Saturday, July 27, 2013

NY Whirlwind

I finally made it to NY, NY earlier this month.  My awesome dad was in town and on a whim we decided to drive up to NY City for a day, get in whatever we could and drive back.  Some people (who shall not be named) thought we were nuts, but we did it anyway.

We did a little bit of planning ahead of time.  We knew we wanted to go to the theatre, so we bought tickets to see Phantom of the Opera.  We reserved a parking spot.  And we got in touch with my sweet cousin who lives there so we could meet up with her for dinner.

At my dad's insistence (I told you he was awesome, right?) we went to Mood.  Having never been to The City before I didn't know the proximity of the Garment District to Broadway, so when I found out, it was a no brainer.  And, of course, why should I go to just one fabric store, when there are so many others so close?  That's right, we squeezed in one more that always gets rave reviews in the blogosphere--B&J Fabrics.

My first time in a fabric store can be really overwhelming, especially when I'm not looking for something in particular, so I was a bit apprehensive at first.  But B&J is really great because of the way it is organized.  They hang about a half-yard of each fabric on a hanger with a label and grouped together based on some sort of logic.  This really helps make looking through the fabrics so much easier.

The Liberties
I knew ahead of time that they carry designer prints and, in particular, Liberty Fabrics.  So I went straight for those.  I've never owned any Liberty fabric before, so it was really lovely to get my hands on some.  I ended up buying a bit of this wonderful print (second one from the left below).  I'm a little surprised that I didn't go for a classic mini-flower print, but this purchase doesn't surprise me one bit--I'm drawn to fabric that has a painterly feel.  They also carry Liberty corduroy and knits.  I've always wanted some  Liberty cord, but I ended up deciding not to buy any (I have lots of corduroy in my stash that hasn't been used.  But I have lots of cotton lawn too, so I'm not sure that is a good reason.)... this time.

I also ended up buying some lovely Ikat, this cute quilting cotton print of kids playing dress up, and this AMH butterfly print I've been wanting to order for the back of Elena's quilt.

Then we braved the rain and made it over to Mood.  The first person I saw when I got off the elevator was Koon!  I wanted a picture, but chickened out, telling myself that he was busy working and it would have been rude.  Oh well.

That store sure has become a tourist destination (at least I assume it has) since Project Runway.  They have all sorts of memorabilia and they were buzzing.  I walked the aisles and took in all the fabric.  I shop fabric with my eyes but mostly my hands. There was a lot to touch in there.

I ended up buying this piece of navy eyelet (the picture is terrible and doesn't so the color well at all, but isn't the design cool?).  I love it because the shapes are non-traditional.  I also bought some navy gauze for lining and a zipper.  I really want to make a simple shift dress with unlined elbow-length sleeves, I think a simple design would show off this fabric nicely.  The staff there is so nice.  I was looking for lining and one woman insisted that striped shirting would be perfect.  I disagreed and told her I'd get lining elsewhere.  But then another person who cut my fabric recommended the gauze and I thought it was a great idea.

When we left Mood my dad surprised me with a book he picked up there, Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible, signed by Mr. Gunn himself.  To tell you the truth, I'm a little worried about reading the book--I might need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe.

Dressforms--kinda creepy, that's why I had to take a picture.
Dad, waiting for me while I was upstairs at B & J.
I always say that all the best fabric stores have a good couch.  If you own a fabric store, listen up.  It gives the people accompanying the shopper (husbands, dads, friends...) a comfortable place to sit, which makes the shopping experience for the shopper all that better.  Less pressure.  These two shops were no exception, Mood had a table with chairs, but that makes perfect sense too, it's too busy for a couch.  B&J not only has a couch, there is a Starbucks downstairs too.

Well, on to the rest of the trip.  Phantom was awesome!  The sites were super cool.  And dinner at The Smith was delicious and all the better with some wonderful company.

Thanks Dad!  Let's do it again.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fairy Tales Can Come True

Once upon a time this dress only existed in my head.  I bought this lovely double-gauze Thumbelina print by Trefle on Superbuzzy a couple of years ago on a whim, but when I got it I knew exactly what I should make.  A classic dress with a gathered skirt with a big purple bow. 

The dress was originally going to be for Lucia, but she grew too big, too fast and I couldn’t make that particular dress with the one yard I had in her size.  I considered making her a tunic instead.  And that would have been cute, and probably would have gotten more use, but I didn’t get around to that either.

When Oliver + S released the Fairy Tale dress pattern there was no question that this was the pattern for this fabric.  Not only does it have the big bow and the full skirt in my head, but these same design elements also mimic the dress Thumbelina is wearing, AND the tulip sleeves work perfectly with the tulips in the print.

And even more serendipitous, I had a second daughter.  Elena came and before I knew it, she had learned to walk.  I'm convinced that certain outfits just look better on toddlers than on tiny babies, this is one of those. It was perfect timing--she was passed the stage when dresses can’t be worn because they get in the way of crawling.  And no bow like this would be nice for a baby who spends most of her day on her back. 
twins anyone?

I had everything I needed right in my stash, the pattern, the Thumbelina print, a wonderful burgundy stretch cotton shirting for the lining, bow and collar and tulle.  The only (new) purchase I made was the zipper.

This dress would be extra special, I took my time to hand sew the hem (twice, because the first time it was too long) and hand sew much of the interior so there are no exposed seems.

Finishing this this little dress made me so happy.  Even if she’ll only wear it only twice, I brought to life something that only existed in my head and that makes it all worth it.  (Plus, she has two little cousins who don’t mind hand-me-downs…at least not yet.)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sister Love and a Family Quilt

These pictures must be about a year old.  

I remember that day well.  I was on maternity leave with the baby with Lucia still going to day care most days.  But I think this was the week after Juan's parents left, Juan had a business trip, and Lucia was too sick to go to daycare.  I was home by myself.

I have to admit that I was a bit of a wreck for some, or maybe a lot, of that week.  But by the third day, I kept Lucia home because we started having fun.  We found each other's rhythm that week.

And we did things that would be fun for all of us.

We went to the zoo.  And we had a picnic at the playground.

We bonded.  

Sister love.

The quilt is made completely from Laura Gunn prints from her first two lines.  I find I'm often drawn to fabrics that represent paintings.  Laura Gunn is a beautiful painter and I really love that I get to use her art to make my own.

The pattern is from another of my favorite artists, Malka Dubrawsky's first book, Color Your Cloth.  I bought the book to learn her dying techniques, but that is another hobby I can only dream about right now.

It's the biggest quilt I've made and it lives in our living room.  It's the family quilt that I hoped it would be.  It's been a picnic blanket, a fort, and a warm blanket to snuggle under on movie night.