Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What I Can't Get Back

My oldest sister called me earlier today to remind me what day it was.

My mother died 20 years ago on June 30, 1989.

While I understand my sister's desire to honor our mother, that day (and it's memories) still hold so much pain for me.

I was the only one in the room the moment our mother passed away...a twenty year old girl, a sophomore in college, home for the summer, who had been told only three days earlier in a doctor's office that her mother was not going to get better and would be gone very soon. How soon, less than a week, was still a shock to us all. Nowadays one would have an easy time finding information on liver cancer on the Internet, but that was not the case back then. In my naive and young mind, she had already "beaten" breast cancer, so why should this be any different?

That morning, as her breathing labored, I really had no idea what was going on. I was alone and afraid. I wanted someone to explain what was happening and to hold me. However, that did not happen. As I panicked and cried, I missed the chance to calmly take my mother's hand, comfort her, let her know that everything was going to be okay, and tell her I loved her for the last time. I will always regret this even though I know that she knew.

That day was when I lost my sense of security...my belief that there would be someone to take care of and to comfort me.

Today, June 30th 2009, my mother has now been out of my life exactly as long as she was in it and I feel as alone today as I was then.

Minus $168

I had a scare today. As I arrived for a doctor's appointment; 30 minutes away from work, a guy pulled up beside my car to let me know that my tire was about to blow. I had noticed a weird sound and quite a bit of shaking while I was driving and had thought one of my tires was getting low.

But instead of a low tire (which should be cause enough to check out anyways!) one of my front tires had exposed frayed steel wires and a flapping section of loose tire! The tread separation was so bad that I could almost slide my hand in one side, go under the tread and out the other side! The only other time I had seen the inner workings of a tire like this was after it was in pieces littering the highway. I was this-close to being one of those blowouts. As this was before my appointment I put it in the back of my mind until I was done. Then I had to decide what to do.

Would this tire allow me to get closer to home or blowout on the highway? Since I wasn't familiar with the area I couldn't take the chance of just driving around looking for someplace so I called my mechanic and they gave me the location of the nearest Goodyear Tire, luckily, just two exits away.

However, while they took care of me I was missing work at the job where I get paid by the hour. Earlier in the day I had to turn down a free lunch at work because I couldn't spare the time to go because I traded my lunch hour in order to make the doctors appointment. I wouldn't have been able to make up that time too AND we were going to be closed this Friday for the holiday.

So, today's realization is...
  • no free lunch today,
  • minus three hours of today's pay,
  • minus $170 dollars for two* new tires and installation,
  • and minus one full days pay this week.
  • Rent is also due this weekend! Arrggghhh....
(There is also the knowledge that the other two tires will need to replaced in the near future because they have signs of dry rot and are as old as the ones just replaced.) Whew!

I knew the tires needed replacing, believe me, these babies are really old (the mechanic was shocked just how old!) but I just haven't had the money and couldn't face putting them on one of the credit cards. So, like an idiot I pretty much put my life in jeopardy. Even after hydroplaning two months ago in barely-there rain because of how bad the tread was.

I have to do something about money, if only to take care of my car, such as getting two more tires and a long put-off tune-up for my 14 year old car with 70,000 miles on it, that I can't afford to lose. This money situation is serious, I need to make more money to avoid more situations like this.

* the other tire had already been patched two times so it was about time for it too!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Well, Call Me a Nerd Too...

I just have to tell you about a blog I just discovered. If you subscribe to a lot of fashion sites, especially ones about fashion on real people as opposed to clips from fashion designer sites and media kits you have probably already seen this one.

If not, get ready for a real treat. I discovered this one from following a link from Sal to her friend Audra, who just happens to be the author of Fashion for Nerds. I want almost everything in her closet! Her style is unique, colorful, fun, and totally covetable. Isn't that how you would want someone to describe your style?

I really like how she has highlighted small designers that I knew nothing about, like Skin Graft (WOW!), Attila Designs, or Shawna Hoffman. In addition, she already wears stuff from companies I love (but have never bought from...yet), like Red Dress Shoppe, Fluevog and Cydwoq.

Here are just a few favorite outfits:
What they all have in common is layers, accessories, and great shoes. That seems to be the way to go*.
*Also, What a Way To Go! is the name of a great fashion-filled Shirley MacLaine film you should see.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Hopscotch Skirt - Simplicity 8126

From the moment I saw Simplicity 8126 over at Out of the Ashes I was excited. More so than for any lovely poofy 50's silhouetted gown. Probably because I could see myself actually wearing this skirt, that it could fit into my life easily. I also like how young and "flirty" it looked. For some reason it really makes me think of hopscotch, bike riding or some other outside activity I did as a kid.

