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Friday, July 26, 2013

July Podcast V&A Fashion Gallery Tour (In the Moment) - London Victoria and Albert Museum- California Sewist seeks inspiration at the V&A



A modern Alexander McQueen dress
I nearly missed that duck feather tail!
Towards the end of Part 2


Come along and tour the Victoria and Albert Fashion Gallery with me- the two-part July 2013 "Enchanted By Sewing" Podcast is available in the pod-o-sphere!


California Sewist seeks inspiration at the Victoria and Albert

In the June Enchanted by Swing podcast I shared some of my favorite sewist sights in London: Tana Lawn fabric at Liberty, street fashion and a trip to a special exhibit at Buckingham Palace.

In July, before the show returns to a California August sewing scene,  I take you along with me on a tour of the Victoria and Albert fashion gallery. It's just like we're walking the floor together looking at all the details dear to a sewists heart.
And yes - we do take a tea break too ;-)
 Did you see that cuff? How did they make those roses? What is giving that bodice it's structure? 

Yes, the sights and sounds (even some of my camera clicks) of the gallery are all there. It's an in-the-moment show.

Co-Published with Enchanted by Sewing Podcast Show Notes at


Two Ways to Listen
i) Listen Right on the Web

You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on the following links
Part 1 http://traffic.libsyn.com/enchantedbysewing/VandAPART1EnchantedBySewingJuly_2013.mp3
From Miss Heather Firbank's
wardrobe
I chat about her clothes in the noisiest part of the
tour, towards the end of Part 1
.............OR 

ii) Download the show to your mobile device (iPhone, Android, etc.)


 Or, download this podcast free from iTunes, to play on your favorite mobile device/mp3 player (like an iPhone or an Android), by clicking on this link to iTunes. (note it's a two part podcast)

