Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Um, Wow...

Remember this bra? Well, Reader, I bought it and it's horrifyingly ugly. Until... you put on a top at which time it gives the most fantastic, pointy-delicious shape that it's impossible not to love it.

Not to mention the fact that it's the most comfortable thing I've ever worn in my life. Seriously, people, maybe foot injury is messing with my brain, because I'm not exactly the kind of girl who goes for comfort. (Note: If you are my real-world friend or family member, you are not allowed to lecture me about this. I know that we don't wear lingerie for comfort.)

When I first pulled it out of its box - yes, it comes in a box?!? - I thought, there is no fucking way. Let's just send this thing back to Figleaves. Or burn it and restore a little bit of beauty to the world. Prudence, and the fact that I'd been waiting for it for a month, first convinced me to crawl my way to the front door (10 minute expedition), then to pull it out of the box (hard without access to scissors which were too difficult to reach) and then to sit in the hallway awkwardly trying to put it on. Have you ever tried to put on a bra while sitting awkwardly on the floor. Not so easy, as it happens.

I think I'm going to keep it, if only as a novelty item. If cooler heads prevail when I am well, I can always chalk it up to a moment of sartorial insanity. And right now, as I bounce up and down while (occasionally) hopping on my good leg, it's a very good thing to own.

Some things you should know about it, in case you want to take the plunge:
  • I used the word "plunge" with irony. This thing comes up to your sternum. Scoopy T, I don't think so.
  • It's fascinatingly constructed out of mystery fabric but without wires and it's AWESOMELY supportive (as everyone says).
  • It's insanely comfortable.
  • It gives terrific 50's silhouette which I happen to love. But it's exaggerated.
  • It deemphasizes breast size due to the way it distributes breast tissue. Note: It does not "minimize".
  • It's utterly ugly: straps are an inch wide?!, the band is so thick it's practically a midline bra. If only it were 4 inches longer, on me it would be a longline! (Gotta be something good about the short waist.)
  • It does have that retro thing going for it, as long as you wear it with attitude (she says having no attitude to bring to anything right now). With high waisted black lace undies, it would be a) very slimming under most clothing and b) rather Mad Men cute.
  • It starts in a 34 back size. I'm a 32 and I'm wearing it on the middle hooks. Unlike others, I don't think the back fits super small. Instead, I will suggest it's doable if you have a 32 back and you want to give the 34 a try i.e. not too loose.
  • I would go up a cup size. Everyone said that and I agree. Mind you, if I had access to try this one cup size down, I suspect it might also fit (it's in the nature of the construction, IMO, that it might). Depending on your breast shape, a couple of sizes might fit similarly.
So these are my thoughts. A woman with larger breasts is going to get a great silhouette, a supportive bra and comfort (not so bad). A woman with smaller breasts gets all of that, and a more retro-cute / less dowdy look. Note: I don't think any woman should be making this her go-to bra unless she's living the Dita von Teese lifestyle. You have to bring your mojo.

PS: You could totally run in this bra and equally easily do yoga because there are no wires but the support is optimal.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Can't You Just Taste the Egg Nog?

I absolutely LOVE this room. Silver and baby blue trees totally work for me:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Informed Consent

Being infirm, as I am, I finally did watch a movie on Netflix, The Business of Being Born. Y'all are a pretty savvy crowd, so maybe you've already seen it. The combo of my a) never watching movies and b) having lived through my own home birth (from which I'm still recovering more than a decade later) has precluded me from seeing this film till today.

I watched it alone - Scott and M are out for dinner - and I have to say it was rather affecting, if mainly in a PTSD kind of way.

Let me start by saying, I am not the poster child for home birth.

Oh, I've been a yoga teacher since I was 19 and my parents are holistic health practitioners. I see a naturopath. I believe in the body's ability to function and heal. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we are - most of us - designed to have children without intervention, with all of the intensity of the natural experience.

But there seemed little naturalness about my child's unmedicated birth and, on some level, I've been grappling with it ever since.

I have written about my parenting ambivalence, post-partum depression and anxiety and the challenge I faced in bonding with my daughter after she was born. I haven't talked much about the birth itself, to some extent because I don't remember it very well. I've pieced it together from stories told after the fact by my (insanely competent) midwives, my husband and my mother.

