I Met Cynthia Rowley!

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You guys! I met fashion designer Cynthia Rowley last night! Completely unexpected, too. I was at a work event hosted by Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village, and as the evening was wrapping up she happened to stop by. It was the perfect way to end the night; as you can see, guests had left by that point so special thanks to the Murray’s staff for letting us sip one last glass of wine with Cynthia (feels funny to just call her by her first name, but weird not to?).

She was super nice, and we chatted about sewing for a good long while. And then a good while longer about her restored 19th century townhouse (I’m an architectural historian, so I loved that bit just as much!).

My co-workers helped make this happen: one told her that I sew and another mentioned my blog. Thanks, you guys, you’re the best. ๐Ÿ˜€ Seriously, I’m the worst at getting conversations started, but once I’m in I can be surprisingly chatty and excited…especially when it comes to sewing! This was particularly evident when my co-workers told Cynthia that I show them all my fabric and yarn purchases when they arrive at the office. Ha! They know and hear more about my crafty adventures than anyone.

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The Day I Learned To Sew

firstprojectLook, it’s me! Exactly five years ago today I took my very first sewing lesson at Sew L.A. in – you guessed it – Los Angeles. I promptly came home and took this photo of me and my new tote bag (complete with ruler still in its packaging) to share with family back East. Yep, this is what I looked like the day I learned to sew.

Back then Sew L.A. was in a smaller shop in Silver Lake before moving into their spacious digs in Atwater Village (which I’ve yet to visit). Oh, how I thought it was the most magical place in the whole wide world! Shelves full of bolts of fabric, six tables with six sewing machines, lots of light, and lots of promise.

I honestly can’t remember what compelled me to sign up for a lesson (it was fate, I s’pose), but I do remember how popular their classes were. I had to sign up a month in advance for “Machine Intro”, the prerequisite for the other 100-level classes. Other than a handful of sewing sessions in middle school Home Ec., I didn’t have any experience (or interest in) sewing. I did get the Home Ec. award that year though, so maybe it was in the cards. Either that or my teacher was majorly impressed with my dish washing skills.

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MPB Day 2013 And All That Fabric

Yesterday was a great day in sewing land as ladies and even some gents came out for the third annual MPB (Male Pattern Boldness) Day. Even the weather cooperated. I attended the first MPB Day back in 2011, but missed last year’s because of a bachelorette party.

I didn’t get any photos, but Peter will be doing a recap of the day tomorrow so check out his blog for visuals and entertaining commentary! It was fun to see familiar faces and also meet new ones. There was Wanette of Sown Brooklyn, Clio of Clio & Phineas, Sonja of Ginger Makes, Vicki of Another Sewing Scientist, Suzanne of Beau Baby, and many, many others. I’m hoping to get a hold of the names of other bloggers in attendance!

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M6696 leading up to its MPB Day appearance!

I wore my latest creation, the McCall’s 6696 shirt dress. I will be blogging about that one soon! I can already tell it will be a TNT pattern.

After seeing the RetroSpective exhibit at FIT, we all gathered for lunch and a pattern swap (or “a pattern take” as Peter called it). I put in four patterns I just knew I was never going to make, including Colette’s Lady Grey coat. This actually worked out well because I had been eying Colette’s Chantilly dress for a while now and guess what pattern ended up in the pile?! Good times, good times.

A group of people went straight to Mood after lunch while the other half followed Peter to smaller shops on 39th Street. We checked out Chic Fabrics, Fabrics for Less, Paron’s, and AK Fabrics. I bought a red and black Buffalo check cotton flannel at AK (below), which is so super soft! I’ve been on the lookout for winter fabrics and had first contemplated this print a year or so ago, but I wasn’t sure if it would work as a dress. A vote of confidence from Peter convinced me to take this future dress to the check-out counter.

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MPB Day goodies – I guess I was in a red and black mood!

