Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ta Dum

Here are the new corduroys that are in my etsy shop. In mid September they will be at Diva Chicks Artful Boutique in downtown Georgetown. I love them! Hope you do, too.

Lady Gaga eat your heart out - black and white houndstooth with pink.

In the garden with green lattice on chocolate brown.

Rich, lush deep purple background. The color of royalty which all the Annarella Girls are.

Devilishly hard to photograph this print. It is much softer, more subtle than this. Come see it in person.

You've seen it before. Now it is ready for sale.

Can't wait to see what response I get to this jumper design. For now I'm making size 2 - 6, but I'm happy to make larger sizes for girls. Just ask.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

If a tree falls...?

If I post a blog, and no one reads it, does that mean I had nothing to say?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Long Weekend

I'm taking a small break. You won't even know I'm gone. Here are some sunny looks for you to enjoy.

I'm hoping that all my friends and family on the East Coast have an event free weekend. From earthquake to hurricane, that's one rollercoaster I don't want any of you to be on!!! Stay safe.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Records s s s s s s

Well, it's official...Austin has broken the record for most days over 100. And it looks like we're going to have alot more. Would someone like to pay my electric bill? It is also record breaking!!!

I'm fantasizing that I'm at the beach - any one will do - with my chair on the edge of the water so the waves creep over my toes and then run away. Smell the salty sea breeze. Watch the lacy froth swirling around me. Heavenly!

Well, a girl can dream, can't she?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Corduroy Colors

I thought I'd show you the lush corduroys I've been working with to make the new jumpers. I love them (both the corduroy and the jumper). Colors and patterns are meshing well. Spirited clothes for my Annarella Girls. Colorful clothes for toddlers to 3rd graders. Great for back to school. Can you tell I'm excited by this new design and the new fabrics?

Here is the latest jumper unsder construction. If you look close you can see the bright aqua bodice. The background of the corduroy is a rich purple. Love the play of shades of blues, greens, and reds in the leaves and flowers. Ruffle will be butterflies and flowers. Fun, fun.

Another garden of flowers - pinks, greens and blues on a chocolate brown background. I'm thinking I'll pick up the pinks in the fabrics for the bodice and ruffle.

A little bit quieter but with bright colors, I haven't decided what cotton prints I'll use for bodice and ruffle. Should I go bright or quiet?

For all the other coerduroy prints I chose bright colors or bold graphics. This one is more muted. I paired it with the softer aquas. I'll post a pic soon. I love it.

This black and white houndstooth corduroy was used in my first sample. Look two or 3 posts back to see it on Ava for its trial run. Next jumper will use this fabric and accent it with a deep pink. Little girls love pinks.

All these jumpers look great with a sleeved tee. Collar or not. And leggings! Love leggings for comfort, warmth and modesty.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Coloring Outside the Lines

A series of colorful clothes.

Not sure if all the mixes are succesful.

Probably will rework some of the combos.

Trying for a softer touch with some.

No apology for the bright romper.

Can you guess which one I christened "when little house on the prairie meets Rosanna Dana?"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Project Runway

Helping me get through our endless summer are my 3 favorite reality shows. I love "Design Star" on HGTV and "The Next Network Food Star" on the Food Channel. But my favorite is "Project Runway" on Lifetime. I awoke this morning with a smile as I remembered that Thursday night I got to see Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. (As I write this it does seem to be a little pathetic. What a small life I lead.)

This is season 9. The designers are, as always, quirky and bitchy, but this batch seem very talented. As they judges eliminate the weakest, there are 5 or 6 who are very strong contenders. It should be a fun season.

If you've missed the start of Project Runway, you can see episodes at this link. Its good reality TV. (I know many of you think that is an oxymoron.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Birth of a New Design II

Here it is! The new corduroy jumper being tried by sweet Ava. I'm pleased with the way it fits. She normally wears a size 5, so this being a size 6 is a bit large. The proportions of bodice and ruffle fit the length of the skirt. Not too fussy or frilly so the wearer is overwhelmed, but not too tailored. After all a princess must be able to twirl. Over all I'm vey pleased.

