Color Consultation: How It Helped Me

First Half of Swatches

First Half of Swatches

Second Half of Swatches

Second Half of Swatches

Years ago in the early 90’s, I had my ‘colors done’ by someone who worked for Beauty for All Seasons. At that time, my hair was my natural shade of dishwater brown with blonde highlights. My eyes are green, and I was unaware of to what classification my complexion fit. This concept intrigued me and I wanted to give it a try. I did enjoy the process and found that this little swatch fan was useful and I’ve held on to it for all these years as a guide and that was the best part. Here are some reasons I found it to be a helpful process then and now.
1.) Keeps me focused.
I love color. I react to color. As a seamstress, you can see from my About Page, one little glimpse into my fabric stash shows I’m a fan. Prints, solids, texture. I love it all. Sometimes I get carried away and want it all. Every season, I see new colors that are ‘in’ and the retailers make these colors available to us in fabric and clothing. The problem is that I don’t have the space. This is why I could use a little direction. This may be why I have been fascinated with the wardrobe capsule idea which is a concept of a few key clothing items that mix and match with each other creating a much larger collection that meets the needs of one’s lifestyle. (More on the capsule wardrobe subject at another time.) I digressed….

Earlier this year, I had my colors done again by someone at the Puyallup Washington Stitching and Sewing Expo. Her opinion and expertise was backed by 25+ years of being in the color consulting field, claiming that her eye for color came naturally to her. Her swatches for me looked like this:

Main colors showing coloring contrast

Main colors showing coloring contrast

This shows the basics: Hair, Blush, Eye, and Skin and the contrast levels between all four areas. This swatch set shows my coloring as more muted and softer with less contrast than the first color fan.
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Based on my coloring, these are the recommended metals to wear: gold, gold/silver mix and rose gold. ( I live in the desert, so I’m opting for copper; a more-readily available color). Preferred metal textures are brushed/burnished.
Basic Neutrals and

Basic Neutrals and “Reds”

Groupings: Pastels to act as a bridge neutrals with basics of Navy and Soft Browns. My Reds are the blush colors. No true reds for me. More watermelons and corals.
Greens, Blues, Purples

Greens, Blues, Purples

Here are my lighter Greens, Blues and Purples. (My darker greens/blues are with the eye colors) No grays or black. Bummer. It’s not that I can’t wear these, and if I do, blend with the softer pastels to blend them better with my coloring.

I want to say that each of the swatches help me to think in color relationships. Ideally, the colors from each swatch should all go with one another making a seamless and flattering blend. This means hair color, skin tone, eye color, makeup shades and clothing working together seamlessly as a system. The goal is to pull yourself together with these colors in mind so that your best features shine and you look rested, healthy and radiant.

2.) Compare and Contrast
The first swatch group had key information written on the back of each color. See below:
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The Similarities. Old vs New
Turquoises/Blues=Skin Intensifiers
Purples=Hair Intensifiers
Reds/Blushes=Eye Intensifiers
Hair color(s)=use Light and Dark versions of Hair Color to build wardrobe basics
Navy=Wardrobe Neutral

Differences: Old vs New
Whites: Cream/Vanilla vs very Light Yellow
Grays: Charcoal and Light Gray vs no Grays
Metals: Silver vs Gold, Gold/Silver Mix, Rose Gold
Contrast: Higher vs lower
Undertone: Cool vs Warm

It’s tough to be objective. I can be my own worst critic and see myself very differently that others see me. I have worn both warm and cool undertone colors for years so soliciting input from someone else can throw a new spin on things. Both swatches have some color overlap and serve as a guidelines only. They are suggestions of flattering colors based on different sets of eyes and what they see as complimentary.

Many of the fashion and body image blogs I read are abut self awareness and self acceptance. Mass merchandisers pump out colors every season that may only look great on a small percentage of the population, so I may love a color, wear it, but something doesn’t feel right. It may not be the best color for my complexion, leaving me looking washed out, sickly or overpowered. I have worn true red and received compliments. Maybe they love the color red..? It got a reaction and that feedback can be a refreshing way to gain some insight on what suits me. I take it in and let it ruminate. Who doesn’t love a compliment now and then?
3.) Time To Rebel
Chuck it all. Forget it all. Or anything they said. Sometimes I wear what I’m in the mood for right then. No rhyme or reason. No one else needs to approve. Dressing should be fun and expressive and if I want to abandon all of the ‘shoulds’, then I go for it. Every once in a while, it feels great to rebel in a harmless way and wear something that is shocking or daring. No harm no foul. Even this step help define my style, what colors feel right and what fits into my life.

