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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Super fun weekend

This stretch of October through December is easily my favorite time of year. Not only is the weather (usually) starting to cool down and the holiday treats are in full swing, but we have football and basketball games to attend, assorted parties and the typical holiday fetes as well. See, so much good stuff!

This weekend was jam-packed with stuff, which left little time for sewing or reading, but was really fun all the same. After a mellow Friday night at home, Saturday had both of us early - Jim was off to play 2 rounds of golf with Dubber while I stayed at home and caught up on some DVR shows, cleaned up the house, did a crapton of laundry and started yet another baby gift. [I know, I know, for someone who doesn't have any kids, I sure do make a bunch of baby stuff. Yes, well, this is what happens when you know close to 20 babies being born in one year. Mmmm hmmmm.] By the time he got home, it was about time to head out for Dubber's surprise birthday party his wife was hosting at their house.

Dubber's wife Girlie is entering her last month of pregnancy and is naturally busy with a bunch of other stuff, but still put together a lovely, low-key get together at their house. The menu of pizza and cake was, as she described it, "a 5 year old birthday party, just with alcohol." Perfect for a Saturday night. A total of 5 couples and one precious 10 month old were there. Once the little one was fed and passed out in the bedroom, the rest of us proceeded to eat, drink and play Taboo, which led to a brouhaha of laughter, screaming, yelling, and general craziness. Seriously, I can't remember when I laughed that hard and for that long. Such a great night!

We both opted to sleep in on Sunday, knowing that our night was going to be very long. After hanging around the house in the morning and early afternoon, we were off to the Rosebowl to see U2! We had received numerous emails to make sure to arrive early as there were close to 100,000 people expected for the event - the largest concert ever held at the Rosebowl. We are such goody toeshoes, so we arrived around 3:30pm (keep in mind, The Black Eyed Peas, who were opening, weren't scheduled to go on until 7:00pm) and had fun milling around the entertainment and food tents. We grabbed some grub and some drinks and enjoyed the scene until it was time to go in.

I knew that we had paid a pretty penny for our seats and was hoping they were decent, but seriously, I didn't realize they were this good! (Please pardon the crappy iphone pictures. I completely forgot my camera and was kicking myself all night!)
The concert was fabulous - The Black Eyed Peas kicked it off with a bang and did a good job of firing up a group of fans that didn't seem to be all that into their music and U2 was really great. Even though attending a concert that large is kinda nutty, there is something really special about being in a stadium with 100,000 other people who are all singing and cheering and swaying along with you. Really powerful stuff.
Once the concert was over, we just sat down and let the 93473947257 billion other people clear out a bit before making it back to our car. I was amazed to see that we still got home at 12:30am - you have no idea how happy I was to live locally that night!

One funny story - so as we're waiting to let everyone clear out, a bunch of young people are crossing through our row and while the seats and rows all around us are completely empty, they still decide to pass right by us so that we have to stand up to let them go. I mean, come one, just walk around us! I roll my eyes and make some comment to Jim and he turns to me and says "Wow, you can sure go from 0 to bitch in about 2 seconds, huh?" Now, if you know my husband, you know this is something so out of character for him to say. I started cracking up and said that while it's completely true, I never in a million years would have ever expected him to say something like that. It's been two days and we're still laughing over it.

This upcoming weekend is going to be pretty mellow - just a work dinner with Jim on Sunday night that is amazingly just up the street from us. And thank goodness because once November starts, it's going to be go go go. :)


Completely off-topic from the weekend fun, but I've been back at the gym, pounding away for 3 weeks now and can I just tell you, it's effing hard as hell! Whatever stamina and muscle tone I had built up over the summer just up and disappeared while I was sick. I knew it was going to be hard going back, but holy crud - it's really tough! Thankfully, fun instructors and good music makes everything bearable and I can see flickers of my old fitness level coming back. But yeah, I'm pretty much dying 3-4 nights a week. Pertussis - the gift that keeps on giving. :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Amy Butler Lounge Pants

I became a fan of Amy Butler well before I ever got my sewing machine. I love her printed fabric and I think her patterns are really cute and fun. I happened to browse through her book In Stitches one day and I liked the look of the lounge pants. I did a little more investigation on Pattern Review and I liked the look of the pants based on all the pictures I could find. They are described as a wide-leg lounge pant, which I thought would be great - I tend to gravitate towards wide-leg pants in general to balance out my pear-shaped figure. I selected a pink Amy Butler peony print with a complimentary polka dot fabric for the bottom trim.
The "pattern" that is included with the book is just the start of the pattern. You have to add the leg portion to the pattern pieces that are provided with freezer or parchment paper. When you're finished, the pattern pieces resemble very large rectangles with no curvature for the hips. This should have been my first clue that maybe this wasn't the ideal pattern for me. But no, I forged ahead, cut out the pants and started to sew them up using french seams - a technique that I had just learned in sewing class and that I LOVE! Jim was watching me do all of this and commented that "Those look like clown pants babe." I brushed off his comments and continued onward. I knew that I wanted to do something slightly different for the top of the pants. The directions have you just add a drawstring at the top, but I wanted them to have an elastic waist with a drawstring on the outside, enclosed in a casing from a separate piece of fabric - somthing that is done on a pair of RTW sleep boxers I own and I think is super cute. I figured out the dimensions for adding the drawstring casing at the top of the pants, cut it out, attached it and added the drawstring though it before adding the elastic at the waistband. All of that took some time to figure out and execute, but it turned out great! I then hemmed the pants and added the trim to the bottom. Again, it turned out so very cute!
I finally put on the finished pants and well...gulp... they're clown pants. :/ I love a wide-leg pant, but holy smokes, these are HUGE! For once, I don't think it's me making them too big, either, as they fit comfortably in the waist and hips, but the legs are ginormous. I have a feeling that these are cuter on someone who is much less curvy. So, I think I executed the pants well, but this pattern most definitely doesn't work on my body. So sad. :(
Since they were intended to be around the house pants anyways, it's not a huge loss, but I am a bit bummed that this awesome fabric is now a pair of pants that are just meh, instead of something I love. I have a wide-leg pj pant pattern from Simplicity that I found after making these pants that I intend to make up later this winter. The reviews I've read have been positive and one even mentioned that they are a much more normal wide-leg pant, instead of the "sultan" pants from Amy Butler. I'm hoping that they're right.

