Sunday, March 31, 2013

A quick trip to Asia

No airplanes or ocean liners involved.  Just a dozen-mile drive north on Greenville Avenue takes us to the Tian Tian Supermarket which shares a strip with a bevy of assorted Asian restaurants and little shops.  The statuary alone is worth the trip!  After lunch at the Jeng Chi restaurant (where almost everyone was wielding chopsticks), we headed to the treasure trove of the supermarket. There are unusual fruits and vegetables, fish and meats, as well as freshly prepared foods, and I like to peruse them all.  But what really delights me are the jars and cans and packages with their colorful labels and intriguing ingredients.  Flavors of countries and cultures that have traveled across oceans, ready to take the senses on a exotic journey while we're seated at our Texas table.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Illustration Friday - Yesterday

It ws a day of golden sun, the meadow purple with larkspurs. She sat with her sister on the grass, both young and eager and laughing, summer in their hearts.  And all those long years later she could remember that charmed moment as if it were yesterday.
I was inspired by this lovely, evocative photo which I found on Flickr from Robert & Suzanne Pittenger's album, dating from the 1910s on.  A simpler time, although not a gentler one, despite all the smiling faces in these photographs.  But perhaps a more optimistic time.  And I hope these people were as good and kind as most of them appear to be, that their lives were as full and rich as in these brief glimpses. Thanks to Paul-W for making it available via Creative Commons. I used Topaz Simplify filters on one copy of the image, as I also did on one copy of the background image which is one of my own photos. Nothing too complicated here, just several copies of each image with different blend modes, some masking and some color adjustments, all done in Photoshop, of course.  A pleasure to compose.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Trials and Tribulations

It was way back in November when I began on this seemingly simple jacket, and come February, I was beginning to feel like Sisyphus, rolling his rock eternally up the same hill.  Or perhaps a better allusion would Penelope with her endless weaving that she unraveled every night, because I was certainly doing a whole lot of unstitching.  

HP 1031
So, why so much trouble?  You can read my lengthy account of the problems I encountered with my first HotPatterns pattern on Pattern Review.  Only the fact that I so love this beautiful heathered violet and could not bear to waste it, as well as a determination not to be defeated by what I had begun, kept me plugging on.

I finished the jacket about three weeks ago, and my frustrations and irritations have faded.  I have found it to be a great little jacket to toss on and go.  Sometimes it helps to simply distance yourself from the details, especially if you tend to be a perfectionist.  After all, how closely do you examine a bought garment?   How perfectly does it fit you?  You don't know all of its intimate details as you do with a garment you've made, so you tend to be less critical, at least that's my thought. 

As I said, this is the first HotPatterns pattern I sewn, and I'm not ready to rush out and buy another one, although they certainly seem to be have garnered a following, judging from all the reviews on Pattern Review.  A comment by Sew 4 Fun about how "...Hot Patterns seem to draft for a tall, plus-size woman so when the patterns are graded down to the smaller sizes the proportions aren't always 'right'."  reminded me of a session I attended at a sewing show on independent pattern designs. In it Bobbie Bullard talked about how independent patterns are often created by the designer with herself and her proportions in mind.  Thus you'll find the flowing styles that complement tall, willowy women designed by Linda Lee for The Sewing Workshop.  While The Cutting Line patterns designed by Louise Cutting help to camouflage a thicker torso and improve the shoulder line.  By that criteria, it seems that HotPatterns are made to flatter the generous form of designer Trudy Hanson. While this doesn't mean you should eschew patterns by designers who have a very different body type from your own, I think it should alert you to certain aspects of fit and styling to take into consideration when you sew one.

I'm amazed by all the independent pattern companies that are out there now, such as Collette Patterns, Style Arc and Christine Jonson Patterns, to mention just three.   I've only dabbled a bit in independent patterns: Loes Hines Designs, Silhouettes by Peggy Sagers and The Cutting Line Designs. Usually I find just about anything I want from Vogue, as well as from McCall's and Simplicity, but I have a few interesting independent patterns that I'm hoping to get around to one of these days..