Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Photo Is Worth...

I've been musing about cameras lately. This is an inevitability, when writing any sort of blog that requires photographic support. Sewists (sewers, seamstresses, sew nerds, or what have you), in particular, take a lot of pictures. It can't be avoided.

Unless your name is Mary, of course. I've been avoiding the hell out of it lately, y'all. There are seven projects hanging undocumented in my closet. SEVEN! Every time I wear one, I feel a bit like I'm cheating on the blog. Shouldn't I be reviewing these patterns? Don't they deserve love too? They do. It's just...that would require me to take pictures. Though I normally cite primping as why I'm photographically lazy, it's simpler than that. I hate my camera. Despite great reviews and all the bells-and-whistles, the resulting pictures are never of the quality I desire. They look terribly unprofessional compared to some of my favorite bloggers' shots. Despite the ridiculous amount of snaps I take, I only end up with a handful of useable photos. Useable, not perfect.

So, here's my dilemma - what do I do about it? I need a new camera. That is painfully obvious. It's not so easy, however. Do I get another, better point-and-shoot? Do I splurge on a DSLR? If I do get a DSLR, how do I learn to use the blasted thing? Do I wait for this fancy Lytro camera everyone keeps talking about? The possibilities are distressingly endless. In the end, I just want to be sure of two things:
  • Is this camera relatively easy to use?
  • Will I look better in photos than I currently do?

That's it. Sadly, most reviewers don't include a Photos for Sewing Blogs rating. I will have to do gobs of research and comparisons instead. Like all good studies, I'm starting with a poll. What kind of camera do you use? How do you feel about it, quality of picture wise? In a different vein, are there any bloggers whose photos you particularly enjoy? I am desperately seeking guidance, friends - anything to make the photo process less harrowing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Miss Ruby Draws The Line: Colette Peony

Why hello, lovelies! Despite what one might think from visiting this blog lately, I have been sewing up a storm for my fall palette. One of my latest creations is an initial version of the new Colette pattern, the Peony dress. I say initial, because...I'm not in love with it. The blame for this, I place on the fabric, not the pattern. I used a cotton poplin from Fabric Mart, which I got for $1.99/yard on sale. The price should have been a sign. This is not the best quality poplin. It's a bit thin, doesn't have great body, and clings to every single bump. Despite the perfect fit of the dress, I have to wear Spanx under this, so the skirt doesn't look lumpy. Spanx requirements do not a perfect dress make.

That being said, however, I really do love the Peony pattern. The bodice is absolutely adorable - shapely, great bateau neckline, and endless possibilities for embellishment. Personally, I took my new pintuck presser foot for a test drive on this pattern. I added five corded pintucks to the center front, using Colette's tutorial. Despite the daunting new foot, this ended up being the easiest technique ever. Which is great news. I love a pintuck! They may be on everything I sew from now on.

Pintucks! (Also, there seems to be a theme here in which I'm holding my shoulders at strange angles. I can assure you that those stress lines are not present when I actually stand like a normal person. I really need to get a new pose, kittens.)

Enough about the pintuck revelation, back to the Peony details! So, the bodice? Wonderful. So simple, it could easily be used as a pattern sloper for other designs. The skirt is also pretty basic - an easy, slightly-fitted A-line. If you carry any weight in the middle, or prefer to gloss over that area of the body, I would try this pattern in a sturdier fabric. Because it is a closer fit, one could easily end up with my Spanx problem.

There is one part of the pattern which I can't give any advice one, however. I chose not to make the cummerbund that comes with the dress. I own 23 belts (yeah, I counted), which means I'm never lacking waist-accenting accessories. It seemed like a waste of time to make a cummerbund which I'll rarely wear with the dress. So, I skipped it. If I were making it for a special occasion, I may experiment with a contrast fabric, but for a day dress, I like belts instead. Overall, the Peony is a great basic dress pattern. Currently, my favorite way to wear it is under a blazer, with tights and boots (my adorable new lace-up Clarks, specifically).

Things I Love:
  • The neckline! I love a bateau neck and this one fits the dress proportions very well.
  • The pintucks! Okay, I added them myself, but I still love them. I highly suggest trying a corded pintuck, if you haven't yet.
  • The versatility! This is really a pattern that's begging to be personalized. It would look great with lace accents or contrast bias tape. Personally, I'm thinking of switching out the skirt for a fuller one and making it out of a lovely autumnal pique from my stash.
Things I Changed:
  • 1" FBA - Colette's patterns are based on a C cup, so I needed to alter it for my DD bust.
  • Added pintucks. Which I've gone on about ad nauseum, I know.
  • Finished the neckline with bias tape. Y'all know how I feel about facings. It's become almost standard for me to replace them with bias tape at this point. It's just such a cleaner finish.
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • Use a heavier-weight fabric.
  • I'm considering adding a bit more volume to the skirt. I just think it would be a bit more flattering to my hips.
Tricky Steps & Suggestions:
  • Not a one. Kittens, this dress is a breeze. You're not going to find an easier pattern to construct. A few darts, a tiny bit of gathering, and you're done. As with all Colette patterns, the instructions are concise and clear, so there's minimal chance for error.
Fabric & Notions:
  • Scarlet cotton/lycra stretch poplin - $1.99/yd from Fabric Mart
  • Scarlet cotton purl embroidery thread, for corded pintucks
  • Red bias tape