My story is complicated by a potential (but not actual) health issue my daughter was thought to be experiencing a couple of days after her birth (as I was desperately trying to recover and adapt), which resulted in a) days at the hospital and invasive procedures of the like I had so stridently tried to protect her from by having a home birth and b) a moment where doctors prepared me for the possible death of my newborn (because they didn't know what was wrong, if anything).

It goes without saying that I am eternally grateful for her health. She has thrived despite her slightly unusual physiology. I am grateful to every practitioner who worked to confirm her health. I am profoundly grateful to my parents (who, bizarrely, experienced a very similar thing with my sister at her birth - the birth, on some level, I was trying to avoid in my decision to have M at home). They stayed by my side and supported me and my husband. My friend Hilary came back from a stint in BC to be with me at the hospital and to advocate on M's behalf (she's a neonatal specialist).

But this is about the birth, not the aftermath.

It started off well - M was 2 weeks early. I passed the mucous plug early in the morning (warning - this post is not for the faint of heart) and waited for the labour to begin. By about noon I felt contractions. I could manage them. I used yoga technique. I have a high pain tolerance (my sprain, for example, which is terrible to look at, has only necessitated the ingestion of 2 Advils and 3 Tylenols over the past 60 hours. The hospital has prescribed 2 xs Advil and 3 xs Tylenols 4 times a day...)

We called the midwives as the contractions intensified. They arrived an hour later, at 2 pm (it was Easter, if I remember correctly), at which time I was in transition. The midwives decided it might be best, given a few factors, including M's slowing heart beat, to break my water. I agreed. From that point on it was all. fucking. over.

I'm not sure if you've ever experienced intense pain. I can tell you that the intensity of the pain I felt after the midwives broke my water was like nothing I have ever felt. I had a back labour from that point on. I tried getting into the tub, which only made me want to kill myself and everyone around me. I felt like I was falling up - so massively ungrounded was I. The only person I could tolerate was my husband who needed to simultaneously push against me and prop me up (with serious muscle power) seemingly endlessly. I would regularly vomit - pain didn't even register at a certain point, this was my body's way of managing it.

Between contractions I mentally bargained with God. I begged for increased duration between episodes. M's heart beat kept slowing and the midwives were increasingly concerned. They gave me oxygen, they urged me to push. I could barely register their instructions. I was stunned by pain. Eventually (though this happens only in 2% of midwife-assisted childbirths) they told me they would have to give me an episiotomy. Without any pain medication. I was so far gone, I didn't even care.

My 6-hour labour, while very fast by all accounts, was the longest, by hours, that any woman in my family has ever encountered. At this point, I was in hour 5.

By hour 5 and some, one (of my 3) midwives called the paramedics. I won't tell you of the shocking things my mother and husband were instructed to do to encourage contractions.

The midwife put her hands inside my body (both of them) to pull out M, at which time they discovered what they'd expected. She had the cord wrapped tightly around her neck 4 times. Nonetheless, due to my midwife's skill and foresight, M was healthy. She scored high on the Apgar test almost immediately.

The paramedics burst into my bedroom as all of this was happening. I don't remember it.

As soon as she was born, M started to cry. My husband and mother, the midwives, were all incredibly relieved to hear her. I felt utterly overwhelmed, half-dead. I screamed at them to get her out of the room. I heard M squeak from the other side of our condo (where we lived at the time). I just wanted her to be quiet. To leave me alone.

They almost had to transfer me to the hospital to sew up my bits (and because they were worried about hemorrhaging). I had 27 stitches - I told you this was not for the faint of heart. It took them an hour to suture. For that, you may be happy to know, they gave me medication. Happily, they did an awesome job and I was entirely healed in 2 weeks (a miracle). Far easier births can result in reproductive and other problems that persist for years... Interesting side note: Part of the problem, in terms of delivering M, was that I had done so many "perineum strengthening" yoga moves and kegels during my pregnancy, that my pelvic floor was an inflexible rock. So I guess you can be too fit. I shook from shock for an hour.

This was all before the hospital experience that followed 2 days later.

By the time my kid was home again, a week after her birth, I was so afraid of everything I could barely function. The only impact, as I can tell, that oxytocin had on me, was to make me freakishly hysterical about the germs that might touch (and kill) my child - who, frankly, I couldn't bear to be around, anyway. For a year, I wouldn't allow meat into my house. (Somehow I felt that meat would transfer germs to M's food and poison her.) I couldn't sleep for worrying about her dying. But as I watched over her, in my delusional fatigue, I only wanted to find the peace I imagined death would bring. Don't get me wrong. I wasn't suicidal. Suicide was the luxury of non-parents. Parents were simply strung into an existence of terror and sleep-deprivation, of loss and being trapped.

