Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ending 2009

Sewing-wise:
Me at the Virginia House.

I only bought a few notions, a few yards of extra knit fabric from the niece project, some lining fabric for this Colette pattern, and four vintage patterns. I even sold some four yards of my stash fabric so I was pretty good.

I was amazed at how my feelings about sewing are different than they used to be; I LOVED sewing when I was younger, the more difficult a project, the better. Now I have no patience....NO patience whatever! It's amazing. I hope in the new year I will get that love back as I can't keep away from a good sewing blog but with that comes disappointment in myself. Not particularly healthy, no?

Life-wise:

In 2009, after five years, I finally went to all the doctors one is supposed to see regularly like your dentist, etc. Which proves without a doubt that I've been scared to really live my life since I moved back here. That crap is going to stop in 2010.

Happy New Year!

The New Year Prophecy

Some years ago I got it into my head (and still can't get it out) that what I'm actually doing on New Year's Eve, when it hits midnight, would influence the coming year. I want to stop doing that, as it's a lot of pressure, but every year or so it turns out eerily so.

Check this out from last year's post on my New Year:

...When I got home, I turned up the heat, had soup and toast, and laid down for a short nap. I woke to see on the clock 8:20 PM, vowed to get up but the next thing I saw was 3:20AM on the clock! Oh well...I sure hope this doesn't mean I'm doomed to sleep through 2009...

As it turns out that is exactly how I would describe what I DID DO with this past year. I sleep-walked through the whole thing.

So tonight, wish me luck.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Sorry, I didn't post this message earlier but I was too busy having a great holiday to blog. YES, despite my melancholy this season and the like-minded posts I wrote about it, I had one of the best holidays I've had in awhile. I didn't even need to make a Bingo card* this year.

Excerpt from a November New York Times article on holidays and tension:

Betsy said her cousin also complained of holiday meal tension with her own family, so the two devised a strategy to help each other cope. Each made bingo cards, but instead of numbers, the squares were filled in with some of the negative phrases they expected to hear during the meal, like “That outfit is interesting” or “Your children won’t sit still.” As comments were made at the separate family celebrations, each woman would mark her card.

“Whoever fills up a bingo row first,” Betsy said, “sneaks off to call the other and say, ‘Bingo!’ ”

I not only met new cool people, got to talk to my great-aunt about sewing (she made my mother's wedding dress!), played with little kids, three dogs, and two cats, ate great food every three hours practically, but I also spent up to two hours with either a loving, purring kitty or a four-month old baby on my lap. Hoo-boy, this was a fun holiday! Hope yours was great too.

Here's to 2010 being even better!

*The Bingo cards are an excellent idea; wish I had them years ago! Thanks for letting me know about them, ATG!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Elegant Maternity Dress - Vogue 9277

It is finally done. After seven years, yet!

Of course it doesn't really fit me (well, it wasn't supposed to be for me) but the important thing is I have finished that project and it is no longer weighing me down!

Despite my whining about working with the material I turned out loving it. So maybe in the future, once I get back to really enjoying sewing again I'll make something else in velour. Maybe some lounge pajamas and a comfy robe?

Pattern: Vogue 9277

Pattern Description:
Misses' Maternity Dress, Tunic, Skirt & Leggings, View A

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 12-14-16, I made a size 12

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it did.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very much.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the versatility of the pattern. Even though this pattern is from 1995, every piece is still wearable and wouldn't look dated.



Fabric Used: A stretch velour, which is exactly what the pattern suggested.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I made no pattern alterations. On all hems and the neckline I did do a second row of stitching 1/8" from the first row to give it a professional twin-needle look. This was also the method that they wanted you to follow for all the interior seams.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes. If anymore of my friends have babies this would be an easy but elegant and practical sew. However, it seems everyone I know have already had their "after-40" babies.

Conclusion: A very easy and comfortable knit pattern for expectant mothers that can be done in less than a weekend by anyone that IS NOT ME.