Doesn't it look cute over a solid knit shirt? I found it at Target. It is a simple look. Ava said she was very pleased with it. The remaining question is - pocket or no pocket. I like the simplicity without, but what girl doesn't like a pocket?

Now I'm ready to construct the next one. I've got a few great pieces of corduroy I'm itching to sew up. Sizes will be 3-8. I'll suprise you with a pocket or not.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Birth of a New Design

I've been working on a corduroy jumper. Today I was ready to talk about it, but I can't upload my pics. Very disappointed. Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow when I'll have my first sample on a live model. Wish me luck!!!!

UPDATE. An hour later and the photos are available. Hooray and off I go.

I've been drooling over the new print corduroys that have been around for a couple of years. Yes, I'm slow. Wasn't sure how I wanted to use them. After my print explosion of last week, an idea began to nibble in my mind. I wanted a garment which had a bit less mix of color and print, but I didn't want to lose the funkiness and boldness completely. I think I am on the road to a new design. Let me know what you think.

Here is my first try. I love the white and black houndstooth patterned corduroy. I've used it in cotton 2-3 years ago. So I drew up an idea of a jumper, (I'm so bad as a sketcher!), with the corduroy used for the skirt. Made my notes for size of pattern pieces. Then it's onto accent fabric choices.

After I pull a bunch of cotton print fabrics from my stash, I arrange them around my base corduroy. In this case I begin to eliminate what does not give me the splash of color that I'm looking for against the black and white. Just two pops of brightness in bodice and ruffle. (I'm still thinking about a pocket.)

Here is the finished jumper. I have a shirt and leggings hanging with it all ready to take to Mama Ds house for her daughter,Ava, to try on. This is the final check to see if I have the proportions between straps, bodice, skirt and ruffle pleasing. Also feedback on the ease of putting on and wearing. Will it be comfortable to sit in, run in twirl in? Will Ava think it is fun but beautiful?

I'll be back tomorrow with more photos and some answers to my questions. I hope?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Good Things

Went to see The Help on Thursday AM. I was looking for a break in my routine. My regular readers will remember that I had some problems with sewing last week. I decided that I needed to do something different from my usual to regenerate my spirit. So I went solo to the early show. Wow! It was good. Acting was superb! It honored the book I would go see it again. And I can't remember the last time I've thought that.

I found it thought provoking. Among my early experiences was a year my family spent living in a small town in Alabama. At the impressionable age of 12 I was very aware of the "separate but equal education" policy. It was so obvious that the "colored" schools did not have the funding of the "white" school. When we went to the movies, there was a separate section for "colored." It didn't make sense to me. Everything was separate, but certainly not equal.

I thought "The Help" did capture this mentality very well. Those who needed to feel superior to those that looked different from them. The growing fear of losing their sequestered white world
as the seeds of integration were given light. Rabid fear which drove folks into doing, supporting foolish policies and practices. (With not a big jump I could trace an analogy to the present day political climate, but I won't beat you over the head with my words. I trust many of you see what I see.)

We've come a long way from the days of segregation, but there is still much progress to make. We all need to get better at accepting and respecting those who look different from us, worship differently from us, live differently from us. We have much to learn from each other, but we must have open minds and listen. There are worthy ideas on each side of the issues, and we need to use our energies to mesh these ideas into solutions for the problems we face instead of fighting with each other.

Well, I didn't really mean to be so preachy on this Monday morning, but The Help while entertaining does lead to some healthy discussion. Go see it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Help Me, Tim Gunn

You know the saying - sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men go awry. (That's how my day is going; I can't even get the quote straight.)

When I'm building a dress, I play with the placement of fabrics trying to achieve a balance of color and print that pleases my eyes. Sometimes I'm very successful such as the red, black and yellow dress I posted earlier in the week. By successful I mean it makes me smile. But, for the last 2 days I've been struggling with a combination that just doesn't seem right even though on the table it flowed. In completion it looks like Little House on the Prairie has collided with Roseanna Danna.

