Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Polka Dot Birthday Giveaway: You! On a Vintage Pattern Envelope!

Hello dear readers! In honor of reaching 200 followers—well, 226 now!—and my 32nd birthday (that's Friday, June 1st!) I'd like to offer a somewhat unusual sewing giveaway.

The prize: A simple digital color cartoon illustration of YOU, on the vintage sewing pattern envelope of your choice--maybe one you've already sewn, maybe one you want to sew, maybe one you won't ever sew, but just LOVE to fantasize about.

The deadline: entries due by midnight EST on June 6, 2012.

The background: As much as I adore vintage sewing pattern illustrations and their changing styles over time, they're all a bit, well... unrealistically tall and skinny. (Not to mention uniformly white.) I've always had this vague plan for doing a series of "Real People on Vintage Pattern Envelopes," drawings and I started to have a bit of fun with that idea in my 1940s red dress showdown and my header illustration for We Sew Retro:

We Sew Retro Facebook Timeline Illustration

The qualifications:

  • This giveaway is a bit special (estimated value: $125?), so I'd like to reward a loyal blog follower who has come back at least a few times (or who plans to read the blog regularly), as opposed to a random giveaway seeker who is brand-new to the blog.
  • I will draw five entries at random, then choose my top favorite based on the items described. Extra points for creativity, style, fun fabric and accessory choices, long-time readership, etc.

The rules: To enter, please...

  • Follow this blog (better yet, already be a follower!).
  • Leave a comment describing the vintage pattern you'd choose, in what type of fabric, with what sort of hairstyle and accessories. (For example: A red rayon 1940s dress with peplum, hair in victory rolls and red wedge sandals.)
  • Tell me what you'd like to do with the drawing (put it on your business card? post on your blog? print for your mom?)
  • Tell me why you like to read my blog.
  • Make sure your contact info is obviously available in your Google profile or leave an email address.

Details and disclaimers:

  • If you enter, you will have one week to send me a clear full-length photo of yourself, a decent image of the pattern envelope you'd like to be pictured on, and a photo or description of the fabric(s) you'd like it to be made up in, plus inspiration images for accessories and hair. The fabric does not have to be accurate period vintage—it can be as wild or weird as you like..
  • You understand that these reference photos may be published on this blog in the giveaway followup post.
  • I will provide you both with the pattern envelope art image and a separate image of yourself in the dress, sans envelope, like so:

  • I estimate I'll have the drawing done in 6-8 weeks (not that the drawing will actually take that long, I just have a ridiculously busy life at the moment).
  • Copyright for the standalone drawing stays with me, but you have unlimited usage rights (on your blog, business card, wherever) as long as you attribute it.
  • Because the idea is "Real People on Vintage Envelopes" please keep in mind that I am not going to make you look taller, or skinnier, or more or less X, Y, or Z--I will pretty much stick to your actual fabulous outlines as delineated in whatever photo you send me.
  • I will send you a rough sketch as part of the process, but reserve the right not to make many/any edits or changes to the sketch or final.

Remember: giveaway entries due by June 6, midnight EST!

And with that, I'm off to ink this Downton Abbey-esque vintage-inspired "pattern envelope" art I'm working on for the Consulting Dressmaker for her Sisters of Edwardia blouse...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cardigan & sock progress + San Francisco yarn shopping

Georgina Cardigan Progress

It may not look all that impressive, but somehow in the midst of illustration commissions and traveling and work and a toddler sleep strike, I've been making slow but steady progress on my two knitting projects--switching back and forth between them at random as needed when boredom begins to creep in.

The above is the first two bits of my Georgina cardigan, which should eventually look like the chartreuse view below:

Georgina Cardigan Color Options: Which Yarn to Choose?!

What's actually impressive about this is that I had the patience to knit a stockinette swatch and a lace swatch and block and dry them before diving right in... I have always foolishly skipped this step, which is why the first sweater I knit for myself ended up donated to the Goodwill, and the second sulks in my "to-fix" drawer.

As for the Waving Lace socks, they're more than halfway there, and I'm desperately trying to fend off an attack of Second Sock Syndrome:

Waving Lace socks progress

As I began to knit I was skeptical of my grad-dying efforts--I used "sock blanks" from Knit Picks and dipped them in a dye pot bit by bit, but the effect seemed more stripey than gradual...