Next came Spandex House on 38th Street, and even though I’d been there during what I’m dubbing “Meg the Grand Day” I had no idea there was a HUGE second floor of more and more fabric! I had run off to Sil Thread quickly to pick up a zipper for a planned skirt and when I came back to Spandex House I thought I had lost the group. But then as I went upstairs they all magically appeared from the bolts and bolts of polyester.

Afterward we went to Mood where I picked up a couple of knits to make a couple of Sewaholic Renfrew tops (above). Our group was given a 10% discount and a free Mood tote bag. Victory! There were many great quotes from Male Pattern Boldness Day, but one of my favorites was when Sonja said someone from Mood asked if we were with “the balding men group.” Ha!

The day ended at the Kinokuniya Bookstore and then Bryant Park across the way where we all recounted the day and shared our fabric goodies. During your average day you might get asked, “Did you make that?” but with a group like this you get asked, “Is that the Colette Ceylon dress? I love that you matched the stripes!” Or “I knew you were part of the group because I recognized that fabric!” All in all, a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday in New York. Thanks Peter for the great day and I like your idea for a winter meet-up, though no pressure!

Oh, and we even met Charlotte, the founder/designer of By Hand London, who happened to be in the city this weekend with her beau! I haven’t made any of their patterns yet, but I’ve definitely seen them pop up in the blogosphere. Charlotte wore her Anna dress and seems like a super cool lady.

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Reality check.

And I’ll leave you with a little exercise in reality I completed today, courtesy of this paper ledger (am I a dork or what?!). I decided to write down all the fabric I have and their cost as a way of putting it to me plainly how much I’ve spent on fabric I have yet to use. I knew what I was in for but it definitely helps to see it all written down and added up (total = major yikes factor!). As the daughter of an accountant, you can bet your bippy it’ll be thrilling to move the costs to column 4 after finishing up a project.

I’m starting with a couple of pieces from my stash to make an outfit for the Sew Weekly Reunion. Are you joining in for the big September 1st reveal?

Nicola Progress and Colette Events

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Here’s a quick shot of the bodice of my latest work in progress, the Nicola Dress by Victory Patterns. I was originally going to use another fabric for this dress, but since I’m on a tight deadline and the sheer fabric was going to require underlining, I decided to go with this rayon instead. The print is called “Van Gogh” – perfect because the event I’m going to will be in an art gallery!

I made a muslin of the top and it fit well enough for me to say, “Just go for it, kiddo.” I cut a size 2 at the bodice and transitioned up to a size 4 at the waist, which is what I usually do. There are a lot of darts on this baby! Three on each bodice piece and two in the back (so eight total). The rayon wasn’t liking my chalk pen so I thread traced the darts instead. Took some time but they came out nice.

One thing I noticed is that I probably should have done an FBA. I’ve only seen a few other finished versions of Nicola online and I could sense that this neckline might be a bit revealing on me – turns out I was right! I mean, it’s nice for a date or something…but not a work event. ๐Ÿ™‚ It all works out though because I happen to have a matching camisole that will pair nicely with this dress.

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3 is the Magic Sewing Number

This post is about meeting 3 sewing ladies, 3 fabrics, and 3 patterns. Yes, I also met fabric and patterns. It’s the new thing!

In any case, a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to meet up with Meg the Grand, oonaballoona and Clio & Phineas in the Garment District! Meg announced on her blog that she would be visiting from Chicago so I was excited to finally meet her. I’ve been following her blog for a couple of years now after “meeting” her on the Sew Weekly Sewing Circle, which sadly seems to have slowed down of late. This was also my first time meeting oona (I respect her usage of all lowercase letters as I would for e.e. cummings) after a number of failed attempts, yay! And it was also nice to meet Clio and find a new blog to follow. How cute is this knit hippo?!

We visited a couple of new-to-me stores (I’m so unadventurous), including Spandex House at 263 West 38th Street. Yep, Spandex House! I’ve heard about it through Peter’s blog, but never went in since I had this idea in my head that the store only sold spandex for workout clothes or something. Silly me, t’would seem.

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