Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Promise is a Promise

I promised last week that I would have photos of Vogue 1169 for you by early this week. It is now early this week, and I am not finished with Vogue 1169. Let me explain.

Covered buttons are doing me in. The fabric is slippery, thick and fray-ey, and all around stupid. So to cover a button (which I have never previously attempted) is a task that is beyond my level of skill. I fumbled around with it, I looked online for tutorials and tips, tried those tutorials and tips, and still came up empty handed. No covered buttons for me.


As a result, in the meantime I am weighing my options. I could find a similarly colored fabric that is lighter weight and not as slippery to cover my buttons with, I could keep trying with the fabric I have (the cons of that is that it would require a lot of repentance later for my use of profanities), or I could give up on the idea of covered buttons and just buy some that would work well with the suit.

But since I promised photos, I will give you photos. The projected is finished, aside from sewing on buttons and doing a final wash and press.

This is the jacket. There are shiny spots from irresponsible pressing, which will come out in the wash. The fit is pretty good (albeit a bit tight), and I adore the seaming and piping and decorative hand stitching. There are so many details that I love.

This is one of the welt pockets (again disregard the shine of the fabric). The pockets were interesting to construct. I don't think I've ever actually constructed anything so intricate. The piping, the pocket lining (it is a functional pocket, although small), the welt... It was interesting and required a lot of pressing to get things to lay just right.

The collar was also interesting and fun to construct. And I love the detail of the piping. It really adds something special.

At the back, there is a little pleat in the peplum. It is cute, however this fabric lays like a tarp, so to ensure that the pleat doesn't stick straight out I tacked it down. It is not a free flowing pleat.

And then we have the skirt. The fit is not my favorite (there's a bit of poofiness in the abdominal area which serves only to emphasize my pudge), but by the time I figured that out I had already done all the hand-stitching, and in accordance with true Gordita nature, I decided that an ill-fitting skirt was better than ripping out and redoing all those stitches.

Would you want to redo all those stitches?

And just like the pleat in the peplum, this little detail on the back of the skirt is tacked down because otherwise it would stick straight out and look dumb.

I love that the lining is fuchsia. It's like a dirty little secret only I (and everyone else who reads this) know.

So, my summary on this pattern is as follows: I learned new techniques (I had never worked with piping before, nor had I ever done pick stitching), I love the details, and I feel like I accomplished something by sewing this up. The cons are this: as with so many projects, I picked lame fabric that wears weird (BUT, it WAS on sale, so...), and the fit of the skirt is stupid around the tummy.

Once I figure out the button issue, I will post photos of the suit with me in it. In the meantime, I've been working on Vogue 1086, and was able to fight my naturally lazy nature and actually rip out stitches where I had made some (a lot of) mistakes. Yeah, I'm pretty proud of myself for that.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fashion Forward Friday

His and hers matching shirts.

My parents were high school sweethearts, which I think is absolutely adorable. My mom asked my dad to a girls' choice dance, and the rest is history.

As seniors in high school (in 1963), their school had a Lagoon Day. The story goes that Mom made matching shirts for the special outing.

I just think that this is so adorable. Look! They matched!

And look how in love cute young Dad was with cute young Mom.

The classic photo booth kiss shot. It just wouldn't be a complete photo booth session without a kissing picture.

And here they are goofing off.

This makes me want to make matching shirts for TC and I. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hello in passing.

I just wanted to say a quick good morning. I can't stop to chat. I've got a lot going on today, not the least of which, I am on the last leg of Vogue 1169. I've only got several hours of hand stitching left. I've got to tack down the lining, cover some buttons, sew said buttons on, and voila! The suit is finished. This was a lengthy project.

But I did want to say that I have a promise for you. I promise that by early next week you will have photos of the suit.

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tony Horton kicks my butt

So I'm back on the exercise wagon. I fell off for months and months, and now I'm back on. TC and I have Tony Horton's Power 90 (which is not the same as P90X), and have started and stopped a bajillion times, although most recently TC has been faithful to the Power 90, and I have, on my own, fallen off into forbidden paths of sloth.

But now we're back again. And frigging Tony is kicking my behind. My thighs are sore from squats. My arms are sore from push ups. My legs feel so heavy it's hard to move them.

In a way, I enjoy feeling this crummy after working out because it means I've done something. I means that my body is working hard. And that feels great.

In other news, I have not had time to sew or do anything creative in the last several days. I've been on other administrative projects for our household (calling insurance companies, doing research on possible purchases, running this errand and running that, etc.). It feels good to be useful and productive and busy sometimes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vogue 1086-A Do Over

Rarely do people post of their failings, but today I am going to do just that. Over a year ago I posted about a pattern I was really excited to sew up. I called it cuteness in dress form. And it really is.