Would you pay a color consultant to give you their opinion?

Iridescent Sea Glass, Crystal, Pearl and Silver Necklace

Iriedescent Sea Glass, Green Crystal, White Pearls and Silver

Iriedescent Sea Glass, Green Crystal, White Pearls and Silver

Here is another creation from my recent purchases from this year’s Tucson Gem and Mineral February 2013 Show held here in Tucson. Every year, I vow to keep the spending under control. Well, I am usually unsuccessful. Or this may be subjective. The amount spent by one person may be outrageous to another. Anyway, there are always new and returning vendors with wonderful inventory from which to choose. The picture may not show it, but the color of these cubes are like moonstone; opaque white with a subtle coating of pinks, greens, purple, and blue. The green crystals came from a stretch bracelet I purchased at NY&Co. I cut the elastic, sorted the beads, bagged them, and you will see them in future posts I’m sure. The silver endcaps and pearls are from the stash. The chain was purchased at the Gem Show. Chain in all designs, metal finishes, price ranges are prevalent at many of the vendors. The rationalization is to buy it now and save on shipping, right???

Iridescent Sea Glass from the Tucson Gem Show

Iridescent Sea Glass from the Tucson Gem Show

This necklace is neutral enough to be worn with denim, greens, white. It will be featured in the future with some sewing project to follow.

Fourth of July Sewing Day

Simplicity 1803 Project Runway Pattern

Simplicity 1803 Project Runway Pattern

It is a day off and I get to sew! Today’s project is to whip up a quick dress for the sweltering heat. Does a dress with pockets ever get old? Never. I chose Project Runway Simplicity 1803. This is a very comfortable dress for the heat we experience in the desert. Fabric is a cotton from Hancock’s. The bodice has some interest and the skirt is full due to the gathers at the waist. The pockets are sewn closer to the center front in vertical seams rather than in the side seams. I prefer this method because it doesn’t add bulk to the hips. I lengthened the bodice by 1″ because I have a long torso and bodices always run a little short on me.

It is more loose fitting than the picture shows because I changed the side seams by cutting straight down from the armhole to the waist instead of tapering it in. It was easy to gather the skirt into the bodice, positioning most of the gathers in the front and back, and fewer on the sides. I did a centered zipper application because I had a standard 22″ zipper in my stash and I can install it pretty quickly.

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This area needs to fit properly across the chest because if not, it will buckle open and not lay flat. A good way to check this is to compare the finished bust measurement on the pattern tissue to your full bust measurement. If possible, have someone hold the enter back seam together before installing the zipper. This will give you a good idea about the seam allowance needed to get the best fit.

This pattern has some cute options available. However, I find the calculations for the fabric to be a it generous by the time I add up all of the fabric needed for add-ons I want. There is WAY too much fabric required which leads me to my Tip-Of-The-Day:
My Go-To Project Runway Pattern Method:
-Buy the Pattern First!
-Cut out all necessary tissue pieces and layout on your imaginary 45’/60″ widths. Measure yardage needed.
-THEN go to the store and buy fabric, trims, contrast fabric, etc.

Do you find the fabric requirements on Project Runways patterns accurate? How do you calculate accurately?