Important Note. This is a two-part podcastYes, technical difficulties are tedious:-( You'll want to make sure you download them both.
~~~
Did I miss any links? If so, please post here and let me know, or else email me at,  EnchantedBySewing AT gmail
~~~



~~~ Show Notes Links ~~~

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) http://www.vam.ac.uk
Visiting London? This wonderful museum is free to visit. It's just across the block from two other free to visit museums I never miss. The Natural History Museum (gorgeous architecture and ornamentation) and the Science Museum.

Hard to decide which was my favorite
post-War retro look
In the second part of the cast, you'll
hear me chatting away with a local
mother and daughter about this dress,
and other fifties styles,
and accompanying undergarment
Search the V&A Collections (yes - it's freehttp://www.vam.ac.uk/page/t/the-collections/ from your own home, or when you're abroad. If you have an iPad or similar mobile device with you on a trip, you may enjoy searching on site using the in-museum wifi.
http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/t/the-collections/

Looking for a quintessential pot of tea and a scone, or slice of British cake? Don't miss the Cafe at the Victoria and Albert Museum. (And since museum admission is free, you could pop in any day for refreshment alone!) Wander through all the rooms, because you won't want to miss any of the decor, and find a spot in the Morris, Gamble or Poynter Rooms - Go ahead and ask people with a spare chair (it's a popular place, you're not likely to find a table to yourself)  if you can join their table, many people just plunk themselves down and don't even ask - but we visitors should! You may even end up having a lovely chat with locals or people visiting from other lands, if you and your table mates are so inclined.
http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/architectural-history-of-the-v-and-a-1863-1873-fowkes-architectural-master-plan-an-interrupted-vision/

Here are some conversational gambits I've used - if the people look like they might want to chat -

* May I ask what the beautiful language you are speaking is?
* I just love those blue and white Arts and Crafts tiles! I wish I could have just one to hang on my own wall/Don't I just wish I had a whole room tiled like this!
* These scones are so much tastier than what I had at Starbucks yesterday!
* This is the perfect break from looking at all those beautiful things in the museum. If this continues into chat I can then ask -
    * What are your favorite galleries?
     * Oh you come often? What would you suggest I not miss? What other museums and places would you not miss in London if you were me?
* If you and the other person have children with you, you might ask about parks and other areas and attractions where their children like to play

Edwardian styles and the modern woman of the 30's jersey bathing suit, reminded me of Agatha Christie's Autobiography. A wonderful read! Dame Agatha makes many references to clothing, style and culture from the Edwardian Era of her childhood as well as the major changes in fashion and women's lives after WWI. There's also wonderful detail for the traveller, as she describes her own trip on the Orient Express and wanderings in exotic lands to the area where she met her second husband, Max Mallowan, on an archeological dig at Ur (I always stop in at the Ur exhibit at the British Museum in London and wonder if one of the pots on display is one that Agatha helped to reconstruct, as she often did.)

Heather Firbank's clothing, especially her Gibson Girl blouse and beautiful linen suit, reminded me of the movie "Room with a View". That's a favorite movie of mine. Helena Bonham Carter, as Lucy Honeychurch, is such an enchanting and funny ingenue. I often wonder if she and Maggie Smith chatted over old times in this Merchant Ivory film when they worked together again in the Harry Potter films.

Coco Channel's Pantsuit  evoked images of the movie "Witness for the Prosecution"  with Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Powers. This movie is based on a popular Agatha Christie play. It's very dramatic and has, for many people, a quite surprising conclusion - as do other of Dame Agatha's plays, like the Mousetrap - I'll never give that ending away either! The Mousetrap, as you may know, is the longest running show of any kind and is still a kick to go and see on a visit to London.

Mrs. Minniver and Mrs. Tim Christie
would have carried their gas masks too, when they
went to the market in their tailored-to-fit
tweed suits during the war
(WWII that is)
But they wouldn't have made the mistake
this designer did, since regulations
required no more than three buttons on
the jacket.
The "Tailored to Fit" - World War II and post war clothing-rationing section of the gallery, reminds me of one of my favorite movies, "Mrs. Minniver" with that wonderful perfect model of a well brought up English woman, Greer Garson

D.E. Stevenson's set of four "Mrs. Tim Christie" novels harken back to a time in England when a gas mask was a fashion accessory you might not be able to live without.

A link to the Balenciaga exhibit I saw at the DeYoung in San Francisco. Books for exhibits like this can often be found at discounted prices once the show finishes touring the country. Abe Books is a great source for used books.

Designer Alexander McQueen (see the duck-tailed dress, the first photo in this posting) has some stunning garments in the last, and most modern, section of the fashion gallery. This wonderful designer passed away in 2010.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_McQueen

Ench By Sew-010 V&A Fashion Gallery Tour (In the Moment) - London Victoria and Albert Museum- California Sewist seeks inspiration at the V&A

A modern Alexander McQueen dress
I nearly missed that duck feather tail!
Towards the end of Part 2
Come along and tour the Victoria and Albert Fashion Gallery with me- the two-part July 2013 "Enchanted By Sewing" Podcast is available in the pod-o-sphere!

California Sewist seeks inspiration at the Victoria and Albert


In the June Enchanted by Swing podcast I shared some of my favorite sewist sights in London: Tana Lawn fabric at Liberty, street fashion and a trip to a special exhibit at Buckingham Palace.

In July, before the show returns to a California August sewing scene,  I take you along with me on a tour of the Victoria and Albert fashion gallery. It's just like we're walking the floor together looking at all the details dear to a sewists heart.
And yes - we do take a tea break too ;-)
 Did you see that cuff? How did they make those roses? What is giving that bodice it's structure? 

Yes, the sights and sounds (even some of my camera clicks) of the gallery are all there. It's an in-the-moment show.




Two Ways to Listen
i) Listen Right on the Web

You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on the following links
Part 1 http://traffic.libsyn.com/enchantedbysewing/VandAPART1EnchantedBySewingJuly_2013.mp3
From Miss Heather Firbank's wardrobe
I chat about her clothes in the noisiest part of the
tour, towards the end of Part 1

You can also read Miss Firbank's Pink Linen Cuff
.............OR 


ii) Download the show to your mobile device (iPhone, Android, etc.)

Download this podcast free from iTunes, to play on your favorite mobile device/mp3 player (like an iPhone or an Android), by clicking on this link to iTunes. (note it's a two part podcast)

Important Note. This is a two-part podcast. Yes, technical difficulties are tedious:-( You'll want to make sure you download them both.
~~~
Did I miss any links? If so, please post here and let me know, or else email me at,  EnchantedBySewing AT gmail
~~~