As a long-time crafter I'm also a big fan of functional pockets in clothes and I could see the denim version of the skirt as a great work-outfit for crafting. So that's why a denim version was the first one I made.

I found a great Lycra-infused 6 oz. Sew Classic indigo denim at Jo Anns on sale. I followed the instruction to the T except for the pockets. Using the pattern's layout, the pockets ended up being too effected by the stretch in the denim and stretched out of shape. Eventually I'll cut another set out and put them on the skirt.

I love this skirt, I love how it doesn't even look like a typical wrap skirt. The center pleat fools you into thinking it's a regular skirt while the gathered back almost completely camouflages the wrap portion. (Especially if this was made in a floral pattern) And, about the "wrap factor?" Very good! There is basically a double layer of skirt there in the back so there is no lack of coverage. Also in a fabric with heft like this denim the lower layer sort of serves as a petticoat. I think this skirt would be quite fetching in a silk shantung or taffeta. Affordable yet lovely skirts for bridesmaids, perhaps?

The only (small) problems I had was with the pattern itself. The pattern is just four pieces and the two main portions of the skirt are fashioned so that their seam is visible through the center pleat. I'm not a fan of that but yes, it's a small quibble.

I hope to make quite a few of these. I already have a gorgeous purple linen ready for making another one of these, so I think I will change the pattern accordingly. This was an easy sew, the only time-consuming detail was the hand sewing of the hem.

Friday, June 19, 2009

One that Got Away

This post is connected to a series on SHELTER about my trip to the vintage stores in Historic Fredericksburg, VA.

After a false alarm on Route 301, where I saw a metal bustled dress form* that turned out to be $225, I came across this sweet model in Carroll's Antiques. How lucky was I to see this one, suspiciously in my size?

(Though my friend Michelle said the forms' waist was smaller. Thanks Michelle! Though I have to admit, looking at it now, I would most definitely have to pad the rear!)

Not much, as the owner uses it for display and would not part with it for less than $250. While in good shape (and in my size!) there was no way I was paying that! I suppose if I were a collector...but then again, the adjustable-height metal one by the side of the road was a much better specimen for around the same price. A little de-rusting and it would have been a great conversation piece.

Other fashion-related items seen in Historic Fredericksburg:

Velvet and tulle costume

This wonderful costume immediately made me think of A Midsummer's Night Dream. That multi-colored tulle skirt was beautiful in person.

Brocade wedding (?) ensemble

*I tried to find an example online but after the 7th page of images I gave up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Been Waiting for An Update? Three Projects


My new Simplicity 3835 top. This time I chose the longer sleeve from the dress version because it looked so cute here, here, and here. As all of those examples are in print fabrics, I may have to make this again. I found that I really love this taxicab yellow color, which is funny because I think this is my first clothing item in this color. I have also decided that next time I do anything with this pattern I'm going to scoop out a slightly deeper neckline. The current cut isn't as flattering as it could be.

The yellow dress:

Basted only

I have done the darts in McCall's 3131 and have basted the dress together. It does fit the caboose but it still has a few problems, luckily nothing major. I think it's either because of the design or my choice of fabric but it's all about that center front seam. I've never done that on a dress before so maybe this is common but the dress caves-in from the split neckline all the way down the front. It's not very attractive, especially not at the bustline. The torso is also too long above this area too, so the shoulders will have to be taken up about an inch for it to look right, I think. (Oh, how I wish I had a dress form for things like this!)

Burdastyle Anda dress:

Basted hem

Here's my other try at a "quick turnaround" dress that takes week, if not months to complete! This dress; a muslin really, was made from a putty-colored mystery fabric I inherited from my mother's stash. So it has to be over 20 years old! Unfortunately, it snags and pulls easily and is slinkier than the fabric I usually work with, so let's just say cutting it out was NOT a picnic. So, how the heck do you guys deal with silk and chiffon?!

For the first time, I bound the neckline and arms with bias binding and am very happy with how well it turned out. I usually use facings for this type of thing.

The only other problem (there always has to be one, right?) I have with this dress is the hem. As you can see in the second picture, the hem forms an upside down smile, longer at the sides, even though it was basted straight across. The reason for this is that the dress was designed as a wide square and meant to hang wide from the shoulders and to then have an elastic waist. I rather like the loose flowing look, so I eliminated the elastic and I now have to work a reasonable curve into the hem to correct the final look.

