Monday, August 30, 2010

A Little Bit of Info...

As mentioned, it's been a super acquisitive time in the K-Line household. Never mind paying off vacation and back-to-school expenses - I'm talking about the 4 new patterns, new Panache lingerie set, 4 new books, new bra-making supplies (over and above the Bra Components ones) and the freakin' Babylock Imagine serger (previously mentioned)!

Somehow my subconscious thought this top-of-the-line piece of machinery would actually know how to sew my preferred garments by osmosis. Alas, I'm on a whole new learning curve. Thank goodness I like learning. And curves.

I can't talk about everything in this post. My mind is going in so many circles I have whiplash. I'm also insanely busy at work. So I'm still on blog break... But somehow I am compelled to write, just a little.

One of the patterns I bought is this one:

The reason? I'm about to embark upon this sew along, hosted by Gertie:

(I know, am I high on drugs?! Like I don't have enough to do and learn without adding tailoring to the equation - and an advanced pattern?)

Look, I figure when 100 plus people are making the same thing, the wavelength is strong, my friends. I'm counting on success because there will be so much information flowing, it would be stupid not to get on the tailoring bandwagon via this experience.

Of course, there will be more on this as the details emerge...

But really I want to tell you about a few new sewing books that are BLOWING my mind:

Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket

This one is going to save my ass, not only in making the coat, but when I make this (another of the new patterns I've bought):

Vogue 8333, Petite Jacket, Claire Shaeffer

Then, continuing on the Claire Shaeffer riff, there's:

Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide

Ounce for ounce, this might be the most useful sewing book I've ever seen, because it explains absolutely everything about every fabric you could ever want to sew with. Don't know what it is on the bolt? Her burn test diagnostics will distinguish between microfibres - that's how detailed this thing is. Want to know how to take care of your garment? No worries. How about best way to sew and treat the fabric? She's got it covered.

My (rather inebriated) husband was SO fascinated by it that we read passages for 3 hours last night. And he doesn't even care about sewing. In his words: this is the book to get you through the next apocalypse.

And finally:

Claire Shaeffer, Couture Sewing Techniques

I know, yet another Shaeffer book. But the woman is amazing! This one is a fun peek in on the beautiful couture techniques developed and utilized by such designers as Dior and Balenciaga. You know, it's a little light reading :-)

Anyone read these? Are you doing the Gertie sew along? Anyone doing the Gertie sew along in Toronto, by any chance?? Thoughts and feelings about any of this? Do share, please.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Somebody's Got To Snap This Up...

I'm still on self-imposed, rejuvenation break, but I can't resist directing you to this amazing vintage buy.

Claire McCardell Jersey Dress from 1952, via CoutureAllure

A Claire McCardell dress, formerly part of the FIT collection and pre-owned by Mary Cantwell, does not come up every day!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Hello Peeps: I'm going to take a few days off because I find myself running like a chicken and there's no time (or energy, in truth) to write.

In brief, let me tell you that I have had an extremely exciting week, from a purchase perspective. I am the proud owner of a new serger - a Babylock Imagine - the ne plus ultra of machines.

Were I to tell you how much it cost, you'd bash me upside the head. Let's just say that I value my hobby and I really like myself a lot :-)

I need to spend a few days reviewing the manuals and reading and practicing and petting it.

Oh, it's been a terribly acquisitive month. Sticker shock ahoy.

Back in a few days with lots of fun, new info...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Component Parts

You know how I went back to Figleaves to repurchase my fave bra so that I could dissect an older (pre-owned) version that's nearing the end of its lifespan? Well, though that bra's been regular stock for years, the new one I purchased was too big (even though the size was "right") and when I sent it back for the size down, I was advised that there are no more to be had and it won't be available going forward.


That is really hard to take - even though it was equally hard to take cutting up a bra under any circumstances. Thank goodness the risk mitigator in me refused to allow the unstitching of the current bra till the new one arrived safe and sound. Can you imagine how horrible that would have been?

I'm about to make a new bra from a new bra pattern - one I haven't tried before. Who knows if it will be as unsuccessful, fitwise, as the other 2 patterns I've used, but I figure I owe this pattern a fighting chance before I try to source another repurchased version of a bra I already own and rip that one up. I'm a little gun shy...

Fortunately, I have some beautiful new supplies from Bra Components to use in this endeavour. My contact, Jen, and the owner / head dyer Craig, kindly gifted these to me as samples so that I can tell y'all about the experience of ordering and (eventually) using the supplies.