~~~ Show Notes Links ~~~

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) http://www.vam.ac.uk
Visiting London? This wonderful museum is free to visit. It's just across the block from two other free to visit museums I never miss. The Natural History Museum (gorgeous architecture and ornamentation) and the Science Museum.


Hard to decide which was my favorite
post-War retro look
In the second part of the cast, you'll
hear me chatting away with a local
mother and daughter about this dress,
and other fifties styles,
and accompanying undergarment
Search the V&A Collections (yes - it's freehttp://www.vam.ac.uk/page/t/the-collections/ from your own home, or when you're abroad. If you have an iPad or similar mobile device with you on a trip, you may enjoy searching on site using the in-museum wifi.
http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/t/the-collections/

Looking for a quintessential pot of tea and a scone, or slice of British cake? Don't miss the Cafe at the Victoria and Albert Museum. (And since museum admission is free, you could pop in any day for refreshment alone!) Wander through all the rooms, because you won't want to miss any of the decor, and find a spot in the Morris, Gamble or Poynter Rooms - Go ahead and ask people with a spare chair (it's a popular place, you're not likely to find a table to yourself)  if you can join their table, many people just plunk themselves down and don't even ask - but we visitors should! You may even end up having a lovely chat with locals or people visiting from other lands, if you and your table mates are so inclined.
http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/architectural-history-of-the-v-and-a-1863-1873-fowkes-architectural-master-plan-an-interrupted-vision/

Here are some conversational gambits I've used - if the people look like they might want to chat -

* May I ask what the beautiful language you are speaking is?
* I just love those blue and white Arts and Crafts tiles! I wish I could have just one to hang on my own wall/Don't I just wish I had a whole room tiled like this!
* These scones are so much tastier than what I had at Starbucks yesterday!
* This is the perfect break from looking at all those beautiful things in the museum. If this continues into chat I can then ask -
    * What are your favorite galleries?
     * Oh you come often? What would you suggest I not miss? What other museums and places would you not miss in London if you were me?
* If you and the other person have children with you, you might ask about parks and other areas and attractions where their children like to play

Edwardian styles and the modern woman of the 30's jersey bathing suit, reminded me of Agatha Christie's Autobiography. A wonderful read! Dame Agatha makes many references to clothing, style and culture from the Edwardian Era of her childhood as well as the major changes in fashion and women's lives after WWI. There's also wonderful detail for the traveller, as she describes her own trip on the Orient Express and wanderings in exotic lands to the area where she met her second husband, Max Mallowan, on an archeological dig at Ur (I always stop in at the Ur exhibit at the British Museum in London and wonder if one of the pots on display is one that Agatha helped to reconstruct, as she often did.)

Heather Firbank's clothing, especially her Gibson Girl blouse and beautiful linen suit, reminded me of the movie "Room with a View". That's a favorite movie of mine. Helena Bonham Carter, as Lucy Honeychurch, is such an enchanting and funny ingenue. I often wonder if she and Maggie Smith chatted over old times in this Merchant Ivory film when they worked together again in the Harry Potter films.

Coco Channel's Pantsuit  evoked images of the movie "Witness for the Prosecution"  with Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Powers. This movie is based on a popular Agatha Christie play. It's very dramatic and has, for many people, a quite surprising conclusion - as do other of Dame Agatha's plays, like the Mousetrap - I'll never give that ending away either! The Mousetrap, as you may know, is the longest running show of any kind and is still a kick to go and see on a visit to London.


