25 October 2007

PR - Vogue - 8307

Vogue Coat 8307

Admittedly, I've lusted after this coat since I first saw the pattern. Sophisticated, but comfortable.

It's been aging in my stash for about a year, and an Aussie friend of mine has been strongly hinting that I need to start my coat before winter hits.

So I pulled it out and started to figure.

The planning stage on such a garment as this can take days of work. You can skip this phase, but the results probably won't please you.

Here's what I've done so far ...
  • tissue fit the pattern - this is a close fitting pattern and the preliminary tissue fit was a must that pointed out a couple of problems
    • bust point too high, drop by one inch
    • add length for long torso
    • add width from waist to upper mid back, this is an usual alteration for me
  • figure out what additions to make to the pattern
    • pockets - how can anyone live without pockets in a coat?
    • drop the shoulder pads (ick) and add a sleeve head
    • interface the entire shell
    • add a sew-in interfacing in the upper back for stability
I'm using a rust colored wool blend for the shell. This fabric has required a bit of fudging as it has horizontal cording. I'm cutting the coat on the crosswise, so I don't have enough for the entire coat. I'll have to cut the facing from something else, and I had to piece the under collar.

Additionally, while it wastes more interfacing, I've been interfacing the length of fabric before I cut out the pieces. This keeps me from throwing off the grain and shape of the pattern piece in the course of fusing.

I've got the back, side back, front back, upper collar, and lower collar cut out. I'm starting work on the front and front facing, and then I get to do most of the process over with the lining (only the back has a separate lining piece).

I'm pulling everything from stash, so my funky coat will definitely be funky inside as well. I have this gorgeous cream, tan, and teal nouveau stripe silk that I had purchased for a blouse, but could not find a pattern that would work. This will be my lining.

I'm using the Palmer/Pletsch book "Jackets for Real People" to tailor my coat -

Pattern instructions are so basic, they leave out a huge number of steps. As I want this coat to last, I've got to put much more into this than the instructions would lead you to believe. Palmer/Pletsch to the rescue.

16 September 2007

Kira's Top Ten

In following along with Tim Gunn's suggestions and the Stitcher's Guild, here are my top 10 must have, classic pieces chosen specifically for my pear shaped body:

1. Shirt Dress in a medium to dark color (M/D)
HP Plain and Simple Shirtdress

2. Hepburn type timeless pants in M/D
HP Razor Sharp Pants

3. Shirt in cream/ecru
HP Great White Shirt

4. Woven Tank Top in cream/ecru
I've got a funky Patrones in progress at the moment

5. Trench/Military Jacket
NL 6617; Wool crepe

6. Chanel Jacket in rich colored boucle
I've got at least 3 patterns for a starting point, and I'm following Cheri Dowd's "Shortcuts to a Designer Jacket" article in Threads magazine Dec 06/Jan07

7. Tall boots in Black
Dansko FINALLY released their Risa in Leather, see photo at top of post (I don't wear suede on account of the furkids)

8. A-line skirt in M/DHP A-line

9. Khaki's
One of my Burda's

10. The perfect T-shirt (asst. colors, but definitely several to match or blend with M/D items)
Jalie 2005

Admittedly, the basics are very boring to make. Once you've adjust your pattern perfectly though, you can whip out a couple pieces one after the other, or intersperse them with more fun sewing.

Basics are also great to batch process, especially as you can do the skirt and pants from the same or similar fabric, sewing and serging both patterns at once.

And finally, you will get much more wear out of your basics sewing, than your "fun" sewing. Might as well put your sewing time to good use.

Of course, fun sewing is necessary to feed the creative soul.


03 September 2007

Bumps in the Road ...

What have I done lately?

(sigh ...)

School kinda interfered again, but the good news is my degree is so close I can almost smell the drying ink!

The bad news is that all of my sewing has been knit based, since it is fast and requires no interior finishing.

So my first adventure of the month was with New Look 6429, the ubiquitous faux knit wrap dress (it does bring Loes Hinse's Portofino to mind).

After throwing together a bodice muslin from cheapy, freeby poly; I realized I'd need to take a lot more out of the upper chest to prevent gapping. I have a shallow/concave chest and unadjusted wrap styles make me look like I'm: trying on Mommy's clothes or advertising, as NOTHING is left to the imagination.

As such, with my second full muslin I've taken out a total of 2 inches in darts from the upper neckline.

Now that the neckline has been adjusted, its time to look at everything else: length, gathering, and fullness.

I'm pretty small boned, so too much fabric can overwhelm me. I'd also like to save fabric, so I narrow the back/side skirt by about 6 inches total. Now I can get two skirt backs out of a doubled layer of fabric. This reduces the amount of flare in the skirt to something resembling more of an A-line than a circle skirt.