Turns out that Craig started this small, but growing, concern after 20 years of dye experience in the fashion industry. He's dyed product for lingerie companies such as Wacoal and Victoria's Secret.

What prompted me to try Bra Components, aside from curiosity and the desire to expand my network, is that I was limited - when ordering elsewhere - from getting components in colours that matched my fabric. (Components include: closures, rings/slides, strapping, chanelling (the thing that holds the wire), elastics and more.)

See, even though I'm crazy enough to make bras, I absolutely draw the line at dying fabric. I mean, it's messy! Having made 7 bras in either black or pink, I want to expand the options. Next bra, as it happens, will be indigo. Yes, it looks practically black but it's not. And, quite honestly, with someone to manage the dying, the bra-making world has become my oyster.

My newly dyed components are an excellent match to my fabric swatch (which I sent to Jen for matching, as is one's prerogative). You can also choose from a massive pantone drop-down list (if you know the pantone of your fabric, for example, or if you've got a good eye and can determine the pantone visually from your fabric.) I can also say that the service is prompt and affordable - the shipping rate is reasonable even to Canada!

I will let you know how I enjoy the straps, elastic, rings/slides and channeling as I apply them to my next project.

Now all I've got to do is master the fit and I'll be unstoppable :-)

PS: The CreativFestival, coming to the Toronto Convention Centre October 22-24, will include a couple of bra-making courses taught by Beverly Johnson of Bra-Makers Supply. If any of you are close-by, and looking to develop a new sewing skill, it might be useful to register. There are zillions of other courses to try out also, so check it out. I really hope I'll have a chance to go...

Monday, August 23, 2010


Hermes, Terre d'Hermes

I love this scent. It's made for men, but I wear it nonetheless. It's actually one of my few non-floral fragrances. It's got an excellent pepper subnotes, a touch of citrus (grapefruit, not orange) in the top note and it smells very earthy and clean simultaneously.

It's got that chypre thing happening, which you know I love - but there really isn't an "animal" element i.e. musk. And it's not channeling patchouli (thankfully) which, though considered a chypre element, makes me sick unless it is used so judiciously as to be undetectable.

Curious to know if any of you (ladies) wear this - or another scent designed for men?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pool of the Week

This pool is piquing my imagination about Mexico (not one of those places I generally give much thought to):

Photo: Studio G

I can see I'm drawn to those pools atop of natural bodies of water. Reminds me of a magical week I spent, as an adolescent, at Villa Serbelloni. (Lord, youth is wasted on the young...)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Revisting the Past

Remember the urban caftan? Don't worry if it's slipped your mind.

It's that Built-by-Wendy shift dress sloper I modified with a boat neck. You may recall I was traumatized by the invisible zipper (which turned out to be unnecessary because the thing was such a sack) and the construction process. Also, the boat neck fit all wonky.

Well, despite this I've worn the dress on a few occasions. I mean, there are nice things about it and, if I applied my standards of perfection to all my hand-made items, I'd never wear anything. Really, what would be the point in that?

Besides, people have told me on numerous occasions it's very chic.

A few days ago, one of my work colleagues asked me if I'd made it. Turns out she's been sewing since grade 7 (she's now nearing retirement) and, while she was friendly, made it clear that the dress needed some fitting finesse.

In 10 minutes of pinching fabric and studying my frame, thank you life-time experience!, she managed to advise me (using pictures on sticky notes) exactly how to fix it with minimal effort.

Don't misunderstand. It still took an hour. But I darted the back by 1 inch on either side of the centre seam and shortened the boat neck by 1/2 inch on either side - without undoing a single seam. Note: I've never done either of these things before... Turns out I don't look bad in boat necks after all. As long as they're really narrow (like my shoulders).

Is it perfection on the inside? Um, no. But it's way less bad than I thought it would be (which is what stopped me from trying), it was easy to do (without looking at a single book) and it's made the dress look SO MUCH BETTER.

Like now, I am totally going to wear it all the time.

So, maybe I should revisit my fitting "failures" more often? I think I am learning.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Get with the Brand(es)

I realize, given her kick ass marketing strategy, y'all are probably living under a rock if you haven't heard about Wendy Brandes' latest project. Like our fave blogger / fashion designer, Stacy Lomman, Wendy is using KickStarter to crowdfund the project, which will enable her to manufacture a bulk quantity of fun jewels overseas, thereby diminishing the cost to her buyers i.e. you and me.