From back From side

These pictures are proof that this was meant to be a maternity dress and the main reason I probably will never wear it. I'm thinking of selling it in my shop, what do you think?

Images: My own photos.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Grandma's House?

This is brilliant! I just had to share.



From the creative mind of Not Martha. What else will she come up with?!

UPDATE: She's made some changes!

Image: notmartha.org

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let It Snow

It started snowing yesterday at 5PM before I left work. I had to dust off my car before I could start off. Luckily, I had gone to the grocery store on Wednesday so I could go straight home. You see, the people in this city go into Armageddon-hoarding mode whenever there is a snow/rain storm advisory.

I planned to wake up this morning and clear off my car, but hey, that didn't happen. So right now, my hatchback looks like an adorable little igloo from my third-story window. And I've spent the day half in bed and half in front of the computer catching up on my blog reading. I could have spent the day nestled up in blankets on the couch but there was nothing on TV (no cable) , I had already finished reading Cold Mountain Thursday, and I'm saving the movie A Very Long Engagement for tonight or tomorrow afternoon.

Oh, and right now I'm eating another slice of Marie Callender's Coconut Cream pie, which luckily I bought on Wednesday. Oh, YUM!

By the way, I finished a UFO and will take pictures tomorrow. I also need to finish my holiday dress for a party on Tuesday night. So, take care everyone and have a great (and safe) weekend!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ooh, pretty, pretty


Behold the Oscar De La Renta Pre-Fall 2010 collection.

I love his use of color and pattern and even though I'm not a big fan of pink I could definitely wear these outfits though the pink cardigan in the first look would be changed out for red or the pale lettuce green in the dress. I swoon the one with the orange cardigan.



Adore the sheer beaded dress with its faux necklace! The last dress is fine too, but what I really like are the earrings. They look like they might be enameled flowers; just like the jewelry I'm always lusting after at Etsy.com.



Oh, how I wish I were the person who bought that necklace by Bionicunicorn.


Images: Style.com and
Bionicunicorn's Etsy shop.

Monday, December 14, 2009

S Is For Sucky Health Insurance

Well, I have to get a crown for my tooth. But I wasn't able to get it Friday. Why not?

Get this. My insurance company could not be reached. The receptionist tried to get through to Member Services first for a half hour while I waited in reception and then continued trying while I was being examined. Yup. Can you believe that? Some message said the department was not available and in a meeting? At 9 to 10AM in the morning. Whaa?

So my dentist will be calling me Monday IF they can get through to this HUGE insurance company and let me know how much it will be. Then we reschedule so I can take even more time off of work ( I get paid by the hour!) to get it taken care of.

So I sat all weekend with a hole in my mouth.

Some good news: I did do some sewing this weekend but nothing was completed. Hopefully soon.

Friday, December 11, 2009

D Is For Dentistry

By the time you read this post I will be in a dentist's office finding out what they can do for a tooth that split apart last night.

The fact is, I was eating cheese popcorn but it happened with so little fanfare that I think it would have happened with anything. There was and has been no pain, I just suddenly tasted metal (my filling) and that was it. It even took a few minutes for me to find the fragment in my mouth. Basically because of the filling in the middle there wasn't much "tooth" left there anyway. Luckily, it was the back half of the tooth so I don't look any different. However, my tongue can't help seeking out the ragged edges of the exposed filling constantly.

I am writing this so that you can wish me luck that this will be a simple and hopefully reasonable fix for this. If not, I may have just bankrupt myself. Merry Christmas! I already hit my insurance cap this year and unless the cap for the dentistry part of my insurance is separate there's no more money until February 1. (VISA card, do you have any room left?)

I think they should warn you when you are getting low on coverage. "You have the equivalent of $300 left for the year, we at Aetna suggest that you forgo that next prescription and just take care of your flu symptoms at home with Advil. Thank you very much and have a nice day!"

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Discovery - Rediscovery

Fashion in Harmony patterns - This company creates patterns based on the bias and all their patterns use it towards flattering results. As an owner of a bias gown bought years ago that still looks good despite me gaining a few pounds (or ten) I can attest that a simple bias gown is "a good thing".