It was a truly terrible time during which I should have been medicated. It lasted for 3 years.

So as I watched woman after woman sagely giving birth in tubs during The Business of Being Born, I couldn't help but feel really fucking cheated. That's what I'd signed up for. I knew it would be impossibly difficult. I was cool with that. I felt I owed it to my child, to my body, to feminism, to nature. I was on board.

I didn't rush to the hospital to be induced then numbed then induced more then numbed more, only to have an eventual C section. I dimmed the lights, people. I eschewed medical intervention.

I don't kid myself. Had I been in a hospital I'd have been candidate no. 1 for a C section. After it was all over (and to this day) I like to tell people, were pregnancy to happen to me again, which it won't, I'd be knocked out and woken when it was over.

And yet, fundamentally, I believe in the alchemical miracle of natural birth. How could I knowingly deny myself or my child the one-time opportunity to live that primacy, to be there unobstructedly at the first, tremendous moment of extra-uterine life?

Except that didn't happen. I went through all that shit and I came out the other side hormonally unprepared, loathsome of parenting and more fearful than I'd ever been. It changed me for the worse in so many ways. It robbed me of myself as it changed me. I did not look in my newborn's eyes with love. I felt panic tinged with resentment.

To this day, even as my tweenie child is a compelling, charming, hilarious and loving soul, I don't know how to make sense of it. I suppose I should just buck up and be grateful that it all worked out alright. And when I'm not watching movies about the miracle of natural birth, that's generally how I roll.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Don't Do It

There's an argument to be made, given my compulsiveness, that I do not "relax" unless some stronger force compels me. It's a kind of beating me at my own game philosophy. Emphasis on the word "beating".

For example, my idea of a sick day is to (between hacking away and feeling like death) do laundry and organize my papers and cut out a pattern. I know I should be lying down, watching Netflix, but I can't budge the thought that I'm wasting time.

It's incredibly strange, therefore, to be lying here doing utterly nothing (except the occasional time-sensitive work item and reading blogs and talking on the phone, which in my world is nothing).

Here are the things I feel I should be doing today:
  • Putting away the overflowing basket of clean laundry. It is taunting me with its messiness.
  • Making cookies. I'm really wanting cookies.
  • Doing some yoga - even if it's mega-restorative/therapeutic for the foot yoga only, it's necessary action.
  • Cleaning up M's room, which is like Satan's rumpus pad of hoarded tchotchkes and crap.
  • Tracing the pants pattern for V1166.
  • Cutting out the fabric for V1166 and another one of V8634.
  • Making some more Xmas present circle scarves. I've got 3 of these lined up.
Here's what I'm actually doing:
  • Lying in bed blogging and reading blogs. (Why is it US Thanksgiving? - all my bloggers are eating instead of blogging!)
  • Wishing Scott would finish his teleconference upstairs so he could help me get to the washroom. No dignity peeps.
  • Wondering what I'm going to eat next.
  • Considering how I haven't had a shower since Wed. and it's disgusting. I suppose I could take a bath but I loathe baths. I feel taking a bath is like soaking in your own dirt. Which is better than being dry and grimy, how exactly? Fact is, I have no interest in figuring out how I will get into and out of the bathtub.
In truth though, it is rather relaxing.

Update: I took a modified shower which involved a make-shift step stool (an old toys bucket of M's) and Scott holding the shower head. Talk about undignified. Oy. On the plus side, I'm clean. But the shower is a veritable death trap when you've got an injury - it's all hard, pointy, wet surfaces. On the way out I fell over onto the ankle - exceeding briefly - but it was SO painful. Icing it again and lying on the couch. You know, I woke up (after 13 hours) at 11 am this morning. It's 2:15 and I can barely keep my eyes open. Oh, and I'm totally beyond hungry. And not just for fun food. I can't see how inactivity and consumption are a good combo. The only thing I can come up with is that I must be expending more energy hopping (and crawling) around than I think I am.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Guess I'm About to Get Good at Online Xmas Shopping...

Here I was about to write a post telling you all that I need a few days off from blogging as my job has kicked into high gear (again), but I fell down the stairs and sustained a nasty foot injury and now blogging is about the only thing I can still manage. Doncha love some irony?

