Why hello there.
I finished this new dress just in time for, oops, I mean WAY at the very tail end of this summer season. It's the perfect summer dress--easy to pull on, light, breezy, no bra required and a neat chevron print.
The bodice has a sweet heart neckline and princess seams. I don't draft or sew princess seams often but I really loved doing so. It's a flattering design and perfect for this kind of dress.
The fabric is a lightweight chevron print advertised as a cotton lawn. However it has a very crepe-y feel and I also doubted that it was cotton. However, a burn test indicated it was. So I'm calling it a cotton crepe.
The back of this dress is shirred with elastic which means that you can pull the whole thing on--no zippers! I love this technique because you can achieve a tailored look with woven fabrics without using zippers.
I am planning to offer this dress as a PATTERN when I launch my new SEWING PATTERN LINE! In the meantime (soon) I will be posting a tutorial about changing a pattern to have elastic shirring at the back waist, so stay tuned! If you are interested in sewing this dress and getting the pattern for free, please contact me to be a pattern tester in the winter time before I release this.
My boyfriend and I just watched the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Cheryl leaves Larry for the "no fly zone" guy so I guess it's only appropriate that today I solve my issues with zip flys.
I'm somebody who needs to understand the essential formula for how something works so that I can do it on my own with my own variations. I guess that's why I learned how to make patterns. When it comes to fly zipper closures, I have long yearned to have a better understanding. I've read countless tutorials and diagrams but each seem to have their own little twist and I never felt that I fully understood the essential rules of both sewing AND drafting a zip fly as opposed to a regular zipper or invisible zipper, lapped zipper or button closure.
Since I've been utterly tormented by the zip fly crotch dilemma I had to find a way to tinker with it even when away from the comfort of my sewing nook. Unable to play with fabrics and real zippers, I created this bite-sized muslin out of papers at work to try to solve the mystery. I periodically went to the bathroom and examined my own zip fly to make sure I was getting it right. Don't worry, this was during my lunch break.
Here are some essential things I realized about zip flys (I will possibly go into more detail in a separate post about how to draft a zip fly, and how to sew one).
1) You have two pieces that meet up to create equal halves of the pant/skirt front. Like a lapped zipper, one side under-laps the other rather than folding right back. So if you have a 5/8" seam allowance, the right side will only fold back 1/2" or so where the zipper is, leaving an 1/8" underlap. Cutting the little notch near the crotch allows that bit to fold back without warping the rest of the crotch seam. Unlike a lapped zipper, the fly takes it one step further by adding the fly guard. I haven't researched it but I presume this was invented when people started getting certain bodily parts pinched when zipping up their pants!!
2) It doesn't really matter how you work the pants/skirt pieces as long as you add an extension equal to one seam allowance (e.g. 5/8" or 1/2") away from the center seam, PLUS an extra 1/8" on the right (underlapping) side.
For the left side you can can sew the fly facing to the seam allowance, folding back at center seam. You can ALSO simply do a fold-back fly facing, where you would draw the fly facing right off of the center front (not adding seam allowance to CF) and then fold it back.
I finally feel I have conquered this problem, and I plan to test my skillz soon by sewing up a mini skirt with a front fly zipper closure. Stay tuned!
What do you do to help yourself learn new concepts, especially if they're bugging you at your day job?
Every so often I get a hankering to get some make-up and embrace my inner cover girl. I don't wear make up at all on a day-to-day basis--it's too much work and I always felt that if I were to get make-up that really looked right I would end up spending a lot of money on it.
(Left: outfit by Ready Ruthie and both for sale. Make Up:
Lip: Dior "Celebrity Red"; eyes: basic black liner; blush: W&W Pearlescent Pink; Nails: Rimmel Burgundy Flirt)
However, it can be fun to get all razzle dazzle once in a while. Also, I'm having a lot of fun thinking about specific looks for my photography and cosmetics can help a lot with that.
I started by checking to see which companies don't test on animals. The only drug store make-up company I identified that did NOT test was Wet 'n' Wild. I didn't see Rimmel London on either the DOES or DOESN'T test list. If you're interested in checking on your own brand of choice, here is the link: http://www.peta.org/living/beauty-and-personal-care/companies/default.aspx
Anyway, Wet 'n' Wild worked for me because it's CHEEEEEAP. Why spend a lot of money on make-up that you rarely use? Plus that way you can try out lots of colors and not feel like you're taking a big risk.
I also got these eye shadow packs from Rimmel because, admittedly, the Union Jack design was so cute. Well played marketing team, well played.
I also picked up this Burts Bees lip gloss as well as their tinted lip balm which I DO intend to wear day-to-day. Both of them smell great, feel good, don't taste icky and work perfectly with my complexion. Plus, no animal testing. They give you some color but not as intensely as the lipstick I'm wearing in the picture. A nice compromise for a social worker.
Here's what it looked like before brushing, and below is after
Here is the brush out from my pin curl set.
