Sunday, October 31, 2010
Afterward, I suggested we head into M0851, a Montreal-based store I've spoken about frequently. Lord, I love that place.
You know recently Kate has been talking about her latest "shopping consciousness" experiment. It involves "buying better", and by that I mean better quality. Somehow, every time Kate goes on a new plan, I get roped in!
Here's the thing. I don't really buy clothing anymore (I suspect you've noticed). I'm not saying I'm opposed to buying - if I need something, or want it tremendously, you know it's going to turn up in my wardrobe. I'm just having more fun spending money on stuff to make my own clothes.
As such, theoretically, that leaves me with a bit of disposable income to spend on luxury when I do buy. Enter my new wallet (with a surfeit of white space built in, apparently, which I can't be bothered to crop today...):
Secretly, it's one I've owned before. And I loved it till it gave up the ghost. See the buttery leather that is so soft it shows that ridge?? That really works for me. The website, on which you can order this, indicates it's a new item. Peeps, it's not a new item. Whatevs.
So I bought it, this Canadian-made item, from a gorgeous store, on a lovely day. It's something I needed, and wanted. I didn't wait for the sale. I decided to pay full price - something that allowed me to indulge my love of instant gratification and which makes me hope the boutique uses funds to pay its manufacturing force fairly. I can only imagine what went into making this thing. And I sure am glad it's mine.
*For such a chichi hotel that website sure does suck. Windsor Arms, join the modern era and fix that thing.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
I had no idea... If only I were one of those independently wealthy, lover of innovative and chic interior client-types. I could do that role so well.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I think I love it (not that it will look good on me, necessarily), but it sure as hell isn't modern. The Triumph Doreen, a timeless staple (war horse?), is constructed of more than 50 pieces.
Aren't you fascinated by the vertical pleat from the nipple line?
It's seriously Betty from Mad Men. Or maybe it's like something your grandmother wears??
I particularly love the long line version of this style but it doesn't seem to come in my size.
Does anyone own this? Do you think it's retro-fab? Be honest - do you loathe it? I wanna know.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
A girl can dream though... On my hit list:
- Fleur de sel caramels
- Pots de Creme
It's a terrific irony IMO, that I am working my fingers to the bone to create a beautiful garment that will not benefit, at least initially, from the canvas of a carefully-maintained form. Don't misunderstand, I'm not suggesting that I am a hag for two months of underfunctional self-care. But I feel so removed from myself in this state. My muscles don't tone to my skeleton in the usual way. My stomach is soft. My shoulders and low back ache. I find it practically daunting to stretch.
In case you think that a life of exercise, when put on hold, buys you exemption for any length of time, then you are obviously very young!
But what am I to do? How do I build this sewing skill (a veritable passion) and still work all day and help my kid with homework and give some well-deserved attention to my husband? How do I make sure the house isn't a grimy pit (it really could use an overhaul of basics from IKEA, not that it's in the cards for the next few weeks) and that I eat food that doesn't come out of a package and yet have an hour for yoga - yoga of any sort - never mind the kick-my-ass kind that this woman of a certain age could really use.
You can see why I won't be baking any pies this week :-)
So tell me: How do you manage to work sewing into your busy life? Or yoga? Or baking? Or parenting? Has your fitness routine hit the skids lately? Maybe we can comiserate...
Update: I just reread this bourgeois gumbo of a post and it makes me want to smack myself. Jesus. Is it not enough that I have the space and brains to sew? That I have the funds to make beautiful food whenever I decide to desist from one of my other fabulous personal pursuits? I mean, life is about making choices. I have chosen to ignore everything on the planet that will allow itself to be ignored in the interest of developing a skill I value.
So there. I've said it for all of us. Still, my back hurts and my stomach squishes. That's something everyone can relate to, right?
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Since the Thanksgiving sew-free week, I've been really pushing on with this coat, i.e. the only thing I spend any quality time with. I'm not usually a week-day sewer. I will work 20 hours on any given weekend, and I'll read, shop, plan etc. from Monday to Friday, but I don't generally sew mid-week.
