Thursday, August 29, 2013

Will they Ride Them? (Reducing Use of Fossil Fuels)

These young men will be taking care of the planet
when the rest of us move on.
Will bikes like these, help their stewardship efforts? 
San Mateo County is beginning it's participation in a bike sharing program. I've seen quick-trip rental bikes like these in London and San Francisco, and am sure glad to see the idea hitting the suburbs.

Coming out of my study group at the main library in downtown Redwood City yesterday, I talked with a middle aged man and a small group of teenaged boys checking out the new bikes, which will be rentable as of today. The man said that they cost too much for him, and told me that he could buy a used bike for twenty bucks. But I noticed he studied the bikes and the rental arrangement for quite a while. 

The boys were more interested. Kid-like, they scoffed a little over the bikes not being electric. But a couple of them tried the bikes out, insofar as they could since the vehicles were locked in place.

For those who can already ride a bike to work, shop or hit the library it may be less expensive to have your own bike. At $9 a day or $88 (paid up front) - $99 dollars (paid in installments) a year, it's a serious budget consideration. 

Like the tee shirts say, "Good Planets are Hard to Find". 
Cutting down on around-town driving can make a real difference.
 I'll be keeping an eye out for these lovely blue bikes on our local streets.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Half Moon Bay Harbor

Driving to the coast
Too long no water views
Half Moon Bay Harbor sings

Ench By Sew-11 Fashion Engineering for Work and Play (Interview)

This month, the Enchanted by Sewing Podcast returns from a London vacation, to it's California Roots
~ ~ ~
Following up on last month's podcast, the tour of the V&A Fashion Gallery Miss Firbank's Pink Linen Cuff  and Elsa Schiaparelli's Roses Get Me Dreaming ... two recent Vintage Threads postings in my regular blog

~ ~ ~
Please send your thoughts about this month or next month's topic - Dress Forms-in the Post a Comment section,  below :-)

Early on in the show Susan and Laurel talk about Susan's
creation of this wonderful snake skirt using patterns and
techniques from
The Colette Sewing Handbook,
Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress

A denim skirt from the same pattern has also been a mainstay garment in
Susan's wardrobe 

Snakes Alive ! Environmental Consultant by Day
Sewist by night 
~ ~ ~
No coyotes or mountain lions slipped through the parking lot (as we'd both hoped they might), but snakes alive, did we have a good time talking late into the night! Come along and listen in.
~ ~ ~
Hey! The latest and greatest Enchanted by Sewing Podcast has been published!

Two Ways to Listen
i) Listen Right on the Web

i)You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on the following links

~ OR ~
ii) Click on this link to iTunes to download these shows to your mobile device (iPhone, Android, etc.) free from iTunes 
Did I miss any links mentioned in the show? If so, please post here and let me know, or else email me at,  EnchantedBySewing AT gmail
I never would have guessed that this self-described fashion engineer came to fashion sewing fairly recently. It seems Susan S. owes many of her early sewing creations  to The Colette Sewing Handbook, Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress.

Colette has an extensive pattern line

Susan bought her fun snake skirt fabric (pattern from that Colette book above)  at Satin Moon in San Francisco (Richmond district). 

Britex, just off of Union Square, is another favorite fabric shopping spot for San Francisco Bay Area sewists.

Partial to Colette's patterns, Susan prefers tailored and fit styles  often with, a hint of a retro vibe.

Professional and weekend wear are well integrated in Susan's wardrobe. Business casual is her everyday look and skirts and dresses are important for Susan's girly-girl style, whether at home or work.

In the interview, we touch on... 

• Wardrobing, Sewing With a Plan (SWAP), Susan’s work-home wardrobe is well integrated

 Susan gets her fabric prepped and her creations pressed at Broadway Cleaners, RedwoodCity (San Mateo County, San Francisco Bay Area)

 "Nancy donned a sheath" As well as being an inspiration to professional women since the 1930's, Nancy Drew has always been a woman with a distinctive fashion sense.

 Deadlines and Special Occasion Sewing

 Dedicated Sewing Space and Crafternoons

 Google Sketchup is billed as 3D modeling software

 CA Fashion Styles
      One of both Susan and Laurel's favorite field trips in San Francisco ...Walk from Union Square, down Market Street, out to the Ferry building, for beautiful bay views, and the Farmer’s Market, for people watching and scenery

 CA Work Styles
     Styles vary throughout the Bay Area. Ferry Building commuters in San Francisco have their own sense of style. If you visit the heart of Techie Silicon Valley it's all about tee shirt and jeans. One classic Meetup spot where this look dominates is the Red Rock Café on Castro Street in Mountain View. Venture Capitalists? They've got another look all together.

