Turning 40 - A Review


Hey guess what?  It's officially my 40th birthday day!   I've been celebrating all month because a "birthday month" is a thing and I'm secretly dramatic. Or maybe that's not a secret. Does a not dramatic person wear a hat like this?   No girl, they probably don't wear hats at all....poor hat-less bastards.
It's been awhile since we had a purely silly blog post, what with me not actually blogging and all.  I thought this might be a fun way to commemorate my 40th birthday. Also my sewing mojo has taken a mini-vacation leaving me with lots of time to do other stuff.  Like write random blog posts, search for reasonably priced bakelite and eat too much chocolate.  (Desmond's leftover Easter candy is in peril.) So let's have some fun with my edited review temple below. Don't worry, there's still a husband comment.

Pattern   Age
The big 40. Officially middle aged? Or halfway to becoming my true self? Basically a crotchety old lady who knits, eats cookies and only watches PBS dramas of Jane Austen novels. (We're just going to pretend my real true self isn't a "V" lizard human intent on using the rest of you for fuel.)  Honestly I'm just relieved to be back at an age that I can remember.  Try remembering that you're 37 for a year. It's impossible.

Fabrics used  Influences
This 40 year old self is brought to you by... avoiding social interactions to read too many books. Being raised on so many old movies that my teenage crushes were Clark Gable, Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner. (That is not a joke) Copious ingestion of cake, cookies and chocolate bars. And finally filling my brain with so many song lyrics that I spontaneously start singing something 95% of the time. My family loooooves this.  (No they don't.)

Baby Heather.  I'm just giving you this one to show that I arrived on this planet with more hair than was necessary. Now we're fast forwarding to where I started dressing myself and it's scary.

Child who wore too many things her grandmother bought at "Cow Town"  Wait, I'm just now finding out there's a rodeo there?  Shit, I would have enjoyed a rodeo more than factory seconds bought on the cheap.

That stage where I was too big to fit into kids clothing but for some reason didn't fit into teenager clothing?  All I remember is having to buy clothing from the middle aged ladies department. You make a lot of friends in middle school that way. (No you don't.)

The early 90's vest phase.  I don't remember having a vest phase but I just counted 4 different vest outfits section of the photo album. And that's the only the outfits my Mother thought to take a picture of.  Confession - I've been thinking about sewing a vest for about 4 months now. Would this be a vest reboot?

Mid 90's ill advised flannel shirt semi grunge phase.  Nothing like totally obscuring your waist so you look 20lbs heavier.

Late 90's phase when I wore khakis and T-shirt from surf shops. I have no idea why this happened. I hate the beach and am very unathletic.  Was this just a late 90's trend? You can see my friend Steve's outfit is equally bland so maybe it was. Oh and we used to be somewhat tan.  We're still friends but we don't tan. We just text each other about how much we hate the sun.... exactly 2 weeks ago. (We both decided to clean our houses instead. Just call us the life of the party!)

Early Aughts "I have to train people older than me for a living so I buy everything from J Crew" phase. That one explains itself.

Late Aughts "I'm cold all the time but can afford to buy a lot of cashmere turtlenecks" phase. This is when I met Mr. B.

2012 - Post Desmond and when I started sewing again.

2018 - Gasp the Present!

Confessions/Advice  Pros/Cons
Pros of being 40
- I used to be really concerned about "What Other People Thought!" in my younger years.  Now I don't give a damn.  It's really wonderful and freeing.

- On a related note my decision to become the local eccentric is working out really well.  I've always been a weird lone wolf on the edges of society.  Now I'm also well dressed and confidently wearing a killer hat while doing my own thing.  Most people seem to like it.
Cons of being 40
- I spend a fair amount of time on Youtube looking for stretches to fix various muscle knots. Have I been using my body incorrectly for 40 years?  The answer is yes. Oh and I take a lot of supplements now and fiber.  All of you in your 20's and 30's enjoy not worrying about your fiber intake while you can.

- I have turned into that adult who goes, "OH MY GOD, YOU'VE GOTTEN SO BIG!"  God I hated that person when I was a kid.  Also things are "too sweet" or "too rich" now.  And I wear leopard print which I swore never to do.  Oh well, I'm owning it now.  Kids grow up too fast, those marshmallow peeps are way too sweet and leopard print rules. Soft kitty, round kitty, little pile of fluff.

Husband Family Comments
Husband - "I noticed that you're a lot hotter than many of the 40 year olds I know."

Son - "I don't really care, Carver's Mom is way older than you." (Who's Carver? Husband Steve says he's one of Desmond's classmates.  Really? the only one I can remember is Sal because his grandfather looks like, and I quote Des -"One of those rich guys who look poor." Me - "Do you mean stereotypical Italian movie mobsters?"  Des- "YES!")

Froggie - "I do hope you're still sharing the chocolate cake."