Hark! A Vagrant - The comics of Kate Beaton. I first discovered her "younger self" comics where she interacts with...duh! her younger self. Then I realized that she created all these great "historical comics" involving the Brontes, Marcel Duchamp, Queen Victoria, and the like but with a very modern and irreverent voice. Check her site and by the way she has a book available too. There are so many great comics and the best way to search through them is by using her archives here.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wearable Art

Throughout my years reading blogs; from 2006 to now, I've followed a lot of long-term wearable art projects - from Little Brown Dress, FiftyRX3, States of Dress to The Uniform Project. (I so want a version of that dress!) From a mention at Colette Patterns, I was directed to another project I now want to follow...

The Makeshift Project

It's creator, Natalie Purschwitz, has taken on the task of creating every single item of functional clothing that she wears, from underwear, tights, outerwear, shoes, with a few accessories also thrown in the mix. Check out the great big bag below and the rocking "moon" boots that she made here!

I love her diagonally fastened sweaters and coats; some that criss-cross in the front, and her asymmetrical skirts, especially that draped one with the doubled flap seen below.


It's a very ambitious project, I want half of everything she's made, and those lace-up shoes she created for herself are beyond wonderful! I look forward to seeing her full-on winter wardrobe as I love woolly, sweatery things the most.


Outerwear - love, love, love.

She is now three months in, so there is still plenty of time to get hooked on her daily posts.

Oh and before you ask...she does have a clothing line, Hunt & Gather, where items like this dress (!) are available.


P.S. Doesn't she remind you a bit of Bjork?!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

More Holiday Truth...

I forgot to mention the other holiday item I found last weekend. On my drive to my dad's house on Thanksgiving I came across a radio station already playing holiday music. Ugh! I was about to change the station when they announced the next song, Hard Candy Christmas sung by Dolly Parton. I had never heard of it and since it wasn't one of the traditional songs I gave it a listen...and loved it.

You can pretty much always depend on Dolly to keep it real...in song lyrics, that is. (As it turns out, she didn't write this one, but it has her sensibility.)

It's a holiday song for those who aren't too thrilled with the holiday season, their lives, and how they're doing at this time of the year. Here's the song:



And here are the lyrics*.


* Home sewers check out the third stanza!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Yesterday, I got to see one of my favorite holiday movies, Home For the Holidays, directed by Jodie Foster and starring Holly Hunter and Dylan McDermott. I think I love this film because the family dynamics are so real. It's not a pretty picture of family life but it seems more real than typical Hollywood fare. You can watch the whole movie here on YouTube in ten parts. If you've never seen it, definitely give it a try.

Now I just have to see my other favorite Hollywood film, 1945's Christmas in Connecticut starring Barbara Stanwyck. This film is pure Hollywood, vintage-style and just lovely.



I did a bit more sewing, but man am I slow! I miss the days where I didn't stop until I was exhausted, sometimes sewing until early the next morning. Last night, though I was still up late I was watching TV instead of sewing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sewing Weekend Update

  • I finished one of the projects I wanted to work on this weekend. I finally resized New Look 6807 down one size and even wore it to a party on Saturday night. I ended up sewing the back seam up so that the bow no longer works as fastening and is now
    decoration only. Therefore, I didn't have any problem with it slipping off my shoulders.

  • I sold both pieces of the navy wool crepe that I had in my Etsy shop. Thank you! Once I decided to list them separately, they both sold within days. Hmmm, what else can I find to sell?

  • I completed the dress lining of my big project. I decided to do the lining first, and then the dress in the fashion fabric, because the lining usually seems like the part you can't wait to get over and done with. This also made it easy to see where potential fitting problems may show up. However, it's looking pretty good for a bias dress, so I can't wait to stitch up the dress tonight and finish it. In a winter red twill, it will be my go-to holiday dress this season.

    Oh, by the way, it's a test pattern for this dress. YES!! and you will definitely want one too after you see it!