I should tell you that Wendy loves supporting local manufacturing but, in this case, the cost to end-user, of producing the product, is simply too high...

The gist is:
  • You go to Wendy's page on KickStarter, sponsor a certain amount of money - from 5 bucks to a zillion - and you get something in return - from sincere thanks to lots of jewels.
  • Once she funds the overseas minimum order manufacturing requirement i.e. $7000.00, then the KickStarter bid is deemed to have been successful.
  • Money you've pledged will be released to her, she'll place an order with the factory overseas, and the new jewels will be produced.
  • When they're ready, you'll be able to buy them too - at an affordable price, because she will have been able to recognize economies of scale in an overseas market.

(Lord, I really hope that's the gist or I'm going to look like an idiot!)

I've done this. It's really very easy and very rewarding - especially if you sponsor at a level that gets you a jewel. The most challenging part, if you want to call it that, is signing up with Amazon Payments, if you're not already a member. It takes 5 minutes.

Now, if I'd got on the marketing-for-Wendy bandwagon a little sooner, I'd be urging you to sponsor her to ensure the viability of the project. Alas, she's so effective - and so lucky to have clients like you - that she's actually achieved the $7000.00 target. But don't let that stop you! The more rings she puts on fingers, the happier those rings are gonna be. And You, for that matter. And Wendy likes happy people wearing happy jewels.

So do a ring a favour, and donate!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bye Bye, Drape Drape

The Drape Drape no. 3 Gather dress has been the subject of a few posts, and most of my brain cells over the past month. I have written about this thing scarily frequently...

You know I made the (original) rayon jersey muslin, realized there was much to be desired (though, overall, I was thrilled with my progress), and I proceeded to make it again. Like 6 times.

It's starting to feel like bra-making all over again! :-)

I could show you breakdowns and photos (more than the ones in the posts I've linked to above), but really, who cares?

Seriously though, here's what I did:

  • Traced - that an Olympic sport in itself - and cut original L pattern to make original rayon dress. I wanted a woven dress though (no stretch) so I proceeded to...
  • ...Revise original L bodice, adjusted with FBA, and traced, cut ML skirt
  • Made muslin which was laughably small. It's amazing I didn't have a nervous breakdown.
  • Despaired until my husband agreed to help me try to fix it.
  • He had a fun time drawing all over my (muslined) breasts and slashing the fabric with scissors. (Whatever gets you through, that's what I say...)
  • Redrafted the bodice. Didn't work, so...
  • Redrafted the bodice pattern from muslin markings (that sounds easy but it's like rocket science).
  • Made muslin. Almost worked so...
  • Redrafted the bodice pattern from muslin markings.
  • Made muslin. Almost worked so...
  • Redrafted the bodice pattern from muslin markings. Eureka! Seemed to work so...
  • Attached the bodice to the skirt (went back to the L skirt just to avoid grading nightmares).
  • Last minute: Decided to drop waist by 2 inches cuz the original, ill-fitting muslin's waist was too high. Word to wise: When you alter everything else in a bodice, the waist is just as likely to lengthen as anything.
  • Made dress with fashion fabric. Painstakingly bound edges, spent 2 hours working on amount to trim back seam - it was complicated.
  • Finally tried it on and...

...the dropped waist wrecked the line of the dress, which was then too big in the midriff (should have considered that biggening up the bodice and dropping the waist would have this effect but seriously, what was left in the universe for me to consider?!

Sixty-plus hours later: Dress over.

I will not remake this thing. In the vein of a beloved song that one hears so many times it eventually becomes a torturous twang, I just don't want to know of it anymore.

Now, don't pity me. I can't tell you how much I learned. (Wait a minute, perhaps I can!):

  • Figured out how to work from muslin to paper.
  • Figured out how to alter collar height on one piece pattern! (*The fewer the pieces the harder the adjustments because every change effects every element of the dress.)
  • *Lowered armscyes.
  • *Did really complicated FBA that worked!
  • Learned Japanese :-) (OK, this is not true but I did work with Google Translate rather professionally.)
  • Improved my spatial reasoning re: sewing and techniques like invisible zips and binding.

My husband, a true inventor, having the brain - though not vocabulary, thank God - of an engineer, was indispensibly helpful. (Engineers, please don't be offended that I'm sterotyping you as inarticulate. I also generalize that you are mind-blowing smart when it comes to, let's say, nuclear science or making buildings.)