Though there are some designers who don't rely on a straight hem all the time. Hmmm...should I just go for it?

IRO Rinatia dress from Totokaelo

Sorry for the horrible pictures. They were so dark, I had to lighten them considerably to show any detail.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"The Women," with the girls

I came up with this great idea of having a "The Women" evening. Inviting all my girl-friends over and watching the 1939 version of The Women; the 1956 musical version, The Opposite Sex; and/or the inferior 2008 version. Provide some brunch food for noshing, cool summer drinks, and cupcakes? What do you think, doesn't that sound like fun?

Oh, but wait, my TV set is only 13". I don't even have fun watching movies on it, so how can I expect other people to? So what do you think of me asking one of my "guests" to host it at their house? How tacky is that? Should I try to subtly get them to think it was all their idea?

One Indie Shop Bites the Dust

It was only three weeks ago that I told you how lucky I and other Richmonders were because we had two independent fabric stores within the city limits.

Well, not anymore. The cute little store Fleur Fabrics will close it's doors at the end of this month. While I didn't get over there before she sold out of fold-over-elastic I was able to check out the greatly reduced wares. However, all I found to bring home were two more vintage patterns at $1.70 each:

Simplicity 5060

I hope to use this one similar dress to correct the armscye of Simplicity 4429

Vogue 9763

I keep finding examples of this particular skirt style with the center pleat. Below is a picture I saved from the Lucky magazine website. Too cute.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Most Like to Lick?!

1,000 British women cast votes for Del Monte's National Ice Cream Week and this is what they got for their trouble.

Lucky, lucky ladies!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Film: Could Brad and Cate Change My Life?

Okay, maybe I'll finally have to give the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button a chance.

1. On various sites I have seen that the costumes (more about those later) worn by Cate Blanchett were to die for and...

2. on Kay's blog I found a quote from the movie that really spoke to me; especially this bit:

"...I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."

I think I want to start over.

Image: Jacqueline West costume design sketch

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Working The Vintage Kinks Out

Oops, I posted this on SewRetro over a week ago, but forgot to post it here!

I wrote about this top before when I first made it but I was never happy with the fit. Though you might not be able to see the difference this top has now been taken in quite a bit at the sides, the neckline width was reduced, the length was cropped, and it received an entirely new facing. I think the most noticeable change is the detail down the front. That was were I had to take a vertical tuck in the front because the neckline was far too wide to be comfortable or to keep from slipping off my shoulders!

I think I now know that I won't be making any more outfits from McCall's 8251 though I still love the "idea" of it so much. Trying to alter this pattern to make it workable has thoroughly frustrated me. I even thought I could find the pattern in the next smallest size and go from there but there is something odd enough about the sleeves and armholes that I'm not sure that would even work.

If anyone out there has made a similar pattern to this one that worked for them, like McCall's 8337, Simplicity 6634 (both below) or something else, please let me know, OK?

McCall's 8337

Simplicity 6634

Mosaic created with fd's Flickr Toys.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


I finished the Simplicity 3835 top and pictures are forthcoming. I also got very close to finishing my Anda dress; however, I can't seem to get the hem to hang straight. I used another dress to mark the hem but despite the hem being straight across, when worn the hem hangs in an arch. It's longer at the sides, forming a sort of upside down smile. Times like this I wish I had someone who could mark my hem for me.

I took pictures of this dress too. Again, forthcoming...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Yellow Dress Update

Both the chosen yellow dress, McCall's 3133 and another Simplicity 3835 top have been cut out. I'm working on the BBW top first to get warmed up and also for some quick gratification. I understand the love that Simplicity 4429 got in the poll, but I forgot to mention that this wasn't an old sheet, in fact, it had never been used. So the fabric has quite a bit of snap and structure to it that I think the more architecturally designed dress (M3133) would work better in. I do have a light cotton print, seen here, that I think I might make S4429 out of when I pick that pattern up again.

And I just added another project to my seemingly endless to-do list.

New Look 6939

A little OOP shift dress pattern, New Look 6939, that I love is now in the running to be made out of this Alexander Henry Chocolate Mocca print I bought two years ago.

I had been waiting for the right pattern and I had it all along. I was going to use S4429 but why mess around with pattern alterations when I KNOW I love this pattern AND that it will fit straight from the envelope? In fact, since I made the first dress over 5 years ago in leaf green linen, I've gained a bit of weight and the fit is different on me, less smock-like. I really like it now. And did you see where it says Easy and 2-Hour? Hey, it's calling my name!

Fabric image: Cia's Palette