 Personal Fashion Style, and what's the point of it

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Following up on last month's podcast, the tour of the V&A Fashion Gallery Miss Firbank's Pink Linen Cuff

~ ~ ~

Please comment on next month's topic - Dress Forms
-in the Post a Comment section,  below:-)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Pickup Walk (Hiking Edgewood)

(co-published in

Invasive European grasses and Star Thistles
are one foe the Edgewood Warriors fight
tooth and nail

I know it's called a pickup game, when you run into other basketball players on the courts and have a competitive round. So I guess I had a pickup walk today.

I was hiking Clarkia and Lower Ridge trail, just appreciating the fact that my knees are back in service, when I found myself picking up a lone hiker, Diane. She hadn't found her hiking group, was pretty unfamiliar with the trails (she'd come in via Sunset Gate) and wanted company.

I ended up docenting  along Clarkia, up to Inspiration Heights, down along Lower Ridge trail to the fence that overlooks the Bluebird meadow and back to Sunset Gate, at which point we ran into her group

Discussed and seen along the way...

- Serpentine rock and soil discussion and challenge of nitrogen dump/non-native plant invasion. Also successes of Weed Warriors due to just plain hard work plus cunning and analysis 

- Why the erosion scars aren't a trail/the challenges of their trail-like appearance - And yes we ran into two erosion scar explorers that I had a chat with on Inspiration Heights. Hopefully they did go back the way I encouraged them to go on the trail. Much discussion with my new hiking pal, over how to discourage this behavior without being patronizing and actually getting desired behavior. 

- We met Steve and  Denora  out rangering and Diane had her birthday photo taken with them. Steve indicated perhaps more signs indicating erosion scar versus trail may be forthcoming?

- We enjoyed the beautiful summer colors of deerweed, tarweed and poison oak. We both think the seedheads we saw in with the tarweed is yarrow. I keep meaning to look up that pink dry headed looking flower that's in and around Ridge trail. I think it's a seed head not a bloom. It reminds me of the sea thrift I saw in Cornwall, just a little bit.

- Told her how she could find the plant database/photos lookup  on Friends of Edgewood web pages, as both of us were wondering about that pinky flower/seed head.

- Told her to come look for the brilliant green Hair Streak Butterflies during bloom time for the deerweed. Discussed the importance of the Bay Area Checkerspot and how it saved the preserve. Diane was glad we weren't hiking through the golf course this area was, at one point, destined to be.

- Diane wanted to know about animals we see in the area. Pointed out Western Fence Lizards, mentioned my few views of rattlers by me and others and where noted ...Much pointing to the area on Serpentine Loop Trail  from Ridge Trail looking down to discuss the scurry zone and habits of the cottontails. Also discussion of the jackrabbits when they go mad with testostorone in the springtime and their hare 'ness ( Here's a nice web link on their being hares and not rabbits 

- Pointed out the frog pond, looking down on it from Ridge Trail (would be easy to have a talk about water in the preserve at this point, wouldn't it?)

- We should have asked Denora about the bobcats when we met up with her and Steve later on, as I know she once said there is one living in the vicinity of the ranger's house. Durn

- Of course we chatted about cougars. Doesn't everybody like to know about cougars?

- We talked about the different types of oaks, and after some quick mental review. I remembered  (and I think properly id'd ) coast live oak (thanks to a hint Alf once gave me), contrasted them with a description of Valley Oaks, and mentioned the scrub oak. I think that's what grows on Upper Clarkia, not Leather Oak? Remembered to tell her about the naturally hybrid ones.

- We talked about the Western Blue Birds

Dianne was very pleased with her one-on-one docent walk! We found her group back at Sunset Gate and she introduced me all around and bragged about getting the goods on the preserve. I was lightly quizzed by a couple of folks in regards to seeing freshly blooming Farewell to Spring, and I agreed I had seen one too. Was able to respond "Clarkia, like this trail" when asked what is the real name. So I guess I passed the test. Good thing that was one I know.