One Necklace 4 Ways

Coral Necklace wrapped three times=a choker

Coral Necklace wrapped three times equals a choker

This is an easy necklace to make. Wear it in the way that best suits your neckline and proportions. Simple stringing with a lobster claw clasp and chain allows the necklace to be lengthened or shortened and worn any way you want. Supplies were beads I had in my stash. Frankly, I just started stringing in a random pattern to use up all three feature bead types.
Supplies:
1.) Coral nuggets and glass beads from JoAnne’s in the same color
2.) Tangerine pearls
3.) Delica peach seed beads for spacing in between
4.) Beading wire (I used thin beading wire to fit through the pearls. I strung right from the spool not cutting until I ran out of beads)
5.) 2 Crimp beads
6.) Closure
I wanted a simple necklace in the popular coral color and thought this would be a great accessory. Sometimes I just want to whip something up quickly but it often ends up as a simply-strung necklace that is boring. This can be mixed with other necklaces, or worn in the following 4 ways.
Coral Knotted Necklace

Coral Knotted Necklace

Double Strand Coral Necklace

Double Strand Coral Necklace

Coral Necklace up close

Coral Necklace up close

Can you see the small seed beads in between beads?
Coral Necklace 44

Coral Necklace 44″ Long

Up close of barrel magnetic closure

Up close of barrel magnetic closure

This is the closure I found at Joanne’s. Not great gold quality, but very versatile. I can use the barrel magnetic closure to open or close by unscrewing one side from the other or use the lobster claw to adjust the lengths. I need to add crimp covers to make it look more finished. I was in a hurry to post this. I need to do my nails.
Magnetic closure

Magnetic closure

Extended to longest length using lobster clasps

Extended to longest length using lobster clasps

Magnetic Lobster Clasp from Joann's

Magnetic Lobster Clasp from Joann’s

The shortest length if worn in a single strand way is about 44″long.
Extended to 44

Length is 44″

The chain adds another 4 inches or so which allows the necklace to be worn three times around neck like a choker.
Extends to 48

Length is 48″Long

Coral Necklace wrapped three times=a choker

Coral Necklace wrapped three times=a choker

I hope you enjoyed this and learned something from it. Happy beading.

Eye Shadow Rescue

Custom Blended Eye Shadow From Old Compacts

Custome Blended Eye Shadow From Old Compacts

Do you have broken eye shadow containers that should be thrown away but you keep using them because the colors are still great? I had 16 broken containers and was tired of the shadow powder spilling out and making a mess. Easy trick: Combine like-colors, add isopropyl alcohol, and voila! Saved shadows with new colors. A few supplies are needed and you will be on your way.

Broken and Ugly-Notice What Can Be Salvaged

Broken and Ugly-Notice What Can Be Salvaged

Displaying all of these showed me what colors were favorites, what I wanted to keep and what would eventually be thrown out. I was excited to consolidate.

Items Needed

Items Needed

Disclaimer: I am not a chemist. This is a overly-simplified way to salvage eyeshadow and I in no way am pretending to have the orginal eye shadow formula figured out. This is a quick fix to condense and simplify. Enough of that—let’s proceed.
Just a few items are needed:
1.) Isopropyl Alcohol
2.) Containers like these
3.) Dropper like this
4.) Cotton Swabs
5.) Scraper or small screwdriver

Chip Out, Add Alcohol, and Stir

Chip Out, Add Alcohol, and Stir

1.) Start to chip out the shadow with the screwdriver and get as much into the container as possible. (It gets a little messy).
2.) Dip dropper into alcohol while pinching it. Let go and watch the alcohol go up into the dropper. Squeeze out only a drop at a time to the dried up shadow, stirring as you go.

Gather Compacts

Gather Compacts

3.) Combine all similar colors and start mixing them together in the containers. This is the fun part. I found that I could use lighter colors to blend with some of the darker shades; consolidate greens, blues, etc.
4.) The consistency should be like thick soup. The alcohol will evaporate off eventually, but to remove lumps and get a true color, constant stirring works best.

ReUse Old Containers

ReUse Old Containers

5.) After emptying some of the compacts, I found that some were still in good shape and I would repurpose them. What a nice way to simplify, consolidate, and rescue perfectly good eye shadow. In the past, I threw the whole compact away. Now they have a new life and great ‘new’ colors!

Do you have eye shadows that need rescuing?

Sewing Bee Causes Buzz

If you area fan of Project Runway, but want to see a different take on it without the drama and outlandish personalities, check out the Great British Sewing Bee. It is a BBC production but airs on You Tube. I highly recommend it. There are four episodes to Season One and Season Two will be airing in 2014.