I love this pattern. As soon as I received it, TC and I ran out to find the right fabric. We settled on a red cotton. Let me interrupt this admission of guilt by explaining that my parents instilled in me a very deep sense of "If you aren't going to do it right, there's no sense in doing it at all." My mom has the patience of a saint and will sew and resew something until she gets it just right.

Well, with this project I decided to ignore all that was instilled in me. I sewed it up, tried to fudge the v in back and front, was sloppy in trimming edges, cut corners (figuratively) wherever I could, and paid little attention to the instructions.

This was the result.

It looks pretty normal, right? Well here comes the part where I reveal my secrets.

Like the white trim at the bottom? That was necessary because I didn't bother to check the length before I cut everything out, and once I was ready to hem the dress I realized I didn't have any room to hem it without the length shrinking to an uncomfortable length. My solution: finish the edge with bias tape. Instead of going out and buy some in a coordinating color, I lazily opted to use whatever I had on hand: white. Contrast is good right?

Even with the non-hem, the dress borders on too-short for comfort, and does not allow for free movement, like anything other than standing up completely straight is a bit revealing.

The v neck in the front looks okay here. On, it has an odd gape to it. *shrug* I felt too lazy to do any investigation into how to fix that so it remained. Also, you can see that my top stitching is uneven and messy.

Take a look at that bulge of fabric at the back neckline. Messy, unsightly, but I couldn't be bothered to fix it.

And the crowning jewel is this: The pattern called for French seams, which was a new technique for me. French seams require you to sew each seam twice: once wrong sides together, trim, then sew right sides together, effectively encasing the raw edge so on the inside everything is nice and neat. Well, I got lazy having to do each seam twice, so I decided to cut out a step: I didn't trim the fabric after the first stitch, which means that some of the raw edge is sticking out of the outside seam. Those little threads you see there? My laziness showing through.

So I've decided that I love this pattern too much to let it go without another fight. So I've decided to sew it again, but this time avoiding the laziness-induced pitfalls I encountered last time.

I'm sewing it up in a white eyelet fabric. I'm going for a summer sweet look. 

My laziness is not completely cured, however. Part of the reason I chose this eyelet is that it has a finished edge, which means I would not have to hem the dress. It's pre-hemmed for me. 

I'll let you know how my do over goes.

Monday, August 23, 2010


car salesmen = professional grifters, scammers, liars, truth stretchers

My favorite lie, "You'd better snatch up this car while you can because there are two people in the other room who have just made an offer." Two days later, the car is still sitting in the lot.

Another favorite, acting surprised when I show him the Kelley Blue Book value on my iphone (there's an app for that), then lying about the car model and options to try to justify himself. The KBB value was nearly half what they originally offered. Then he lied and said, "Well that's how much we paid at auction." Well then, you need to hire someone new to buy cars at auction for you, because you got ripped off.

So, watch out for these grifters. They pull out every trick in the book.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fashion Forward Friday

Nautical Stripes are one of those trends that really never go out of style. They are classic, timeless and span decades as a style that just doesn't go out of style. Read more about it on Bazaar here.

First I'll share with you some current examples.

Spring 2010

And now I'll show you some older examples.

Classic Examples
Audrey Hepburn

Jackie Kennedy

Jean Seberg

Me circa 1988.

Now before you drop everything you know about fashion to follow me blindly, let me point out to you the navy blue knit culottes I'm wearing. Yeah, that's pretty much how we did it in the 80s: pair one classic style (nautical stripes) with one in the now and never again style (knit culottes). 

Conclusion: nautical stripes classic and awesome; culottes are not. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oscar de la Renta

Also back in March I mentioned Vogue 2950, an Oscar de la Renta suit.

I had cut it out, and was worried about the jacket being too big at my regular size 12. Well, laziness dictated to me that I should just sew up the jacket in a 12 without making any sizing changes, and hope for the best. I luckily lucked out. It fit.

Here's the finished product:

For the life of me, I can't seem to take a self portrait that is in focus. I also can't seem to take a self portrait with a normal look on my face. Oh well. While we are on the subject of this photo, my legs look unusually skinny and long. So that right there makes this photo a keeper.

But  now back to the suit. The skirt is actually the one pictured here with my bow neck top.

The skirt is high waisted and fits like a dream. The fabric is a stretch twill, which probably has something to do with how easy this skirt is to wear. I love the skirt and have plans to make it again.

