16 May 2016

I am a bad Cheapskate, or Review of Jeff Yeager's "The Cheapskate Next Door"

Jeff Yeager's website

Jeff Yeager and I have a common gripe, you do not need beaucoup in the bank for living and retirement ... IF you are financially aware, efficient, and responsible.  And you cannot live like the average American with almost $20k credit card debit (YIKES).

I have a ways to go to reach Jeff's cheapskate status, but I do get a couple points here and there.

I get As and Bs when:

I grocery shop once a week. (Good)

I buy some used items (come on Cathe's "Imax 3" DVD from eBay, Mama wants to step) but I recognize I need to reduce my needs further. (Good, with plenty of room for improvement)

I am gathering pre-qualification paperwork for a future home loan and DO NOT plan to max out that loan. (Good)

But I rate Cs and Ds in some places:

I do not own a crock pot. (Horrible.  According to Jeff, 95% of cheapskates own a crockpot).

And I am a tech junkie-lite (I don't buy the first iteration, but I wait until the kinks are gone!)

Therefore, I conclude that I am a bad cheapskate. :(

But even for those of us who do not plan to go whole hog, Jeff has some AWESOME ideas:

One I absolutely love is the boiled omelets in a bag brunch idea, on pg 172.

How I compare to the average cheapskate:

Quality and durability factor much higher than price in my shopping concerns. (Kira gets a CSP - CheapSkate Point)

I do not like to shop. (Another CSP) Fabric and accessories DO NOT COUNT.  Ha!

I do not have buyer's remorse regarding any of my purchases this year! (CSP)

Separating needs and wants. I started to keep a shopping list of wants in the wunderlist app. And I have found that when I hold off on purchases, I delete most of what is on my want list at future viewings. Only when something remains on my list, and I can justify the purchase and get a great deal, will I follow through on the purchase. Needless to say, few "wants" have been purchased this year. (CSP)

Premeditated shopper - I am a scratch cook, and rarely find manufacturers coupons for my shopping. However, I do find store discounts on occasion. These sales usually have an expiration date within the month. I will stock up on the products and coupons for the immediate future (and my available storage), and stock up on additional coupons for my next visit. (CSP)

Spending Anxiety Disorder arises, especially when considering large sums of money (my brother and I both share this characteristic). I dislike seeing others waste money and resources. (I had to bite my tongue while visiting family last year, they tore off several sheets of paper-towel to dry hands after washing. EACH AND EVERY TIME. Tighten those jaws a bit more Kira! I confess to subdividing paper-towels in thirds and fourths. And I dry my hands with a cloth towel ... that I wash and reuse.) (CSP)

Brand Blind and advertising averse. Yes! I am not interested in funding a manufacturers advertising budget. I read reviews before purchasing. I am "brand" loyal in so far as 1) Modern Japanese manufacturing (a car and a sewing machine of mine are recent Japanese manufacture), 2) I do buy organic (and lose a CSP for this) and will look to those known brands first if my grocery does not have their own organic line, and 3) when adding accessories to a much used product (we have Nikon cameras and will only buy those accessories that fit our camera bodies ... but it does not have to be a Nikon lens, it just has to work like one).

Change vs Progress and how it affects you specifically. My car is quickly approaching the 10 year mark. As long as the money I pay in upkeep stays reasonable, I will not be purchasing another. While I enjoy learning about the latest upgrades in the industry, I do not need to own them. Personally, I very much enjoy not having a monthly car payment. 😉 (CSP)

I highly recommend Jeff Yeager's Cheapskate series.  He is humorous, easy to read, and has great suggestions for reducing consumption.  Thanks Jeff.

16 August 2015

StyleArc Marie Jacket Review

I've mentioned the Style Arc Marie several times to my bestie.  We've discussed it, picked it apart, compared it to McCall's 7199 (I do not like the back design lines of the McCall's), and compared online reviews. 

I received it as a birthday present (yay!).  Friends are the best!

What adjustments did you make?  And why?
The usual – sway back, drop waistline, shorten sleeves.