  • I came up with a cool design for a frothy holiday necklace while working with the ice blue lining fabric. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to actually work one up yet. Maybe this weekend.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

OutsaPOP!

That's right, Outsapop is a cool website I found a few weeks ago, that covers all the trashion (DIY-inspired fashion) that's out and about.

Outi Pyy, the author, is Finnish but her blog is written in English. She includes notes from the designer fashion shows, DIY tutorials like this one for totebags made from old tank tops, pics from the recycled sweater challenge on Project Runway Finland*, felt circle pallietes decorating a sweater, etc.
Outi knows about DIY fashion because she is also a designer. In fact, she makes great accessories out of garment zippers and sells them here. Check out some examples of her own work:

Bonus: A belt tutorial she created for zipper manufacturer YKK.

*Did you even know there was a PR Finland?! The US show is really too conservative. Just look at this season's finalists, anything that seems edgy in their recent collections (ex: zipper collars) has already been done better somewhere else. Like Comme des Garcons in 2005. All you have to do is do your research...which Outsapop does.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wool Crepe In The Etsy Shop!

Remember that navy wool crepe I mentioned I had for sale? I wrote about it here a month ago.



Well, I just put it up for sale in my Etsy shop, Dragonfly. I'm selling it for approximately $8 a yard even though when I bought it I originally paid $12. (yeah, I was a big spender back then.) Please check it out here.

Again, the fabric is in perfect condition. It is 58" wide and is already cut in two lengths. One piece is 2 and 3/4 yards or 98 inches. The other piece is exactly 75 inches or a little over two yards of fabric.

NOTE: I'm selling them together in order to offer you more fabric for larger projects. However, if anyone is interested in them as separate lengths, just let me know. I am open to selling them separately. UPDATE: I decided to sell the two fabric lengths separately after all! ALL GONE!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Goal This Weekend...

is to sew, sew, sew!
  • I have a project; a task really, to do in the next week and I can't wait to start on it.
  • I also have two garments (I won't remind you which ones) that I still have to finish and hopefully this weekend will be it.
Also, here are pictures of that outfit I was so proud of. I love this look and will definitely make more of this dress, the Anda. In fact, the outfit received compliments from four separate people when I wore it to work and words like classy and sophisticated were banded about! I, myself, think it looks fun but I'll take those too.


Anda dress



Worn with a cardigan and...no, I have no idea why I'm clenching my hands like that.

More:
Starting Up Again
Dress as Finished Project! - Burdastyle Anda

Images: Sorry they are so bad, they were really dark to begin with.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Next Time, Butterick, I'm Coming For You...

Because I am trying both to conserve money and not to add any more sewing projects to my to-do list, I passed up on the Butterick $1 pattern sale at Hancock's this past week. And it's not like I would have gone in their blind. I knew exactly which ones I wanted, in fact, this first pattern has been on and off my wish list for over a year now.

Butterick 5032

Mostly, for the little capelet but the dress isn't bad either.



I saw this 3.1 Philip Lim dress in Lucky and couldn't get it out of my mind and then I saw this...

Butterick 5259

on Lindsay T's blog and with the pattern's addition of belt loops, I like this one even better! I also adore the little red jacket.

Butterick 5415

What does this remind me of? This vintage pattern, that I have tried SO HARD to love with no success. Perhaps, I could take this new one and alter it to recreate the looks on the vintage one? I'm so lovin' the banded V-neck too!

Butterick 5211

Can you guess why I like this one? Yes, it's practically the Anda dress!



Of course I won't be buying this one because I already have the pattern and can easily add pockets or the gathered sleeve cap to the Burdastyle pattern myself. I will definitely be making more of this dress again.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Inspiration in a Buttonhole?

I love when I see something new done with something that I have never given a second thought. Well, someone else did and what they did with that idea is genius. Look at this:


Image: Makesomething.ca

Yes, a buttonhole made with variegated thread. I've seen variegated yarn before and definitely could see the benefit in making projects with it. But variegated sewing thread? How perfect is that for stitching and detailing a dress in a print made up of many colors?