Mrs. Minniver and Mrs. Tim Christie
would have carried their gas masks too, when they
went to the market in their tailored-to-fit
tweed suits during the war
(WWII that is)
But they wouldn't have made the mistake
this designer did, since regulations
required no more than three buttons on
the jacket.
The "Tailored to Fit" - World War II and post war clothing-rationing section of the gallery, reminds me of one of my favorite movies, "Mrs. Minniver" with that wonderful perfect model of a well brought up English woman, Greer Garson

D.E. Stevenson's set of four "Mrs. Tim Christie" novels harken back to a time in England when a gas mask was a fashion accessory you might not be able to live without.

A link to the Balenciaga exhibit I saw at the DeYoung in San Francisco. Books for exhibits like this can often be found at discounted prices once the show finishes touring the country. Abe Books is a great source for used books.

Designer Alexander McQueen (see the duck-tailed dress, the first photo in this posting) has some stunning garments in the last, and most modern, section of the fashion gallery. This wonderful designer passed away in 2010.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_McQueen

Sunday, July 21, 2013

We got Dragons!

Click on the illustration above
To enjoy the true beauty of this California dragon

Walking in the park
Today I met a dragon
California!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Sewing Zone - Carving out Room for Sewing

I used to dream over those photos in sewing and craft magazines where the happy sewist has a lovely room dedicated to the enchanting pursuit of sewing. 

She (yeah, I know you sewing fellas are out there - but in this case "she" is an imaginary me) has racks on the wall full of neatly arranged spools of thread, full length mirrors on either side of the room, shelves and cabinets stocked with neatly organized and folded fabrics, interfacing and lining, file drawers stocked with patterns that look like they did the day she brought them home from Fabulous Fabrics and two permanently situated dress forms in some idealized size, onto which her patterns fit without the need for any kind of adjustments. Naturally her sewing machine occupies the place of honor, right next to a huge perfect-height cutting out counter.

Now let's get real. I live in a small two-bedroom house with two other people, a pooch and a marvelous marmalade cat. We do other things here besides sewing, including cooking, eating, watching movies, reading newspapers, magazines and books, and gardening. Out here in California many folks have smaller houses and most of us don't have basements or the kind of attic you can walk in (we can slide a few things along under the eves by standing on a ladder, but that's not where I want to cache my sewing inventory - though I have done it!). There is no hardly-used room or covered space that I can discover. Our garage does not house our cars, but it does serve to store bikes, tools,  and numerous metal racks that hold products from the big box store and other household necessities.

There's no little-used room or commodious closet (our bedroom closets were built in the late 30's when, apparently, people were happy to be able to hang up 5 or 6 garments and call that their wardrobe) that I can claim as a sewing room. But over time I have carved out what I call my sewing zones. There are two sewing machines setup on different parts of our family room, and I'm happy I can keep them setup all the time. My sewing zones also includes room in some cupboards and on shelves in that same room. I share those storage areas with other members of the household. In a pinch, I've been known to hang fabric folded over a hanger in the front hall closet, or one of our tightly packed 1939 closets. And, yes, I do have a few stacks of plastic bins on the big box shelves in the garage, that hold another portion of my fabric inventory. My duct tape dress form, Helen, lives out there in a plastic bag as well. My new dress form, Colette, (I'm making her in a class at summer school) will live there as well, when she's not in use.

When I need to do some cutting out I clear off somebody else's work or study project from the family room or dining room table, get my project done and then shift their stuff back. When my daughter was younger I used her twin bed with one of those grided accordion folded up cardboard things you buy at the fabric store. I have to keep my ironing board put away when I'm not actually using it, so that people can get out the back door.