Presenters and contestents on The Great British Sewing Bee
Presenters and contestants on The Great British Sewing Bee

The humor is refreshing and the abbreviated version of Project Runway gets right to the point. The show invites beginning to seasoned level seamstresses and assigns realistic projects to complete in a few hours. There are two judges who critique honestly but also point out the positives of the overall appearance, adherence to the directions, similarities to garment industry techniques, drape, and fit of the project. It is a down-to-earth show about putting your sewing skills to the test so grab a hot ‘cuppa’ and cozy up on the couch. I viewed all shows in one day.

The best part, in my opinion, is the increased interest in sewing. Check out this great article to read about garment sewing resurgence due to this popular show. Even though this article references Solihull, England, I heard about this show from a student in my Sit & Sew group and have since enjoyed seeing the show referenced on other U.S. blog sites.

This article is written by someone who has sewn for 20 years and is encouraged by the show and hopes promote it will draw in non-sewers to give sewing a try. She also encourages the sewers to post easy projects on blogs, teach beginners and spread the word.

Here is one more (lengthy) article about the show, but with more criticism and over-intellectualizing than I care for—you decide.

Have you seen the shows and what do you think?

Thermal Iron Cover Tutorial

1Blue Cover up closeWhat do you do when you have to pack a hot curling iron? Well, my mother gave me a thermal cover for either a flat iron or curling iron and I thought it would be great to make some for my Sit and Sew ladies for Christmas. They make great gifts, or make one to keep in your suitcase. I studied it carefully and remade it my way. Here’s how I did it.

Getting Started

Getting Started

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Step 1. Supplies Needed:
– Tracing paper, medical paper or something to use as your pattern piece
– 1 Outer fabric approximately 10″ x 15″
– 1 Coordinating fabric for inside lining and outer bias binding (You can use purchased single fold bias tape if desired)
– 1 Small 10 x 15″ piece of Thinsulate or ironing board fabric with a heat barrier layer
– Ruler for drawing quilt lines
– Quilt guide that attaches to sewing machine (optional)
– Scissors
– Matching thread
– Chalk or disappearing marker

Sandwich three layers

Sandwich three layers

Step 2. Layer and Draw:
– Layer the fabrics by sandwiching the Thinsulate between the two coordinating fabrics, with wrong sides to the Thinsulate.
– Pin
– Using your ruler, start drawing lines diagonally with your chalk or marker (whichever shows up best on your fabric) from one corner to the other. Continue drawing 1″ lines on either side of your original line until you have lines on the whole piece.

Draw One Inch Diagonal Quilt Lines

Draw One Inch Diagonal Quilt Lines

Sew Your Lines

Sew Your Lines

Step 3. Sew Your Lines.
-Using a quilt guide attached to your foot, sew the 1″ diagonal lines across the entire piece. Feel free to sew the lines any way you wish as long as the layers are kept together. I chose 1″ diagonal because it was fast and easy.

Round Edges, Trace & Cut Out

Round Edges, Trace & Cut Out

Step 4. Pin, Trace and Cut.
-Take a pencil and round the edges of your 10″ x 15″ pattern piece. (It makes it easier to bind later). Trace around your quilted piece and cut out.

Get Ready to Baste

Get Ready to Baste

Step 5. Baste the Raw Edges
-Set your machine on baste and sew 1/8″ to 1/4″ around raw edge of quilted piece. This will prepare the edges for binding.

Cutting Sloppy Bias Strips

Cutting Sloppy Bias Strips

Step 6. How to Cut Some Sloppy Bias Strips
I know, I know. This is NOT how you make proper bias strips. Use a cutting mat and rotary cutter for pretty bias strips. I am giving you the quick-and-dirty to get this done. Remember, I know our sewing time is limited and we need to get these projects done pronto. Reduce the UFO’s. (Un-Finished Objects)
-Place fabric on grain and fold up one edge to a 45 degree. Insert your scissors on the fold and cut. This is what I call sloppy bias because it is fast and doesn’t use a ruler, cutting mat or rotary cutter. Remember: I shave off time if it works for me and gets me great results; otherwise, do it the right way. As you will see in the following steps, the sloppiness just disappears.