Oliver + S Birthday Party Dress

I really love the Oliver + S patterns. I think they have a small, but lovely line of kids patterns all of which have lovely details incorporated into them. I bought the Birthday Party Dress pattern the first month I started sewing after seeing it made up several times on the Oliver + S blog. While we have no kids, I have an abundance of friends with little girls and I knew it would make a great gift for one of them.
I've been a bit obsessed with orange this summer - I love pairing it with teal, pink, purple and especially navy blue. It can really take an outfit and kick it up a notch. After seeing this dress made up in a lovely navy blue silk with yellow accents on the company's blog, I thought I'd use that navy and orange combo I love so much for the dress. Instead of using a plain navy fabric, I found a fun navy and white polka dot quilting cotton that I thought was perfect for a little girl. This pattern is suggested for an intermediate sewist, which means I probably shouldn't have even considered it. But, I'm stubborn and really wanted to make the dress, even though it was obviously for someone more advanced than I. I'm pleased to say that while it was time consuming and I had to really follow the very well written directions, I completed the dress with no major snafus and it turned out so well! I was even surprised to see that the inside was just as nice as the outside. I love this little dress and I swear, if I had a daughter, she'd have a closet full of these by now! I love the tab front detail and the hem-facing, both of which I made in bright orange broadcloth. I used matching bright orange buttons down the back which helps tie all the orange accents together. The polka dot fabric was a bit heavier than was probably called for for the dress, so the pleats in front are in there really well. I think I'll use a lighter weight cotton for the next one so the pleats open up a bit more at the botton of the dress. All that being said, I think this is a great pattern and the dress made a great birthday gift for a very cute little 2 year old. I forsee making many more of these in the future!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to good

So, after 2 months of being sick sick sick, I finally returned to the land of the living this weekend. Hallelujah! I'd say I'm about 85%, which is good enough for me. I'm still coughing some, but it's much better than it's been in weeks. Also, my muscle strain? tear?, whatever it was on my left side has mostly resolved itself. I went back to the gym on Saturday and I cannot tell you how good it felt to move and break a sweat. It was also nice to have the owner and several regulars tell me how much I was missed - and really, the feeling was mutual. I've also cleaned the house, washed all the linens in the spare bedroom, aka the sick ward, so that my mom has a clean place to sleep when she comes to visit next month and I've started cooking again. Let's just say that my husband is very happy to have his wife back and goodness knows I'm thrilled to be feeling so normal!

On the flip side, I finally took a looksee at my calendar and oh boy - it's a busy next two and a half months. Eeek! UCLA and Lakers games, a concert, my mom coming to visit, dinner parties, book club meetings, all the holiday hoopla, etc, etc. All fun stuff, but pretty much my weekends, aka my primary sewing hours, between now and the end of the year are packed. I was all pumped to get my LBD all made and entered, but it looks like it's just not gonna happen this month. Blah. I figure I'll scope out the contests for 2010 and find one or two that look fun and plan ahead to make some good and enter it. My goal isn't necessarily to win (although wouldn't that be awesome!), but just to have fun and get a new garment at the end of it. As for that LBD, thank you everyone for chiming in with your thoughts! I still plan on making one sometime after the new year (still undecided on the actual pattern), it will just be for my own enjoyment and not for a contest.

Speaking of sewing stuff, I'm so ridiculously behind on blogging my sewing projects. Oops! I really need to catch up, hopefully this week or over the weekend. Finished stuff includes a baby blanket, several toddler skirts, a toddler dress, a work skirt for me and some lounge pants. Mostly successes with one misstep thrown in for good measure. Ha! Pictures and reviews coming soon.

In the meantime, I'm just enjoying getting back to my regularly scheduled life. I missed it so much and am so very happy to be back in my groove.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

LBD contest

Pattern Review hosts monthly sewing contests for members and since I joined this summer, I've been hoping for a contest that would inspire me to enter. October is that month! They are having a Little Black Dress (LBD) contest that starts today and runs through the end of the month. The rules are simple: It should be what you feel is a LBD and it must be styled for day and for night.

For me, the LBD will always be epitomized by that gorgeous sheath dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's - sleek, simple, and somthing that will never go out of style. I've wanted to own a similar, short version of the dress for forever, but my small bust and large booty has made finding one that actually fits near impossible. I think this might be my chance to finally get it. :)

My idea is to make a suiting style sheath out of lightweight black stretch wool that can easily move from the office to an after-work cocktail party with a few makeup and accessory changes. The problem is to narrow down the pattern choices. Here are the front-runners:

McCall's 5799

McCall's 5845

Simplicity 2648

New Look 6643

I'm really torn over which one to tackle. So, what do you think readers? Which one should I choose?