I need to add to the length of the skirt, as this dress is office bound and that means it should at least touch my knees. And my long torso puts the gathering directly underneath my chest, rather than at my tummy. So I spread the outer bodice to add more gathering and drop the gathering point by several inches.

So far, so good. Now I'm ready to cut into fashion fabric. Maybe that will be next week's adventure.

My next two trials are finished and drying at this moment.

OOP Vogue skirt and Kwik Sew 3384 (gaucho-like pants)

The Vogue has been sitting on Snowdrop's table for several weeks now, waiting for the 60 minutes or so that I would need to finish it (the pieces were: cut out, interfaced, elastic sewn, the works). It's an old Donna Karan 4 gore knit skirt that is just perfect for me. I was so proud of myself, now I've sewn and washed it.

The Kwik Sew was a bit trickier. I pulled out the pattern:

I've been wanting longer "gaucho" type pants: i.e. fuller. In my experience, close fit does not a comfortable summer make. So I've planned fuller knit pants that still look good for work but that feel comfortable. I've been picturing a knit Hepburn costume in my mind. So I tugged on and down my one lonely pair of gauchos to get a gander at hem width. My gauchos were 32" at the hem. No problem, looks great. Compare that to this pattern ... the pattern says the pant hem is 40" in the size Large, but it measures to 43". That's a big difference between my gauchos and this pattern.

So I set about figuring out how much to narrow the pant legs. My first muslin, I've removed 5" total from each leg. My results are clown pants, just too much fabric.

So for the second pair, I take a dart out of each piece the length of the pattern. As a result, I've pulled a total of 11" out of the hem circumference and feel as though I have accomplished my goal.

I'm wearing these tomorrow, as I've got an outdoor meeting at noon. Now for more fabric to make many more knit hepburn's.

:) I'm that much closer to a working wardrobe.

22 August 2007

NP - Water-based Suncoat

Water-based Nail Polishes

I've flirted with the environmentalist approved polishes from time to time.

I tried the old peel off polishes from Honeybee Gardens that ended up being a gloopy mess shortly after ownership began. Additionally, dry time was cry inducing and longevity was cuss inducing (one day manis anyone?).

My latest foray into water based polishes trialled the mostly everything free Suncoat. These have some great advantages over their predecessors, but they also have a major disadvantage. They dry quickly, even three coats plus a topcoat. And they last about as long as any other manicure of mine lasts (3 days).

I guess I should point out that I wash my hands at least 20 times a day. I have pets, and my nails are tools. In essence, I'm lucky when I can get 3 days out of a polish. I've usually got some tip wear within a couple of hours. Needless to say, I never go out for a "professional" manicure. Who wants to waste that kind of money?


The ingredients list of Suncoat polishes, direct from their website (they aren't hiding their chemistry):
Acrylate copolymer
styrene-acrylate copolymer
Glycol ether
Benzoate ester
+ Color additives

I've got 5 colors:
11 - Sienna
16 - Plum
27 - Innocent Nude
31 - Beige
32 - Apricot

These polishes tend to be a bit sheer-er than I am used to. So 3 coats is not unusual, but as I said, they dry fast so an additional coat isn't such a problem. They don't have the smoothest application, but I've never found a great polish that does (I am the queen of brush marks). They also have a slightly musty odor, unlike any other polish I've tried. It is a nice change from, "Please do your nails somewhere else, that stuff stinks!"

So, why don't I have a drawer full of Suncoat polishes. They do have their downside. They are a MASSIVE pain to remove, and the longer you let your manicure/pedicure go, the harder they are supposed to be to remove.

I left my polish for no longer than 4 days, and it took 20 minutes to remove the polish. I'm used to 5 minutes at the most.

All the time I made up for by having a quick drying polish, I lost when having to remove said polish.

You can use their corn-based remover, regular remover, or even basic water. However, you will probably be scraping away polish from your nail, and that is guaranteed to remove your topmost nail layer (or at least a portion thereof).

I've got fairly thin nails, disregarding the weapons hanging off my pointer fingers, and I need all the nail bed I can salvage. So I can't wear this stuff week after week. Maybe once a month at most.

If you have: thick nails, zen moments while buffing, and still despise the scent of the new OPI, China Glaze, and Zoya polishes, I recommend looking over Suncoat's offerings. I love their number 11 Sienna shade, it is reminiscent of OPI's new Don't Melbourne the Toast.

