Sewing is fabric during metamorphosis, as with the Blue Morpho

I am dearly mesmerized by the beauty of the butterfly.  The beauty, the strength and the fragile nature of the butterfly does something to my spirit.  I can’t explain why, but to say, I am at peace when admiring God’s grander.  I took this picture while at the Houston Museum of Science, Cockrell Butterfly Center, an indoor rain forest built for the sole purpose of raising and harnessing the beauty and natural habitat of the butterfly.   

“The genus name Morpho comes from the Greek epithet of Aphrodite, goddess of love. Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character of Homer’s Iliad. Achilles’ downfall was his love of the cousin of Paris, the Prince of Troy during the Trojan War.   Legends (beginning with a poem by Statius in the 1st century AD) state that Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except for his heel. Because of his death from a small wound in the heel, the term Achilles’ heel has come to mean a person’s point of weakness.” 

I was lucky to get the picture of the Blue Morpho butterfly’s upper wing surface, which is really not actually a color.  The color seen is actually “due to the reflection and refraction of light from tiny ridges and pits on the scales covering the wings.”  It took lots of patience and stillness to wait for this baby to spread its wings, but the wait was well worth it to see the brilliance of Gods creation.  I am continually in awe!!!

So you say, what does a butterfly have to do with sewing.  Well for me, I continually work to morph fabric into a creation all my own.  Something I can wear with pride.  I have had fabric sit in my stash for decades, yes decades, waiting for the day I can think of an outcome which I would look forward to wearing.  Sometimes, it can be as complicated as a formal fully embellished garment with all the bells and whistles, then there are the times its as simple as a skirt.  I am thankful to God for the gift he has bestowed upon me to be able to sew, to use these talents to transform a piece of fabric.  No matter how simple, I am always delighted at what I can create.
On our “Fun-day Sunday” I took mini-me and a relative from Chicago to the butterfly center an a stroll about at Houston’s famous Herman Park.  I wore this skirt I whipped up of an old eyelet fabric I had in my stash. Nothing special about this skirt, yet something very special about the day.  Albeit, it was HOT!!! as with any summer day in Houston, and extremely humid.  My cousin insisted it was comfortable for her.  I warned, you don’t live here, so this is a welcome change to the cold of the Chicago.   

I was trying to get these pictures in before I started sweating too badly.  We were not planning to be outside for very long, just from the car to the museum, but she insisted out strolling the park.  Midday in Houston is in the 90s, so I was more than gracious to entertain her.  Yayy me, for my hospitality!!

I let the hem down for the pictures, since I wasn’t wearing my heels for this outing.  During the rest of the day, I just had it pinned up in strategic places to the lining in order to give it a bubble affect.

That red mass behind me is a homeless person sleeping in the shade.  We live in a big city, and it is not without its homeless population.  It is sad, and no matter how much we try to contribute to helping others, sometimes, it just seems there are “some” who are happy with their state of affairs, or are just too dismayed to the point of not trying anymore.

Here are a few more pictures of the gorgeous butterflies inside the rainforest.  I didn’t get the names of all of them, because it was either enjoy, or study, and I chose to enjoy.  Let me know if you know the names of the those I missed.  Please enjoy.

Rice Paper Butterfly

 

Tiger Butterfly

The yellow is the Julia Butterfly the red & black ones are Postman

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Mini-Me the Mermaid- McCall’s 3566

In September of last year I took Mini-Me to an ASG (American Sewing Guild) meeting with me while I taught on bodice fitting.  Mini-Me is totally in tuned to these types of conversations, however, during this meeting she was into the “iPad” games she was playing.  As the meeting came to an end, I was engaged in a conversation with another member about a “mermaid” costume she had made for her granddaughter.  OOOH boy!!!  Mini-Me’s ears peeled up and before I knew it she was standing beside me looking at the digital pics, exclaiming that “we” must make one for her.  Needless to say, she was not happy to hear me tell her to wait until next year, a concept not known by your average child…”next year!!” really Mimi?  “Yes dear, I will get it done for your birthday.” I exclaimed. 

Fast forward nine months and Mimi has come through on her promise…whew!  It was a close call.  Although I got some input from my fellow ASG member and the fin pattern she made, I still wanted the ensemble to be convertible and easy to take off for swimming.  Thus, the three piece was designed. 
 

Someone was really happy!!!  And so was I.  It was a big hit at the birthday party.  She was able to jump into the pool a couple of times before removing the overskirt and swimming in the suit alone. 

