I love to use Pinterest as my virtual bulletin board. As you might guess many of my pins are sewing related. Click here to see what fun stuff I've found and pinned to different sewing boards.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Finding Betty's (Fabric Shopping Field Trip San Luis Obispo)

On a recent trip to San Luis Obispo I couldn't wait to go back to visit Betty's! The crazy thing is that, though my daughter was a student at Cal Poly for several years (she graduated two weeks ago) I never stumbled across this wonderful emporium until last December. 

Here's my strange little story about this fabric lover's store.... I'd gone down to see my daughter between quarters. We set off for a nice day trip to Santa Barbara, and I checked on the web to see if there were any fabric stores close by. Sure enough Betty's showed up on the web. Except that when I went to the Santa Barbara State Street address that I'd found, there wasn't actually a fabric store. Oh rats! We all know the sad story of the disappearing independent fabric store. I chatted with an employee in the household supply store there, and she agreed that yes indeed, people often came in searching for Betty's and had been doing so for years. No, she didn't think the store had just moved or anything. She was a sewist herself. Well tough luck for me, right?

So back in San Luis Obispo I was fussing to my daughter about the missing Santa Barbara store. 

Gee sorry mom, there's some kind of fabric store right down the street. Why don't you try it?

Oh honey, I'm sure it's a home dec store. I'd know if there was a fabric store here besides Beverley's. 

But of course I walked down the street.

And I found Betty's. 

And guess what? It's THE Betty's. The same one that used to be in Santa Barbara! 

Betty is, I hear, a long, long time fabric store owner. Apparently she did indeed have a store in Santa Barbara for a long time, but real estate prices there made her decide to convert her property to rental and focus on sales in San Luis Obispo. 

This ruffly stuff makes a great deconstructed tee
I loved the result using this type of fabric in
my  pale green Fashion Forward Mermaid tee
I'm sure glad she did, because Betty
It's unusual to find these goods
in a local store
 has great stock, especially knits. 

It's stumbling onto great store's like Betty's that keep me Enchanted By Sewing.
~ ~ ~

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Buttercup Purse inspired by London

Wouldn't this regale dame have enjoyed
carrying my latest buttercup purse creation?
Hey, check out that cool little purse the grand lady is sporting!

No, that little bag is not original to the poster, which advertised the exhibit I so enjoyed on my recent trip to London (I talk about creating this  project and London through a sewists eyes, in my June Enchanted by Sewing podcast *). I hand-sewed this buttercup purse while traveling to and within England. This simple pattern was great for stitching on plane and train.
Historic clothing
detail inspired my pearl and glass beading design on my buttercup purse

I went to the In Fine Style exhibit just about the time I got to the beading part of the project, and found inspiration for my pattern there in the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace.
I'll remember historic fashion inspiration from
my London trip, every time I slip this purse on,
pop in a mobile device and head out for a walk.

Back home now, I've been carrying this fun little purse on my daily walks. It's perfect for holding my coin purse, reading glasses and iPhone. I'm sure the regal lady in the poster, would have had enjoyed stowing her mobile devices  there as well:-)

Taking inspiration from historic designs keeps me, enchanted by sewing.

* Click here to look for pattern and exhibit links in the Show Notes for the June Enchanted by Sewing podcast 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's how it looks AND How it works (historic design)

Were Frances Stuart's clothes
designed to work?
What did she need to do
 while wearing this glam outfit?
This portrait is from an exhibit I went to on a recent trip to London. I talk about visiting London through a sewists eyes, in my June Enchanted by Sewing podcast.

This dress is gorgeous all right, but does it have anything to do with something a middle class California woman would sew today?

Is the tendency to think gorgeous is the be-all-end-all of a garment something that only the gold-satin bedecked Frances Stuart had to cope with three plus centuries ago?

As a sewing student in the CaƱada Community College Fashion Program, I was particularly interested to read about the experiences of students at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. The piece (http://www.sfchronicle.com/style/article/Four-Seasons-S-F-serves-up-new-uniforms-4506762.php )  describes a project involving the students designing new uniforms for people who serve food at the Four Seasons Hotel.

This was the phrase that had me laughing. "A normal project, we just design what we like, what we imagine in our heads," she said. "This was different. The winning uniform is actually in production, so we have to think about the function of the design. They have to work in them."

Is that a novel thought, or what? Imagine, clothes that have to move around with the person wearing them, and work!

I may love Frances Stuart's glamorous gold dress, but would I really want to dress up like this? How comfortable was she in her corseted body? What was it like to move around in those skirts? Could she run away from scary things, or jump up and down in joy? What could she have done in this frock?

I love the inspiration I find in this dress- the sleeves, the shimmery golden color, and the lovely belt. And most of all, I love the fact that as a middle class woman of today, I can take ideas from this historic ensemble, and incorporate it into a job-able, comfortable, bike able modern design.