27 - Innocent Nude is a great shimmery nude, blends in well
31 - Beige is ever so slightly deeper than 27 - Innocent Nude
32 - Apricot is really a peach, fairly sheer
16 - Plum is ... a shimmery plum, I haven't actually worn it, so I can't describe it any better than the sample

20 August 2007

NP - Ingredients

Nail Polish Ingredients and Currently Available Alternatives

Here are the three (so far) ingredients I try to stay away from in polishes: Formaldehyde, Phthalates, and Toluene.

According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) at Physical & Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory, Formaldehyde (at 37%) is Toxic and Corrosive. "Probably human carcinogen. Mutagen. May cause damage to kidneys ... Very destructive of mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract, eyes and skin."

Formaldehyde in nail treatment lacquers is usually in a resin form that while not as dangerous as Formaldehyde, is still considered "Harmful if swallowed or inhaled. May be harmful in contact with skin."

Phthalate (specifically Dibutyl Phthalate)
The MSDS states that Dibutyl Phthalate is harmful and dangerous for the environment. "May cause reproductive harm ... Very toxic to aquatic organisms."

Other phthalates are safe though, right? Not necessarily.

The MSDS states that
Toluene is Toxic and Flammable. "Toxic by inhalation, ingestion or by absorption through skin ... Experimental teratogen (birth defects)."

Here's one of the biggest problems with chemicals in our world, we know how this ONE chemical acts and reacts with the environment and in our body. We don't know how these chemicals act and interact with each other.

Solution? Currently the solution is to avoid as many chemicals as possible, especially fat soluble chemicals, because the science to study all these interactions is economically infeasible at the moment.

Fat soluble chemicals are not flushed out of your system. They are either stored for the rest of your life, or metabolized into substances that can be flushed from your system (which is why you can OD on fat soluble vitamins, but not water soluble). And by your system, I mean your internal body and cells.

Results on Kira's Manicure/Pedicure routine:
I've tossed all my old OPI polishes (I really miss some of them) and have ONLY the following in my cupboard - new OPI Australia and Russian formulas (Toluene and Phthalate free) and Revlon lacquers (all 3 free).

An Affair in Red Square
Rubble for your Thoughts
St. Petersburgundy
Suzi Says Da!

A True Ab-original
Brisbane Bronze
Canberra't Without You
Don't Melbourne the Toast
Red Hot Ayers Rock
Suzi Loves Sydney

Revlon - Who woulda thought ol' Revlon would have an up to date polish formula?

It rates a 4 out of 10 on Skin Deep's toxicity scale.

Revlon Nail Enamel Ingredients List (from bottle):
Ethyl Acetate
Butyl Acetate
Isopropyl Alcohol
Propyl Acetate
Acetyl Tributyl Citrate
Stearalkonium Bentonite
Serica (Silk Powder)
PPG-2 Dimethicone
Citric Acid
Malic Acid
Tetrabutyl Phenyl Hydroxybenzoate
Stearalkonium Hectorite
Calcium Sodium Borosilicate
and the May contain mess that generally gives lacquer its color

How does one read the extra tiny ingredients list on the back of the bottle? One sticks said bottle under her trusty Leica Microscope and hopes she interpreted the smears correctly. :)

Sheer Nude - nice, basic, no shimmer nude; so very hard to find
Iced Spice
Rosezing - sort of a bronzed copper
Totally Toffee

Other companies I may try: Butter London, China Glaze, and Zoya.

Butter London

Free of all 3 chemicals, and even better, so is their top and bottom coat treatments (practically unheard of). At least, according to their website. They would not send me either ingredients lists or MSDSs. Their rep. did tell me that they list the ingredients on the box. Oh really, that is so incredibly freakin' helpful. Purchase our item to figure out what we have in it. Thanks.

Problem, could that top be any more difficult to manipulate? Honestly, I much prefer a symmetrical applicator that I can maneuver easily.

China Glaze

Beginning with the Audry Hepburn homage "Something Blue" - their newest formulations are Toluene and Phthalate free, but according to their rep., they do have Formaldehyde resin (just like new OPIs).


Zoya strongly stresses how safe their Polish is ... quoted, word for [missing] word, from their website:

"FREE of POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS CHEMICALS. Chemicals that may cancer and birth defects. Unlike other nail lacquers, ZOYA does NOT contain formaldehyde, toluene or dibutyl phthalate (DBP). So Don’t Risk your or your babies wellbeing, Make the SAFE choice, the SMART choice, the STYLISH choice…CHOOSE ZOYA"

Their base and top coat were re-formulated from the original formulas (which were NOT safe and smart).