Despite it not being a high bloom time, there's a lot to talk about out in the chaparral zone

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Vintage Threads: Elsa Schiaparelli's Roses Get me Dreaming

Elsa Schiaparelli created this gorgeous design
for her autumn 1937 collection
I encountered this evening coat, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, in the Victoria and Albert (V&A) fashion gallery, when I visited London in late May. If you come along on my audio tour of the exhibit, you'll hear a discussion I had with a Londoner about these lovely details, and the trompe l'œil urn design ... Is it an urn or is it two women facing in?   You may already recognize this famous double image created by artist Jean Cocteau designed to fake the viewer out. If you want to read more about the art movements that inspired Miss Schiaparelli's work, as well as more details about the garment, follow this link ( )  to the V&A.

I've never really been that all taken by trompe l'oeil, but I do love roses! Don't you want a bevy of these beauties? I know I do, and of course the fact that I'm caught up working slowly and carefully through my denim skirt project (learning jeans-sewing skills without yet encountering the challenge of fitting jeans) gets me dreaming about switching horses in mid stream. Best to simply dream and plan these roses, and get the skirt finished, don't you think? 

You can check out other views
of this coat at 
How will I use these blooms on that great come-and-do-it-day when I sit down with needle and a mass of silken ribbons? Well.... despite the beauty of this sumptuous evening garment, I know that I wouldn't get a lot of use out of a similar long flowing garment. It wouldn't be too practical  in a software Meetup, on a walk to the grocery store, a bike ride or trip to class. Sure, I might wear it to the ballet, opera or theatre but those aren't places I go everyday. In fact I have a pretty hooded black velvet coat I've been using for special occasions since college, and it still works great. That was a lifetime purchase (I found it in a low-key consignment store), so I won't be creating another special occasion garment with these.

I'm planning to create and use my roses in a rather different way. I wrote about those plans in a posting I wrote in Stitcher's Guild/Artisan Square, when I visited to ask a few how-to questions. 

I think they (the roses) would look nifty as an embellishment on my denim jacket, placed in a similar way to the ones that Elsa designed.

I know there are a lot of ways to make fabric roses. I'm partial to spider-web roses - but I think these are made differently. They almost look like origami- and maybe some kind of folding technique would be best. Another woman touring the gallery wondered if maybe when they were originally made, did they perhaps stand up a little more 3D, and over time they've flattened out. If so, a little iron steam might do the trick, though the flattened origami-kind of look looks good too.

As you will see, if you visit the forum and read this posting (,21274.0.html ), I'm not an expert when it comes to ribbon embroidery. But I got a lot of pointers from the folks in the group. No, the life of a creator just wasn't the same before we had the power of the web, was it? (In fact we used to depend on family members, classes, schools, clubs, neighbors, groups and our local libraries. We weren't that all deprived.)

Some of the basics I acquired reading different people's answers. (Though you will get more ideas when you visit the forum). 

Folks Suggested...

* Either silk ribbon or a strip of heavy bias silk--folded, draped, and layered into a rose shape similar to ribbon embroidery. 

* Intense pink at the center of each rose may be a brush dipped into dye.

* The leaves and golden bits perhaps crewel embroidery.

This gorgeous vintage camisole has
roses similar to the embellishment on the Schiaparelli Evening Coat

I loved reading the different ideas and discussions about antique ribbon work. And what about the beautiful camisole photo that emerged from the question? Yes, another distracting garment!

With the resources and ideas collected in this discussion, I'm expecting it won't be too long before I have my own bouquet of ribbon roses. 

You may also enjoy....

Stitcher's Guild Artisans Square, Forum Posting - "How Would You Create Elsa Schiaparelli's Roses?",21274.0.html

 The Enchanted by Sewing Audio Tour of the V&A

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vintage Threads: Myrna Loy Made the Clothes

Some women identify with Mariyn Monroe, others with Judy Garland. My favorite vintage film star is Myrna Loy, and my favorite images of Miss Loy are as Nora Charles in The Thin Man.

Wouldn't this be your favorite go-to outfit if you were Mrs. Charles? No woman has every looked as pulled together as Nora in this plaid bias-cut skirt, feather-endowed beret and bow combination.  And the shapely black companion jacket pulls it all together. I'd hazard a guess that the plaid is a mixture  of black and red threads on a white background. 

A modern sewist could pull off  the creation of a very similar  ensemble (she might want to ditch the bow tie and feather, to avoid looking a bit too precious) but she could never really put it together like Nora Charles did.