As the dress emerged in the sewing machine, I slowly realized that it just wasn't what I had visualized on the cutting table. So I conjourned up Tim Gunn and tried to "make it work." Now I'm finished and teetering between love and hate.

It happens sometimes. A project begins in optimism and slinks into disappointment. Perhaps I need some distance from the dress. At times the artist holds his intent and inward vision so close, he can only be disappointed with the finished piece when it is not true to said vision. But after a little time has passed, and he has let go of the original plan, he can see with new found objectivity the beauy and validity of the offending piece. Occasionally the piece even becomes inspiration for a new direction.

So I hang the new dress on the door waiting to be photographed. Not sure if I will come to admire it. Or if it will come to make me smile. Any more words of wisdom, Tim?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to School

Just a few things as my mind (and sewing room) moves into autumn. Girls love to layer leggings and tees with the skirts and dresses. What little student doesn't want to look smart as they return to school.

I have some of the short sleeve onesies available. Now I'm working on long sleeve for fall and winter.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot

What more can I say. Here it is by the numbers. July was hottest month on record EVER here in Austin. The average temp was 102. Do you know how hot our days were if that was the average? It would have been slightly worse except we actually had 2 days that were not in the triple digits....they were 99. What a break!!

Last weekend we broke the record for consecutive days in the 100s. And there is no end in sight. Our next record attempt.... the most days, not consecutive, in a summer for being in the 100s is 69. We are now at 53. Do you think we'll reach it? The weather people say that nothing short of a miracle or hurricane will keep Austin from breaking that record. (And when it comes to hurricanes we must be very careful what we wish for.)

So how am I coping? As few clothes as possible. Not a pretty picture. lol The dog and I walk about 7 in the morning when its about 80. The downside is that the humidity is brutal. I start out with straight hair and come back with a curly mop. Not my best look, but my fellow bikers, joggers and dog walkers are blinded by the sweat dripping into their eyes and don't seem to notice my locks. Butler, the dog, is just happy to be out sniffing and smelling, watering all the lamp posts that he doesn't care how my coif looks.

Do I miss living in the North? Well, noone has had a cool summer. As much as I might complain about our summer, I'm grateful not to have to battle sub-zero temps, dirty snow, icy steps and sidewalks. Give me the heat. And forgive me for the touch of pride as we survive this record breaking season.

PS Have you noticed that there are not many jokes about global warming right now? It doesn't seem as comical an idea when the temps are 100+.
Enjoy the new apron dress and romper I finished last week. (I promise no sweat stains are on them. lol)

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Friday I got to share lunch with a favorite friend. This friend always makes me think - to ponder the possibilities. We grappled with mid-life choices. Didn't solve anything but at the end I had lots to think about.

I spent almost 10 years living in Geneva, Switzerland. (Yes, it was marvelous!!!) One of the many things I took away from that experience was an appreciation for the American "can do" spirit of innovation. Give us a problem, and we can solve it. (A digression. That was why I was so frustrated by the debacle in congress. They wanted to whine, preach and dissect the problem, but without a real effort at solving the problem.) Americans believe in personal growth and opportunities. We feel there are many different roads we can follow; it is up to us to choose. And in our lifetime we can and will experience much. We are not afraid of change.

Unlike the Europeans who seem to have a path chosen for them at an early age which will lead them on a predictable life through adulthood without too many suprises. I prefer our way. I love that I can change direction at different times in my life. I love that the schools here encourage late bloomers and embrace those who march to a different drummer. I love that 2 mid-life women can sit at lunch and discuss what they might become when they grow up.

The hard part is that we have so many choices it can be overwhelming. How do you find your new direction? Are you lucky enough to have a dormant passion just waiting to be awakened? I was. I think that one just keeps listening, experimenting, giving until you find your new fulfilling way. You need to be patient. And so to speak, you might have to kiss some frogs along the way. Down the road you'll look back and see how far you've come in this wonderful life. When someone asks you how you got so far, you'll be stuck for a good quick answer as you realize that it was small steps taken when you weren't afraid to explore the possibilities.