Zoya Anchor ingredients:
Butyl Acetate
Ethyl Acetate
SD40B Alcohol
Propyl Acetate
Isopropyl Alcohol
Tosylamide/Epoxy Resin
Polyvinyl Butyral
D&C Violet #2

Zoya Topcoat ingredients:
Butyl Acetate
Ethyl Acetate
Isopropyl Alcohol
Acrylates Copolymer
Cellulose Acetate Butyrate
Polyester Resin
Benzophenone 1
Polyurethane Resin
D&C Violet #2

Amazing how similar those two formulations are to each other.

OH, and their quick dry topcoat in the Zoya line, Hurry Up, that they sell for $16.00 per .5 oz bottle ($32.00 per oz.) has the same list of ingredients that the Quick dry from their Qtica line, 1/2 Time Drying Accelerator, has for 7.50 for .25 oz., 22.00 for 1 oz. The ingredients: silicone. Specifically Cyclomethicone and Dimethicone (with Camellia oil tossed into the Zoya Hurry up for a little ... extra oil, I guess).

Well, you are saying, what about my favorite polish/treatment, insert here, it says it is x, y, or z free. Why isn't it in your list?

Poshe - Poshe says they are Formaldehyde and Toluene free ... "Safe Nail Care for a new generation" - Poshe also includes their MSDSs directly on their website, mega plus points.

However, their Fast Basecoat and Topcoat have Butyl Benzyl Phthalate, though their treatment basecoat is free of the 3 big chemicals.

Seche Vite Quick Fast Dry - has Phthalate and Toluene. Besides that it thickens up quickly, and doesn't work well on non-3 free polishes. My old OPI manicures lasted 1 day before chipping and tip wear required complete re-do.

And all the others? Well, all the others hide their ingredients lists. If I can't figure out what's in the formula via basic 'net surfing, I'm not spending my money trying to figure it out.

So here's my list of currently (and new) in rotation products:
OPI Nail Envy Sensitive and Peeling, Formaldehyde-Free Formula (basecoat)
Lacquer - new OPI (has Formaldehyde Resin), Revlon (3 free)
CNDs Dry & Shine or Air Dry (topcoat), both 3 free

Nails - Tools for a Mani


You may sport the most up to date designer duds on that beautiful body of yours, but I promise if your nails look unkempt, so will you. Period.

This goes for both men and women. Nail care requires a few minutes plus a week, EVERY week. Your minimum routine should include a file, scissors or Clippers, and Nippers for hang nails or raggedy ended "cuticles" only.

What most people consider the "cuticle" is actually Eponychium, the true cuticle (Ptygerium) is the bits of skin underneath the eponychium that seems to be attached to the nail and grow out with nail (especially noticeable on the toe nail bed).

Image borrowed from: http://www.nail-solutions.co.uk

The Eponychium is a protective layer of living skin and should not be removed. If your salon cuts off your "cuticle" either stop them, or stop going to them.

The Ptygerium consists of dead skin cells and can be gently scraped away when pushing the Eponychium back.

The Eponychium will gradually thin over time after being pushed back regularly during your manicure. Mine are no more than 1/2 mm thick now.

Moisturizer - Moisturizer is good for your nails, your "cuticle" (Eponychium), and your skin. When you apply your moisturizer, rub it into the nail bed and surrounding areas, even if you are wearing lacquer. The Eponychium is living skin, and gets dried out and ragged like any other skin tissue. You don't necessarily need a special cuticle oil/cream, but you do need to attend the Eponychium regularly.

You can shape your nail to mimic the moon (Lunula), the tip of your finger, or a shape of your choosing (I knew a gal that loved to shape her long nails into points, not something I'd recommend for the office). I prefer a squared off shape that mimics the tips of my fingers. In my opinion, a rounded shape is very difficult to keep symmetrical and I don't bother to try. However, I certainly admire those who attempt and succeed at the rounded nail (like my 79 YO Grandmother).

See Linda Rose's Manicure Page - for a good, step-by-step, basic manicure

Kira's final comments:

Lacquer - For a natural plus manicure, finish with OPI's Matte Nail Envy or try one of the other matte lacquers:
Orly Nails For Males (discontinued?) and Orly Matte Top
Nail Tek Hydration Therapy Moisture Balancing Matte Topcoat
Salonsystem Matte Basecoat
Cuccio Naturale Forte di Matte Top/Base Coat
or Lippman Collection Ridge Filler Base Coat Matte Finish.

I don't like shiny polish finishes, but the only product I've personally used was OPI's Matte Nail Envy. Additionally, I seriously doubt I would recommend ANY of the above products because of their ingredients list. I will cover this item, more indepth, next time.

Country of Origin for appliances - I have 3 pairs of nail nippers in my medicine cabinet. They were all made in different countries: Brazil, Pakistan, and USA. My scissors are Italian made, and my clippers are Korean.