Having said this, once I overcame the "bound buttonhole bind", I was quite a few steps behind on the sew along and I've been really working to make up the lost time. In the last 8 days I've spent 40 hours on the freakin' coat. That's in addition to my day job (dare I say, my career), my marriage and my kid. Never mind the freakin' house which is no longer meeting my standards of organization...
I'm so fixated on finishing this thing. Outrageously - almost magic-realistically - after every detailed task, there's yet another detailed task. I can't yet see the end of it but I am committed. (Scott says I should be committed.)
I'll leave you with a few random thoughts about the project:
- I have learned SO much it's insane.
- I'm trying not to feel contemptuous of this garment at it demands my each waking moment, kind of like a new baby.
- At least it doesn't cry.
- I'm vaguely concerned it's going to be too large. I have to figure out a way to quantify fashion fabric ease (every fabric is unique) as it differs from muslin fabric ease (which is consistent and all but non existent). I'm beginning to think I just need to make every muslin (fitting first attempt) in the fashion fabric. Oh, but what a waste of money and beautiful fabric that might be...
- Mind you, last time I was concerned a hand-made garment was too large, after a few wearings I realized that it was the perfect size...
- I have to remember that I may hate this thing at first, being so up close to all of its "flaws". With time, however, I will grow to love it. (Cue hypnosis music.)
- Gertie, an excellent sewist with a truly fascinating blog, is also an amazing technical writer who has managed to make a tremendously complex process knowable. The only reason I've been able to plug on (with all my lack of experience and insecurity) is because she brings forward the next step in the right order with great instruction. (I understand her next sew along will be a beginner-level one. If you have any interest in sewing - getting started or renewing your skills - sign yourself up when it starts. You will not regret it. Esp. since a beginner project could not possibly suck up all your life energy for 2 months.)
- This long-term shit is tiring. I'm only taking on single-weekend projects for the foreseeable future.
- My creaky, sewing body needs some yoga. Big time. I'm beginning to wonder if I have any core strength left and I'm only vaguely exaggerating.
- I wonder if creating a coat is like having a baby, in that one is designed to forget the pain of labour once the new creature has arrived. Note: I have never forgotten the soul-shocking, mind-altering pain of labour (home birth, no drugs, peeps) and you would need to knock me out cold slash wake me when it's over if ever I were to have another kid (which I will not). So I really hope "having a coat" produces more effective post-arrival amnesia. Just saying...
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Though I'm rarely this far north (note: the joke is that "real Torontonians" don't venture "north of Bloor" and this is WAY past that), I just happened to be on the Don Valley Parkway last week when - no shit - it looked just like this.
Happy 40th to my friend Hilary and happy birthday to you Monkey.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
To wit, here are the back panels (4) princess-seamed together:
(Maybe someday I'll sew in a colour other than navy and you'll be able to make out the tailoring details in a photo...)
And meet the fruits of my Sunday labour, pad-stitching (aka shaping) the lapel collar via painstaking diagonal hand sewing. Those two lapels took more than 8 hours. Scarily, I still have the collar to work on.
This project is truly insane. I know I've said it before, but I don't see how I'll ever buy a tailored garment again. If I can afford it, I'll feel like I've exploited someone. And, natch, the alternative is a garment priced well out of my budget. I reckon, by the time all is said and done, I will have put 100 hours into this thing.
Tonight I came home from work and put another 2 hours in. I got the coat shell (no sleeves) together - including pockets, which look great. This shot (sorry, flash still out) gives you a fuzzy idea of where I'm at.
This shit is hardcore.
Monday, October 18, 2010
I must have spent 3 hours looking through at least a thousand bras. Oh, I found some good ones (which I'll save for "Yay or Nay" posts in the near future). Some of them were very dicey - they could be retro-great or just horrible (think Playtex). I will need your bloggy feedback prior to purchase.