Some folks say that clothes make the woman, but in the case of this great lady, Myrna Loy made the clothes.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Vintage Threads: Retro Cow Gal Denim is Thoroughly Up to Date

63 years after filming, these gals duds are still in style
With some fashions we have to wait for a return to retro. But when it comes to denim duds, their style vibe just keeps on working.

Irene Dunn's jean-jacket and Ann Doran's vest and shirt combination are as classic today as they were back in 1950 when Never a Dull Moment was filmed. The topstitching on Miss Dunn's jacket is particularly inspirational for modern sewists. You can see it up close when you click on the illustration.

Just add some pumped up pouty lips, loose flowing hair,
and a come-hither expression.
Then... as soon as our waistbands move back up from their currently
below the waist position - likely to happen any day-
these nicely fitted jeans, with belt and classic plaid shirt will put
this picture right back in style.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Antique Threads: Miss Firbank's Pink Linen Cuff (Victoria and Albert Fashion Gallery)

One hundred of
Miss Heather Firbank's
garments can by found by
searching the V&A collection
In the Enchanted by Sewing Podcast for July, I took my listeners on an audio tour of London's Victoria and Albert Fashion Gallery. There I described numerous historic garments, as I encountered them. (You can listen to this podcast on line, or download it to your iPhone, Android or other mobile device You'll recall that several of the fashions I mentioned in the show, were from the wardrobe of Miss Heather Firbank (daughter of M.P. Sir Thomas Firbank and sister of the novelist Ronald Firbank). She wore them in the early part of the twentieth century (Edwardian  Era 1910-1920).

Well of course that bodice lace is
gorgeous. And we always get a kick from
the s-shaped bodice that made fashionable
gals look like pouter pigeons.
One of Miss Firbank's garments was a beautiful pink linen day dress. It's got a very Gibson Girl look, and reminds me of several of the photos from Agatha Christie's autobiography. You can read more about this dress yourself, by following this link to the V&A collection . That link also brings up other views of the dress and more about the garment. Don't get me started on the pouter pigeon/S-Shaped look and the kind of corset a woman had to wear to create that shape under her clothes. Let's just say that her inner organs were possibly affected and leave it at that.

What most struck me, other than fact that I am particularly
Love the way the round shape of the
self-fabric covered button
draws attention to the squared off tabs
and rounded half circle rising up to meet it.
The lace is pretty,
but don't you think it distracts from
the cuff?
partial to pastel shades of linen, was the cuff.   I'm glad I snapped some detail showing the cuff, because whoever took this part of the collection photograph for the V&A, went mainly for the whole-garment, with some images of the stand-out bodice as well. I know that photographer's not a sewist because he/she didn't include a special photo of the cool cuff.

Don't you love those tabs, cut whole as part of the cuff? And how about those big self-fabric covered buttons and the topstitched edge? Hey, we're sewists! Could we not recreate that? You betcha!
Yes, I do like the waistband too
Don't even get me started on that!

I'm envisioning a loose linen jacket, maybe duster-style, something like what Miss Heather would have worn motoring, except mine would be mid-thigh length and I'd wear it over trousers (no I don't think this fashion forward lady would have been shocked). I'd make my sleeves 3/4 length, like I do my shirts. Because otherwise I always just roll my sleeves up and the beautiful cuff would be lost. I'd love to make a cuff like this up in a shell pink or pale lavender linen. The lace is pretty, but I think it distracts from the shape of those tabs and the nice big buttons. I'd scrap the lace.

Might it also work in a mid-weight dark blue wool jacket or coat, with a red silk lining or piping that just peeked out from behind? I'd cut the cuff lining just slightly bigger than the outside part of the cuff so that it brought up an edge to highlight the tabs. And definitely the topstitching would add the right kind of finish. But blue or red topstitching.... not sure. Would need to test that out. I'm sure I'd find some beautiful buttons to draw attention to the cuffs too - metal maybe...

Or how about one of those polyester (or real silk) brocades that have the pretty wrong side in contrasting colors? Again, cutting the lining side a big longer - and making the wrong side be the right side for the lining - would draw attention to those tabs. And of course then I'd cover the buttons with that wrong side of the fabric too.

Dreaming about how I might incorporate ideas from this gorgeous antique cuff keeps me... enchanted by sewing.