The best tools, based on quality alone, are the USA made nippers and Italian made scissors. Why? They are made from high quality base metals, their edges meet smoothly and they are properly sharpened. These tools will last a long time.

The Brazilian and Pakistani made nippers have edges that don't meet, and uneven tips. They don't cut properly, and they can't be properly sharpened. These two tools are pieces of crap and should have been tossed ages ago.

The Korean Clippers have edges that meet properly, but because they are not made of the best metal, I will have to replace them eventually.

The practical carry home message: quality control is more important in European and North American made goods. In essence, the tools that make it to the shelf are of higher quality all around that other options. Pick your tools carefully, and they will last you a long time.

12 July 2007

Fashion and Adapting


I'm not a big runway watcher. My mouth does not start watering when the latest collections are released.

But while while I know what I like, what flatters my figure and coloring, I can always use a little help in putting together a working wardrobe. Enter Lucky Magazine. When I decided to buy a subscription to a "fashion mag" I purchased a handful at the grocery store, and set about ripping out pages that appealed to me. After 3 months, Lucky Magazine was the clear winner. Their ripped pile was towering over the others. Lucky fits my style much better than any other. I almost felt like Little Red Riding Hood as I went through the others - Vogue was too much, Instyle was too celebrity based, Harper's Bazaar was too chatty.

So I purchased my Lucky Magazine subscription and await its delivery for useful hints that I can put together. My only ding for Lucky is their coverage of styling and makeup products. Probably due to the fact that I don't style my hair much, and I get by with the bare minimum makeup that keeps me acceptable in the corporate world.

While I read the magazine cover to cover, some sections really stand out in my mind.

Does this outfit work?
Here's what they did last time:

All the "models" are fairly cute before, but Lucky comes along and makes a few switches here and there. I always come away with a "hmm, I bet I can ..." feeling.

Editor's Picks, and this month's favorite of mine is a TDF top. I wonder if it will go on sale?

I love everything about it. The asymmetricality, the obi sash, the color.

Foley + Corinna

I'm not the only reader with a deep lust on for this one. Splendora Blog

They've also got the One item 4 ways. The dress in this instance.

I was really struck by the cardigan (the dress, not so much). I love the looks, the length, not the color. I'll be morphing HotPatterns, Miss Moneypenney Coco Twinset cardigan for this. Trudy, what work you are making me do!!!

Wear it now, wear it later
Check Lucky's flipbook for a sample.

I love this look, talk about distilling the shirtdress to the lowest common denominator: placket, rolled sleeves, slight A-line. I must have it.

Looking through patterns, Butterick has a somewhat similar item, 5037. Granted, it's a shirt pattern, but those are easy to lengthen. However, I have a confession ... the big4 drafting sucks "Slurm." So, it is unlikely that I will run out and buy the Butterick pattern.

BUT, I have this lovely, lovely Burda magazine from January of 2004. Inside is model 113.

Empire waist, A-line ... well, you are going to have to picture it morphed into the dress above. I'll probably rotate the darts, slim the skirt, and get rid of the extra seaming and collar.

Perfect. And probably perfectly well drafted.

This will become my lowest common denominator shirtdress.

Speaking of shirtdresses, and slightly off topic, I've got this Patrones pattern cut out (model 64 from issue 241, Feb 2006):

I'm not doing the pleated inserts, but I've got the fabric picked out and the pattern morphed as need be: take out a chunk for hollow chest, DEEP sway back darted out (1 and 7/8"), and sleeve adjustment.

Sleeve adjustment ... I can only assume that Trussardi (the designer) was draping this on a model closely related to Loes Hinse, her patterns have what I consider freakishly thin bicep areas. My unflexed bicep is 12" around, this size 40 pattern has, get this, a 12 and 5/8" measurement. Okay, check the size 44, I think it had a 13" measurement. That was never going to work, so off to the old large upper arm adjustment
(scroll down a bit past halfway). This is a rare adjustment for me in big4, Burda, or KnipMode, but common in Loes Hinse.

I suspect I should run up a muslin of the bodice before I cut into my fashion fabric. I only have a couple yards, and my hubby picked it out. He hates fabric shopping, but he has an amazing ability to pick out the neatest prints that I've passed by. I don't want to waste the fabric as I have one time in the past (regret for that failure will sit with me the rest of my life).


Working Out/Exercising

I don't like or enjoy working out. I suppose there is a bit of a masochist/sadist in me who enjoys the achy muscles the next day, but the process itself is agonizing.

However, I don't want to be a "fat girl" to use my father's terminology. I have some heavyset family members, and I never want to have the health problems and worries that they have. So every other year, I work out like a dog and drop the excess weight that has crept on in the last 12 months. I was never into practicing as a child: homework (bleh), dance, flute, or foreign language. Apparently I see working out in the same vein. Exercising is not a life-time commitment on my part, its an on again off again relationship.