Here's the thing: 3 hours into the faux-expenditure-racking, the contents of my freakin' basket just disappeared. Like poof. Hours of my reading dozens of reviews (secretly, I also love reading numerous reviews of bras I've never touched) and choosing colours and verifying sizes left in stock, I had a basket with 15 items and they all went up in smoke.
Can you imagine my response?? If it hadn't been 3 in the morning in the UK, I would have called them (on my own dime) to whine and complain. What a waste of my energy (such as it isn't).
But this morning, when I looked at my email, I had a strange message from Figleaves with the subject line "How can we help?" When I opened it, the contents said something to the effect of: We know you've been shopping and we see you have items in your basket. Is there any way we can work with you to expedite your money's departure from your bank account?
I've never received one of this sort of message before - and trust me, I've got them all. I clicked on my account (handily referred to within the body of the email) to see if, perhaps, my basket had been restored. Nope. Still empty.
So I've emailed them back to say (also paraphrased): Funny. I did have things in my basket but they're not there any longer and can you fix that cuz I wasted a crap load of time on virtual shopping and I do not intend to do that again anytime soon. Also, btw, how did you know to send me this email - today of all days? Has this same glitch just happened to, potentially, a zillion home shoppers and you're trying to figure out who's been affected while simultaneously doing some damage control?
On a side note: Do you know Figleaves sells a brand called Yes Master??! I spat my wine out when I saw it.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Sorry for the crap shots - my camera flash battery is flat and I haven't had a chance to recharge it.
All the stitching you see has been done by hand. The long vertical lines are permanent basting stitches. The front interfacing is sewn by cross stitch under the seam allowance. The twill tape (on the diagonal) which marks the lapel fold is also cross stitched - talk about a bitch of a stitch!
Tomorrow my aim is to complete the pad stitching (shaping) on the lapels and then to sew the back stay onto the back pieces (those aren't shown here).
Well peeps - I did come to grips with those bound button holes (you can see where they're located, on the wrong side of the fabric, by the cut in the interfacing... ). While I'm not going to win any awards for construction, they are entirely serviceable. I'm so grateful to be on to other challenges!
Some of you may recall my post on tailoring from a couple of weeks ago. In that piece, I said I intended to machine tailor (a middle ground between iron-in and hand tailoring, as described by my fab book Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket). Thing is, people seem to be going either high-tech or low-tech in this sew-along, and I'm not knowledgeable enough to play the middle. I've decided to do exactly what Gertie does. I mean, the woman (or should we call her a saint) has done up so many video tutorials and posts and answers questions tirelessly. So I'm on board.
I cannot believe how much work goes into tailoring. Seriously.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
When I was young - and traumatized as I always seemed to be back then - I'd consult my runes. One time I went so far as to see a real astrologer / psychic, way out in the country (I had to borrow a car, peeps), and she utterly freaked me out. Among other things, she did advise that when I hit my late-thirties / forties I'd be in touch with numerous people around the world because of my (said with spooky voice) innate communications abilities. As y'all know, in 1988, blogs weren't even on the radar! So I suppose she got something right.
It was then I realized that I don't really want to know what's coming next, or how I'm inclined to handle it. I'd prefer to take it as it comes. With a side of natural-born anxiety.
Having said this, I'm a mega Gemini with Taurus rising. Just about every planet (sun, moon, mercury, venus etc.) is smack in schizo-happy Gemini. And then the stubborn, sensuous, texture-loving, methodical Taurus tones it all down. (Or fights a hideous fight, depending on how your pop-astrological perspective chooses to see it.)
So, while we're popping-it-up, on the plus side, this presumably gives me the dexterity and quickness of mind to take on a technical craft with skill (Gemini) and the methodical, pleasure-seeking, finery-adoring qualities of the Taurus (oooh, pretty!).
Of course, I imagine, if poorly-aspected (as they say), I could end up flighty and distracted to the extent that I never get anything done except eat everything in sight till I weigh a zillion pounds.
You see where I'm going with this, no?
All paths, my friends, lead back to sewing. And these days they lead back to sewing the freakin' Lady Grey coat. I don't think I've ever taken on a personal project that lasted more than a week, much less a month, going on two. As mentioned, my momentum has slurred into inertia, given the numerous life responsibilities I've encountered this month.