The details:
Pattern Description:  McCall’s 3566(OOP)  Two-piece bathing suit and cover-up skirt. There are several variations for the tube/bandeaux/tank top, and one bikini top. The bottoms are for shorts or bikini bottoms.

McCalls 3566 Swimsuit/Mermaid costume http://www.sewtofit.com

Pattern Sizing: She may have fit into a pattern size 4 with alterations, but since I only had a size 10-14, I pretty much re-drafted the pattern or you can say “severely” graded it down since it was a straight grade across sizes. Compared to the RTW grading system I learned in school, this is a straight grade.  That just means there is a set measurement between sizes no matter how large are small the sizes range. I explained this in a little more detail in “Making the Grade.”

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  I made a few modifications to get the mermaid look, by adding a sequin trim to the front of the tank top and adding the shirring to the waist of the tank.  For the bottoms, I added a 2inch band to make sure it went high under the tank top. (for some reason, I did not write down her bodice length) 

Skirt:  I made the skirt using the basic pencil skirt drafting technique. I measured 4 places- waist, hip and knees and ankles with the measurement for each point in order to determine the the cut.  Then I just slit the back up the middle and inserted the modified “godet” fins with ruffle trim insert.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I did not follow any instructions. The insertion of the elastic was done on my Bernina 234 serger first, and then I folded over the elastic to the inside and finished the hem with a regular zigzag on my Bernina 640 . I stretched the elastic slightly under the rear-end to get it to “cup” under. For the straps, I included elastic inside to keep them taut when wearing. I learned this in my knits class in school, and it seems to work very well for all my swimwear. All elastic used on this suit was 3/8″ swimsuit elastic. I buy this stuff in bulk!!! because everybody likes me to make their swimwear.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love everything about this pattern. I have been using it for a long time. It’s a great versatile base pattern to own.

Fabric Used:
This is swimwear Lycra from Hancock.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
As I have found for me when using McCall’s, the pants crotch is “always” too short, and this was the same for even my GD.

Tank top: I added a sheered band around the bottom to match the skirt as part of the whole ensemble. I could have left that part off, but without the skirt, it would not have still looked “mermaid-ee”

Skirt- was just a pencil skirt made from her measurements and the “fins” inserted as a “godet” inset in a slit up the back.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I have sewn this pattern multiple times over the years, either as panties, or swimwear. Mostly though as a bandeaux and panties (view G with modifications) A really all-around pattern for the entire family. 

Contest Entry: Butterick 5895 Crop Pants Review

These are my entry for the Pattern Review “Fitted Pant Contest” that ends on June 9th.  I have been wanting a pair of crop pants for quite sometime now, so this was a perfect time to force me to make a pair.  Entering a contest is not something I normally do, however, after meeting so many fantastic ladies at the PR Weekend in Austin at the start of May, I couldn’t resist participating. 

Sewtofit- Butterick 5895

I used the Butterick 5895 pattern.
Pattern Description:

Fitted cotton crop pants with high waist and tapered to hem.  Has optional roll-up hem. Back zipper, side front pockets and hook closure.

Pattern Sizing:
I cut a size 16 and graded the waist to a 14. 
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?Yes, actually it did.

Sewtofit- Butterick 5895

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Extremely easy.  I only checked the instructions to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  I chose not to topstitch the crotch seam.  I hemmed 1 inch instead of 5/8. 
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?The front rise is extremely “High.”  I know I usually have to lower mine on all patterns, but I think since this one is considered high waist, then it was over 2.5″ too much for me.  My front crotch is 8.5″ navel to crotch curve.

Sewtofit- Butterick 5895

Fabric Used: Cotton, with 15% stretch only, I think that is too generous.  When I tested the stretch factor is stretched 1″ pass the 4″ test length.  Thus, I am not considering this a stretch woven.

These alterations were completed on Butterick 5895


Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I kept the design pretty much the same.  However, these are my changes:
Front Crotch- lowered by 2.5″
Back crotch- did not have to increase like normal, the back was already pretty high for my build.
Back waist: lowered it by 1/2″
Front/back thigh: increased the front over the upper thigh by 1″ to straighten the side seam, thereby, removing said amount from the back pattern piece.
Pocket opening: trimmed 1/4″ from the front pocket top in order to shorten it so that it wouldn’t fold out.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will be making another pair in a solid color.
Conclusion:
I don’t know why they called these jeans on the pattern description, they are not jeans.  Other than that, this would make a great basic pattern from which to create any type of crop pants.