So what does this have to do with sewing? The clothing I work out in, of course. I'll also include some of my most consulted resources.

My favorite work out pant is Kwik Sew 3115. Being that I am not a big fan of Kwik Sew patterns, I've always been shocked that I like this pattern so much. The waistband treatment, neither bulky nor intrusive, is strong enough to keep your pants up when the sweat is steaming off your skin. And yet the pants are neither too tight nor too lose.

However I've shortened the patterns to capris and short shorts. I don't like to lift weights in longer pants. Longer pants get caught at my knees during squats and lunges, totally distracting me when I need to concentrate.

I also don't do step aerobics in pants, for the same reason as above. However, the capris come in handy for ab work, floor work, aerobics, yoga, and pilates. Especially when I am slick and sliding all over my mat. That fabric at the knees can keep me from sliding OFF the mat! :)

As for workout tops, I'm not quite as discerning. I'm still using many of the same items I bought for Jazzercise in 2003 (which I stopped after 1 year because I got sick of hearing, "I hope you don't mind, this is the SAME routine we did 2 days ago!!!" Hey, I can do that at home, and save money doing the same thing over and over again.)

I live in a VERY humid environment, SE Texas. All that polyester and nylon, high tech, magical wicking ability, etc. fabric is a death sentence in the humidity. My skin simply cannot breath. So its the natural fabrics for me during a workout.

I discovered Patagonia's Hotline tops last year. They make most workouts extremely comfortable. Made out of cotton and spandex knit, the fabric breathes and moves.

It has an internal shelf bra, the shoulder straps are attached at mid-back - which keeps them from sliding off the shoulders at inopportune moments (yet does not interfere with shoulder blade movement during weight lifting), and the vent at the lower back allows plenty of air flow. When Patagonia cancels this line, I'll have to copy the pattern. So far, so good. I have two of them, and plan to get another in the near future.

I have two workout areas in my house: weightlifting room and office. My office has a computer which is where all my workout DVDs are played. I have a large collection of DVDs. I figured out how much I spent on one year of Jazzercise, and bought DVDs instead.

Kickboxing DVDs
Amy Bento's Kickbox Extreme*
Cameron Shayne's Budokon Beginning Practice
Cathe Friedrich's Kick Max (hard to believe she has two boys)*
Gilad's Elite Forces
Guillermo Gomez's Kickbox Underground
Gomez and Saffell's Hardcore Kickbox Circuit
Ilaria Montagnani's Powerstrike*
Janis Saffell's Kick-It
Kathy Smith's Kickboxing Workout*
Kimberly Spreen's Cardio-Camp Workout*
Sherri Jacquelyn's Criss-Cross Cardio

Step DVDs
Cathe Friedrich's Low Max*
Christi Taylor's Solid Gold Step*
Christi Taylor's Totally Cool Step*
Donna Read's Step, Power & Pump
Karen Voight's Ultimate Step Circuit
Kari Anderson's Push*
Kathy Smith's Powerstep
Kathy Smith's Great Buns & Thighs Step Workout
Kathy Smith's Fat Burning Breakthrough
Keli Robert's Step It Strong*
Kelly Coffey-Meyer's Step, Kick, Punch and Sculpt Your Way to a Leaner Body!*
Kimberley Spreen's Kick Box Boot Camp (a kick box and step hybrid)*
Patrick Goudeau's B.E.S.T. Video
Rob Glick's Amazing Step Styles

*My favorite DVDs, they almost make a workout fun.

Abs specific DVDs
Tamilee Webb's I Want those Abs
Firm's Firm Abs
Seasun Zieger's The Next Step (I don't like the workout portion, but the ab portion is killer)
Shiva Rea's Creative Core Abs

Janis Saffell's Dynamic Stretch
Karen Voight's Pure & Simple Stretch

Anything by Baron Baptiste or Rodney Yee
Iron Yoga

Mtv Pilates
Crunch's Fat Burning Pilates
Rael's Pilates System 27
Denise Austin's Pilates (I usually can't stand her, but in this DVD she is more relaxed)
Classical Pilates Technique The Complete Mat Workout Series

Jillina's Instruction Bellydance 1, 2, and 3
10 minutes Solutions the original: Boot Camp, Pilates, Ballet, Kickboxing, and Yoga
10 minutes Solutions Kickbox Bootcamp with Keli Roberts
Rania's Bellydance Daily Quickies
New York Ballet Workout 1 & 2

The most recent research I've read suggests 1 hr workouts 5 days a week to lose weight, 30 min. workouts 5 days a week to maintain weight. As you can imagine, my DVDs get a regular rotation as I bore out with one and move onto another. Occasionally I'll do kickboxing one month and switch off to step next month. But most often they mingle together as my mood changes.