Piecing Bias Strips Together

Piecing Bias Strips Together

Cut 1″-1.25″ strips from the chosen fabric for the binding. With right sides together, take two ends as shown. Stitch and press open. When you press these open, they should continue in a straight line, not a 90 degree angle. Cut off corner of one end of bias. Fold under 1/4″. Start pinning this to the bottom edge.

Attaching Bias Binding

Attaching Bias Binding

Step 8. Bias Strip Attached to Edge
Starting at the lower edge, with right sides together (RST), align raw edges of bias binding and edges of thermal cover. Overlap the raw end of your ending bias strip (you may need to trim off a little) over the beginning folded edge. (The raw edge will be sandwiched between the folded edge and the thermal cover). Pin. Sew in a 1/4″ seam all the way around the outer edge. This is where some of the magic happens IF the sewing is straight and even.

Pink, Clip or Trim Seam Allowance

Pink, Clip or Trim Seam Allowance

Step 9. Trim Edges.
Clip corners and trim around the entire thermal cover to reduce the seam allowance and allow for the bias to turn nicely around the corners. Press when flipped to underside.

Binding Pressed to Underside

Binding Pressed to Underside

Step 10. Magic Happening
Gently finger press the bias strip to the underside. It will naturally fold and curl on the corners. Turn raw edges in so that the fold is just covering the stitching line.

Steam a Seam to the Rescue!

Steam a Seam to the Rescue!

Step 11. Making Life Easier
I used the 1/4″ Steam a Seam fusible tape on the trimmed seam allowance to help the folded bias edge stick until I can sew it down. Pin and press. On the right side, you should notice that the bias edge looks pretty good and is ready for some final decorative stitching.

Fancy Stitching

Fancy Stitching

Step 12 Pick a Favorite Stitch

Time for Tacos

Time for Tacos

Step 13. Fold In Half
You are almost done! Fold in half so it looks like a taco. Pin in the ditch of the stitching, trying to match up your binding stitching lines from both sides. You will then ‘stitch in the ditch’ through all layers in a straight seam from the bottom up to the top leaving an opening 2″-3″ from the top edge. This will leave the opening for your curling iron or flat iron.

Stitch In the Ditch

Stitch In the Ditch

Ready for a Hot Iron!

Ready for a Hot Iron!

You are finished. Now you can pack a hot iron and not worry it will burn something while it cools!

Birthday Suggestion

Our family has never been big birthday celebrators, but we have made a point to at least acknowledge with a card, FRESH FLOWERS, some thoughtful gift, a dinner and pick-your-cake. No day is complete without a poorly sung rendition of Happy Birthday by someone. Oh, and no chores….kinda like King/Queen for the day.

Being the mom, I look forward to it because it usually means breakfast made for me. I get to suggest some favorite foods and then be surprised with a concerted effort by family members. Over the years, it has meant breakfast in bed, handmade cards, clumsily-wrapped homemade gifts that made me well up, funny store bought cards, perfume, and other sentiments too numerous to mention.

Selfishly, I daydream about a day of TOTAL relaxation. This can mean sewing, of course, or napping or shopping at my local fabric stores, being with friends, reading magazines or books, hanging out with family, getting a massage. The normal demands are not there—they just get postponed.

Now for the birthday tip: If at all possible, clear the day for one favorite relaxing activity.  This may be more realistic than expecting all of the others wonderful activities to magically happen. If all else fails, finishing a project or activity of your choice is a gift to yourself.

Introducing Sit and Sew

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Our group is small but it is mighty! I’m cheating a little here. This photo is one of the few times we could all gather on the same night so I am including this picture to show you the gang. Call it Stitch & Bitch, Sew and Sip, Unpick and Vent, whatever. But mostly we laugh, while getting serious about our sewing and have a great time.

But this is how the post should have started….
After months of mulling over and wondering how and what commitment could I make for the long haul, it’s was finally time to offer a Sit and Sew group near my home. The clubhouse in my complex rarely gets used and even in it’s 70’s decor, it will serve us beautifully for our gatherings. Here’s a picture of our treat table. Check out the revamped jewelry-box-turned-tea-chest below at the end of the table.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This is how I found it at the thrift store. A little sanding and paint and now it has a new life serving up tea.

