Vacation Happy – Days 3 & 4

imageToday I’m grateful for:

  • Listening to my instincts and inserting batting in the straps of the bag I made to schlep my necessities on the trip.
  • Weather that has belied the weather forecast.
  • A merveilleux tour director with an amazing sense of humor.

Goodbye to Dijon.
Hello to Reims, after tasting Chardonnays in the City of Chablis.

Today’s photo came from an attractive window display in Dijon.

Vacation Happy – Days 1 & 2

imageToday I’m grateful for, among other things:

  • Beautiful weather in Lyon
  • Having gotten a no-muss-no-fuss haircut for vacation dry and style in 3 minutes!
  • Great traveling companions.
  • Friends at home watching our house so we don’t have to worry.

Today’s togs: K. Tilton top, M. Tilton pants, both from M. Tilton fabrics and Vogue patterns.

Au revoir to Lyon.

Bonjour to Dijon.

A Travel Tote

MarcyBagOn the evening before wheels-up to France, I finished the tote bag to keep me sane on this trip!

My friend and fellow fiberphile, Mary Lou Alexander, recently destashed and transferred some goodies she no longer needed to my stash. I wanted a new bag for this trip and started digging into her upholstery fabric remnants. Voila! (as they say in France).

Marcy Tilton has designed a number of great handbag patterns for Vogue, but Vogue 8590 fit my needs. My small travel purse doesn’t carry enough things to get me through a long plane trip, so I always like to have a tote large enough to carry my travel purse, along with my carry-on that holds things I won’t need until I arrive but don’t want to put in checked baggage. (Camera, jewelry, adapter cables, etc.)

MarcyBagDetailI’m not going to say a lot about this bag, as I’m still not completely packed. But it’s perfect. It’s Very Big without feeling or appearing to be Very Big.

There’s one glitch in the pattern instructions, if you’re making the bag. The illustration for attaching the straps is incorrect. Look at the pattern envelope picture and the illustration on the pattern back and apply your own brilliant logic. I also didn’t quite get the pleat in the inside pocket. Next time I make this bag, I’ll add more and different pockets, but time was of the essence on this one.

The exterior is two upholstery fabrics. The interior is a remnant of lightweight silk noil that was lying around. The cord to tie it shut and the patch on the side pocket is one of Jas’s old ties I cut up. Why did I put that patch on the pocket? (No, it’s not a secondary pocket. It’s just a piece of silk handsewn into place.) I tried silkscreening a cool design on the pocket. Nope, the upholstery fabric was too bumpy to take it. So I decided to stencil a design over it. Again, nope. So how could I hide the mess of paint now sitting on the pocket? Why, put a patch over it.

I carried the bag with me last night to my son’s dress rehearsal for “Legally Blonde, the Musical” at the Youngstown Playhouse. What a great bag! Pockets on each end just the size for a water bottle. If I want to drop my phone into that pocket, it’s down deep and no nasty European pickpocket can get his hands on it.

And a final note: That bag I made of French-themed fabric? It felt too light for me, like it wouldn’t hold things I wanted it to hold. So I laid it over the end of the plastic-covered ironing board and painted it with diluted Crafter’s Pick Fabric Stiffener. Now it’s great and is being folded and tucked into my suitcase.

Au revoir!

P.S. After walking around Pittsburgh International Airport for a couple of hours: That exterior side pocket is the perfect height for one’s passport and boarding pass. Inspired!

But Not for Me

RfrontIn preparation for our upcoming vacation in France, my recent sewing frenzy has been totally focused on moi. But, ever the devoted Grandma, I saw a cute new McCall’s pattern and decided DGD needed a new dress for her upcoming end-of-year festivities.

Ridley will be 10 in a few weeks, but she got her height genes from her mother’s side of the family. She’s probably about 5’4″ and wears a girls’ 14 (although there are items in her closet in Misses Small). I did not ask her mother to measure her before cutting out the pattern–oops. I looked at RTW size charts, compared them to the pattern measurements, and cut a 14. The resulting unsewing and resewing could have been much worse!

imageI found a pretty 100% cotton sateen border print at Jo-Ann’s and bought all they had. I cut the widest ruffle out of the border so two ruffles would be floral with random dots, and e bottom ruffle would be all dots. This fabric was a dream to work with.

Before attaching the three ruffles, I had Ridley come over and try the dress on. Smart move! The bodice was a little roomy. The length–if I had used all three ruffles, as in the pattern, the dress would have dragged the floor.

imageI unsewed the bodice side seams and took each side seam in ⅝” at the armhole, tapering out to nothing at the raised waistline. I did not cut the excess seam allowance, figuring that in a year she’ll love the dress and I can redo that seam back out to the size 14.

RbackThe ruffles are attached in a new-to-me way. The top ruffle is attached to the skirt (note the shorter dress in the pattern illustration). Then the middle and bottom ruffles (bottom is several inches longer than middle) are basted together and gathered together onto a skirt extension. The extension is then sewn over the top ruffle gathering. (Picture a sandwich of skirt right side, ruffle wrong side, extension wrong side.)

RnecklineAs I needed less length, I omitted the top ruffle and the extension. I gathered the middle and lower ruffle to the skirt. The top ruffle and extension are being sealed into a plastic bag for next year. She’ll have another five inches on her by then, I’m guessing, and will still be able to use this cute dress once I redo the ruffle.

(Click the last photo to see the halter neck with ruffle treatment.)

She’s a dancer and a spinner, so this dress totally suits her personality. And she grinned when she saw the skirt has pockets. It doesn’t take much to please this sweet girl!

Now back to my personal frenzy. Three days to lift-off.

Second Verse, Better Than the First

brownslacksHot off the sewing machine today is another pair of Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 8859. My first attempt occurred last week.

Today’s version proves one can improve upon success. I wore the gray slacks two or three times last week to test them out. Each time, I found myself pulling and tugging at the waist and hiking the pants up. The more I thought about it, the more I realized they were too big.

I purchased another piece of fabric from, this time a cotton/poly/lycra blend from Theory. Marcy calls it Cocoa Canyon Stretch Woven. This has a sateen finish on the right side and is nice to touch and nice to wear. I cut it out last night and spent about three hours on it today. And now I have a great new pair of pants.

brownslacks1The lycra in this fabric is what really makes these pants. They’re skinny, yet very comfortable.

They don’t have a pocket, as it would destroy the line. But they’re going on vacation with me, so I really want a pocket. I snagged the pocket from Diane Ericson’s Panel Skirt and Vest (NLA). See that little external pocket on the skirt on the left in the picture? I sewed that up from a scrap of the pant fabric. There was no waistband or seam to sew it into, so I made a little “rod pocket” along the top (think of your curtains). panelI’ll make a little strip to go through that rod pocket with a buttonhole on each end. Then I’ll sew two flat buttons over the waist elastic, and I’ll have a nice pocket to tuck my spare Euros into.

The top I’m wearing? Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 8582. I didn’t like the drapey extension, as the wrong side of this fabric is white and it just didn’t look good peeking out of this soft brown/taupe print. I cut the drapey extension off and left a vent in one side, sewing the other side closed. The cowl neck collar is stolen from StyleArc’s Amy Knit Top. The fabric is a soft rayon knit that came from Waechter’s Fine Fabrics in Asheville. (Every time I have to drive ten hours to Asheville to visit my mother, I reward myself with a quick side trip into Waechter’s.)

I made this top to wear to Italy last year, and it’s one of my favorites. Now that’s especially true with these great pants underneath.