Good luck all of you out there who are venturing into the unknown, dipping your toes into the waters of possibilities!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

For the Ages

A sister turned 70 this week. Doesn't that sound old? Gadzooks! (I always wanted an excuse to use this word.) Can my 70's be far behind?

Why doesn't my mental image of my age match the reality of my age? How is 70 suppose to feel? For that matter, how is 67 suppose to feel? For those of you on the outside looking at me, I probably look, act and talk every year of my life. But my interior just can't accept it. How old do I feel? That's a hard question to answer. I don't feel an exact age. I just know that I don't feel any older than I did at 40, 50, 60. For a long time I've been on hold. Yes, I've noticed that my joints aren't as well oiled as they were. My TV blares louder and louder as my hearing becomes less acute. Failing night vision makes driving after dark iffy. All symptoms of creeping old age. (sometimes galloping) But when in my dreams I'm an adult but young, and in those waking minutes I'm filled with the youthful enthusiasm of possibilities.

On my youthful side. I'm still striving to reach the same goals that I've had for all these decades. There are still so many things that I want to learn or achieve. Into my 3rd or 4th career (I've lost count.) my talents and skills are still evolving. I awoke this morning thinking about a new design for my dresses. Personally I'm still trying to be a better person. I need to work on being a more caring friend, being less judgemental, being more accepting of everyone's faults. Oh, there are many, many, many ways I need to improve. And in the spirit of youth, I think I still have the time and energy to become a better me.

And I want to learn. I want to meet new people. Experience new places, foods, and books. My horizons are vast. Is this how old age feels? This is the look and sense of the new old age. Another adventure. I have no idea where the rest of the 60s or the coming 70s will take me, but I'm ready for the journey.

By the way, happy 50th birthday, President O'Bama. You've got some fun, interesting and self-expanding decades coming!

PS. No wonder I feel alive when I get to work on creations like the red, black yellow dress above!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Family Talent

What a talented family I have. Full of artists, writers, musicians and more. Yeah, sometimes I feel inferior but mostly I'm just so proud to be in such good company.

This morning my daughter-in-law, Pamela, has launched a new website featuring her interior design business Annarella Home. Yes, she was my partner in the store, Annarella. All the interior design, accessories and furniture were her speciality. She loved clean lines, durability and classic enduring pieces in the interiors she created. Since the store, Annarella, has closed she's been quietly building her business through word of mouth from satisfied customers. Now she is ready to grow and share her talents through this new website.

The pictures are beautiful!! I love her sensibility - tranquil and serene with an emphasis on functionality and livability. Each room is a jewel, spotlighting color and texture. Her designs are not stiff or stuffy. I always have the feeling being comfortable in her spaces.

What more can I say. Pamela is talented, hard working and responsive to all her clients needs and likes. Pass the word along. Click on her website and be prepared to enjoy. Visit it often as she is constantly adding new pics of her projects. Wait until you see the baby nursery she's currently working on.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Likes

Although I like my weekends, I have always liked Mondays. After all the relaxation and entertainment of Saturday and Sunday, I welcome the return to my work routine on Monday. Today is no exception as I happily sew a litle sundress featuring black, red and yellow. Sounds wild, but the colors play quite well together. A nice way to start my week.

A bit of good news this Monday. Tyson Skross sent out a link to a site that has accepted his work. White Columns. This is a site that features artists of note who are currently unrepresented by a New York gallery. He is in some very good company. He is also currently in a new exhibition at the Saratoga Art Center. So good things are happening to a good artist.

And speaking of good artists, Allyson Smith has updated her website with some new work. Check it out. . She is slyly whimsical with a lightness of spirit which speaks to me. I love her new direction.

I hope you all are having a like Monday. Back to the sewing machine for me, but I'm smiling all the way.