Art Journal

Nature Ramblings ~ Past Times Time Travel ~ Romancing Daily Life

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cinderella's Blue Sky Sewing

If I were Cinderella....
I'd be sewing this
I'm still spending  my allotted sewing time on my French Pattern Drafting Class tasks, but I got a little distracted going to see the new Disney Cinderella (twice now, and I'm tempted to go again soon).
This Luggage Tag prints up great
on postcard stock
I'll use it for my next
dress pattern tracing

Of course my favorite scene is the one when Ella sits down to stitch, converting her mother's old dress into her own ball gown. It inspired me to do a little blue sky sewing/virtual stitch up of my own, creating my own vision of Ella and her dress. I'm sharing the results here. You can print the luggage tag version (it works great on postcard stock) to use for your own labeling purposes. I'm planning to use it to tag the next dress pattern I trace. 

Blue Sky day dream sewing is pretty satisfying. Don't you wonder if I'll ever actually make a dress along these lines? 

Oh yes, in addition to the sewing scene, I love the Cinderella music (which comes mostly during the credits). Lily James sings the classic, "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes..." with very resonating soprano sound. She has a gorgeous lyrical voice. And, Helena Bonham Careter is a scream in "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo". Oh look, we can buy the Cinderella: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack !

  Not only did I love the costumes, the great British actors, and the highly fairy-taleish scene in this movie, I also thought the theme was fantastic - "Be kind and have courage". Doesn't that just say it all?

Good job to the Disney story tellers on reworking the Charles Perrault fairytale for this generation. Have you read his book The Glass Slipper? I bet your pubic library has it. Mine does. I always liked the way the animated movie focused on having faith and believing in your dreams - that Cinderella was very much of her times, a late 1950's girl. She believed in her fate coming along, sweeping her up, and carrying her along to a better life. Today's Cinders is more in charge of her own future- a good modern redo. She choses to stay in the house and deal with her stinky mother-in-law. And she's realistic about her other career options in her fairy tale world - non existent! Both ladies mirror fantasy romance novel heroines from the two different eras nicely. 

I can imagine people looking back on both young women in a distant future. I wonder how Ella will be reinvented then. Don't you?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Ench By Sew-030: Hats Off to Downtown Abbey!

This show is created, produced and brought to you by Laurel Shimer.

Hats I made recently in Wayne Wichern's Hat Blocking Class

How to Find This Audio/Podcast?
Option I) Listen to the Audio right on the web by clicking on this link - No need to download 
~ OR ~
Option II)  Click on this link to iTunes  to download this and other Enchanted by Sewing shows to your mobile device (iPhone, Android, etc.) free from iTunes
About the Show
The Enchanted by Sewing Podcast is, an extension of my regular sewing blog - Me Encanta Coser,  ( which,  roughly translated means, Enchanted By Sewing

My blog is written in English. The name celebrates the historical and modern use of the beautiful Spanish Language in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, where I live.

This Month's Show - Hats Off to Downton Abbey!

In this month's Enchanted by Sewing show, I talk about the role of Downton Abbey played in inspiring  the hats I've been making. I also share what I've learned about how to make hats. 

Track 1) Pensamientos Primeros – Making Hats -  Inspired by Downton Abbey, and enabled by local milliner Wayne Wichern

Track 2) Technicos A summary of the Techniques I learned something about while making Hats with Wayne Wichern

Track 3) Pensamientos Finales – Pretty as a Picture Hat - Grandmother Lily’s Wedding  - The story of my Grandmother's wedding hat reminds me that it wasn't only wealthy women who enjoyed wearing beautiful hats. Women of every economic bracket have always enjoyed the magic of the perfect hat.

Downton Abbey Themes- Books and Videos

Show Track 1) Pensamientos Primeros – Making Hats -  Inspired by Downton Abbey - Enabled by local milliner, Wayne Wichern (

Why do I love to watch Downton Abbey over and over ?
1) The Romantic setting
2) The fantastic British trained actors
3) The Fashions - my favorite part of Downton Abbey.
The best part of the those fashions? -  Hats! 

So far I see I've linked to over 200
caps, hats and other millinery fashions
on Hats and Other Millinary in Pinterest
I've saved links for many of my favorite hats on my Pinterest board "Hats and Other Millinary". These pictures were great to take to Wayne's class, to give him an idea of what I wanted to  create.