Weight Lifting
This is so important for women. We carry less muscle mass than men, and it is muscle mass that keeps bones strong. You need to stress your joints and bones to stay healthy (you don't see overweight people with dowager's humps). I try to lift at least 2 times per week, 3 to 4 is better. I've got a simple weight lifting bench with leg extension and bar catch for a barbell.

I have a set of Sportblock Powerblock Dumbbells. My dumbbell collection was growing so much, I was losing a lot of space. This is a much better alternative for me.

An entire set of tubes for typical weight lifting moves such as Pulldowns, Cable Rows, and Pushdowns that my basic bench is incapable of providing.

I've used the following to put routines together:
Cathe Friedrich DVDs
Arnold Schwarzenegger's book "New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding" (the additional eye candy doesn't hurt)
Per Tesch's book "Target Bodybuilding"
Negrita Jayde's book "Supervixen"
Muscle and Fitness Hers Magazine
Fitness Rx Magazine

Working out will never be something I look forward to. But it is rather amazing to watch the body take shape underneath that layer of fat.

Regards from Kira ... pants are getting tight, time to lose some weight

03 June 2007

Industrial Servo Motors

Ahhh, silence ... OR, why would I want to spend an extra $50 to switch out the Clutch for a Servo motor.

There are 4 major differences between a servo and a clutch motor (pictured to the left):
- size
- input
- output (both electronic and decibel)

Clutch motors are the older style electronic motor. Clutch motors tend to weigh in the 55 pound range (25 Kg), while Servo motors range in the 20-30 pound range (9-14 Kg). If you plan or need to do any work on your machine yourself, holding up 20-30 pounds with your shoulder while you bolt that sucker into place will be much easier than holding the 55 pound clutch motor.

The clutch motor activates when you depress the power button on your table. A servo motor does not activate until you depress the pedal. Due to this, and various electronic mumbo jumbo, servo motors are proported to use up to 2/3 less power than a clutch motor.

This used to result in a motor that was not as "strong" as the corresponding clutch motor. I.E. if you had a machine rated for 5500 stitches per minute (spm) with a clutch motor, it wasn't going to go that fast with a servo motor. However, our servo motor options are increasing daily, and many have speed control switches now that will let you adjust the motor to your needs.

And we come to noise pollution. Being that clutch motors are on from the moment you switch them on, they are ALWAYS making noise. Now, if you happen to be smack dab in the middle of a city, drowning out the street noise with a clutch motor may have a calming influence on you. However, if you happen to live out in the country and want to enjoy the calls of the birds, toads, cats, dogs, neighbors, etc. you will want a servo motor. You can hear them when they are running (they aren't silent), but when you release the pedal, the motor stops running (no noise).

I don't have a clutch motor on any of my industrial machines. I find them distracting. I like the greater control I have with a servo.

Here is a photo of a servo motor ... don't look very different do they? The servo is about half the size of the clutch.

Having said all that, I don't recommend you run right out and plunk down your money on the first servo you find. Speak with an industrial sewing machine shop that knows what they are doing. If their response is like the one I got from one shop I consulted, "You usually only find servos on trimmers" ... stay far away, they don't know the product.

Walking foot machines run at a slower pace than single needle dressmaker's and sergers. These three different machines need/require either different servos or very different settings. And depending on what is available to you at the time, you will either be buying different types of motors, or making use of the optional setting available on the motor.

Whichever way you go, you will find yourself on the end of a motor that is MUCH more powerful than the domestic sewing machine motors to which you are familiar. There will not be that hangup in mid-stitch because your machine is struggling. Industrial machines don't struggle. They glide. :)


BTW, I have been quoted $45, $50, and $145 to switch out servo for clutch motors (from businesses sprinkled throughout the U.S.). As I'm sure you can image, I ignored the last company. I can only assume they have way too much business to bother being competitive in any way, shape, or form.

22 May 2007

Juki Industrial Straight Stitch

I'm about to take another plunge and purchase a Juki DDL-8700. A straight stitch, dressmaker head, industrial sewing machine. I strongly recommend, and will spend the extra money, purchasing the Japanese made machine as opposed to the Chinese assembled machine (from Japanese parts). In my opinion, Japanese made machinery has a better fit and finish, and I want this machine to last me the next 40 years.

I'm planning to buy from Atlas Levy for several reasons:
- I've ordered from them before and their service was prompt and reasonable
- They are on ebay
- They are willing to switch out the clutch for a servo motor (for a reasonable price)
- They support students, and offer a student discount

These are the types of businesses I like and want to support ... small and family run. Kinda like my restaurant choices.