How did this happen? Well, I was 3 stairs up, on my way to bed (after a very, very long day), when I decided I needed to return something to the main floor. The problem is, in my fatigue, I forgot I was 3 stairs up. I thought I was 1 stair up, so I simply walked off the third stair as if it were the first. Weird how bad that can be for one's landing. I fell on my left foot/ankle, the one I led with. The rest of my body fell on top of it. I can't figure out how I didn't damage anything else - not wrists or arms or knees or head. How did I land without trying to brace my fall???

My husband, who's persona non grata right now (not to wade too far into a marital strife moment), told me I was overdramatizing. I did scream and writhe in pain and then had to crawl up the stairs. Apparently, he's sprained his ankle numerous times and (according to him) one is supposed to do the same thing (ice), regardless of the style of injury, and that thing doesn't include whimpering or going to the emergency room. (Note to reader: He's never sprained his ankle in the 15 years I've known him.)

This morning, when I went to the emergency room (thanks to the utter graciousness of my manager, of all people, who came to fetch me from home and made sure I had reading material and snacks), the triage nurse told me to advise my husband that if he had a foot injury like mine and he didn't get himself to the hospital, he's an idiot.

Note: I don't own a car and I have no family I can call on in an acute emergency. All of my friends with wheels had to work today.

The doctor suspected it was broken, but thankfully it's just a really bad soft tissue injury. It may take 4 days or a week to heal well enough to put weight on my foot, or maybe longer. Timing is unique to each individual.

The first thing I thought after the searing pain subsided somewhat was: "Jesus, I really want to do some yoga right now. Serves me right for all of my laziness and taking it for granted." The second thing was: "I guess I won't be doing any sewing this weekend". Strangely, the questions of how hard it would be to eat or pee or move 2 feet didn't really occur to me.

I had a choice of cast or crutches with tensor bandage. I took the latter. It's easier to lie with your legs up the wall when you're not carrying around a casing.

I did mainline some arnica (200C) as soon as it happened and put some arnica cream on the swelling. I took extra vitamin D. I didn't take any painkillers till 2 hours ago because I didn't have Tylenol and I've heard that Advil and fractures don't mix. In the event that I had a break, I didn't want to impinge on healing at the get go. I elevated it numerous times throughout the night and used ice on and off. I was doing yoga mentally, if only minutely, in my constant wiggling of my toes (to maintain mobility) and the minuscule extension of my inner foot (which was contracting from injury).

It's pretty scary what can happen in a moment of inattention. I'm trying to focus on the positive: that my injury is fairly compact, I could have injured myself so seriously, and I have lots of knowledge about how to encourage healing. I do find it tough not to fall back on fear (How will I walk? Walking keeps me sane. Walking is my exercise. Walking is perhaps the most important thing I do.)

As my identity is wrapped up in all of my activities (sewing, yoga, walking), who will I be as I go through recovery? How will I manage the boredom, never mind relying on others?

I know lots of blogger-peeps have had foot injuries this year, strangely. Maybe you've had a nasty injury in the past? Tell me about your process of recovery, about your feelings. I'd really love your perspective.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Give a Little / Get a Little

This year I could add an entirely new, super-long gift giving/getting category to archive - that of sewing-paraphernalia - but I don't want to torture my non-sewist readers unduly.

I'll just mention a couple of things:

Thing I really want to receive: A made-to-measure dress form. These cost a bundle and I haven't been able to figure out where to procure one in Toronto. So if anyone knows, please advise! I don't actually expect anyone to buy this for me (unless you're feeling generous :-)) though I'd love to buy one as a gift to myself. The serger is paid off now. (OMG, don't get me started on that thing. I'm going to have to write a whole new post / love poem to that thing because it is FREAKIN' FANTASTIC!) I should be eying the next sewing debt, no?

Thing a fairly novice sewist could easily make and give: And just cuz it's easy, doesn't mean it isn't totally impressive... Recently I talked about the November Vogue Patterns issue, inasmuch as I want to make the jacket on the front cover (it recently arrived, fyi). What I didn't mention is that there's a"free pattern" inside - which is to say, 3 little drawings and a column of instructions. It's to make circle scarves (I think of them as snoods you wear around your neck).