My gradated turquoise sock blank

But in real life, the sock top is definitely a very dark turquoise gradually fading to a very light turquoise at the toe--hard to see in photos, but just trust me!

Waving Lace sock the first

And I wasn't able to fit in any fabric shopping whilst in San Francisco earlier this month, but I happened to be staying a short walk from the lovely Imagiknit yarn shop, which had a fantastic and huge selection of yarns (compared to say, a typical closet-sized New York City yarn shop) ... this is just a tiny glimpse of one room, with natural and locally dyed yarns on display, in true California style:

Imagiknit San Francisco, main room

Most importantly for me, they also had a toy corner to distract my toddler from pulling said yarns off the shelf while I browsed.

Imagiknit San Francisco--toy corner

Though little Z did help me pick out some nylon-blend darning wool to support my new sock-mending addiction:

Imagiknit display wall & darning yarns

In the end, I forced myself to buy yarn ONLY for my next project--a pair of Doctor-Who-inspired Tardis socks (because I am OBSESSED, though perhaps slightly less so than Meg the Grand), which should turn out something like this:

But all this time away from my sewing machine is beginning to make me itch. As soon as I finish my final sewing-related illustration gig, I am SO making another Jalie scarf top... or a Ginger skirt (the pattern finally arrived after being on back order for ages)... or those high-waisted jeans I've been craving...

What do you wish you could be sewing right now, but can't find the time?

P.S. Due to my hectic life lately I have totally lost control of all my sewing-related RSS feeds and it is bumming me out. I have over 1,000 unread posts, and my attempts to just target even my top top top favorite blogs for catchup have completely failed. I'm thinking it's time for a "Mark All As Read" amnesty here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sewing Through the Decades Illustration for We Sew Retro!

Our family is off on another little trip for a few days (to Boston for my grandmother's 90th birthday party and my husband's 39th birthday), but in the meantime, I did finish up one of the sewing illustration commissions I was working on!

We Sew Retro Facebook Timeline Illustration

It's a timeline cover photo for the We Sew Retro Facebook page. Here's a screenshot of the art in action:

We Sew Retro Facebook Timeline Illustration screenshot in action

I had so much fun working on this (even though it took me ages longer than I estimated), deciding what outfits to dress each of them in (SO hard to choose) and on their hair and makeup. (Can you tell that 1960s seamstress woman is pregnant? I originally was working on a more rainbow-bright color scheme (1970s seamster dude originally had a bright orange plaid jacket) but it looked like a box of crayons so I muted it down.

More details later! Hope you like it!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Adjustable Wedding Dress for a Mystery Bride (with a Mosquito Net Veil)!

The challenge:

  • Design and sew a wedding dress...
  • In less than three weeks.
  • For a bride you've never met and can't measure or get measurements from. So: ADJUSTABLE.
  • With little to less money (i.e. what you can scrounge up around the office). CHEAP CHEAP BEYOND CHEAP.
  • In your spare time between working, parenting, and having a life and trying to finish a bunch of freelance illustration projects.
  • Also: Make it funny to humanitarian aid workers.

I've mentioned before that I have an awesome job, working in marketing for the emergency medical relief organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). It's generally very serious humanitarian business, but once a year at the afterparty for our annual general assembly, some of us put on a little skit with sketches, music, dancing and costumes.

And this year, part of our skit involves a wedding—and somehow, I found myself volunteering to make the dress. Even though we're not quite sure who will be playing the bride, so I somehow have to design it to fit ANYONE. (I'm also supposed to come up with some kind of over-the-top bridesmaid outfit for myself, which I'm still puzzling over).

Funnily enough, I just checked out a copy of Susan Khalje's Bridal Couture from the library (via inter-library loan, after a LONG wait--it was NOT easy to come by):

I actually used to own a copy back in the days before it went out-of-print... but after I realized I didn't actually have the chops to make my own wedding dress, I up and sold it. Which I am so kicking myself for now, since it seems to go for like, $300 used (even though you can buy as a CD book now).

But somehow I doubt I'll be using any of those fancy techniques. Instead I'm planning to make a T-shirt wedding dress out of some extra MSF T-shirts from around the office. I actually have a pattern for one, the Tying the Knot dress from Megan Nicolay's Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt...