I'm hip to and have used contrasting zippers in garments before (I've yet to install an invisible zipper) because I thought the quick glimpse of the zipper would be more interesting if it really didn't match the fabric. Because how rarely do you find a zipper that matches perfectly? I have also used a more dramatic color thread to stitch up a garment, like red on blue... but this is an even better idea. You no longer have to worry about the stitching being too obvious on certain sections of a dress when you make that possibility random.

Please check out the great clothing created on Karyn's Make Something blog and if you are lucky enough to be in Toronto, also check out The Workroom's sew-by-the-hour sewing lounge. I so wish we had a place like that here in my city.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

What Did I Do Today?

  • I am watching 1959's "The Best of Everything" with the DVD commentary. Already saw it earlier this week with close captioning and after this viewing, will be watching it again for the clothes. Great screen captures here at Sweet Sunday Mornings' lovely, lovely site. Also check out the lovely mid-century office design in this link from the B.E.L.T site.

  • Searching online for job possibilities, in event planning, public relations, or non-profit work related to affordable housing, children and women health issues, and shelter animals.

  • Reading more Agatha Christie. I used to read them a lot when I was a pre-teen (yes, that young!) Now I'm addicted to reading all the ones I never read or can't remember who the murderer is. This one is the eleventh (plus a book of Miss Marple short stories) in the last two months.

  • I opened an Etsy shop, Dragonfly. I still have a lot of work to do on it though.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"I Already Made This One" Dress - Style 2318 (OOP)


Practically. Sorta.

Over 10 years ago I made a brown wool crepe dress from a Style pattern that I truly wish I hadn't thrown out. UPDATE: Found it! It was Style 2318, c. 1994. It was lovely and I did a great job with it. Unfortunately, it just looked ridiculous on. When I made the dress I really miscalculated on the size and I was swimming in the dress. One thing about the design that didn't help at all was that it required huge shoulder pads. Imagine this; huge linebacker shoulders and then a sack (a heavy wool sack!) of a dress swimming on a tiny girl. However, because I loved the design, that dress has been with me ever since, though it was only worn once or twice. Today, I decided to try it and a few of my old vintage pieces on. While none of the ones I actually used to wear could even be zipped up (or get past my hips), this one FITS!!! Yes, and it fits like it was always supposed to. Amazing.

Fifteen pounds heavier and with bust, waist, and hip measurements all three inches larger...it fits. See for yourself:


Forgive me, the dress had not been pressed in 10 years either!

I had no idea when I put that Simplicity pattern above in my wish list that it was really because I was remembering details from this dress. Notice the interest at the neckline (with a pull-through tie) and the dolman sleeves (actually called magyar sleeves) that became tighter towards the wrists.

 Style 2318 (OOP)
Also, can you believe I made this in high school? To wear to high school? Yeah, I was a strange duck.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Craig and McQueen Part II

Craig:

Here is a great analysis of the movie Casino Royale, in five parts, from The Man From Porlock site:



McQueen:

Check out this piece at Cinebeats about the role of fashion in The Thomas Crown Affair. I loved Faye Dunaway's clothes in this film, but she sure didn't look like an insurance inspector to me.

And even though through most of the film Mr. McQueen is the most debonair and well dressed bank thief I have seen, there is one glaring costume mistake. If you've seen the movie, either you know what I'm talking about or you have blocked it from your memory. Lucky you.

I am talking about the bright yellow shortie robe that Mr. Crown wears in one scene. Ugggh, so scary it took me right out of the movie at that point. What were they thinking? That Mr. McQueen was so macho that he could get away with it? Um, NO. Not in that robe.

Oh, and that theme song...The Windmills of My Mind. WOW. Still one of my favorites, SO trippy yet truly beautiful. If I could only memorize that baby!