Tonight I made 2 of them out of fabric surplus - note, anyone who has 24" x 70" of leftover fabric deserves an award (and I think Carolyn is destined to win). I've been using my own variation on the rectangular dimensions and it's going fine, but since I usually buy the amount required to make a garment plus a smidge, I'm a bit SOL. I can see I'm going to have to start adding a bit extra onto my fabric purchases - or just bite the bullet and buy some fabric specifically for scarves. Maybe, in time, I'll show you the ones I've completed, but since they are gifts, it could be counter-productive.

Not to get all lovey about the serger again but, if you have one, the scarf project goes by in a flash. It takes about 10 minutes to cut the rectangle pattern, 10 minutes of serging and 10 minutes of finishing by hand-sewing. And it looks so great when you're done.

I'd like to tell you what hand stitch I used in the finishing (tucking in the raw edges on each side and stitching them together), but I have no idea what it's called. I also don't know if I worked it left-handed or right-handed. (The lefty sewing book arrived and just managed to confuse my brain further.) What I can tell you is that the stitch is invisible because it's taken on the inside edge below the fabric fold on each side. Anyone have a name for that?

On a side note: I got a real kick out of the fact that Kathy Marrone, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Patterns, left me a comment recently. I wonder if she is frequently confused for the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue? That would be the substance of an amusing sitcom.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sencha, Take Two

The black currant coloured, faux-silk Sencha blouse is complete. I made a second version 3 (on the front) with my own modified back (7 snaps).

I will post photos soon (it was too dark to snap them this evening), but right now I'll just share my thoughts.

I decided not to recut to the size 6 - I stuck with an 8 but I modified it as such:
  • I repositioned and added a pin tuck on each side of the back. Now there are 2 back tucks on each side of the centre back, evenly spaced from the side seams. Of course, the back closures (snaps or buttons) are angled to the right side of centre, so I wonder if it looks strange. I'm not too concerned. This alteration happily removed about .75" on each side of the back, or 1.5" overall.
  • I took a bit of fullness out of the side seams under the arm. I didn't get mathematical about it - I just eyeballed the amount and cut it off the pattern - and it worked out fine.
What I realized, after wearing the leopard-print version last week, is that the bust and shoulders fit well. It was the back and underarm that were too big. I didn't want to re-trace and cut a size 6 if, in fact, that was going to diminish the full bust ease, which worked well.

Gotta say, I am very excited to make this sort of alteration. It's so thrilling to me that I have the confidence to give it a go. Not so long ago I would have run for the hills at the thought of deviating from a pattern.

Many sewing-blogger friends are directly responsible for helping me to get to this stage. I love it when I read a post that enthusiastically proclaims, it's just sewing. Do what you want. Make it up. What's the worst that can happen?? That attitude underpins creativity.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Seven Chances to Win

The great giveaways just keep coming! Check out Victoria's blog for some great loot. (Don't forget to wish her a Happy 1 year blogiversary...)

The Clip Trip Continues

(This is a re-post of How to Get with The Season Without Going to the Poor House, Part 2 - from November 2008... It goes along with yesterday's previously posted piece.)

The art of shopping will not be disputed by me. Not to be all braggy, but I actually think it is one of my great life skills. Oh, I know, it's shallow and meaningless compared with, say, helping starving people and educating children. But it is a necessary activity and one which we should aim to do intelligently - if not ecstatically.

My husband is intimidated by holiday shopping. He loathes it. He's afraid of stores. He's afraid to buy things for me because I do all the discretionary purchasing in our lives (and 90% of the rest of it) and he hasn't needed to develop the skill. Secretly, I enjoy being the boss of the shopping. But it doesn't bode well when I want a little treat. Note: Scott has given me some of the most lovely gifts I've ever received - from jewels to, ahem, electronics. He just only buys when the inspiration hits him. Otherwise it's just not his thing.

While it vaguely defeats the purpose, I feel so responsible to help him get through the challenge that I have a) presented him with a list of stores containing items I enjoy, b) spoken with a couple of key SA's who have kindly offered to guide him if he visits them and c) explicitly indicated the kind of items I like - and "need" - in various colour palettes that might be useful.

"Why don't you just go buy the things, wrap them and give him the bill?", said my mother good-naturedly. You see, she knows me. And she knows him. And trust me, I'm tempted to do it. But I have to let the little tadpole swim into the sea. It's times like these, I recognize my bourgeoisie is painful. But here's the thing. I don't want something cher. (Cher, of course, is relative and I'm obviously speaking only from my own economic perspective... What's affordable to me may be out of someone else's price range. Lord knows, much of what I see is out of mine.) I'd just like something lovely and thoughtful. One thing. And preferably it should smell, feel or fit nicely.

