Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekend Project: At least the pockets fit...

Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.
-Richard Bach

It seems like forever since I've had a chance to do some sewing, but just before our vacation trip I managed to sew up this dress.

I was particularly looking forward to making the pockets, as this is a style that I've never made before. I photographed the main steps. First, I stitched the pocket front to the front of the skirt, right sides together, along the curved side seam.

This piece gets folded back and pressed.

Next, the pocket back is attached to the pocket front along the long, curved inside seam.

Afterward, the pocket can be opened out like this:

Here you see it tucked in the way it will be when the dress is complete. Notice that the skirt now has a straight side seam, to be connected to the back skirt.

There was only one step that I had a hard time visualizing - the directions had me open out the pocket and sew a short seam, starting mid-way along the top edge and going downwards for a couple of inches.

I think that seam closed up the top of the pocket so that it doesn't start its opening at the waist, but rather a bit below the waist and into the skirt.

The pockets came out great and I love them! I think I'll add this style pockets to other skirts and dresses in the future. :)

Now for the dress itself:

I do like it and I have gotten more compliments in this dress than I usually get. But, in fact, the fit isn't very good. It gaps under my arms (sorry for the stubbly pit shot):

And the bodice does not fit well at all - it is too short and doesn't fit over "the girls" and pulls outrageously from the side.

That is pretty disappointing. But, I like this pattern a lot. And I think that, if it fit well, it would be a style that worked for my body. So I am going to officially declare this pattern a "learn to fit" project and I am going to figure out how to adjust it to get a good fit. And that will be the gift that this problem has for me in its hands. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Confession

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I've only underlined one garment in my entire life - the wedding dress that I made for my dear friend, Susan. The picture above shows another special woman, Barbara, helping me hand stitch the cut pieces of silk organza onto the uncut silk dress fabric.

So, how about you? Do you underline any of your garments? If not, any particular reason why not? If so, how often and when do you underline - what types of garments and what types of fabrics? What fabric(s) do you use to underline? Why do you do it? Do you have any special tricks or hints to help beginners? I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say! :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In the Queue Wednesday

Presenting...the fabric I bought in Iceland!

I think the material may be silk shatung (or maybe some type of taffeta?). The black flowers are raised, possibly velvet. The silver flowers appear to be painted on.

I checked Sandra Betzina's More Fabric Savvy, and it's making me nervous. Apparently this material is going to be a bit of a challenge to sew. Looks like I'm going to have to underline it - something I've only done once in my life (on "the" wedding dress).

Between the lack of drape of the material (or its crispness) and the linear nature of the flower stems, I'll look for a relatively straight pattern. Maybe a simple shift dress (sleeveless or short sleeve), with a mandarin-style collar?

What kind of pattern do you think would work well with this fabric?

Cutting into expensive fabric that is going to be difficult to sew is a task that I tend to put off, so I'm not sure when I'll be getting to this.

But, don't worry, I will! It's in the queue...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Our Iceland Saga: The Fabric Store

Before leaving for Iceland, I did some internet research to see if I could find a fabric store to visit. Neither the Burdastyle website nor PatternReview turned up a true fabric store, but an "old-fashioned" google search yielded this store's website: VIRKA.

On our last full day in Iceland, after a morning photographing geysers and a waterfall, we drove into the capital, Reyjkavik, for some fabric shopping. :)

Finding the store turned out to be a bit of a challenge. We saw a good bit more of the city than was strictly necessary and, at least once, were taken completely by surprise to realize that we were merging back onto the highway that we had recently (and deliberately) exited... But we hung in there, and it was SO worth it!

VIRKA is a huge store - with 2 floors full of fabric! The basement had tons of cotton prints and the main floor had everything else - knits, slinkys, wools, silks, linens, bottomweights, etc.

Of course, like everywhere else in Iceland, the prices were high. And much of the fabric is imported from the U.S. But I saw lots of stuff that I've never seen locally, and they did have sale racks that had reasonable prices.

The women working there were wonderful - super friendly and helpful! (Okay, the woman pictured above was a bit stiff...) They made you feel like they had plenty of time to help you and they were knowledgeable about sewing. I got the feeling that the store served as a hub for a community of sewing friends, not just a retail outlet. If I lived in Iceland, I would definitely hang out here a lot! :)

It was a wonderful place to spend a few hours on our last day in Iceland! And I did pick up some fabric - I'll show you soon in a Wednesday Queue post. :)


This ends my 2 week series of photos from Iceland. I usually only put up 1 weeks of vacation photos, but there was so much to show from this trip! I hope I didn't go overboard and that you enjoyed the images and stories... Next week, it will be back to our regularly scheduled posts. :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Our Iceland Saga: Earlier Times

Just a few pictures for today...

Early Icelanders lived in turf houses, apparently as a result of both a scarcity of other building materials and the harsh climate. According to Wikipedia, the turf house architecture underwent several major metamorpheses over the last 1000 years, and the style that is mostly preserved today (and shown in these pictures) is fairly new - it was adopted around the end of the 18th century.

This church is still used today (although I don't know how regularly) - there was a ceremony of some sort going on the first time we visited it and we had to return later in the day to get some pictures:

This was an old farmstead that was preserved in Skafatell National Park. The literature said that it had been occupied up until the mid-1940s.

My favorite part of this exhibit - the vintage sewing machine!

Isn't it cool? Have you ever seen one that looks like this?

The hand crank still turned! Man, there is something about an antique sewing machine that makes me feel so connected to the past... :)

A couple of posts ago, Karin asked about the weather during our visit. Temperature wise it was just perfect - daytime highs were in the low 60's (F). Excellent for hiking!