The reason I live my life at the pace of a hummingbird (buzzing through the fields with a pounding chest and the intensity of now), is because I know how hard it is to begin.
Doing is easy, by comparison. Working till my fingers are numb and my brain hurts and I'm so confused I don't know what to do is PREFERABLE to the alternative: trying to convince myself to begin the process of becoming numb and tired and embracing confusion like a long lost friend.
In fact, I'm writing this now to avoid the very thing I must do next - the bound button holes that preclude me from going any further in my project.
I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm afraid of the button holes. I'm afraid of the coat, if I stop long enough to think about it. Regrettably, I've stopped long enough to think about it and I'm scared.
I'd rather tear-down the garden for winter (not a job I'm looking forward to) or make some food (always appealing) or write to you (admittedly, a joy).
But I won't. The word stops here. The action commences. I'm going rev myself up and get back in the game. But when you read this, if you could give me a little mental support, I would certainly be grateful.
We Geminis need a lot of encouragement.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Interesting fact: It's my only wireless bra - for obvious reasons :-) It does provide excellent support but soft bras will not "separate" breasts. Unless you don't have any boobs to speak of, the construction of a soft bra will preclude separation. It's the wire in the wired-bra bridge (leading up to the sternum) which provides that desirable action.
Personally, I don't like that smush-up breast cleavage effect, so it's not my fave for this reason. But I love that there's a chic and supportive non-underwire bra for large breasts.
I also LOVE the retro thing that's going on. Both the shape and the pattern remind me of a by-gone era. The shape is actually somewhat pointy - a look I do like a lot. It also pushes everything front and centre, so if you have a narrow back but large breasts, it's likely to give you a seemingly slimmer silhouette.
One other thing - the undies are tremendously flattering. Boyish, but girlie, all at the same time.
What do you think of wire-free bras? Love 'em? Feel they're better for breast tissue? Hate 'em?
Weird but potentially useful PS: This style comes in a nursing bra version, fyi, in a variety of different patterns. It's the same general shape, though higher cut in the cup and in the side band, and constructed with snap flaps for easy feeding. Intriguingly, this version doesn't get terrific reviews...
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Then there's the coat project, which has stalled given the holiday weekend and guests and the fact that work has been so busy etc. I hate - no, fear - the loss of momentum. My whole life is in service of keeping on so that I don't simply opt to sit on a couch, eating chips, forever. Not such a rockin' topic.
I'm usually inspired by gorgeous rooms and gadgets, but today even that seems unappealing.
In short, I'm a meh mess.
I can't tell you how wretched I feel about being uninspired. I love being intrigued by things and sharing with you all the things that have intrigued me.
Right now I'm just trying to finish up enough work to be able to leave the office early so that I can go and municipally vote (advance polls) because I'll be away for work next week on election day. Then I've got to buy more hair canvas interfacing at the inconvenient store i.e. the only one that sells it, cuz I ran out of the original batch (could that be more boring??). Then it's home to eat holiday food leftovers while monitoring the kid's French homework (which she's been slacking off on, so says her teacher who sent a note home). Remember how homework flies in this household??
I suppose I should be grateful that I don't have a headache.
Today's question is this: What's your take on responsibility? Do you love it for the structure it provides? Does it give you context? Hate it? Crave it then loathe it? (I'm kind of in that camp.) Please share your thoughts.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
My parents arrived yesterday from North Carolina and tonight we'll be having a big dinner here with them and Scott's family.
On the menu:
- Munchies (Cheese, charcuterie, nuts, crackers)
- A variety of types of wine - some picked for vintage, others for cute labels and names i.e. Wit's End, The Procrastinator!
- Roast capon (slowly cooked over 5 hours on low heat)
- Pan Veggies
- Tomatoes and Feta
- Stuffing (Shhhh, it's out of a box!! Seriously, though, it's really good. But do NOT tell my mother.)