A propos of giving gifts - let's focus on the giving rather than the buying - you do not need to spend a lot to thrill someone you care about. To wit, here are some reliable stores for gifts at various price points:
  • Club Monaco
  • J Crew (US)
  • Holt Renfrew (Canada)
  • Ziggy's At Home (Toronto)
  • Suite 88 Chocolatier (Montreal)
  • The Gap (for Ts, jammies, kid's stuff, undies, skinny turtlenecks and scarves)
  • David's Tea (Toronto)
  • L'Occitane
  • AGO Gift Shop (Toronto) - or any good gallery gift shop
  • Chapters/Indigo (Canada) / Borders (US)
  • NEW for 2010 posting!: Etsy Shops
You will note that a couple of these are rather lovely stores, selling rather lovely merchandise. But you don't have to buy the evening gown for 15K. You can buy a lipstick from the Bobbi Brown counter and have it nicely wrapped for free. You can buy the cashmere socks or a well-designed tube of hand cream and save approximately $14,970. And here are a just a few gift options for the various people in your life.

(Please remember - it's not about how much you buy or what you pay. It's about how thoughtful and sensory - and beautifully presented - your token of affection manages to be. If you wouldn't want to receive it, please don't give it.)

For your kids' teacher, housekeeper, daycare staff - and anyone else who helps you to logistically function in your life:

  • Fine chocolate - the bigger the box the better.
  • Hand milled soap and body products made with fine essential oils.
  • Gift cards (Chapters, iTunes) - but only if you can't be more personal.
  • A spa treatment - but only if you know the person fairly well.
  • A book about a subject that interests the giftee.
These gifts can range in price from about $20.00 to $200.00 and up. Here's a brand I've bought, year after year, for various peeps:

Savon de Marseille

For Your Mother:

  • Really the choices are endless, but how about fine leather goods (bags, wallets)
  • Lovely tea pot and cups - don't forget to include some tea.
  • Cashmere scarf
  • Unique jewelry (it comes at all price points)
  • Clothing if you are sure of her size and style
M0851 Bag

These gifts can get pretty pricey. But I've bought my mother some beautiful antiques over the years, ones that are treasured and yet cost less than $30.00.

For the Men:

  • Wallets and other leather goods
  • Gadgets (iPhone, video games, techy stuff)
  • Hats, scarves - preferably merino or cashmere! (Remember you can find this on sale.)
  • Leather gloves
  • DVDs
  • Cologne - something you know he likes
  • Affordable crystal wine glasses
  • Riedel O Wine Glass

    These gifts can also range in price quite substantially. I just bought 4 Riedel cabernet glasses for my father, wrapped by the boutique in a fantastic tube to look like a Christmas cracker, for $40.00 all in. And they're "crystal".

    For the Kiddies:

    • Books, books, books!
    • Educational toys from Chapters or Amazon and the like
    • Diaries (with keys)
    • The latest "kid craze" toy
    • American Girl stuff (My daughter calls hers a Canadian Girl!). Not the least $$ on the list. So maybe leave these for the grandparents!

    • Clothing from H&M Kids, Gap and other affordable stores
    • Boots and slippers
    • Gorgeous iced cookies
    • Lip balm and hand cream - little girls love this!
    • Special outing to see a musical, ballet or special Christmas movie (or other cultural event)
    • Puzzles
    • Art Supplies
    This list really does go on and on.

    The great thing about kids is that they love anything as long as it's wrapped! You can definitely find a nice child gift for $10.00. Or spend a living fortune...

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Three Years Running

    I'm intrigued that this is the 2nd annual re-post of my Xmas shopping guide (over 2 posts). I have to say, either I'm overstating my shopping relevance, or my suggestions are simply timeless :-) Next post up tomorrow (which should give you loads of time to make an impact and have fun!)...

    You know I love to shop.

    You know I love to give gifts.

    So, it would stand to reason that winter holiday season is the most excellent time of the year for me.

    Thing is, I hate crowds. I hate shopping with the newbies and the novices (and, heaven forfend, the shoppers who shop as professionally as I do). I hate the marketing machinery which turns us all into static-charged lemmings, running headlong for the cliff of unnecessary debt.

    First rule of shopping Krissie-style (and, in case you have been wondering, Krissie is indeed my princess alter ego) is: If you really cannot afford it, really do not buy it.