The jacket fits well too and still gives me plenty of room to move around. The sleeves are lined, there is a hidden button placket, and a matching bow belt. I am absolutely in love with the details that went in to making this jacket. 

I did run into a little snag. I followed the instructions to a T, and came up short with the button placket. 

Okay, well not short literally, but short in the sense that it didn't look good. There was pulling and gaping and ugliness. And I was frustrated.

It wasn't pulling because there wasn't enough fabric to go around. It was pulling because of the hidden button placket. After cursing and talking it out with TC, and inspecting the pattern art closely, I noticed the slightest hint of a line of stitches down the front of the jacket just past the placket.

So even though there was nothing in the instructions to indicate that a line should be sewn down the front of the jacket, I did it.
And TADA! No pulling or gaping. It's amazing.

I was pretty frustrated that a detail like that was left out of the instructions. It seems small, but I was doing my best not to cut any corners (other than crossing my fingers about the fit of the jacket), and I was worried that a line of stitches would ruin the look. Luckily, it didn't ruin anything, and it helped the whole thing to lay flat.

The verdict on Vogue 2950: it's a great pattern with neat finishes. The fit is great and construction is fairly easy. The only issue I came across was that one line of stitches down the front.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

White "mini" skirt

Months ago, just as the weather was getting warmer and the days longer, I decided I needed a white denim skirt. I don't remember where the idea originated exactly, but it was likely sparked at my favorite daily outfit blog.

So I set out to find a lightweight white denim, and failed. Instead I found a light weight white twill with a window pane pattern weaved right in. With a white underlining it worked.

I scoured my pattern collection just knowing that I had to have something suitable. I could have gone with one of my many pencil skirt patterns, but I really wanted it to look like a denim skirt, with front fly and pockets. I found a pattern in my stash that fit the bill: McCalls 3529.

I made it back in 2002-2003 and wore it to TC's BYU graduation. See?

The problem was that the pattern is now out of print and I was heavier when I first made a skirt from this pattern. I was stuck with sizes 14,16,18. I wear a 12 in patterns, so I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to size it down a bit. And it turns out it wasn't difficult at all. I just folded the pattern piece the same amount down the length of each piece. There is probably a better way to size things down, but this worked for me.

As for the lining, rather than making essentially two skirts, I basted the lining fabric to the underside of the skirt fabric and then treated the two fabrics as one. It worked out really well. The lazy person's approach to modesty. :)

Here's the result.

If you can see past the cheesy smile, you will notice that there is no show-through on this white skirt, which is awesome. The underlining works. You may be able to see, if you look at the waist band, the fitting issues. The waist band is straight across, so it doesn't hug my waist as it ought to, but gapes. It's almost like I'm wearing a box. I would not be able to wear this skirt with anything tucked in because of this. It just looks silly. And the skirt requires me to tug and straighten nearly constantly because it rides up all on its own.

Once I finished this skirt and wore it around I remembered that back in 2002 I had the same issues with my brown version of the skirt. Of course, I didn't remember that detail until I finished with this one. Stupid faulty memory.

That being said, the fit issues haven't stopped me from wearing this skirt a lot this summer. It's easy to throw on and the necessary tugging gives me something to do.

The verdict on McCalls 3529? It needs some contouring in the waist and hips to perfect it. I probably wouldn't use this pattern again because although I could make the necessary tweaks, I'm lazy, and would rather use a pattern that already works for me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The week of the finished projects

I finally have for you pictures of projects I previously mentioned and finished, but never followed through with photos of the completed product. I lack in the follow through/ follow up departments.

To make up for that, I have three finished projects that I will share with you one by one. The first is the one I am least excited about.

Back in March I mentioned that I was making New Look 6732.

I bought the pattern because I fell in love with view E (the short, puffy sleeved top with Peter Pan collar). It's an adorable style.

When I got to cutting the pattern out, I felt some doubt about the puffy sleeves. Out of sheer laziness and not wanting to make any changes to the pattern, I cut out and made the puffy sleeves.

This is the result.

Please excuse the intense look in my eyes. Who knows what was going on.

I look a bit more normal here. 

So my beef with the top is that it calls a lot of attention to my shoulders, which I am self-conscious about. I feel like I'm too top heavy with my shoulders and bust and beefy arms, and I feel like this top calls a lot of attention to that area with the collar and puffy sleeves. Also, the top really needs to be buttoned to the very top to complete the look, but I am not a fan of round necks on me. Again, it calls attention to my upper torso, and to my round face.