- Apple pie
- Pumpkin pie
- Streusel Coffee Cake (whatever's left!)
I'll aim to take some food photos, if there's an opportunity!
Happy Thanksgiving, all. K
Friday, October 8, 2010
So, I was happily going along, all radio silence plus, when I had a very interesting encounter this morning on my way to work. It aligns nicely with another very interesting encounter, which happened in exactly the same spot (give or take 10 feet) about 2 months ago.
Let's begin there: I was walking to work in the summer, wilting away and certainly looking neither my slimmest nor most well-put together, when some twenty-something guy, walking in my direction, moved toward me to ask a question.
I assumed he wanted to know where College St. was but, when I stopped to hear him out, he gave my quite a shock by advising me, in some mellifluous Eastern Euro lilt - and with a surfeit of confidence - that, in his opinion, I had the most gorgeous body he had ever seen.
I smiled gamely. I mean, I'm 40. I do enjoy hearing anyone say my body is the best thing ever, despite the objective untruthfulness of that statement. I said thanks and started to walk on.
At that point he moved closer to me - not entirely where I was going with our discussion - and confided (no freakin' joke) that he was looking for a lover and he could tell I'd be an optimal candidate. At which point - FOR REAL - he pulled out his business card.
Thankfully, I hadn't forgotten my wedding band that day, and proceeded to advise - as I walked forward - that my husband would likely object. He expressed utter misery at this revelation, telling me the world was cruel (or some such thing) and that was that. Note to reader: I do wish I'd taken the card, just for posterity.
OK, then this morning, in the same place, I watched a couple stagger down the street. They weren't exactly staggering but they'd obviously had a rough night and they ambled broadly in a cloud of cigarette smoke. He was all in leather. Her hair was hanging in precariously, despite the bleach, and she wore the shortest skirt ever, set off by ripped fishnets.
I'd like to clarify that the neighbourhood in which I was walking is not a dicey one. It is urban, natch, but the houses go for almost a million bucks (not unusual in downtown TO, but certainly not the sign of a slum) and it's quietly residential. As such, this couple was slightly stand out. Of course, TO is a very "free to be you and me" kind of town. But they seemed to have come from a rave on Queen West. Or some house of ill-repute, perhaps.
As they passed, the woman tapped me on the shoulder and said: Really great boots, honey. I realize that the boots - rather ordinary flat black things - must have been scandalously offset by my new jeans (exact replacement of my 1969 Always Skinnys, the zipper of which recently broke. That's it's own story, oy. In brief, in regular jeans I'm a 29. In Gap jeans I'm a 27. I just replaced the exact style and size of the broken jeans and the new ones are SO tight it's horrid. I mean, I get a yeast infection just thinking about them and they barely fit around my - admittedly scrawny - calves. I know the dye needs to stretch in the weave. I know I might be fatter, but still...)
Anyway, I'm starting to wonder if I need a style overhaul. Or a new route.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Just check out this post, OK? I can't even tell you what it's about because I'm fixated on the images.
Never mind food porn, this is food erotica!
PS: Big thanks to Sal, who told me about this tremendously stylish site. She really does recommend the best blogs.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
For one thing, I'm about to go into a very busy phase - work-wise as well as in life. My family is coming into town for next weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving. (I almost called it Canadian Thanksgiving and then I thought: Duh, it's Canadian. Doesn't everyone know by now that we celebrate it early here?) I'll be traveling for my job, which is busy even when I'm not traveling. I feel like I need to break the back of this garment (nice imagery, huh?) before things go supernova. Because I do not like to be behind schedule.
That's one of the interesting things I'm learning about me during the sew along. Doesn't matter if it's work or play - if there's a plan, I want to be ahead of it. There are wonderful, talented people participating in this experience who honestly communicate their concerns about being late in the game, as it stands. And while part of me sympathizes, another part is all: What's the problem? Just work all day and into the evening on Saturday and wake up at 7 on Sunday and get a few hours done before breakfast.
Like I'm the arbiter of people's insanely busy lives??? I mean, some of these people home-school!