My Final Thoughts
I'd like to thank my mother for her "young face" genes. She used to win us prizes at the "guess my age" attraction at the fair every time. Also my younger self for starting to use sunscreen in her early 20's.  Oh and my vampire eyes that keep me from going out in the sun period.  HISSS, IT BURNS! Where is my sun hat and two pairs of sunglasses!? (Also not a joke.)

Other than my face vanity I'm pretty happy with this whole getting older thing. Younger me spent a lot of time trying to be something I'm not. A socially normal person. And no one bought it because it's obvious that I'm not that.  As a semi-close relative told me in 2012, "Well you've always been odd, but not in a bad way."  I'm a lot happier now that I've embraced my oddness with as much bright colors and hats as possible.

I think that's enough introspection for one day. Let's all sit down have some cake and talk about summer sewing plans. :)

2017 Flashback - I might be too pale for this dress


Is there an expiration date on unblogged garments? It's not like any of you live near me and are thinking, "God Heather, I've seen you wear that dress for 3 months. You're blogging about it now?  As far as you all know this dress never existed until now.  Well if you've forgotten about any instagram progress posts in the summer of 2017.  I'll just get out my "Men in Black" light stick forgetting thing and take care of those memories. Ha! Now let me tell you all about my "new dress" the Dragnor pattern from "How to do Fashion."
Come to think of it I should have waited until it was summer and passed this off as a fresh new make. Ta Da, my hair is mysteriously less gray around the temples for one blog post. What is my secret! Witchy trickery of course. Definitely not living through 3 consecutive traumatic events that happened one after another in a space of 3 weeks. *insert crazed laughter*  (Seriously though the 3rd quarter of my 2017 was a shit show which I can't really talk about since none of the events happened directly to me or my husband/kid.  But I was only 1 degree removed so there was plenty of feelings and stress to drive me more than a little crazy. But enough about real life stuff that's a bummer, let's talk about sewing.)
So back in 2017 I'd been eyeing the How to do fashion site for a bit.  Nanna's style is similar to my own and I always like trying new pattern brands to see what they're like.  I chose to go with the Dragnor pattern because it looked like a good match for some vintage border print in the stash.  See, look at the pretty fruity border!
I purchased the PDF version and had a positive experience with it.   The layout of all the pattern tiles was nice and clear and I didn't have any trouble getting the pieces to fit together.  As is my habit I traced a copy of the pattern onto trace paper and made my fitting changes on that version. One thing to note is that the sewing instructions are not in the PDF download.  You need to go back to the website and download another PDF.  The link to the instructions is clearly marked in the pattern purchasing area, just thought I'd mention it.  The dress itself was easy to put together.  I like the fact that the bodice comes with a full lining, so you don't have to worry about neckline and armhole facings flipping around.  There's also a nice amount of bra coverage for those of us who prefer not to wear strapless bras. (I'm definitely in this camp because strapless bras just end up at my waist.)
Overall this was a fun sew and I was excited to put this dress on......only to find it looked a lot better on the hanger than on me.  Ru Ro Reorge. What went wrong?

- Maybe I'm too pale for this much white background.  I hear some of you saying, "Don't worry Heather, you just need to wear this in the summer when you have more color." Well these pictures were taken at the end of summer sooooo this is my summer color.  My aversion to the sun is good for the face wrinkle situation, but maybe not for wearing white.

- Maybe I got the proportions off a bit.  Thanks to my low bust point the inset area had to be reduced 1" in width. The skirt length also might be a bit too long.

- Maybe a waist inset is not the best design feature on my body.  Kind of highlights the whole pear shaped situation.
To be honest I'm not entirely sure why this is a bit of a miss. Maybe you guys can weigh in.

Dragnor from How to do Fashion. I used the non draped neckline for my version.

Fabrics used
Vintage cotton border print bought from Etsy a number of years ago.

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Raised the front and back necklines about .5"
2. Made standard .5" forward shoulder adjustment.
3. Took .25" off strap height on both the front and back.
4. Added 1" of length to top of front bodice and removed 1" of length from waist inset.

- I did try to fully line the entire dress for opacity but that created too much volume in the skirt area. The finished garment only has a lined bodice.

- Despite taking in the shoulder straps they still feel too long.

- I might have enjoyed this angry outtake so much that it became my FB profile pic until this month. Oh and strangers will DM you and ask why you're using such an unflattering picture as your profile. (For Irony, Duh!)

Husband Comment
"Red and white, first aid colors. You could be a nurse, a fruity nurse."

My Final Thoughts
Long story short, great pattern. My execution, not so much.  So do any of you have thoughts on how to rework this dress? The fabric is so pretty and I don't want it to go to waste. I'd be ever so thankful for you recommendations.