I'm not pointing these things out for any other reason that to verbalize what I learned about my body type and what flatters my figure most. Oddly enough, I have not paid much attention to this whole dressing for my body type thing because I really haven't felt like I have a body type, other than my long torso which makes it difficult to find tops that offer enough coverage, especially with pants. But this top, and another project that I will share with you this week, brought my awareness to the forefront.

Another problem I see is the print: I'm not loving it. I bought it cheap from Fabric.com and thought it looked "okay" online. Once it arrived, I liked it less. And now that's it been made into something I like it even less.

Positives are as follows: the fabric is cotton with stretch so it wears nicely, the bottom half of the top fits well, I lengthened the top by about 3" so it would be long enough to wear with pants, and it's not a t-shirt.

So, the top isn't my favorite. Tucked under a cardigan, it's pretty cute. I wear it occasionally, but now I know that top heavy blouses are not the most flattering on me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Random Confessions

I had a strange dream about a dog that was stalking me. That was this morning. Now I feel strange whenever I think about dogs. He licked me a lot. And could talk. Blech.

I made bread from scratch without any appliances for the first time in my life. That was last week. I lie when I say without any appliances, because I did use my kitchen-aid to help with the mixing. I guess what I really mean is that I did not use my bread machine for this. I felt pretty proud of myself. 

The bread I made last week was pretty dry.

But it looked like bread. So I was pretty excited about that.

I had to sweep every day last week with that bread around the house. It's crumbly.

I finished the skirt for Vogue 1169. The fabric hangs like a tarp. And it's poofy in the lower tummy. It looks frumpy. I'm frustrated. I spent hours and hours hand stitching it. Sigh. But for some reason I have started with the jacket, made from the same tarp-like material. Maybe, by some miracle, the jacket will look good made from tarp.

I sleep a lot when left to my own devices. I enjoy sleeping.

On that same note, I am perpetually lazy. It's a disease. 

There are gardeners outside my window using noisy machines. It's noisy.

I'm a hermit. I have been enjoying my solitude for the last two weeks. It worries me a little bit that maybe I enjoy being alone a little bit too much.

That being said, I am so excited when TC comes home from work. So that gives me hope that I'm not entirely anti-social.

I need to stop sitting here, trying to think of interesting things to type because I need to clean up my mess. I have clothes strewn all around my bedroom, and the bed isn't made. For shame!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fashion Forward Friday

There is so much of the late 1980s early 1990s going on here I'm not even sure where to start. The year is 1989, it's summer, and my sister KL and I are taking "modeling" photos at the park.

I'll start with my look: side ponytail fixed with a coordinating blue scrunchie, over sized blue top. The rest of the photo is blown out, so who knows what else I'm wearing.

KL's look: pink bandana used as a headband, aqua blue Ocean Pacific T, white cut-off sweats, and flojos.

I'm not sure what modern trends these two looks imitate, but this photo was simply too awesome not to share.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Guide to Elegance

Several new books arrived at the TC and Gordita household yesterday, and Genevieve Antoine Darriaux's A Guide to Elegance was one of them. I had a fantastic time reading through parts of it yesterday, and my overall feeling is the advice is mostly outdated (it was originally published in 1964, the year my parents were married), although there is some good advice. Since I'm in a combative mood, I want to share with you some advice I disagree with, under the heading Shoes.

"... the shoe industry provides us with a steady stream of original new models that are created or imported in the hopes of tempting us to buy at least twice as many pairs as a well-dressed woman really needs. So self-restraint is absolutely indispensable in this field..." 

Okay, so far so good. I agree on this point. Self-restraint is necessary in so many different situations.

"...shoes should be the complement of an ensemble, never an end in themselves. ... The most elegant shoes in the world will never 'make' an outfit-- in fact, if they are too noticeable, they cannot be elegant."

I respectfully disagree. To a point. I think that fantastic shoes can really top off an outfit. Sometimes I'm inspired to put an outfit together based solely on a pair of shoes. If I am in the mood to wear a pair of shoes that are a bit colorful, or adorned, or otherwise call attention to themselves, I will pair them with a very plain ensemble, to bring balance. In cases like that, I believe that the shoes make the outfit.

"...you can immediately eliminate certain styles that have no place in an elegant wardrobe:
"-too high heels, which...are extremely vulgar. Even if you are only five feet tall, you should wear heels no higher than 2 or 2 1/2 inches."

Yikes. By this definition, I'm pretty much always vulgar.

Adding to her list of style that have no place in an elegant wardrobe: open-toed shoes, wedge heels, ankle straps, pointy shoes, shoes adorned with a giant bow or flower, or any shoes that attract too much attention.

I pretty much love all those things listed as having no place in an elegant wardrobe. Ha.