Everyone in the world - I apologize for my judginess. It's an ugly, shadow side of me.
For another thing, I'm at a critical juncture. With all the pieces ready to assemble, I don't know how to move forward with tailoring (not included in the instructions) in the absence of direction. I've never actually tailored. (Why do I say that like it's surprising?? Like, tailoring is just the kind of thing I do in my off-hours in front of the TV...)
So far, I've cut everything out (including my hair canvas interfacing). I've read the books. I've considered the issues 50 different ways. But I don't want to fuck this thing up - given how long I've worked so far - simply because I'm too impatient to wait and cuz I'm concerned about getting behind when that info is finally available.
I've decided I'm going to machine-stitch tailor. It's not as simple as weft (fusible) interfacing (which I have used to good effect in the past). It's not the hard core, pad-stitching, hand-sewing method - which I imagine Gertie will discuss, and maybe even do on her own coat, given her level of experience and her love of couture.
I could get all experimental today, and embark on the unknown, but why? Isn't this about learning from others rather than figuring it all out (including all the fear and horror that entails) for myself?
But I can't do nothing.
So today, so far, I've made the belt. Intriguingly, I cut the belt out incorrectly (I've known this since I made the mistake). I didn't put the piece on the fold so it was half the required length. The perfectionist in me was very unhappy. But the realist, home-sewist said: You're not going to go out and spend another 60 bucks on fabric to gain the length required, so cut another 2 pieces and seam them together at the centre.
I assumed, given I'm working in navy boucle, that this would not be very noticeable and, you know what?, I was right!
I will say that the belt took a good 90 minutes. And a bobbin of thread. So. much. stitching.
I broke a needle as I sewed through 6 layers (where the seaming was). Fortunately, I'm pretty familiar with that scenario! I am also learning about this fabric and how I need to keep the tension between 2 and 3?! (Non-sewists: Regular tension is at 4 and can often go to 5...)
I will aim to sew the fashion-fabric body of the coat before the end of day tomorrow. It's not the next thing on the plan but I think it's a discrete item which will not interfere with the interfacing of facing and lining assembly and insertion of shoulder pads and bound button holes (which scare me, I'll be frank.)
It's my own, sad way of staying ahead of the curve.
Friday, October 1, 2010
While I am honoured to be presented with any assertion of beauty or blogging or winning, I'm am terrible at following the rules.
First, I am to tell you 10 things about me. Truly, I don't know that there's anything left for me to make you aware of after 3 years of daily ramblings about about moi, moi, moi, but (natch) I'll give it a shot:
- I love salty and sweet tastes mixed together in the same food. I don't care if that food is primarily salty, or predominantly sweet, I just like the tastes to merge.
- If you add cream to the equation, I like it even more.
- Having said this, I love coconut milk in sweet foods, but not in salty foods. (I know, there I go contradicting points one and two, but I'm capricious.)
- I'm on this whole chilled red wine kick, since I experienced this. I know it seems very 1986, but don't knock it till you try it. (Note: Only chill new world grapes or it's gross...)
- Until last week, I'd had a headache (more or less constantly) for 3 months. I did not believe it was being caused by salt, sugar or booze but I may have been wrong.
- Under advice of naturopath I've cut back on all three (but namely the sugar), and I'm amazed by how quickly said headache has abated.
- That sucks given that I really like sugar (though I know that shit will kill you), though not feeling constant pain has its up side.
- My husband and child have the same last name as a reasonably successful high-end diffusion-label designer. As yet, my last name is not associated with successful diffusion design :-)
- Having learned to sew (one of my proudest and most meaningful accomplishments to date), I am interested in learning how to do my own home renovations.
- Alas, given that whole time issue, it doesn't seem likely to take hold in the foreseeable future. Note: I do hope I get there eventually!
Then I'm supposed to pass this along... I cannot choose between the numerous beautiful blogs I read each day. So please, if this meme interests you, feel free to provide your info in comments - or set up your own post and let us know it's there!
PS: Happy Birthday Jennifer! I know you're in for a fabulous decade. xo