My sewing zones are kind of fluid. If we have a party, I may need to carry my machines out to the garage (don't open the door and try to walk, please!), and when my daughter graduated and moved back home (good fortune on the post-college job hunt Darling) I cleaned out the whole front hall closet for her and managed to stuff the fabric inventory I kept there into another corner of the antique wardrobe that compensates for our lack of closet space.

I don't fret about moving things around. I don't mind if you want to watch "Myth Busters" while I sew, in fact I kind of like it. I often put on an old movie in the background for company when I'm sewing on my own anyway. When I do my hand sewing I watch t.v. with my family, or curl up with it in my bedroom, or take it out in the living room to hang out with others while they read or play a game. Because sewing can be a pretty social activity, and I don't need to be isolated to have a lot of fun doing it. I'm very happy for you if you are able to dedicate an entire room to sewing, but I'm not envious. 

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't turn down a present of a special just-for-me room if the great goddess of sewing suddenly showed up on my stoop and handed me the golden key to an invisible door I'd never seen before. (Yes, that does sound like a children's novel waiting to be written, doesn't it?) However, no matter how limited my space, you're always going to find that I'm still.... enchanted by sewing.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer of Jeans Sewing: The Plan

Pockets like the ones on these
L.A. Idol jeans are inspiration for learning to
sew my own denim threads.
No, I don't know yet how they get that bling,
And I also wonder what kind of thread they
use for topstitching. Learning about stuff like
that is a ways down the road for me. I've got a lot
of basic skills and fit lessons to learn first.

I've been promising myself since last fall, that I would begin to work on learning to sew jeans this summer. Isn't it important to keep those promises we make to ourselves? Part of that promise was that I'd take the beginning and intermediate construction sewing classes, as well as the pants construction class, at CaƱada Community College, in order to improve my overall sewing skills and begin learning techniques that had always seemed more advanced.

OK, I did that.

Now, the plan is to:

1) Sew samples to work on learning and improving jeans sewing techniques : flat felled seams, fly front zippers, special pockets, decorative pocket stitching, attaching rivets and special jeans buttons, jeans hemming, belt loops, dealing with those thick seam crossovers (I know people use hammers and little shim's and stuff)  and probably some other things I haven't thought of yet. And what about embellishment? How do manufacturers, like L.A. Idol create the cool bling on their pockets? I don't know yet.

2) Work on jeans ft for me. Improve knowledge of general pants fitting. Use instructions from various jeans patterns to assist with fit. Take the pants fitting class in the fall to produce a muslin/toile/sloper.

3) Collect information from others - books, magazine articles, web links. Pattern Review has good resources I've been reading and Threads Magazine did a series of three articles a couple of years back, that I have set aside (even though I broke down and bought the full archive of Threads, I held onto those particular paper issues in my "Jeans" drawer).

4) Collect resources to help get started: needles, topstitching thread, budget denim, sample (worn out) jeans from others I can analyze, study and maybe even cut up for sample sewing

5) Collect inspiration. Photograph cool jeans - especially pockets - I see people wearing and I use pinterest (http://pinterest.com/lrshimer/boards/ )  to save references to beautiful jeans features - yes more pockets!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fitting the Tee - Every Knit is Different - Duct Tape Dress Form

What do I love most?
 The embroidered hummingbirds?
The under-bust tucks?
The fringy bits I created from knit scraps?
The deconstructed neckline?
I've been squeezing in a little time here and a little time there on this simple rose pink tee with the embroidered hummingbirds. It's been one of those life-is-sometimes-like-that times. Bet you know how that goes :-)

It's a funny thing, I'm using a tee pattern I've altered in the past and sewn several times, but this time through the tee just didn't hang right on me. I'm so glad Lori addressed the variable character of knits so many times in different Sew Forth Now podcasts. Now I know it's not just me who has these challenges. You just never know with knits, they each have their own drape and stretch.

In this case, I admit that I was working with a very flimsy knit. I cut this shirt out of two rose pink commercial tee shirts. I keep them around more as muslins then for my regular wardrobe. But.... they were a pretty color and I just wanted a quick tee fix.