But alas, I have found a hole in the advice. Take a second look at the cover art on the book: pictured is a pair of pointy-toed, at least 3" heels. Ha ha. Inelegance indeed. 

So, as if I were an expert in the field, I shall write my own modern guide to elegant shoes.

Gordita's Guide to Shoes for the Modern Woman

Shoes should:

  • be well-cared for and clean
  • fit well
  • be comfortable enough for the occasion (i.e. do not wear stilettos to an amusement park where you will be walking around all day, but do wear them to a nice dinner, where you will be seated most of the time)
  • be made of non-synthetic materials, such as leather, suede, canvas, satin, etc. Faux leather, polyurethane, and other synthetics often look like leather, but usually do not wear as well or as long, do not conform to your foot's contour making them generally less comfortable than leather, and often do not allow a foot to breathe, sometimes resulting in stinky feet.
  • compliment your outfit, but sometimes can compliment in a completely nonintuitive way. Shoes can make a statement on their own, or blend in to the outfit. Strike a balance between the clothing, accessories and shoes. If one of the three already makes a statement, the others should blend in. However, it should be noted that a shoe, paired with a plain outfit might be the statement piece, while the same shoe, paired with a different outfit, may blend in and allow a different part of the outfit to make the statement. 
And one last thought on shoes: women should practice their gait in heels. All too often a woman who is dressed beautifully looks in elegant because of the way she walks. She should wear heels no higher than she is able to walk steadily in, and should stand up straight, not drag her feet, and take smaller steps.

So there you have it. I am arguing with nearly 50 year old advice on how to be elegant. And, of course, giving my own take on shoes. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What I Ate: Vegetable Gumbo and Biscuits

Last night I made an entirely seasonally inappropriate meal, but for some reason I was in the mood for a cozy warm dinner despite the oppressive heat.

We had vegetable gumbo with biscuits.

I loosely followed this recipe I found on allrecipes.com, but in true Gordi fashion, I mixed it up so much it hardly was recognizable as the original. These are approximations of the ingredients I used.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen chopped okra
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow zucchini
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat, and whisk in flour. Whisking constantly, cook 5 to 7 minutes, until a golden brown roux has formed.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in okra, onion, celery, carrot and garlic, and cook 10 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Thoroughly blend roux into the vegetable mixture. Stir in water, rice, tomatoes, parsley, salt, thyme, cayenne pepper, pepper, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes (until rice is cooked through), stirring occasionally.
  4. Add chopped zucchini and cook for 5 minutes more, just until zucchini is tender.

I meant to make a soup, but it turned out to be more of a stew, so I would suggest increasing the water. The flavor was nice, and it was quite a hearty soup. (Disclaimer: the measurements on nearly everything is an estimate. I tend not to measure things when I cook. It adds to the adventure.)

While the stew was simmering, I made biscuits.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons chilled butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Cut in the butter and mix with a fork until it resembles a coarse meal. Add buttermilk and mix just until all the dry ingredients are mixed in. Press out on a floured surface, flattening to about 1/2 inch thickness with fingers. Cut biscuits (if you're me you use the rim of a drinking glass because you don't actually have a biscuit cutter), place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for about 11 minutes. 

The recipe supposedly makes 12 biscuits, but I only managed to squeeze out 10. I didn't press out the dough enough I suppose. One other thing to note is that I actually do measure when baking because I don't understand baking well enough to mess with the ratios of ingredients. So these measurements are exact.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Instead of Free Time I Have Shoes

So all this "free time" I should have has turned out to be pretty much occupied time. There are so many things that require my attention that I haven't had as much time as I'd anticipated for things like sewing and reading and photography. In addition, I have actually found it more difficult to squeeze in blog posts now that I'm not working. Weird.

I have ideas of things I want to share with you, but haven't found the time to take pictures of those things, so in the meantime I have for you a pair of shoes I acquired several months ago and photographed way long time ago and have wanted to show you because we all love shoes so much.

These Michael Kors sandals are amazingly comfortable for their height. The leather is buttery soft, and the soles are rubber, and so therefore grippy. 

Okay, so I'll admit it: I'm excited to have something in my wardrobe with Michael Kors' name on it. It makes me feel giddy. Is this superficial? Perhaps.

I adore the details. Even the buckle has Michael's name on it. And the black leather is lined with silver leather. So cute!

As usual, TC picked these out for me. I felt that they were out of my league with a higher than usual for me price tag, but once I tried them on, it was all over. We found these at Nordstrom Rack for around $60.

Can you just tell how soft the leather is? It makes me want to put them on and wear them around the house today as I do chores.