09 April 2007

PR - HP - Triple T-shirt Dress

I finished my HP Triple T-shirt Dress ... alas, no photo yet.

The pattern goes together beautifully. Two things: the shoulders were a bit narrow (coming from someone who generally narrows a big 4 by 1/2" or more) and while there is a front and back piece for the A-line skirt, there is just a hint of difference between the pattern pieces when lining them up. IF you are in an extraordinary hurry, you could just cut out one piece twice (take your pick, front | back).

I seriously dislike 5/8" seams. There, I've written it.

That's it. Once the weather warms up a bit more, I'll be able to report in after a wearing day.

19 March 2007

Pattern Sale March 2007

So what have the recent patterns sales ushered into my stash?

Butterick 4976

I think it was all the green that caught my eye. I hope it looks half as good in turquoise and peacock

McCalls 5329

This will be a great summer jacket/over jacket for the office. Easy to wear, easy to throw together.

McCall's 4972

Chanel option 1.

Simplicity 3775

Summer, family coming to visit, lounging around outside shooting the breeze ... easy dress time. We are talking Texas coast in April here. Even if that cold front threw us off for a time. :)

Simplicity 3789

Woven, Princess seams, Faux wrap. Need I say more?

Vogue 7975

Chanel Option 2

Vogue 8406

Who doesn't need a new purse pattern?

After the Threads article, I figured I might be willing to attempt one of the Chanel jackets.

Off topic ... my ulnar nerve has been flaring up badly the last week. Typing is this side of agonizingly irritating. So I've ordered some dictation software. Let it work, let it work, let it work.

Hot Patterns in March

In some of my down time during spring break, one of my favorite pattern co-ops began running a Hot Patterns sale. I was so excited, I signed up for 10 patterns. It's not so much that I won't pay full-price for a HP ... it's just that there were several patterns that I like that whisper rather than scream at me.

The screamer's are purchased soon after release. The whisperer's are not.

But as my luck runs, HP has decided to cancel all on-line sales (not their own) and the co-op was deleted.

So I'm left with a decision ... which HPs do I REALLY, REALLY want???

As turns out, there were 4. I started out with 13, went to 6, and finally 4.

They are ...

HotPatterns Artful Dodger Bustle Back Skirts

I think this can be a good work piece.

Classix Nouveau Indispensable Dress

I've tried a McCall's pattern and was disgusted by my drafting troubles. Another good work basic for when my mood wants to be in a dress.

Classix Nouveau Sportive Skirt Suit

A casual Friday suit. In slightly more casual fabrics than during the week, but still something that says, "I'm the boss, I'm in charge."

Wong-Singh-Jones Mandarin Wrap Blouse

Honestly, I have no idea why the last pattern appeals to me. It looks a bit sloppy, and I tend to wear my clothes neat (shoes are a different matter).

Maybe I need a weekend blouse?

02 March 2007

Grad School Interference

Well, heading back to grad school really squashed a lot of my sewing plans. I've barely touched Herself ... I have figured out the tension, but it is so easy to adjust that I can't claim much in the way of progress.

However, I plan to begin work on a handbag this weekend. In addition to 1 "Scholarly" paper, 1 research paper, and 1 experiment/research based paper ... and so on and so on.

Starting with ... Vogue 8274

View C/D 14.5" W × 12.5" L, with 3 (!!!) main compartments

I've got a wide-wale med. cranberry corduroy I purchased from Ressy's Co-op many, many moons ago. It's a color that you look back on and think ... "Why in the world did I buy this?"

It is absolutely lovely, which is why it hasn't found it's way to the Goodwill pile yet, but I never wear red. Which means it will be perfect for a bag. (It will even match my glasses).

I will never again worry that my pants (shoes, belt, jacket, nails, eye-liner, coat) clash with my purse. No problem. And considering color theory ... since I wear greens, browns, and the ocassional blue, red is either complementary or triadic with each of my typical wardrobe colors. (So is purple for that matter, but purple is a little too strong for me.)

Back to the bag in question, I sat down and thought about all the additions I will need to make: which comes out to one loop for keys and 8 pockets - flashlight, makeup, pda, phone, wallet, check-book, writing utensils, and business cards. I've gotten so sick of looking into the bottomless pit that is my purse, I've decided I need to make something that will work for me (rather than against me).

The closest I've ever come to a good purse is Overland Equipment's Donner

But all of the useful stuff is in the front pocket section ... which gets bulky fast.

So, I will design my pockets around my everyday items and while the danged purse won't be any lighter, it will be much more useful (and attractive, might I add).