Hey - Am I was the only sewist here who’s excited to find that the newest Cinderella, Lily James, is Downton Abbey’s Rose, and step sister Drusilla is Mrs. Paddmore’s side kick
dear little Daisy? According to the UK’s “Telegraph”, Daisy, aka Sohie McShera, does love the chance to reverse her Upstairs/Downstairs role with Lily, just as much as I’d imagined.

Planning, sewing, and talking about hats lead me to reflect on history associated with women in times past.

Going Beyond Downton Abbey - Flappers Author Judith Mackrell explores life beyond costume dramas, when it comes to celebrity idols of the Flapper era -  British aristocrats Lady Diana Manners and Nancy Cunard, Russian artist Tamara de Lempicka, and three Americans; African American dancer /actress Josephine Baker, Femme fatal, Literati – and Wife of F.Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Southern Belle turned actress, Tullulah Bankhead. These ladies climbed the ladder from lower or traditionally established life styles, to serve as new role models for women from Daisy to Lady Edith. When it came to these ladies' fears, challenges and dreams, Mackrell gets down to the nitty gritty. She lets everything hang out from the seamy side to the highlights of their lives. 

This Black Straw Cloche is one of three hats I made in Wayne's class 

Show Track 2) Technicos A summary of the techniques I learned something about while making Hats with Wayne Wichern


The Gibson Girl Personified the In-Look
for up-to-date professional women like
Grandmother Lily
Show Track 3) Pensamientos Finales – Pretty as a Picture Hat - Grandmother Lily’s Wedding  

In Grandmother Lily's time, picture hats were made popular by the "Gibson Girls" drawn by Charles Dana Gibson. These ladies personified the New Woman feminist movement with which my grandmother and great aunts identified.

Duchess Georgina's
marriage problems, should have
a hint to her descendent
Princess Diana

Ladies have been wearing Picture Hats for several hundreds of years. Early versions were inspired by the Gainsborough Hats worn by Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, ancestress of Princess Diana.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fitting in the Sleeve Sloper (Pattern Work)

First I made my moulage.

Then I made my sloper.

They looked a lot alike, so I only blogged about my moulage. Here are the most recent details I wrote about that Lynda Maynard class in this posting.

We've been working on getting a sleeve to fit into our slopers for two classes now. And I'm continuing to work at that fit and pattern drafting task at home. 

This is not the most attractive garment I've ever sewn!
It's a sloper, which is the equivalent of my moulage plus wearing ease.
Yes, I know I've got too much ease in my sleeve at this point
After I made more change at home, and before I went back to creating
a new version of the pattern, I did the math -
The total distance around the sleeve stitching line for the
armscye/sleeve cap, should be 3/4 of an inch
larger than the distance for the front and back arm holes.

Can you see the work that went into my first shot at drafting a sleeve pattern?
I also write small to do lists on the pattern piece and use a lot of color coding and
 dating to remind myself of what I did in class versus at home, etc.
This is the follow on to the drafting block by the way.
I re-scooped the front, flattening it and giving it less curve, added to the height at
the top center to get the bicep balance line to come out parallel to the floor,
and also added 3/8 of an inch to both the long underarm seam lines.

After making all those changes, I definitely needed a new version of my pattern!
After I made this, I traced out a new sleeve to cut out and sew to try on the other side
of my muslin sloper.
Still To Do 
before class
Next - I'll be stay stitching my second muslin sleeve, cutting it out, basting the balance lines, completing the underarm seam line, and basting in the ease lines.

Then I need to go back to my sloper and alter my side seams to be 5/8 of an inch farther into the seam allowance. I have 1 plus inch seam allowances.

Must remember to note that change on my sloper pattern! Good thing I haven't cut out my most recent version of that pattern, so I can draw that in and use my eraser and still have a clean final working copy.

Entonces I 'll attach the sleeve to the other side of my sloper, making sure my front is attached to the front part of my sloper fit garment, of course!

At that point I'll check all the balance lines in the mirror and see if I need to alter any thing else obvious before I return to class next week. I included a slightly over 1" seam allowance when I drew the pattern markings on, so I can make some alterations.

I create a new version of all my patterns every week after class. That way I have a record of where I've been and what I've done. I can go back to a previous version too. Also it's just less confusing and it motivates me to write more notes on my patterns.