As a skills development tool, Drape Drape no. 3 Gather Dress, I respectfully bow to you. As a finished product, not so much.

Maybe I'll find it within myself to take a photo of the final blue dress, before I put it out on the lawn for some unsuspecting treasure grabber, soon to own an ORIGINAL K.Line :-)

Monday, August 16, 2010


For y'all who don't understand Twitter, I sympathize. FaceBook is the last thing in the world I ever intend to take on. Of course, unlike the privacy-zapping, sophmoric FB (get the impression I'm really not down with it? Or is that up with it?), Twitter is a lively, friendly micro-blogging village (again, my bias...). It's how I chat with innumerable of my fave internet peeps simultaneously, about all topics, profound and banal. And we do it concisely. Really. It's an art form.

A few days ago, I had the best "tweetversation" with one of my fave internet pals, Bel, about Mad Men, of all things, a show that has recently and entirely roped me in. Blame the summer-season dearth of television...

Bel's been into it since the get-go but I just started buying the old episodes on iTunes. All was going well until idiotic Apple decided to raise the per-episode, standard definition, price from .99 to 2.49. WTF?! So now I rely on articles about the past seasons, and info from friends, to keep me abreast of plot elements from the past that relate to the current show.

I've seen enough of the old stuff to know that this season is veering, on all levels, into much grittier territory. Gone is the mid-century beauty in all things. In its stead, we see pop art and space-aged and the interference of fluorescent light. I mean, the set is so meh, it might as well be the 70s.

But that's not really where I'm going with this post.

Where I'm going is into reflection about the utter genius of Bel's insight. I mean, yes, we were talking about a TV show, but that woman - therapist by trade - sees subtext everywhere. By the time our little chat was done, I'd revisited my knowledge of the Electra complex, the notion of "self made" as an avoidance tactic and the Jungian principles of anima and animus.

It put me in mind of Bel's recent post on dream analysis, in which she described a dream of her own and welcomed feedback from readers who know her / the myriad details of her life. She also invited readers to describe their own recent dreams - to overwhelming response. What's most fascinating is that her gut, 2-sentence analysis was so true to so many readers, we could only gawk in awe.

To wit: I spoke about how my sleep had been incredibly dull lately and glibly suggested that, in one of my most recent dreams, I was so bored I sensed my psyche was begging me to wake up.

She responded (to the effect of ): "I interpret what your psyche is trying to tell you a more literally than you do."

And I just sat there with shivers considering my utter complexity.

In response to the incredible feedback on the dream post - and the terrific fun she had with it -she's just begun remote dream analysis coaching. How utterly modern-tech plus! While I haven't taken part yet, it is on my near-to-do list because I know it will be thought-provoking to life changing, depending on the day.

Different people look for different things from therapy. Some want a parent-figure, some a teacher. Some are looking for boot camp. Others want a virtual spa.

It recently occured to me: I'm seeking a spirit guide.

I've worked with many therapists over the years. I've contemplated my inner depth by talking, by changing behaviour, in movement, with lists. With two exceptions, I've always felt a fundamental lack of connection with those therapists. I functioned with one set of principles, in accordance with my own (frenetic) pace. They worked on another wavelength - one that - despite all good intentions - didn't tap into my "intenseness" (for want of a less preposterous word).

Feeling alone in therapy is not fun. Sensing that I'm there to be educated just irritates me.

Every conversation I've had with Bel - and they go back a few years now - has made me feel understood and acknowledged. Furthermore, she sees the encroachment of self-awareness as a totally cool adventure, meant to be shared and marveled at. Just look at her (tremendously honest) blog. She's not perched from above as you struggle in the regular domain.

Never mind fixing yourself. If you've got an emotional foundation, Bel will help you to build the house you want to live in. No renovation is out of scope.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pool of the (Freakin') Year

Those women from desiretoinspire find the best shit anywhere.

Look at this pool. Do you not want to be swimming, lounging, drinking, lolling, reading, and participating in other unmentionable activities by this thing???

Do yourself a favour and check out the other photos on DTI...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Waste Not / Want Not

This is a great article / post from Modern Twist about "zero waste" clothing manufacture. As a home sewist, I am regularly horrified (for real) by the fabric I put in the bin - due to wasteful cutting, inexperience, ends of fabric, muslins and mistakes. I would be fascinated to take Parsons' new course, coming this fall, on waste-free design!