It's an Easter Miracle


This could be an Easter miracle or more of a Dr. Frankenstein hooking up a corpse to lighting sort of situation.  Either way you slice it, the blog is ALIVE! ALIVE I TELL YOU!!!!! *cue manic laughter*
Sooooo how's everybody been?  Over here it's been snowing....every week. On the one hand I've gotten a few extra sewing days in. On the other I'm all, "I'm getting to old for this shit" every time my eye falls on the camera tripod. Unless you've got a winter coat to model who wants to go saddle up their team of huskies to go get some blog photos?  (Confession, if I did have a team of huskies I would 100% do a photo shoot with them. It would be a disaster, but probably hilarious.)

Anywooo, today it wasn't snowing or torrential raining and I thought, "Hey I've got myself all made up. Might as well take some blog photos." Looking around I saw that my son was distracted with his new Easter Shark* and my husband was happily eating his easter chocolate. I grabbed the tripod and ran out of the house before they could grab me and demand more food. FREEEDOM!   Well freedom to squint into the sun while dog walkers at the park wonder what the hell I'm doing. (BTW - One of them did tell me my outfit was fantastic.)
This wasn't what I'd planned to wear for Easter. There's a nice blue/white floral rayon number all ready to go for a festive Spring celebration....except it doesn't feel like Spring yet.  After sticking my head out the door I said, "NOPE, not suffering for fashion today....other than my shoe choice. Let's pull out the wool." And low, I clothed myself of in the fleece of a sheep and was happy. But how did I get here you might ask? Oh, oh, oh, I'll tell you.

At the beginning of the month I went on a pattern buying bender since it's only way to get myself excited about sewing up fabric that's as old as my son. Just give me something new and shiny!   As usual Etsy came through and hooked me up with a new Hollywood Pattern. Bam!
All winter I'd been staring at this glen plaid and thinking, "That would look nice in a suit jacket with some pleather. But what pattern would work?" Nothing really came to mind even though there are a healthy number of suit patterns in my stash.  But when I first clapped eyes on Hollywood 989 I knew it would be perfect.
The illustration doesn't show a version with contrast fabrics even though the construction makes it easy to add them. The collar is inserted in similar to a button down shirt collar, so you don't have to worry about piecing a facing on the inside.  The pocket flaps are only decorative, no worrying about sewing bias bound pockets in pleather.  I also decided to do the undersleeves in pleather so there wasn't a nasty plaid mismatch on the back sleeve seam.  There's some extra ease in the elbow area so it was impossible to match the two pieces across the seam.
One other interesting design element is that the jacket does not have a side seam in the normal place.  The front piece wraps around to where the back bodice dart might be positioned. A fish eye dart is used to shape the side seam instead. But you'll have to take my word for it because my plaid matching is obscuring all vertical seams.  Thank god for that CB seam because that make sway back adjustments even easier. (Looks like I need to take out a bit more for the sway back looking at these pics. Darn curvy backside.)

Hollywood 989 - Jacket only.  Probably should grade up the skirt because a one with an inverted pleat would be a nice addition to the wardrobe.

Fabrics used
Plaid wool with a bit of a boucle texture/medium weight pleather. Both of these are long stashed Emmaonesock purchases.  The cobalt lining is also from the stash, originally from Gorgeous Fabrics.  In fact even the interfacing, shoulder pads and buttons are stash. A 100% stash project!

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Graded the pattern up to a 36" bust.
2. Standard for me forward shoulder adjustment of 1/2" to shoulder and sleeve cap
3. Decreased sleeve cap height 1/2".
4. 1/2" extra ease added to waist and hip for my pear shape.
5. 1/4" sway back adjustment.
6. Took 1/2" out of the center back seam at the waist.

- No tricky construction issues on this one if you're an old hat at jackets.  See what I did there, old hat. *wink, wink*
- Desmond convinced me on using these buttons that were in the stash.  I was going to self cover some buttons with pleather instead.  After mocking one of those up I admitted that Desmond's pick looked better. More Sparkle!

Husband Comment
Him - "Oh it's got shiny parts. It's like a hybrid of a leather jacket and hounds tooth." 
Me - "It's plaid, not houndstooth."
Him - "Are you sure?"
Me - "YEESS. Who has a fashion design degree around here?"
Him - "Hmmmm, well the plaid is houndstoothy."
My Final Thoughts
This baby turned out just like it looked in my head.  I've also worn it all day and wore like a dream. So warm and comfy. This patterns is going in the "would make again" pile.
My sewing machine has been humming all winter so there are plenty of garments I could show you.  But will I?  Maybe Frankenstein's monster could ghost write for me. His grasp of English is probably better.  Until then enjoy your chocolate haul!

*Easter Shark patent pending. It's a real thing and not something I just made up for my shark obsessed 7 year old.  The Easter shark brings steaks, chocolate, and a stuffed shark for you to hug. He's awesome for all ages.
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