I also include my name, date, phone number and email (I've smudged those out in these photo)
on every single pattern piece and muslin garment. 
In sewing lab, everybody's stuff looks the same and it's a lot of work down the drain 
if I misplace anything.
~ ~ ~
It's not exciting or glamorous working on creating a perfect-fit-me garment, but it sure leads to a lot of daydreaming about what I'll work on once I have the patterns that result from this process.

And that's the kind of thing that keeps me ....
Enchanted by Sewing!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Grandmother Ruby's Dance Dress

What inspired you to sew this dance dress back in 1940, Grandmother Ruby?

Where did you get the fabric? Could it have been silk taffeta? Was this before fabric rationing?

How long did it take you to fit and sew the pattern?

Did anybody in the family help you to make up the beautiful blue dress?

Who did you dance with when you wore it?

Did you wear the dress many times after this? Did anybody else in the family wear it?

Did you ever make the dress over into another garment?

What's the story, Grandmother Ruby?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Experimenting: Singleton Button Making - Learning Precision

Most of my recreation time right now is going into my Moulage/French Pattern Drafting class. I don't have a lot to blog about in that regards this week, because there's a lot of repetition in my homework. I'm working on creating a sloper this week, but it looks an awful lot like the moulage!
~ ~ ~
For a little fun between muslin sewing and pattern drafting, I've been playing around, learning to create Singleton Buttons.

These are my attempts at Singleton Buttons to date.
Since I'm not yet there when it comes to getting a clean, precise edge, I'm not yet concerning myself with creating the thread shanks with which I would fasten them to a garment.

Clockwise from top left
The button with more yellow flowers has a piece of thin fused quilt batting, cut the same size as the full pattern
The pink flower has no interfacing
The purple flower has a piece of paper, cut about the same dimensions as the metal ring
I've mentioned many times that I'm working on learning to be more precise.Playing with creating my own Singleton Buttons, looks like a good way to get some practice in. There's something about the way I need to learn to hold things and work with the needle when it comes to getting that precise edge I'm after.

My favorite so far, is the top left button. I used a thin piece of quilt batting in that one.

Next, I'll experiment with rings of a slightly larger diameter. I think that might make those tight, precise, edges more achievable.

~ Basic Techniques~
- I made a pattern circle, 2 and a half times the diameter of the metal ring.  I scored some welded metal rings at my local hardware store. I'm sure you could buy something at a fabric store that's actually intended for this purpose.
I've tried different kinds of inside bits.
In this attempt, I simply used a piece of paper.
That wouldn't actually wash well ,but I wanted to see how the edge worked.

 - Then I ran a basting stitch about 1/8 inch away from the edge of my circle, tightened it up, and stitched back and forth to cover the edges.

- The 'X' on the front of this button was basting stitches, to hold that piece of interfacing paper in place

- After I stitched the back closed, I stitched around the inside edge of the metal ring.

- At this point, in the future,  I'll stitch up a thread shank -  I'll be doing that once I'm happier with the way the buttons are starting to look.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cold War History - Hiking Sweeney Ridge

It's easy to see why this ridge
with it's views of Pacifica and beyond
was chosen as a military lookout
during the Cold War
During the Cold War, the U.S.  planted missiles on high view sites, looking out over the ocean, on the hunt for imagined terror from Russia. This Nike Missile Control Site was abandoned by the military in 1974. Nowadays, the installation is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). Recently we hiked up Sweeney Ridge (between San Bruno and Pacifica) to view one of these sites.
The Guard Shack and High Power Acquistion Radar Station now serve as base material for local graffiti artists.

Friday, February 20, 2015

French Pattern Drafting/Moulage: First Muslin Test of Back and Front Blocks

I detailed what I'm learning about  in my Moulage/French Pattern Drafting class with Lynda, in this post
I added a sort of modesty skirt below the full hip line
Other ladies wore leggings or just winged it in their
intimate garments

This week....I zipped myself carefully into the muslin test I created from my back and front blocks, for Moulage class. Uh oh, I sewed the zipper inside out! I thought Lynda Maynard wanted our seams and darts on the outside.
Guess who wasn't listening properly in class last time?

A buddy in class managed to get the zipper tab up for me.
Not too many changes, but I still need to make those few, and make a new muslin for next week. I'm in good company though. I think there were only one or two people who didn't need Lynda to tweak theirs.

How about those lips?
I had the goofiest look on my face
I kind of like these lips I borrowed!