That's where the front detail came from. After doing the machine embroidery (I posted about those dragonflies last time) I just didn't love the way the shirt hung, so I added a little hang of my own.
Don't you love that elegant view of the
old newspapers coming out of the neckline of
my Duct Tape Dummy (DTD)?
It's not glamorous, but it helps her keep her shape for now
I'm not worried about filling her up properly, 'cuz
I'm actually taking a Dress Form Making class !
So, no, my little DTD is never going to be properly filled.
Hey, you knew I was going to show off the value of my Duct Tape Dummy again, right?

I first got out my lovely Dummy after I tried on the shirt and found I didn't like the typical fabric neckband. I did the slight stretch and fold over fabric neckband thing and no matter how much or how little I stretched the neckband/trim, the shirt  reminded me of something Beaver Cleaver wore. So I unpinned and unabasted (never commit the stitches till I'm sure!) and created this deconstructed neckband instead. It's simply a strip of black knit I cut off the bottom of another tee and then twisted and pinned, twisted and pinned all the way around. It's actually still pinned (as is the decorative bit in the front) waiting for sometime soon when I get a chance to sit and do a little hand stitching. The under bust strip is the original unsuccessful  neckband (which was shorter than the new deconstructed one), pinned in place over some tucks (or would you call them darts?) I just pulled in place by hand and safety pinned. I twisted that strip in the same way that I did the deconstructed neckband. 

I created the fringed bits in the front  from
- The ends of that strip hanging down
- Additional strips I added in and braided a little bit at the top
- Scraps of the rose pink I bound around that 
- Cutting each strip in half or thirds to make more and thinner pieces
Entonces... Finally I hung onto the top of each strip and pulled on the opposite end to get a longer, narrower rolled , dangly, fringy piece


Filling in the time gaps with my rose and  black tee shirt , adorned with hummingbirds and creative scrap embellishment really keeps me enchanted by sewing.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Neighborhood Life on the Fourth

It's still the glorious Fourth in my neighborhood.

We start out singing a patriotic song (only a couple of us knew the words to "God Bless America"), then we pledged to the flag, followed by a loop-around the block parade on bike, skateboard or foot. Then there's food (we all brought something), and games for the kids.

All the friendly dogs came.

Mine stayed home - she's not unfriendly, just poorly sighted so she doesn't know what's going on around her, and that scares her. I took her out on her familiar route when the party was over.

What's do you do on July 4'th where you live?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Technicos:Embellishing a Tee - Machine Embroidery and Stabalizer

Woven stabalizer below
Film stabalizer on top
Then the top part of the hoop nests in
The part that attaches to the machine is beneath the tee
As I've mentioned in a past Enchanted by Sewing podcast , my machine embroidery is not accomplished using the latest, snazziest machine model. I use a Husqvarna Iris, which I purchased as one of the lowest end embroidery models about nine years ago. I bought my machine in August, as I'd been told this was traditionally a time when sewing machines are discounted. True? Maybe! Well, I'd always wanted a machine with this kind of capability and the somewhere around one thousand dollar price tag on this machine was possible because I'd made a little extra money the previous year. Husqvarna may consider this a budget-oriented machine, but for us it was a big ticket item.

My machine uses cards - no digital downloads. Those cards are no longer available for purchase from the manufacturer (a nine year-old machine is practically an antique these days). I found that out when I finally decided to break down and buy an additional card (I had one that came with the machine, and one that I had purchased for $150 when I bought the machine.) Luckily I found a few cards on EBAY for $50. I bought three. Would even more designs be fun? Would I like to be able to download digital designs or maybe learn to digitize my own? You bet! 

But am I satisfied with what I have for the time being? Yes. I don't spend my life, or even most of my sewing time, embellishing. So I am satisfied with what I have, and enjoy doing a little machine embroidery. I've also found that I enjoy repetitively stitching out certain designs like this dragonfly.  I can turn it different directions and make a bigger or smaller version.