Reinterpreting historic details in modern day garments, keeps me enchanted by sewing.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sewing Some California Romance (Vogue 8810)

My daughter graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo last weekend, and I sewed to celebrate!

I first made Vogue 8810 in a straight skirt, no sleeve variation (You can see the black and white houndstooth version I made last summer in my Romancing the Dress posting). I like the simple lines of this frock pattern, which work when I want to get a little bit dressed up, but also don't get in my way when I hop on my bike and pedal off to chorus, or walk downtown for groceries.

This is my California Romance version of the pattern. I was crazy about this poppy trim when I found it at Brittex not too many months back. Now how could I use it? Hey, nothing like shopping my fabric inventory!! This light weight plaid shirting fabric worked well. To give this fabric sufficient clout for a dress, I used rayon beneath, interlining the bodice and sewing a full slip beneath the skirt.

Once more I didn't use the drawstring waist that came with the pattern. My friend Susan worked hard to alter the bodice, fitting the shoulders better and adding long diagonal darts I like a lot. I had meant to wear this with my favorite brown leather belt but the bias cut skirts just looked wrong with that belt. It was bunchy and unattractive at the waist when I tried on the belt. Instead I sewed on a piece of wide black elastic that didn't go all the way around to meet in the front and then sewed that CA poppy trim from Brittex
So happy I found a use for my
CA poppy trim
on top of that, just buttoning it at the side with this pretty green button. The front then hangs flat on me, which works better with what the pattern designer was going for.

Interpreting the romance of my life in California in the clothes I wear, keeps me enchanted by sewing!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Enchanted By Sewing PODCAST Laurel Loves London (Fashion Sewing Inspiration)

Laurel Love's London's Liberty
Hey, the June 2013 "Enchanted By Sewing" Podcast is available in the pod-o-sphere!

You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on this linkOr, 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.
Did I miss any links? If so, please post here and let me know, or else email me at,  EnchantedBySewing AT gmail
London's got what a sewist yearns for, historically inspired fabric and fashion, not to mention the regular inspirations we bring back from vacation tripping in an historically rich area. When this California sewist vacations in London she does more than promenade along the Thames. She visits historic Liberty to buy soft delicate Tana Lawn fabric and the Victoria and Albert to study historic fashion. She also looks both ways before she crosses the street (cuz she can never remember which way the traffic flows) to check out street fashion.
I prepped for travel to London by sewing
• http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2013/06/sewing-for-travel-butterick-5526.html

In the 'cast I talked about the hand sewing I took alongfor plane and train- a buttercup purse. I've loved sewing many MadeByRae's buttercup purses. Busy sewing my CA Romance Dress (yes it's done! the posting will be out in a few days on my MeEncantaCoser blog), I haven't yet finished the purse strap, though I finished the rest of the sewing and embellishment on the trip.

Here's my detail showing a few of the buttercup purses I've made in the past, and more info about accessing the free pattern. I wrote this when I was prepping my bluebird buttercup purse http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2012/09/do-you-love-butter-in-praise-of.html

Here's something more about the vintage tatting I added to the finished purse http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2012/09/tit-fortatting-embellishing-my.html

Fashion Fabric Buying in London 
Liberty's Tana Lawn
Poppy and Honesty on the left, Strawberry Thief, right

Historical Fashion Inspiration in London

Victoria and Albert (V&A )  

      Search the V&A Collection http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/t/the-collections/

      V&A organizes beautiful stuff by design styles http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/d/decorative-and-design-styles/


In a London Mood

• I like the book...Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead as much as I like the show "Mr. Selfridge" I've been watching on PBS 

• D.E. Stevenson is a classic British author who wrote traditional women's novels for about 30 years. If you're unused to old style class and racial label references however, you may be surprised by some of the attitudes that this author sometimes expressed so casually. Does it reflect attitudes among the power structure of the time? You bet it does.

• Other classic British Authors include: Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie and M.C. Beaton (modern)

Travel Thoughts
• Portobello Market in the Notthinghill area, is a popular shopping spot, especially on Saturday's when many small vendors have booths. On many other days you can still buy good produce there
• We've rented flats short-term in London on several trips, usually for a week through A Place Like Home http://www.aplacelikehome.co.uk
• Contours Walking Holidays setup our walking trip along the coast in Cornwall . They make reservations at B&B's, arrange for our luggage to be sent from place to the next, and gave us directions and an itinerary. We did the walking and self-guiding. http://www.contours.co.uk/walking-holidays/south-west.php We used another agency Mickledore two years ago when we walked for three days along Hadrian's Wall and were very happy with them. Mickledore doesn't do trips in Cornwall however. http://www.mickledore.co.uk/walking-holidays/hadrians_wall?gclid=CIDjsZ2k77cCFSeCQgodV3YAyA

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sewing for Travel (Butterick 5526)

I sewed Butterick 5526 again for my recent trip to London. It was very practical, and pretty, when worn with a pair of black cropped linen pants I made for the same trip. They are the same tried and true pattern I used for these tan cropped linen pants. 