Here's a snippet (ha!) from the article:

Zero-waste design strives to create clothing patterns that leave not so much as a scrap of fabric on the cutting room floor. This is not some wacky avant-garde exercise; it’s a way to eliminate millions of tons of garbage a year. Apparel industry professionals say that about 15 to 20 percent of the fabric used to produce clothing winds up in the nation’s landfills because it’s cheaper to dump the scraps than to recycle them.

As a person who fears for the future of this little marble we live on, I am going to follow this topic with interest...

Friday, August 13, 2010

How Many Do You Have?

So I finally did a bra-count. Even though I just reorg-ed the lingerie drawer - and then had the nerve to ask you how many bras you own - I didn't actually do a count of my own till yesterday.

If you subtract the bras from the "not wearing them now cuz the size is slightly too big or too small but the stuff is still great and I may wear it again" cupboard, I have 14 bras and, I estimate (didn't count them all) 35 pairs of undies.

I don't know about you, but I think that's entirely reasonable given my fixation with the stuff. I mean, I look at lingerie on line sites just for fun. I blog about it. I force my friends and family to go lingerie shopping with me and I act as their bra personal-shopper. I freakin' sew the stuff!? Fourteen bras seems really quite sane. (Note a new one is on the way...)

Here's the thing: I wear every single one of them. I'm not one of those women with 80 bras who secretly uses 1 black, 1 white and a nude, allowing the other stuff to languish because it doesn't fit / doesn't work / I can't be bothered.

Every bra has 2 or 3 matching undies rendering it useful under all kinds of bottoms (sheer or tight or prone to VPL). Every bra fits beautifully and makes me feel happy when I look at it in its cubby, or on my body. Every bra serves a purpose which it fulfills with sassy chic.

I have 2 seamless nude basic bras (the Fantasie model I've blogged about at length) and 1 basic black bra (has seams but the pattern is flat so it doesn't compete for attention under thin tops). I have one body suit (which I LOVE - it's new...). Everything else is lacy or colourful or textured or patterned.

When I force lovingly assist my friends/family in their own bra renaissances, I always beg them to try colour and patterns. Man, do I meet resistance. I can't wear stripes/purple and red/camoflauge/taupe zebra pattern with appliqued pink rosettes! (so I hear). You'd think I was asking them to eat horse brains - or to run to the cash and buy these things without putting them on!? Let's say, for kicks, that you are a very conservative person who struggles to move out of her comfort zone. Where better to take on the challenge of getting bolder/chicer/sexier than in a clothing category that relatively few people other than you are going to see??

I implore you, when next you go to purchase lingerie in your tried and true fashion: Try on every bra in the store (in your size - or close to it). The crazier the better. I mean, you don't walk around in plain white, matronly outfits all day long. Why would you make that your lingerie default? When you see a femme fatale in a film, you don't envy her department store* special.

Brief Sidebar: OK, all you busty readers who are thinking, right now, that's all I can find in my size... If you have large breasts, that's not what you're consigned to. Not if you don't shop at a department store that tops out at 38DD mediocrity. (Lord help you if you're a 30DD - good luck finding that size.) BTW, that goes for you too, ladies of the AA set. Go to a bra boutique - or shop online. Chances are you will never have a better selection than you do via an online store.

But back to what you buy... I'm cataloging my pieces for the blog. In time you'll see them all. Now I want to know what you are wearing (not in a creepy way, you realize):
  • Do you cycle through the same 3 bras and wear them till they're stringy?
  • Do you have one bra style, that you own 30 of?
  • Do you go for colour and texture? Patterns or solids?
  • What shape do you like best? Balconette? Plunge? Molded cup? Full? Wire-free?
  • Have you experimented with shapes? (Note: If you haven't been wearing the right size - and shopping in the badly stocked dept. stores, wading through the crap, you may not realize that a balconette is a very flattering shape when in your size and designed for a breast shape like yours. Balcony bras are entirely supportive if they're well constructed. Same goes for most every style, in truth...)
  • How many bras do you own? Do you wear them all?
  • Do you have winter bras and summer bras?
  • What do you want a bra to say to you (you know, the talking ones)? About you?
  • How do you feel when you put on your underwear in the morning? Are you happy with what you see?
Let's talk. I am really interested to hear your varied perspective.