We did have more cloudy, overcast days that I would have asked for, but we also had some beautiful sunny days.

And the days were certainly long enough - that close to the North Pole, the sun didn't set until after 11 pm, and was rising again around 4 am!

Thanks for sticking with me for 2 weeks worth of pictures! Tomorrow is the last day, and I've got pictures of the fabric store we found in Reykjavik! :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our Iceland Saga: Iceberg Lake

One of the most amazing and beautiful sights in Iceland was the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon - a lake 100 meters deep, at the base of the Jatnajokull Glacier, where cold meltwater and sea water meet. The lake is full of icebergs and, especially in the early morning hours, seals.

No commentary on the pictures - I'll let them speak for themselves.

Just two more days of pictures left, and we're slowly moving back into sewing territory. Tomorrow I'll show you some (historic) turf houses that we saw - one complete with a vintage sewing machine.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Our Iceland Saga: Current Times

So far, I've been mostly showing you pictures that reflect the natural beauty of Iceland. While it is not heavily populated (about as many people live in all of Iceland as live in Pittsburgh, PA), there are houses and roads and towns and other signs of human habitation - and here are some shots to prove it. ;)

For example, a church steeple in the capital, Reykjavik.

Here is a shot of the "major" road that goes all the way around the island. It is a 2 lane road - except for the bridges, which were generally only 1 lane. And it is mostly paved - but some sections are gravel!

Look at all that traffic! ;)

Next is the house in the Skalanes Nature Reserve, which includes a major puffin nesting site. Sadly, the puffins had already left to winter in the ocean by the time we got there...

Fishing is a major industry in Iceland.

You see harbors and boats of all shapes and sizes everywhere.

According to our guide book, Icelanders are very big into the arts. Here is one of my favorite statues - it reminds me a bit of Native American totem poles.

And I thought that this day care center, decorated with depictions of children's stories such as The Princess and the Pea...

and Little Red Riding Hood...

was adorable! :)

Tomorrow I'll have shots from our second favorite experience of the trip - back to nature, but something you'll never see in the continental U.S.!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our Iceland Saga: Geothermality

It turns out that Iceland has been "green" since long before it was cool. While their cars do operate on fossil fuels, the rest of the power used in the country - all the energy that lights and heats their buildings, for example - is geothermal.

You can see signs of the natural geothermal energy all over the place. For example, we explored one area full of natural steam vents:

This area had very little plant life - so finding a somewhat scraggly clump of flowers was a big deal! ;)

This area also had boiling mud pots.

And the smell - phew! Talk about rotten eggs! ;)

Here's a power plant that was located in another area:

This was supposedly one of the most active geothermal areas in all of Iceland. You were warned to keep on the path to avoid melting the bottoms of your shoes!

Here's a close-up shot:

Not that you wanted to tromp across the cooled lava fields - that terrain reads "ankle breaker" to me...

One last clear sign of all this power was the geysers. Here is the base of the Strokkur geyser inbetween eruptions.

This geyser erupts every 6-10 minutes! But it shoots up and then disappears so quickly that it's difficult to get a shot of it at full height.

It turns out that we get the word "geyser" from the name of the most famous Icelandic geyser, which is Geysir. Geysir used to be quite active, but it's been blocked up and doesn't erupt as often anymore.

Of course, there's always Little Geysir! ;)

After all these landscapes and images of other natural phenomena, I thought I'd better prove that people actually live in Iceland. Thus, tomorrow's pictures will show signs of human habitation.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Our Iceland Saga: Climbing Adventures

While the entire trip was wonderful, without a doubt our single favorite day was the day that we hired a private guide to take us climbing!

We had intended to spend the whole day rock climbing and I had had several email exchanges with our guide ahead of time, planning out exactly what we might do. The US and Iceland use the same numeric system for rating the difficulty of a climb, but he warned me that the climbs in Iceland would be more difficult than we expected for a given rating. He wasn't kidding! Here I am on a supposedly easy, "warm-up" climb:

Based on the rating and our experience in the US, it should have been trivial. But, I hate to admit, it kicked my butt!

In the US, a climb is rated based on its single most difficult move. After this experience, I concluded that, in Iceland, each climb is rated based on its single easiest move! Yikes!

Our second climb went more smoothly:

Sadly, most easy climbs (in the US, at least) get pretty pansy-ish names. It's hard to go back home and impress your friends by casually mentioning that you climbed "Cotton Candy" or "Summer Rain" on your vacation. ;)

But not this climb - nosiree, Bob. In addition to the fact that it is a not-too-difficult, wonderfully fun, 90-foot romp up incredible rock - it also has a kick-a** name! It is called "The Guillotine"! It gets its name from the hole near the top, which apparently reminded someone of the neck slot in a guillotine.

As we were doing this second climb, it began to rain on us pretty heavily. So our guide suggested that we go try some ice climbing. Thus, as Summerset so presciently guessed in yesterday's comment section, the axe involved was an ice axe! :)

First was the hike across the glacier. That was so cool! It is so much more interesting to walk on one (dodging crevasses, etc.) than it is to look at one... ;)

Then, the climbing - here are 2 shots of my husband on his first ice climb.

At the very bottom, looking up:

Almost at the top:

Here I am on the same first climb:

And on our second climb, trying to get over an overhang. ;)

So, if taking up rock climbing as your hobby is a silly thing to do when one lives in flat, flat Florida, taking up ICE climbing is even more ridiculous! We had an absolutely wonderful day, but I don't think we'll be rushing to do more ice climbing in the future. ;)

If you can stand it, I have one more week's worth of pictures from Iceland. Monday I'll start with shots that focus on the geothermal aspects of the country.

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend! :)