The unusual - 
1) Added pockets (maybe this should be moved to the usual?)

2) Shortened 4" at the upper hipline.  A quick flat pattern measurement indicated that this would be too long, as packaged, to suit my preferences.

3) Shifted the design line "bust dart" several inches up.  As others have mentioned, as drafted, it is much lower and has a sharper angle that the picture indicates.  I shifted it to where it looks like it does in the drawings, I find that more attractive for myself.  It would also be easy to toss it altogether if you so wish.

4) Shaping.  I'd read that the side seams were pretty shapeless, and a glance over the pattern had me agreeing.  So I took 4"? (if I remember correctly) out of the waistline side seams.

Pattern appreciation(s)?
This thing is pretty darn awesome.  Very comfy.

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
I do not like that the "bust dart" (not really a dart) is very different in person than the artist rendering.  I'm glad I read about this in previous reviews, or I would have been surprised after making it up.  Not that it shows in my print, but still.

What body does this pattern fit (in your estimation)?
As drafted, it works best for rectangular figures, but it is easy to add in shaping.

Would you buy this pattern again?
Absolutely.  I see this being a staple.  Especially since I figured out pocket addition!  :)

Apparently Style Arc drafts for long armed ladies.  I took 2" off the sleeve length, but with my stretchy knit, apparently that was not enough.

This is made from a lightweight rayon knit.  Far too flimsy for this pattern.  So each body piece was fused, and the entire jacket body is lined with another light rayon knit.  

It is fabulous for spring/fall/light winter wear (heck, we are down south with winter temps averaging in the 60s F/15.5 C for the highs).

When I next make this, I will draft hem bands, rather than the suggested fold and hem.  Bands just give such jackets a better weight and hang in my opinion.

I wore it out for our shopping the other day: chestnut skirt, basic Tee, and sandals.  It was a bit warm in the high 90s F/32 C under the blazing sun.  But perfect for keeping comfortable in the grocery stores and library

Definitely another keeper!  I've found some TNTs in my mega stash, which is a nice feeling.

15 August 2015

Onion 5022 Knit Top Review

I've sought a built in cap sleeve tank pattern for some time.

This is the closest I have found to RTW options.

Onion 5022 is out of print as far as I can tell, and the closest option they currently have is Onion 5035.

What adjustments did you make?  And why?
The usual – sway back, drop waistline.

The unusual - 
1) Changed neckline because I prefer V necks

2) Narrowed the shoulder line (this pattern is wide at the shoulders, and I am not)

3) Added in shaping at waistline (and I did not add enough).

Pattern appreciation(s)?
Very simple, two pieces - one front, one back.

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
These are made for straight bodies, so you have to add in your own curves if you want this to follow your contours.  More of a fit model versus customer body than actual pattern issues.

What body does this pattern fit (in your estimation)?
Rectangles, with wide shoulders.

Would you buy this pattern again?
It is OOP, unfortunately.  So I think the likelihood of finding this pattern is slim to none.

However, I would buy a similar pattern in a heartbeat.  I like the wideness of the straps that put this type of pattern smack dab between tank top and t-shirt.

This was thrown together in a couple hours using hemp knit, and I finished the armholes and neckline with a rolled edge binding. 

The photos show trial 2, I still have some shaping to do around the hip region, but I am pleased with the top.  It has gotten several wears already.  I need a closet full of simple, natural/neutral tops to pull on and go.  This is one of my options.  I continue to search through my stash for additional pattern ideas. 

14 August 2015

Simplicity 1318 Kimono Jacket Review

I'm drawn to kimono styles.  There is something utterly elegant about them.

When this pattern, Simplicity 1318 (view C), first appeared, I spent most of my time trying to talk myself out of it (not the best shape for you, no pockets, etc. etc.).  Honestly, I have enough patterns to keep me busy for life.  But I still bought this.  And added pockets, of course.

What adjustments did you make?  And why?
The usual – sway back, so it would follow the contours of my backside.

