Saturday, July 28, 2012

picmonkey secrets

Do any of you out there use PicMonkey at all? When Picnik was absorbed by the Google behemoth, I decided to look elsewhere for free online photo editing sites so I wouldn't have to sign up for Google Plus. PicMonkey's not bad, for being free. Its features are more user-friendly than the Picasa on my computer, especially since it actually allows you to resize the photos.

But, it has a dark side. An intriguing and admittedly tempting side.

... the TOUCH UP section.

Uh, yeah. They've always had a "Weight Loss" option, which shrinks the image width-wise. But they just recently added a "Nip Tuck" option, which lets you warp the photo to make you look slimmer. Or, if you're not careful, look like a smug alien:

I thought I'd try to edit one of my photos for real, just to see. I'm only curious! Maybe. Here's the Before and After of an unused photo from the batch I took of my floral print dress. Besides rotating and cropping the photo, I also did some tune-ups on myself. Shine reduction, wrinkle remover, airbrush, spray tan, teeth whitening, mascara, nip tuck...

Ha! Well, maybe I can use PicMonkey to crop out the Target shopping basket that sneaked its way into my home (illegally), and maybe it can make my face look less ghostly. But it's obviously not the best option for transforming my body while trying to show off the clothes I made. The floral print got all blurry where I tried to nip tuck my waist/hips and and then "re-fill" my bust area. I bet a skilled graphic artist who's not using a laptop mouse pad could make me look reaaaal good, but the best I can do is to make my right arm look like plastic while not even making it look slimmer.

How do you all feel about this whole PicMonkey "touch up" option? Would you ever secretly nip-tuck your hips or airbrush those under-eye circles? Or is it sad that these options even exist when we're supposed to have unrelenting love for our bodies?

Alright. Brief topic change. Let me explain why I haven't been sewing or blogging lately:

I have transformed my living room into a free advertisement for all the major chain home improvement stores!

Moving up north in t-minus two days. Whimper, squeal, grin, groan.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

floral petal dress

Did you think I forgot how to sew woven fabrics? Well, I did. Or at least I forgot that it's possible to hem a garment without inducing an anxiety attack.

Let's talk prints. In the past couple months on this blog, we've seen chevron prints. We've also seen plaids and stripes and dots, birdies and birdy feathers, blue checks and bigger blue checks. What's obviously missing are florals --the sure sign of summer/wedding season. I guess you could consider my Cambie fabric to be a floral, but I think of it as more of an... abstract weed.

I'm super picky about floral prints. It's a tricky design, as a certain combination of colors, design and scale can make it look either too sweet or too matronly. I've been trying to pin down what it is about certain floral prints that I find either agreeable or sickly, but it's a fairly unstable relationship we have. Generally speaking, the flowers need to be well-spaced, or oversized, or looks like they're drawn by a 5 year old. Like normally I'm more drawn to stuff like this:



and I'm obsessed with almost all Nani IRO fabric:

can't source the actual fabric, but photo is from here

So it's kinda weird that I went for this busy-ish small-scale floral. But, I LIKE it.

The fabric buying all happened within the span of two minutes max. I opened a promo e-mail from Denver Fabrics entitled "Huge Fabric Sale - Linen, Rayon and More," clicked through to the rayon challis section, saw this floral print at the top of the list for like $4.50/yd., tossed two yards in my virtual shopping cart, confirmed on PayPal, then made my morning coffee. I knew immediately what pattern I'd use: something for which I made a muslin so long ago that I've since lost it.

Hospital gown chic, you say? Luckily there's this thing called "Google" in which you type a pattern name and number -- in this case Vogue 8631 -- and up pops photographic evidence of bloggers posing in successful versions of the pattern. It actually makes a fine dress, despite what you may think of the waifs posing in weird muu-muus on the cover. Sizing is definitely an issue, though, so just be aware that you'll probably have to scale down. I made an 8 in the bodice and a 10 in the skirt (2 sizes smaller than the size I'm supposed to make and 1 size smaller than the size I normally make). 

If you're anything less than a Dolly Parton, you may have to adjust the bodice wrap accordingly. For me that meant taking wedges out of the shoulder seams so the top wouldn't droop as much. I also sewed deeper into the upper side seams to reduce the armhole gaps there. Even after tightening up the wrap, I would never ever wear this without a camisole underneath.