Anyway, back to the room. Lots of space, a little kitchen, bathrooms, ceiling fans and air conditioning (an absolute ‘must’ here in the desert), radio, plenty of tables for sewing machines and cutting out. The ironing board will fit off to the side with plenty of room to spare.

Some of my students have been asking for another way to learn about the details of sewing. By offering a 3 hour session bi-monthly, I hope to offer encouragement and an upbeat environment to further the love of sewing. I am providing snacks and beverages (no wine, but that may change). The plan is to be available for tips and demos as well as questions. To start, the group will be small so that the right amount of attention can be spent helping, advising, etc. It may grow over time, or maybe not. We’ll see.

So much of the learning curve of sewing is accomplished by seeing how a technique is done. When I was teaching, I was always a little concerned about the project that was dictated by the corporation for the beginning sewist. It was either too complicated for the time allowed in class to properly finish (layout and cutting was not considered in the time frame) or it was not a project that drew people in to sign up. I tried to keep in mind that I could make the class fun and focus on the skills being learned. Reviewing the steps at the end was meant to encourage the student to go out and practice, find similar projects or repeat what we had just completed. The repetition helps hone the skill. What a relief that the students can choose their own projects!

It is difficult to find the time to sew when life can be so busy. My goal is to show how I squeeze in the little bits of sewing time into my day/week/month and share that with others. I hope to do that with this blog, as well.

Having a place to bring machines and projects to complete can be an outing for yourself….concentrated sewing time without phones and other distractions.

Do you have a sewing group in your area? What kind of format would work for you?

Simplicity 4032 Fleece Jacket In July

Simplicity 4032

Simplicity 4032

It’s summer in Tucson and the recommended class is a fleece jacket! As a teacher for Jo-Ann’s, I teach projects selected by the corporation.  I often wonder what is involved in the decisions when projects are selected. There is not enough time allotted in class for cutting out or making any fitting adjustments, which is a crucial part of the learning process for beginners. The end of class is spent explaining the finishing steps necessary to complete the project at home. My preference is that students get to bring home a completed project. How many of us have enough UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) at home already?

Anyway, Tucson can’t be the only area with over 100 degree temperatures, and yet this was the project to offer at the beginning level. On one of my recent visits to buy notions, I noticed how many customers were in line buying fleece!  Who knew? Planning for the Fall projects, I suppose.

The view required for class is View A. This is an unlined jacket with some raw edges. Finishing seams with a serger or zig zag is optional but not necessary. It has great princess seams and a classic shape. Because the fleece is a little stretchy and very forgiving, setting the collar and sleeves can be done with little frustration. Small pockets can be added to hold keys or tissue, etc.

What are some of the my and hints?
Because you asked:
1.) To keep seams to lay flat, I serged and top stitched them down to finish it nicely.
2.) Be sure to cut as carefully as possible so that there are no jagged edges ( or maybe use a rotary cutter/mat on the exposed edges if you want).
3.) The bow detail on the collar is a styling option. It is removable or it can be left off completely to have a standard shawl collar.
4.) Consider view A in a tweed if you’re looking for a retro look.
5.) The collar edges will have to be finished somehow or lined. Any of these styles will look great for early fall/winter layer over a tank or tee.

Simplicity 4032

Simplicity 4032

Back View of Simplicity 4032

Back View of Simp 4032

Up Close View Of Bow, Raw Edges

Up Close View Of Bow, Raw Edges

6.) The bow consists of two tie pieces inserted into a slice in the upper jacket area and then tied with the collar enclosed in the knot. The nice touch here is that you can remove the ties and smooth out the collar and the slice does not show because it is under the shawl collar.

So even though it is a warm fabric to work with when the air conditioning is tirelessly working away, I suppose it is a good idea to plan now to have something sewn and ready for the chilly weather to arrive. This might explain why I am often not prepared for the upcoming season with newly sewn items!

This is a quick jacket to whip up and is great for gifts for friends who walk early in the morning, or need a layer to wear to the gym. Because it is an easy care fabric, you can keep it in the car for the unexpected weather change. I will consider making up any of these styles again.