* I'm not referring to Holt Renfrew and Norstrom and Neiman Marcus and other good stores of this variety. But let's face it - they are far and few between... (And I've frequented all of them - they cater much more to high-end options for very small-busted women vs. very large-busted ones. You'll have 1/10 the options there that you will at a lingerie boutique. Don't you want your pick of everything available??)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Truth in Advertising

And now for a fashion item I haven't slaved over:

Second Denim Yoga Jeans: Style 18

While on vacation in Quebec, I scored these Canadian-made, Second Denim jeans for some ridiculously reasonable sale price (which for me is in the neighbourhood of $80), given they fit like a second skin and they flatter tremendously.

I mean, they accomplish everything you can hope for in a pair of jeans: perfect fit, total comfort, great wash, good lines. Appropriate for work or play. Y'all know the last thing in the world I'm shopping for is more denim (I have more pairs than days of the week), but the jeans, they find me!

My friend Nicole, with whom we traveled, concurred that they were too perfect to leave behind. (Ha, ha, get it? Behind??)

I have actually done yoga in these, fyi - admittedly, only for fun in a half-assed way (what's with the puns?) - so I assure you that you can totally move in all directions.

The one thing I'll say against them (if you can call this a complaint), is that they do lose their shape a little after 3 or 4 wears. Knowing this, I might have purchased one size down. Note: when first washed they fit like a glove.

Has anyone else tried this brand? Did you find it outside of Canada?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Victorian Perfection via Desire to Inspire

Living in a Victorian home, as I do, you know I absolutely appreciate the architectural style.

This specimen is particularly spectacular - if only because it's more than 15 feet wide! True to form, I LOVE the 3/4 bay window and the interior minimalism.

On a side note, I find it totally hilarious that my kid refers to everything in metric i.e. "Mummy, today I was standing 3 metres away from Jonah when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye..."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Faith-Based Education

There's just no getting around it. Sewing is an iterative experience. It's about the journey (ugh). It takes patience. And the yield for patience? I regret to inform you that it's recognizing the need for more patience still.

See, the universe doesn't care if you've spent 4 days carefully considering the geometrical implications of your pattern in your bid to alter it successfully. The sewing goddess does not concern herself with your fragile ego - your near paralysis at the thought that what you've been striving for, lo, 3 painstaking versions over, may never come to be.

Sewing, like so many things in this wonderful world, is an act of faith.

To paraphrase Kenneth King (big shot teacher), if you don't wreck thousands of yards of fabric, you're not really learning to sew. That makes me feel good and terrible, all at the same time. I mean, hello, I'm well on my way to meeting that goal :-). And yet, really, who has that much fortitude?

I spent the last week altering my gather dress in the following key ways:
  • Redrafted the skirt in an ML (rather than the too-big, Large), added 1 inch to the hem.
  • Grafted it onto my still Large bodice pattern.
  • Adjusted the Large bodice with a 1 inch FBA (that was incredibly challenging given a) I didn't know what I was doing with such a weird pattern i.e. where does one cut that sleeve off exactly? and b) I had to figure out where the apex was, then dart it at bust, then move the bust dart to the waist, then slide the waist dart out the side seam (of which there isn't one?!)
To keep the same proportions, while hacking at the pattern, was quite an undertaking, she says with outrageous understatement.

Then this weekend, I cut some muslin (the real, woven cotton kind - without stretch), and got to work. Ten hours - and one freakin' invisible zipper later - I tried it on to learn that:
  • The arm holes are so tight I had to open them and cut half an inch off of each immediately.
  • The bust is still way too small. Admittedly, I'm kind of an idiot - I couldn't figure out how much of an FBA to do on this pattern. Last 2 times I've increased the bust dimension, I've completely overdone it. This time, on a hunch, I was modest and it wasn't enough.
  • I think I need 0.5 inches onto the back seam (or should I do it on the fold?!), just to give everything a bit more room. Cotton has no fucking give.
Seems I traded one batch of problems for another.

When I get over the horrendous disappointment, the feelings of inadequacy, I suppose I'll redraft and try again. Gotta say, though, I loathe muslin (the fabric and the concept). I suppose I should be grateful I didn't waste a ton of time making something - and beautifully finishing seams - that was not going to fit. But I do think next time I'm going to throw some real fabric at this. I have some woven synthetic crepe that has a beautiful hand, drapes nicely and has a modicum of give. (It was on sale for 5 bucks a yard.)