 The unusual - Added pockets, curved pockets.

Pattern appreciation(s)?
It is a fun jacket for throw and go.

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
I do not remember any, except the usual refusal to include pockets.

What body does this pattern fit (in your estimation)?
This is a multi-body pattern for an easy jacket top.  It will best flatter the rectangular figure, but pshaw, who cares?  The only thing rectangular on me is my face.

Would you buy this pattern again?
Maybe not.  I like the jacket, and have worn it a bunch this summer (great to pull on while suffering over A/Ced enviros).  But, admittedly, it is hard to drive in, because there is a lot of ease and the seatbelt can limit arm movement (may be best to NOT drive in this!  Ha, ha).  So maybe, but maybe not.

Another rare print that is me.  It feels very fungal/lichen-y.  This is a knit that may have come from fabric.com, but I do not remember exactly.  It has aged in the stash for a couple years, and my memory for fabric purchases finally crumbled under the staggering weight of excess yardage.

13 August 2015

McCall's 7026 Sports Jacket Review

I was drawn to McCall's 7026 sport jacket because of the dropped back hem (I do not like cold air blowing on my sweat soaked back), thumb holes, and the princess seams. 

What adjustments did you make?  And why?
The usual – sway back, drop waistline, drop bust apex, shorten sleeves.

The unusual - 
1) Reshape hood for closer fit.

2) Remove front yoke design line, my print is busy enough.

3) Lengthened the front and back at hem by 1.5 inches

4) Reshaped the pocket (I despise pockets with flat bottoms that run perpendicular to the opening, great way to lose contents in my opinion)

Pattern appreciation(s)?
This fit much better than I expected.  The design lines actually fit the body well.  I usually expect to futz and fiddle with big 4 patterns to get shaping.  Not necessary with this one.

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
The included hood would have been useless.  I took a close fitting hoody and redrew the hood to hug my head, not flop.

What body does this pattern fit (in your estimation)?
Shorter gals with waists.  I do not think this would work as well for straighter bodies.

Would you buy this pattern again?
Yes.  Because of the multiple pieces, this is quite miserly with fabric ... considering that it is a jacket.  I have not seen that many I would prefer to this option.

This is my "muslin," made from a rayon knit that probably came from Hancock's many years ago.  I wanted to use up the print and decided to sacrifice it for this pattern.  It turned into a wearable piece after inserting the zipper and trying it on.  Wow, it fits!  :) 

I sewed this while listening to China Mieville's "Kraken" ... a super strange audiobook.  The two, book and pattern, are forever entwined in my mind.  Entwined, ha, ha, like the Kraken god tentacles!  Ha, ha ... (hysterical laughter) ... ha, ha ...

12 August 2015

Jalie 3461 Eleonore Review

I have succumbed to the siren's call of jeggings.

I've casually sought a straight leg, super stretchy fabric pant pattern for several years now, and realized that Jalie's 3461 Eleonore might be the answer to my prayers (same as several StyleArc patterns).  Mostly because jeans are the piece to wear down here, but it is far too hot to do so ... and they never fit anyway. (And it is super easy to remove the jean design lines from this pattern if you just want a basic stretch woven pant.)

Unsurprisingly, Eleonore snuck into my cart while placing a recent Jalie order.

What adjustments did you make?  And why?
The usual – sway back

The unusual -
1) Widened the legs by 1" ... except at the lower thigh, where it jumped to 2.5" or so.  I am not the fit model!

2) The side seams near the waist were warped to the back, in a funny U shape.  I straightened that out in the second trial.

Pattern appreciation(s)?
Gush, gush, gush.  These are comfortable, move with me (I can practice handstand with these), and have a great crotch curve for those of us blessed in the glutes department.

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
Um ... well ... I had to add my own pockets.  Jalie gave us patterns for fake pockets, why not give us the option for real pockets as well?  (grumble, grumble)

What body does this pattern fit (in your estimation)?
Bootylicious gals with average size legs.