I took this shirt along on another trip, on our recent weekend down to my daughter's graduation from Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo). All the hotels around the area require a two night minimum stay (Can you blame an area whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism for this requirement on high demand weekends? I don't.) This shirt went along to the beach and on to winery tasting on Saturday. I wore my newly finished CA Romance dress for the ceremony on Sunday.

This is a great pattern. I love the shape of the hem and the curved side seams. Thanks again to my sewing buddy Susan for all her work altering this pattern to give me a great fit! And of course we weren't the only people to find that the sleeves may be too tight as originally designed (see my links in detailed posting to Pattern Review). Nothing beats a muslin!

I previously sewed and wrote more about my experiences sewing this shirt, in my posting about sewing my No. 1 Ladie's Detective Agency shirt.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Inspired by London (historical fashion)

On my recent trip to London I hopped the tube over to The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace, to take in the exhibit, In Fine Style, The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion (if you're headed to London yourself that show is on through October of this year).

Sure the wealthy ladies and gentlemen in the exhibits portraits indulged in a lot of intricate garments that aren't practical today (nor were they then, for regular folks), but they still inspire plenty of details that do more than just make me utter a long drawn out romantic sigh. They give me ideas for my modern sewing projects.

Here Mary of Modena (a Duchess of York in the late 17'th century) wears a lovely riding habit. Although the lace at her neck may have been unaffordable for the majority of the population, I bet the beautiful hang of her sleeve inspired many a delicate blouse or shirt among the less monied people she encountered. Many of us might still enjoy stitching up a poet shirt with similar drippy hanging sleeves, perhaps in a soft white cotton batiste?

What do you think about her color scheme? I'm pretty partial to the way the soft peach in her turned back jacket sleeve and lining, picks up the brown tones in the primary fabric. A modern day vest (think waistcoat in the U.K. of course) or jacket sewn in an embossed print with a peachy lining would be a beauty!

My very favorite detail in this habit, is the welt pocket. It caught my attention the minute I spied the portrait. Though I think of a welt as being a subtle little detail, her ladyship's mantua maker drew everyone's eye to this practical little pocket, by displaying the lining and not hiding the opening with the welting strip I associate with this feature. (So does this really count as a welt pocket? No matter, it plays the same function in the garment.) She highlighted the pocket even more by embellishing it with an oval of the same carmel/honey colored buttons that would nicely suit our modern jacket or waistcoat. This gorgeous opening also looks to be farther down the hip than we might typically find it, but oh so practical for our spare change, or the handkerchief many of us still carry there, just as Mary very likely did.

Historical Inspiration keeps me enchanted by sewing!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lovin' London's Liberty (Fabric Shopping in England)

Just back from a trip to England. I started out my week in London visiting Liberty to buy lengths of Tana Lawn fabric for two shirts (At 20 pounds a metre that was pretty much my whole souvenir budget! ). What a pleasure to visit this store with all it's beautiful things! 

Arthur Liberty first opened this wonderful store in 1885 to sell gorgeous imported products associated with the Aesthetic Movement. There's been a lot written about this store. Here's a history link from the store's page.
Tana Lawn, named after Lake Tana in the Sudan, is one of the delicate, gorgeous, high quality fabrics the store is known for. The material was created by Liberty. Color and pattern is carefully orchestrated to produce a quality product, and one I can't wait to start sewing. 

The orange and burgandy print on the left is Poppy and Honesty. The green print on the right is Strawberry Thief. The store calls them "classics" since they come from original William Morris designs, originally used in wallpaper and home dec weight (known in the U.K. as "soft furnishing") fabric.

There's a nice display of William Morris's role in the Arts and Crafts Movement, in the British Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. You can also search the Victoria and Albert collection (for free) online through their site. 

When I sew my William Morris fabric shirts, I'll be sewing up history. That's the kind of thing that keeps me... enchanted by sewing.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Imagining Jackets

Vogue 8885 is a sleeper, well worth trying
Lot of beautiful jackets came up in Sewing class this semester.

My favorite was a real sleeper pattern sewn by Isabelle, a sewist who works at Thai Silks (also known as Exotic Silks). Guess what her favorite fabric is?

The suggested fabrics for Vogue jacket, 8885, don't include silk, but Isabelle's choice of "mud" silk, woven in black and blue threads was spot on for view D. I would have passed right by this pattern if I hadn't seen what Isabelle can do with a pile of mud :-)

You know who wants this pattern now, don't you?