I've also learned how to do machine embroidery on my tee shirt projects without getting the knit fabric stuck and gummed up under the needle (though I seam to recall it makes a pretty neat noise when this happens!).  

Here's what I do....

1) I hoop the back of the project with traditional stabalizer. Sorry I don't known what kind that is. It's the regular somewhat stiff, heavy kind I use for a woven cotton or linen. 
2) I put my hoop bottom piece below that sheet of for-wovens stabilizer, 
3) then I add my tee shirt. 
4) On top of the tee - and before I fit the top of the hoop in- I lay a piece of film-type stabilizer. 
5) The smaller hoop piece (it nestles inside the back/bigger hoop part that fits onto the machine) goes on top of that. Then I screw it in place and away I stitch. No more stuck needles and gummed up projects.


I hope this will help me and others
Locate this film stabalizer that tops off my tee shirt/knits
machine embroidery projects
I found my stabalizers at a Sewing Expo, at a booth that specialized in only that kind of product. I've noticed that sometimes it's hard to locate stabilizers in fabric stores, and when I do the clerks, even those who are also sewists, may not know about these products. So I plan to start taking better notes about what I've purchased the next time I get a chance to talk to a knowledgable vendor. If you know of links that explain what to choose and when, please post them or email them to me EnchantedBySewing  AT gmail.com.

Taking a tee-shirt beyond the basics with embellishment like machine embroidery, is one of many things that keeps me....
Enchanted by Sewing!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

SLO Travel Tips, San Luis Obispo


If you'll be visiting California this year, I highly recommend stopping off in San Luis Obispo (SLO) for a hike, meal and a nights rest. It's a great halfway spot if you're driving between Los Angeles and San Francisco and want to take some slow time to enjoy coastal and agricultural views. In addition to the lovely beaches just south of SLO, you can hike some of the different volcanic peaks right on the edge of town. The entrance is just off the 101 freeway. Ancient volcanic cones, like Mount Madonna and Bishop's Peak, are highly hikable destinations.

When I visited one spring weekend, the wildflowers were in full bloom and the weather was quite warm but not overly hot. Coastal breezes and fog keep the area pretty darn nice.

After our hike we went to taste wines and picnic at nearby Kelsey See Canyon Winery. It's a gorgeous setting, nestled in a lovely green valley. There are peacocks and tons of friendly dogs (local dogs and dogs who travel with their people)

There are lots of good restaurants in downtown SLO,just walk down Monterey or Higuera and take your pick (Natural Cafe is an easy good salad kind of place, Firestone has good pizza, and Big Sky Cafe is renowned for excellent food - salads, local meats, vegan and vegetarian ) also small local wine tasting shops and artisinal beer.

The local Farmer's Market is much more than a row of casual produce stalls. Folks drive from two or three hours distance to take in this happening weekly event.

Avoid just stopping off in SLO during high college times. Local state university Cal Poly Graduation is late June, and other significant college sporting and college spirit events can affect availability. The rest of the times you'll generally find lots of motels and hotels. Petit Soleil is a nice small B&B, within walking distance of downtown. It's just next door to fun little Splash Cafe, with easy meals and very tasty breads (you can buy those to go too). There are also more budget oriented motels in the same stretch. My husband is partial to "La Cuesta" which includes breakfast. Across the street, a little more expensive but fun, is Apple Farm Inn. It's a kitschy 70's kind of place. I'm partial to the very chintzy furniture, big soft beds and switch on fireplaces there, but if you don't like Disneyland it might not be your thing!

The stretch of Monterey where you find the motels, as you're walking downtown, and before you cross under the railroad trestle also has lots of fun little antique stores.

Many people stay in SLO before or after a trip to Hearst Castle. I've been to the castle, enjoyed it once, but I wouldn't probably go again. I like historic buildings but this one is a little overwhelming. Still, if you have time you might enjoy it a lot.

Followers