First of all,I probably didn't let it set long enough. I also had a hard time getting the ends to tuck in neatly, so there's some flippy action that more closely resembles Charlie's Angels than Casablanca. Also, i think the brush I used blended it a little too much. It's a round brush with closely packed bristles that tends to make my thick hair become thicker and less defined. But overall this was a good start. I had a hard time achieving the volume at top like Aja. Pin curls are hard work but I think I'm getting the hang of it. I also think it will look even better as my hair gets longer. Overall, I think this attempt looked more 80's than 40's because of the looser definition and thickness created by the brush. Kind of like Jeanne Tripplehorn in basic instinct!
Alright, so I think we can all agree that the whole pin-up/bombshell/vixen/vintage hair and make up fad has been over-done. All you have to do is surf the web to see oodles of people rocking victory rolls, cherry bomb lipstick and posing seductively against motorcycles.
But it is just IMPOSSIBLE not to LOVE 40's-50's hairstyles, make up and clothing. It's just impossible. So, I, too, have acquiesced.
One of the reasons I began to think about this was to build my "look" when photographing decidedly retro clothing. Now that I have an iPad I've found myself taking advantage of you tube tutorials more often.Here is an excellent source
for all things vintage hair and make-up with very clear instructions:
The academic in me loves Aja because she seems like she went to college for this. Seriously, she gives an entire history lesson on pin curls.
Anyway, here was my first attempt at vintage hair with foam rollers. My mistake was loading on Royal Crown pomade, a petroleum based wax. I had already read that LayRite was really the way to go but I was impatient and we happened to have some of this. It was too heavy and made my hair look stringy.
Can you tell this was taken around 6 am??
Tonight I followed Aja's video on pin curls to try a Jane Mansfield-esque look. Here I am with all the curls in place. I was a bit sloppy with the pin curls and I couldn't find any of the clips she discussed. I also had to use the foam rollers in some spots where my hair is still too short. Stay posted to see how it looks when it's set and brushed out!
Ewww I really need to get new tubes for my hearing aids. They're all yellow... Not like a bombshell at all!!
Self-posing my clothing wasn't necessarily what I had in mind when I started Ready Ruthie. But I do it for several reasons:
1) All of my samples of my clothes are made exactly to my size, which allows me to "test drive" the clothing as much as possible. Thus, I don't need to create a new size for a different model.
2) Since I work full time (sob, weep) I need to be able to photograph my clothing basically whenever I can find the time, in order to get my listings up. This enables me to do so.
3) I don't know any models that have the look I want. I know plenty of beautiful people, but I've never really found anyone that would work perfectly for a model.
However, taking self-photos is more difficult than you'd think. I recently read this article
on etsy, by the woman who runs Minxshop
. I found it validating to read that she takes at LEAST 200 shots just to get the handful of shots she'll use for her listings. She is another seller who models her own clothes. She definitely looks way more badass than me, but that's ok.
I was inspired to start re-photographing some of my items to help make them look better. I think it helps that I've lost some of my beer weight (I've had a total of two drinks in three weeks--go me!) and grown my hair out, so I'm feeling more photogenic.
If you're a blogger or seller who often self-photographs for the purposes of showing off your work (or outfit), what helps you get good results?
This is just despicable. My last post was in January!?! And my last listing wasn't much more recent than that.
I do have some viable excuses...let's see...I work full time, don't forget about that. I also had to take ANOTHER graduate level course FOR my work (ick!) which took up a lot of home time. Oh, and I was in a play. And I've been obsessing about my garden and greenhouse plans.
Oh, what's this? It's a tiny violin that I just plucked from my pocket. Now I'm scraping up a mournful tune, boo-hoo-hoo, Beth has SOOOO much on her plate. SUCK IT UP, betch!
I am now really kicking myself for allowing so much time to go by without tending to my precious clothing venture. So, here do I slink back onto the scene with my head hung in shame and piles of fabric taunting me. But, better to come lumbering back and endure the shame than to sit there and let this go on any further.
One of my plans months ago was to do a quick survey to help me distinguish some characteristics about my target market. If you would be so kind, would you please fill out my survey? You do need to be a woman in order to do so. Sorry guys! Please enjoy a coupon for 10% off when you're done with it!
Miss Crayola Creepy
made a Facebook post just now asking readers to recall the first thing they EVER sewed...
This got me thinking back to age 5 when I had learned to use my Mom's sewing machine. I think the first thing I EVER sewed was meant to be what I would now call a "gun cozy"--a rectangle sewn all the way around, save one end, meant to fit over a small handgun. My father misunderstood, however, and fitted it over the end of a rifle. Well, maybe he didn't misunderstand...maybe he didn't think it looked too tough to have a piece of floral knit fabric sheathing an antique handgun (don't get me started on other handmade items I gave to my father that he made an admirable effort to actually use despite their lack of usefulness).
Then I got to thinking about other sewing projects. My Mom made a lot of my clothes and subscribed to one of those fabric clubs where you get swatches in the mail. This was when lycra started getting really popular with home sewers. She used to make me shiny spandex leggings. My conservative grandmother once grimaced and asked, "Why are you wearing tights?!?"