The music:


Bonus! An Alison Moyet version


The lyrics: If you want to try memorizing them, here they are, here and here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Craig and McQueen Part I

The minute I saw Daniel Craig in Layer Cake I knew that I liked him immensely. But it was not until the final scene of Casino Royale when the reason hit me in the head. I knew then why he had seemed instantly familiar and appealing.


Casino Royale 2006

I had seen that face (and outfit) before. On Mr. Terrance Steven McQueen.


The Thomas Crown Affair 1968

The dark blond hair, receding hairline, furrowed and hooded brow, blue eyes, deep laugh lines, pursed lips, wide strong nose, and somewhat jug ears.

See?

Not that they're twins or anything but the description does fit them both quite well. They are definitely of the same type; that hard beaten yet good looking, man's man sort.

What other male movie stars can fit that description? Oh there are a few, like Tommy Lee Jones, James Remar, Sam Elliot, Ted Levine, and Russell Crowe, but compared to the more conventionally handsome leading men out there, that's not a lot.

I prefer these rough and tumble guys. Even better if they happened to have broken their noses in their youth. Just another symbol that their lives were not always easy and that they lived their lives out loud.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It Is Easy To Be Unhappy

The reason I think it's harder in the short run to choose celebration over blame is that you have to take responsibility for more of your own bad outcomes, you have to be grateful for what you have when you're plainly receiving less than someone else, and you have to make a conscious decision to assess individuals and discrete situations solely on their merits, instead of just lumping them all into some category of Things You Already Know. In other words, you have to assign yourself to the role of student in life, instead of the more secure feeling Master of All Knowledge.

Choosing optimism is choosing vulnerability and humility on an ongoing basis, and that's often in conflict with our nature.


Great quote from Washington Post columnist Carolyn Hax on how easy it can be to remain unhappy. Please read the rest via Kerry's blog.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thank you Joanna!

So it's not just me!

Look what I just read on Smitten, written by Joanna Goddard (also from A Cup of Jo). Of course, I had to read it...she entitled the piece, Do People Call you Ma'am? And guess who the culprit is in her story?

I feel so much better now. However, I still don't think it's the right way to go in terms of customer service for that particular store. The ma'ams of the world are their target customers*, so why even risk insulting them?

*"30 to 45 years old, college or post-graduate education, married with kids or in a committed relationship, professional or ex-professional, annual household income of $150,000 to $200,000. She's well-read and well-traveled." From an article on the store in Fast Company, Issue 65, November 2002.

Friday, October 23, 2009

In fact...










I was dressed today very much like this picture. I'll try to take a picture this weekend. I'm pretty proud of my version. The only thing I regret (STILL) is that I didn't buy this necklace when I had the chance.




Image: Lucky, October 2007

Say It Ain't So...

Oh, well.

The irony is, that this week, I've worn two outfits that were SO much cuter and stylish than what I wore to that interview. I made the mistake of confusing myself with what I previously knew about interviewing for my former jobs (mostly corporate-lite) than trying to get a job somewhere that was so individually unique from my past experience. I should have worn what I felt great in hoping that it would have translated to the interviewer.

In short, I should have sold 'the best me I could be' and not what I thought they wanted, which only resulted in me feeling lacking.

NOTE: I'm not saying I didn't get the job because of the way I was dressed. Not at all. I'm saying that I didn't feel confident in myself because of my ambivalence about my outfit and I let it affect the way I felt and presented myself. Also, the "ma'am" thing really did disarm me.

You live - you learn.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More of This is What I Need

First, I saw this cute capelet at Floating World Views, it's a rendition of Burda 8173*.


Then I saw this lovely jacket from Anthropologie:

Catalina Bolero, $120

And now I see this:


a perfect little mash-up, right?

Where do you think I found it? No, not Anthropologie, though it definitely has that feel. No, this little gem is available at Forever 21! Yes. For only $35.

So I guess I need a charcoal gray wool capelet/jacket thingy in my wardrobe for fall.

Yeah, I can dig it.

*This is a discontinued Burda pattern, but Butterick 5032 is very similar, just eliminate the collar. I luckily already own this vintage Butterick pattern with it's own cape.