I don't know if, every time I try a muslin, the fit fails miserably because I'm only doing them on the things I have true fit concerns about or because the unseen powers feel my ambivalence. I'm a pragmatist and I'm extremely goal-oriented. I do believe a garment shouldn't need 6 cycles of construction - wrecking fabric (albeit hideous fabric), and eating time as I go.

I know I'm learning a lot with every experience, but how do I find a way to be ok with this non-starting? Somehow, I truly believe that my (extreme) effort should yield results rather than my talent, knowledge and experience. Crazy, I realize.

Anyone, got some feedback for me? Maybe you sew. Maybe you do something else that's really hard? Do share your thoughts.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I'm often asked about gorgeous lingerie for small breasts - beautiful pieces that don't "artificially enhance" a woman's breast size. It appears that Intenzioni (sadly, the site is still simply a placeholder...) may well fit the bill.

Photo courtesy of Frou-Frou Fashionista - for more photos, check out the gorgeous post...

I'm going to keep my eye on this brand. Anyone heard of it?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gorgeous Lingerie I Own

So, here's another Freya set. The bra is a balconette. This was the first "crazy pattern" bra I ever bought. It must be about 6 years old and I wear it weekly. There are 3 matching undies - 2 shorties and 1 thong. It gives an excellent shape and is muted enough to wear under a variety of light tops.

I remember being on top of the world when I found it. It seemed outrageously sexy but whimsical at the same time. And, of course, it's pink.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It Was Bound to Happen

So I just got my Figleaves order and, egad, nothing fit!

Let me start by warning you away from Cleo by Panache. If you've got boobs larger than a B cup, you need actual support. Simply making larger cups (unsupportively), isn't going to cut it. Alas, as with all things in life, you get what you pay for. Stick with the core line, IMO. Note: The set is just lovely to look at, undies included. But I don't want my tits bouncing up and down when I walk. You know?

Utterly shocking: The other purchase, my Freya standard - the one I've replaced so that I can cut up the original for science - didn't fit either?! It's a size too big. I mean, what is going on here?? My breasts are certainly not shrinking.

So, tomorrow, everything goes back. But let me focus on the positives:
  • There's a post office in my new work location!
  • Just called the lovely, professional peeps at Figleaves and learned that I don't need to send things back in the original box (which will save me $$).
  • And, best of all, the Figleaves international policy (which I didn't know till today) is that replacements are shipped free of charge. That means I can reorder the bra till I get the perfect size (which I sincerely hope is the next time!), and I will only have to pay to send it back, not to reship it. Pretty good deal, as far as I'm concerned.
I'm not a huge online shopper - and I never return - so I don't know if this is a standard policy. Note: Canadian shipping is amongst the most wretched in the world, so US-to-US or UK-to-UK returns may work differently, in general.

Update: It cost $20.00 to ship 3 items back to UK (because tracking is required which raises the price). That's steep, admittedly (and really cuts into the purchase savings). However, I just learned that I can replace something that I return for something else entirely - as part of my free reorder. So I purchased another set (something I've never tried, but by Panache - regular line). We'll see if that works.

I can tell that returning isn't optimal but I'm still ahead of the game ($-wise), as long as the next round of stuff fits.

What I Wore Teaser: Drape Drape Dress

So this photo shows the dress skirt before I altered it to better suit my shape. I'm loathe to show it because the skirt piece actually looks a lot better as a result of the adjustments (no photos yet). This shot is not particularly flattering (what up with the static look? - there was no static, my legs were bare!) but it does show you my newest bag purchase. That bag is new (vintage). I got it at I Miss You. It's Italian embossed leather, so chic! Works perfectly with the dress. I do promise to show the altered version as soon as I can.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Community of Practice

I don't often speak about yoga on this blog, or about my own practice and experience of it. Nonetheless, yoga has had an immense influence on me since I was 18 years old. Amazingly, that means I've been practicing - with various levels of commitment - for more than half my life. You may know that I'm an Iyengar-certified instructor, who taught for a number of years. While I've studied a variety of styles (ashtanga, hybrid methods), the Iyengar system is the one I carry around with me. I do everything with its philosophy in mind. The methodology is about alignment and focus, above all. You can see why that might appeal to me. I've written about this before, btw...

Yoga, in my twenties, occupied the passion that sewing appears to, in my forties. Don't misunderstand: It continues to be the backbone (sorry for the pun) of my mental health and mind-body awareness. It's the first art form that taught me about the human body, about symmetry, about turning the two-dimensional into the three-dimensional.