YES it's a real wrap dress. There's a tie on the inside so the underwrap stays attached to the sideseam, and there's a shoddily sewn hook and eye that attaches the overwrap to the exterior side seam.

I have to be pretty careful of how I stand or walk against the wind. The underwrap provides okay coverage but I think I flashed a nice (or naughty) bit of thigh to the grocery store parking lot. I like the dress design in a drapey fabric, but the pleats behave strangely without structure. Gravity works against them so they sort of fall open. I decided to stitch them down a couple inches so they'd permanently lay neat and flat instead of flop open at the waistline.

That's my hand in a side pocket, not a hip growth, btw. I nixed the bias-tape-finished hem and used Stitchy Witch's method of baby hemming it like she did on her version of the dress. Can't believe I never thought before of serging the raw edge first to mark an even line for folding and pressing. Doy. If I could move through the rest of my sewing life without using a seam gauge, I would. 

Maybe this is why I don't wear florals that often. Pollen allergies:

...or Paranormal Activity? You decide.

What's your preferred kind of floral, or do you love them all? Steer clear of them all?

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I have an obsession with drapey and slightly oversized cardigans. My collection of them is reasonable right now, but I have plans to totally take over my closet and my life with them. This was my first attempt at making one and it has only fueled the cardi fire. It's one of those pieces I want to plan all my outfits around so I can wear it non-stop.

It's a Vogue pattern, oddly. I say "oddly" because I almost never buy nor make Vogue patterns. They're either weird or, as we've discussed, make it impossible to tell what the garment looks like because the sample is made up in crazy busy fabric or the model is crouching away from the camera in pain.

Luckily this Very Easy Vogue 8819 just featured some dead-eyed illustrated women on the cover so I didn't have to interpret too much. It has sleeveless and full-length sleeve options, too, but I went with the half-sleeves so I could cross over seasons.

As you can see, the main design features are all these bias-cut pieces that intersect at various seams. As you can also see, it's an OCD print-matcher's basic nightmare. If you are obsessive about your stripes, perhaps you shouldn't attempt this pattern in a striped fabric. Maybe I cut slightly off but I sometimes found it impossible to match the stripes all the way down certain seams, so I just had to focus on making it symmetrical instead of perfectly continual. I ain't mad. It's easier to get away with jaggedness in thin and narrowly-spaced stripes than in thicker stripes.

The back center seam is the one where print-matching is entirely possible AND crucial, however. The pattern actually has you cut two pieces for the lower back that you're supposed to stitch together at the C.B., but I straightened out the flare and cut it on the fold to save myself even more stripe-matching agony. This just meant I had to sew a V to an inverted V, but for me it was worth the technique swap. 

I made a Medium, and you can tell it's a little big because the seams dip off my shoulders, and I'm often tempted to push the sleeves up. I like my cardigans to be a bit slouchy, though, especially when I wear them over short or more fitted dresses like this one. Makes the coverage feel more balanced or something.

Let's talk about the cardigan flare, though. I narrowed the A-line of the bottom back pieces by about five inches overall. I like 'em slouchy but I don't like 'em boxy. I also didn't want it to look like I had an Oreo-themed curtain draped over my booty:

So that's that. A cardigan, just in time for the drippiest 103-degree death heat of summer. I'm just that kind of seamster. I make short-sleeve floral tops in January and elbow-length cardigans in July. 

Oh and don't think I forgot about our little agreement from my last post. I never break a blog promise, so here you go. I went with this McCalls model because our dresses were the same color:

You guys, this pose was surprisingly difficult to master. I almost popped my hip out of socket. Your feet are pointed completely sideways, in line, but your torso and head have to face directly forward, and you have to be able to touch your knee while your body is upright and not slouched forward at all. Not to mention the Tyra eye smoulder. That's BUSINESS. Who knew pattern modeling would take such quad strength? 

Keep it up, McCalls. Those girls got talent.

So who shares my cardigan obsession, even in summer? Or maybe I should ask who isn't a fan of cardigans, so I can squint at you (Tyra-style) through my computer screen and say, "...f'real?"