up because I wanted to include multiple pictures, etc. So far, I think I'm doing pretty decently on Etsy. I've noticed that my sales tend to come in waves, and I'm still trying to figure out why certain pieces sell right away and others sit there unsold with hundreds of views.

I've got a sampling of some of my designs in the sidebar of this blog. To check out everything else, you can visit my etsy shop:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Long time, no see...

It took me a bit longer to make my second post here than I had intended. I was involved in a major car accident last month (walked away with scrapes and bruises, thankfully), and my car was totaled, and pretty much all of my free time was consumed dealing with insurance and car shopping crap. I'm glad that it's over.

Of course, now that I want to get "serious" about creating, working out, and just getting my life back in general, I've been completely swamped with work. The software company that I work for just released a tool that's a collaboration with Adobe software, and it's had me putting in some long hours and time on the weekend. We just released it...and I've got some clean-up/catch-up stuff to do, and I'm hoping that life will get back to normal after that.

One thing that I'm excited about...I'll be hitting bootcamp class tonight at the gym, and I'll be bringing David, my boyfriend with me, since the gym is running a "bring a guest for free" promo this month. My awesome, awesome personal trainer (who also runs an outdoor bootcamp--more on that later) is subbing in for the regular bootcamp instructor tonight. I'll be getting a much-needed butt-kicking in class, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

So...I've started a blog...

The title says it--I've started a blog. This will be my place to post my random musings on the following topics:
  • Food
  • Fitness
  • Clothes
  • My jewerly design hobby/fledgling business
  • General pop culture stuff
So yes, the topics here will be a bit girlie, but since I work with mostly men and the person that I spend the most time with (other than myself) is my boyfriend, I need to talk about girlie stuff sometimes, dammit!