Anyway, I used to take the swatches when she was done and make sexy tight clothing for my Barbies and Trolls (you know all trolls need a tight stretch mini for those occasional nights out on the bog...)
I also made an ambitious messenger bag when I was about 8, complete with multiple compartments and little inside pockets. The only problem was that I made it with a cotton interlock knit so it sagged rather heavily when I tried to use it as a book bag!
Other projects as the years went on included a leopard print fleece robe, gothy quilted clutch with a hand screened Mike Ness patch attached, and a quilt with additional rock star screens, which I still have on my bed.
My Mom also assisted me in coordinating some seriously early 90's outfits replete with her handmade Hammer pants. I often paired these with my Keds that I embellished with puffy paint.
I am going to have to find some pictures!
Lately I've been trying to bust my cotton broadcloth/poplin (quilting cotton) stash by making "fit and flare" dresses with different variations on the collar/bodice.
I'm definitely loving this new western-inspired yoke and I will be using it again on other projects! Unfortunately this is the last of my black gingham, but I'm going to sell this ready to ship on my etsy page.
I'm so glad I perfected my sleeve pattern this summer--life is good with a decent sleeve sloper. Lately I've been doing sleeves with a gathered cap.
I am planning to do blouses and dresses for the spring in a variety of lightweight poplin and cotton lawn, so I made this blouse as a bit of a preview. I made it in a fineline cotton stretch twill. It's comfortable to wear but I'm just not that happy with the end product. I should not have used a stiffer fabric, and I should not have combined the petal sleeve with the piping at the bodice--one or the other! Feel free to argue this point with me if you disagree.
This is what it's like inside my head
I've been thinking a lot...about my thinking habits...which often aren't very effective. I've noticed that my mind tends to run at full speed. This can be pretty fun when it comes to creative ventures because I get a lot of great ideas and have a good time thinking about them. It's not so fun when it comes to executing those ideas, or just performing basic tasks of daily living. My boyfriend likes to remind me that, despite my graduate degree, I'm sometimes lacking common sense. I think what he really means (here I go...) is that sometimes my mind makes complicated matters out of things that should be simple.
I am not ashamed of the way I think, rather I am proud of it. But it would be like being proud of a hyperactive child---you have to give it limits and structure. Being a Cancer, INFP, and type 6 on the Enneagram (girl you KNOW I've taken all the personality tests out there!!!) structure and limits are my alleged enemies.
I was inspired to write this post because I think I'm finally getting to the point in my life of finding the balance between structure and the ever-rolling calliope that is my brain. Specifically in the form of exercise. So, a bit of background.
I have simultaneously strove for and shirked exercise all of my life. Thus its presence has waxed and waned, often prioritized only in the frantic moment when I notice I don't fit into my jeans anymore. But ultimately, I've hated it--it requires one to be in the moment, use gross motor skills, and suspend whimsical thought patterns. Yet, while most of my life I have been...I wouldn't go so far as to say skinny...but not-obese...and quickly approaching the age of 30 and so-soon-thereafter, 40--I'm inclined to pay more attention to my fitness and thus battling the inevitable acquiescence to gravity that is sure to come.
That kind of motivation NEVER sustains a regular exercise routine. Inevitably, after two workouts, I conclude, "I look fine" and stop for another six months. It's amazing how long I can coast off of two days of effort. I've known for a long time that, in order to sustain an exercise regimen, one needs to have a motivating factor related to an internal state, not a perception of external image. I can certainly look back and time and clearly organize my life history in terms of "happy" and "unhappy" depending on whether I was exercising regularly at the time. Even with that evidence, it's been hard to commit to a regular routine.
But lately, somehow, I have been able to exercise somewhat regularly. And I noticed something. During times that I'm not exercising, I snack listlessly, then retire to the couch where I watch TV and feel depressed. When I do exercise, I feel more mental clarity and accomplish more in terms of sewing--and don't feel rushed. Even on days that I did do a lot of couching, it feels better.
I begrudgingly considered this possibility: "Could it be that, not only do I benefit as much as anyone else from exercise, but due to my brain chemistry, benefit even more?!?" Ugh. Isn't there some kind of drug for this?
The 19 year old in me is tempted to quote Anne Sexton and say that, unfortunately, "old dwarf heart shakes her head," but this dwarf heart hasn't yet grown old, and I think it's worth it to challenge my sensibilities (or not so sensible sensibilities) if it means I could obtain better mental health, more sewing productivity and any other perks that come along with the various pleasant neuro-chemicals released during exercise.
If I may offer some advice:
1) Choose workouts that are fun and interesting--it's better to move moderately for 30 minutes, consistently, than to move vigorously for 45 minutes, ONCE.
2) As a counselor I am always reminding people--external motivation is OK, but internal motivation is best. If exercise offers clarity of mind and a good physical feeling, you'll keep doing it.
3) Figure out your style. If you do better when there's a clear plan, then by all means, chart it. However, if you're like me, a plan is a devious way to waste more time with charts and graphs when you should be working out. In that case, just try like hell to fit it in whenever you think you can tolerate it. Waiting for the "best laid plan" is a bullshit time waster!