...But I think I'll go even simpler here. The bodice will just be a tube with tons of elastic shirring and a gather to make the sweetheart neckline, and the skirt will be a separate tube of T-shirts, with a flounce in back and a red ribbon sash (and maybe an elastic?) to gather the waist. I won't bother with hemming. EASY, right?

The accessories are obvious: a "mosquito net" veil, elegant yellowish surgical gloves, a stethoscope "necklace." Haven't figured out the bouquet yet--I might just make it out of paper flowers, or maybe surgical masks?

Let's hope so, because I want to get on those Jalie jeans... and I have the Cambie dress coming in the mail... I am such a bad pattern-buying-past-capacity-for-pattern-sewing girl.

I used to be really into T-shirt refashioning, though it doesn't appeal so much these days--I'd take oversized old punk rock and thrift store Ts and turn them into darted, fitted tops... here I am in 2004 with one such:

Deconstructed polo shirt

I even once hosted a T-shirt refashioning party using the Nicolay book and it was a lot of fun, though my T-shirt transformation didn't turn out wearable (tip: use super-soft thin old T-shirts, not thick unyielding scratchy thick T-shirts).

So: do you fancy T-shirt refashioning? Have you ever made a T-shirt dress? Conversely, are you so super-fancy you actually made your own lovely wedding dress (NOT from T-shirts)?

P.S. Bonus photos: Masheka rode in the 42-mile TD 5 Boro Bike Tour on May 6, raising $1,370 for MSF in the process. Here's little Ms. Z hugging her daddy halfway through the ride:

Z cheers her daddy on--Partway through the 5 Boro Bike Tour, Masheka stops for a goodluck hug from Z.

And here's a photo of us from last year heading out to an AIDS rally with the MSF office. We were protesting in support of scaling up access to AIDS medications for people living with HIV worldwide. I made Z a matching onesie with an iron-on T-shirt transfer.

Mikhaela, Masheka and Zora on our way to an AIDS rally with Doctors Without Borders in June 2011.

Monday, May 7, 2012

On my sewing table and in the mail

Oops, did I say "sewing table"? I meant "drawing table"--or more precisely, computer desk, since I draw directly into my Mac. I'm back from a fabulous trip to San Francisco but there will be no sewing until I finish a few exciting sewing-related illustration projects.

A little sneak peek of one is above--part of what's shown is final inks, part is a sketch, and none of it has been colored yet. (My toddler's sleep has been all wacky due to travel--hoping she'll start going to bed before 11 p.m. again soon!)

You may already have seen PART of the other--I'm doing a little illustration for one of my favorite bloggers, Stephanie aka The Consulting Dressmaker of 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World fame... so here's my flat line art for her lovely Downton Abbey-inspired Sisters of Edwardia blouse:

While on vacation, I deliberately ignored my Google Reader, so I am only just now catching up on all YOUR sewing awesomeness (Me Made May isn't happening for me, but I'm loving it vicariously). But I did follow the continuing comments on my frustrated post about natural-waisted jeans, "In Defense of Mom Jeans", and I totally recommend taking a read--a lot of you feel really strongly about high vs. low waists, and the discussion is still going!

Which brings me to what's coming in the mail. After multiple fabric shopping fails, I finally caved and bought the infamous Jalie 2908 stretch jeans pattern, which do have a higher-waisted (if not totally natural-waisted) option, plus I can make jeans for the little Z girl:

I don't know if I'll go for a boot-cut, though--think I'll do them straight, or even skinny. We shall see!

I also finally bought the Colette Ginger skirt... I was buying the Jalies from Pattern Review anyway, and I have just the denim for it.

I'm somewhat embarrassed to realize that I own quite an expensive and large collection of Colette Patterns, including the handbook and Macaron, Ceylon, Crepe, Sencha, Parfait and now Ginger... but NONE of them have ever made it past the muslin stage (though admittedly, I muslined/altered several of them while pregnant, then realized they would look better with like, a waist.) Let's see if I can change that up.

Oh, and here's what my knitting looked like the day before I left for San Francisco--a half-finished grad-dyed-by-me Waving Lace sock, and two carefully washed and blocked swatches formy chartreuse Georgina cardigan:

Knitting progress

I don't have pictures yet, but the sock is now almost-done (though it of course needs a twin sister, argh!) and I've cast on and gotten a good ways (er, a few inches) on the lacy center of the cardigan.

So: what's your most expensive pattern you've never actually sewn?