Would you buy this pattern again?
Heck yes.  I'm planning an entire stable of these puppies. 

Leg Width and Ease - The muslin of these did fit, but I found them tight.  I assumed the tightness was due to my muscular calves, which measure 16" around (the pant was 15" in circumference from knee down).  I've never found a skinny (nor usually even a straight legged) RTW pant that fits.  They ALWAYS sausage my calves, which feels and looks weird.

I proceeded to measure upper thigh, lower thigh, and calf to compare body to pattern.  And lo and behold, I found out that my lower thigh is much larger than the pattern!  I am proud of my muscles, and this was an interesting experience to find out where their bulk rests (at least compared to the Jalie fit model).  Apparently my vastus medialis are more developed than some.

From crotch to hem, I widened each seam by 1/4" ... except for the lower thigh, which I widened by a bit over 1/2".  This brought the pant from negative ease to 0% ease.  I am not a fan of skintight.

Sway back - I chose to take my sway back adjustment out of the pant back, rather than out of the yoke.  I preferred not to narrow the jean yoke. 

Fabric - A bengaline from Hancock's.  I ordered grey (muslin), orange, and brown.  Perhaps the bright color fashions finally caught up with me too?

Today was their first wear out in public, but certainly not the last.  I appreciate that these go together lightning fast.  And they were almost comfortable in our high 90s temps.

This is a Mary Poppins pattern, practically perfect in every way (at least for me).

07 May 2015

"Tina Givens" "Drennon Tunic" Review

Tina Givens Drennon Tunic is an open side, slit to waist, knee length (on me) tunic covering.  The pattern is free from her website, and is a more streamlined introduction to her patterns (compared to some of the other reviews I've seen).

It would be great for a pool coverup as well.

This is my "toe in the water" dip for the looser fit/lagenlook style that is gaining popularity.  It was made from an old white cotton sateen sheet, dyed with fiber reactive dyes from Dharma Trading Company.

 I think I need to lose another 2" in length in the back so it will hang properly.

I made a small, which fits up to a 44" bust.  I'm generally around 36" give or take.

What adjustments did you make?  And why?
The usual – sway back.  Being that this is such a loose fit item, I did not fiddle with any other adjustments.  In the future I would make a much greater swayback adjustment.

The unusual - 
1)  I did add an inch to the skirt length when cutting.

2)  Sliced off a triangular section of hem at each bodice side. 
The biggest problem I had with the pattern was with the side seam of the bodice and where it meets the waistband.  It was really puckering and sloppy as originally sewn to pattern.

So I unpicked, tried it on, and pinned the pieces where I thought they should go to hang properly (see photo below).  Then I used a fabric marker to indicate the new seam line on the bodice pieces, and transferred that to the pattern.

In the end, I sliced off the pieces that make the bodice so unique and unusual in the flat pattern.  And it fit much better.

Pattern appreciation(s)?
It is free, and a fairly quick sew.  I spent more time making and sewing binding than I did on any other part of this tunic.  (And her binding length recommendation is generous, especially for size small.  If you are short a bit of fabric for the binding, don't sweat it too much.)

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
You have to use your imagination with the line drawings, and be ready and willing to change it up.  I think this is a fairly well known "issue" with Tina Givens designs.  These are not for by the book sewists who have to follow the directions as written and never stray.

As depicted in the drawing, the tunic laps back over front - which I found to be rather unflattering.  So I switched the lapping to front over back, which controls the loose flipping of the back bodice on my bodyshape/style.  Much better.

What body does this pattern fit (in your estimation)?
This is a little harder to answer.  Himself said the pictures make me look shorter and wider than I really am. 

I think the skirt needs to be either shorter or longer for me.  Especially as worn with an A-line skirt that causes additional width at the knee area.

Would you buy this pattern again?
I'm not sure.  My wardrobe is in flux at the moment.  Depending on the direction I take with it, I can see either several more Drennon's in my future, or none.

I believe we should all step out of our comfort zone from time to time, and this is one of those patterns for me.  It could lead to some interesting results!