Physical and mental alchemy - the outcome of one's yoga - are amongst the most profound experiences I've encountered. Yoga taught me that everything is the same thing, which - of course - can be a charm or a chain.

I remember when my former teacher, a woman who was in her 50s when I was in my early 20s, would speak about how one's practice develops over the decades. How refinement - not perfection - is the watchword of one's daily routine. She, of course, was a perfectionist, as many Iyengar devotees happen to be.

(I've never been one to shun perfection, or its pursuit. I search it out like the holy grail, and it eludes me, as it must. But that's the subject of another post I've been mulling over...)

I've done yoga as a teenager (with suppleness, but naivete), as a young woman (it kept me sane), as a mother-to-be (now that was interesting), as a new mother (it didn't keep me sane, I was beyond sanity at that point), as a careerist in pursuit of balance (my current role, I suppose). I've watched my body change innumerable times. I've seen my strength ebb and flow. I've worked my ass off, polishing the gem of self-awareness and ability, only to see it cloud up again. But I start over.

Wow, how utterly self-involved this post has become! Really, I just want to let you know about a good Yoga Journal home practice resource in mag stores now. I've been tinkering with its contents (note: the bias of this issue is Iyengar - which is v. intelligent, IMO, given the opportunities for self-injury in any yoga practice, especially those done without the guidance that a class environment provides) and the sequences are enjoyable, well-constructed and malleable for different experience levels.

I don't encourage anyone to begin yoga without a teacher. Whatever you learn, chances are you'll do it better with an informed guide. However, for the continuing student, a home practice is the next step - and the best step. Once you've got your own thing going, you can take it anywhere. The practice ceases to be something you do only in the context of others, of instruction, and becomes your own art, uniquely tailored to you at any moment. Yes, there are numerous snags on the path, but no time like the present, yes?

So, let's talk yoga. Have you seen the issue? Do you have a home practice? Do you practice in a studio setting? Do you loathe yoga - I know you folks are out there! (I frequently loathe yoga while I'm trapped in the moment :-)) Do share.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Love Potion No. 1 Revisited

Remember this? The Clinique All About Eyes Serum has become a non-negotiable. I love it! Six weeks in, I look forward to using it 2x per day - in the morning to massage away the puffies (didn't even know I had them?) and in the evening to soothe and cool.

I love a rollerball, for sure, but I'm surprised by how totally effective it is. I'm inclined to believe that - despite the lovely, cool, caffeinated serum - it's the engineering of the applicator that makes this product so useful. It pushes with the right pressure and breaks up the network of fluid underneath the eye socket skin, to make everything look, well, fresher. But it's gentle so it doesn't tug or damage the skin in any way.

At any rate, I recommend it unreservedly. Money well spent, IMO.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Shout Out to the Experts: Gather Dress No. 3

Dear Fabulous Sewist Blog Friends:

You know this dress? I'm trying to figure out how to customize it to my curvy frame. It occurs that - especially if I choose to make it in a woven (which it's designed for) - I should probably give the chest a little bit more room.

If this were a regular bodice - or one with a regular sort of sleeve - I'd simply remove the sleeve and do an FBA. Of course, since it's got that crazy sleeve (see pattern below) (non-sewists who haven't run screaming from this post: the sleeve is the bulbous protrusion at the top left) I'm a little bit concerned:

Nonetheless, I think I'm still going to cut the sleeve off where that black vertical line is (below).

Then I'll do the FBA (which shouldn't affect the armhole, right?) and then I'll reattach the sleeve back on. Note: I don't intend to lengthen the sleeve because the part that the FBA impacts, as I understand it, is BELOW armhole. As such, it need not change dimension - or go through alterations along with the bodice - as part of the FBA. Experts, can you corroborate or tell me otherwise?

Also, will the extension of length on the bodice - produced by the FBA - have unforeseeable, which is to say "bad", implications for where the bodice attaches to the skirt part (the bottom section of pattern)?

Can I merely keep the curve and make the bodice only slightly longer? What will that mean for the part of the skirt that doesn't attach to the bodice (the part that will gather)? I don't think it will have implications (except to drop the waistline slightly) but maybe I'm wrong.

Any thoughts you can provide, any advice, would be so appreciated.

I'd prefer not to make this up entirely :-)

Love, K