    There is no mystery to this. Unless - come June - you still want to be anxiously over thinking that item you bought for someone else and will probably never have the opportunity to enjoy except via the fast-fading love rush of generosity, then put it back. I assure you, your mother will adore some other thing you can afford just as much. And your 8-year old does not need an iPod Touch.

    Right now you may be thinking this is rich advice coming from me. I'm not known for bramacharya. I am known for thrilling to the chase and reveling in the spoils of war. But my spoils are all, relatively speaking, within the realm of my financial solvency.

    I have a lot to say about Christmas buying. So much that I'm going to say it over two posts. This post, in addition to proselytizing that overwhelming debt is entirely contrary to the spirit of the season, will discuss how best to shop the stores during a time frame actually constructed to make you crazy, and therefore spend-y.

    This isn't rocket science, but it's worth repeating:
    1. Inasmuch as holidays should be a joy for those receiving, it should also be a joy to give. Joyful giving depends on you having fun from the get-go. Shopping should be flanked by lunch (to protect blood sugar) and a glass of wine (or other enjoyable treat) when it's all done. Including friends can make a potentially stressful activity more pleasant. (More hands and eyes make for more efficiency.) Unless you are one of those shoppers who must be alone to find the zen.

    2. If you shop on Saturday afternoon in mid-December you will want to slit your wrists within an hour. And that's if you have fortitude. If you're a wuss, you have 20 minutes tops. Go at lunch hour or - better still - Friday mornings. And, though it sounds ridiculous, start now.

    3. Do not imagine, unless you're buying for 3 people and/or you are extremely fortunate and kickass, that you will get it all done in one shot. Expect to shop a number of times over the span of about 6 weeks. Then you can a) carry it all home and b) take your time in reflecting about possible options and the merits of spending on any one thing.

    4. Aim to catch the pre-Xmas sales. I'm on the Club Monaco promotions-alert. When they do mid-week sales knocking 30% off the price of some cashmere scarf, I'm going to know.

    5. The more you shop, the better you fare. (Notwithstanding some sort of shopping addiction, natch.) Only experience can teach you the rhythm of shopping: sale cycles, making friends with SA's who put stuff aside for you while you consider options, turnover patterns, getting special sale opps because you are a special client etc.

    6. Make sure you can return it, whatever it is. And get gift receipts.

    7. Shop in places that wrap for free. Generally, the fancier the store, the more likely free wrap is to be available. And the more classy it will look. Of course this is not always the case. Boutiques tend to wrap for free too. Some things are the same price wherever you buy (cologne, anyone). So if you can get it at Shopper's or Holt's, choose the latter. Unless Shopper's is offering 5000 Optimum points.

    8. Keep some lovely wrapping (or gift bags) and some generic, affordable gifts on hand at work and at home. Don't go out to a holiday lunch without one stashed in your bag - just in case. (I'll go into more detail about this next post.)

    9. Though it's very challenging - this one tests me tremendously - you cannot buy one for you and one for____. The time for self-shopping is after Christmas, when you don't get that thing you desperately wanted and now it's on mega-discount. (Did I mention there's a whole other system for Boxing Day shopping? This one isn't for everyone...)

    10. And finally, though I could go on, bring a list. When 16 people are jostling you for a swipe at the same one remaining item, do you really think your brain is going to be able to remember the 15 other prezzies you're on the hunt to buy? Answer: No way.
    Please stay tuned for my next installment, wherein I will advise about what gifts are perfect for what category of giftee. Guaranteed to please!

    Friday, November 19, 2010


    I just discovered this lovely blog, by a Canadian sewist who makes the most delightful lingerie sets.

    She even has an Etsy shop.

    Don't you know someone who could use a beautiful gift like this for Xmas? (Hint: It's ok if that someone is you.)

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    I'm Famous

    Rather fantastically, Denise identified me as a candidate for her Sewing Spaces series. I can't tell you how excited I am to have been included in this. It makes me feel so, well, special and sewing-relevant.

    Please check out her wonderful blog (my interview is up now) - and please leave a comment on the post there. You know how I love to seem popular to the wonderful peeps who give me profile on their blogs :-)

    This Post Is Not About Sewing

    Let’s switch gears, shall we?

    Lately I’ve been all about sewing, not so much about the body I’m sewing for. I have to say, I’ve observed the physical impact of sewing on me, and I don’t love it. (I know, I said this post wouldn’t be about sewing, but I have a small issue with obsessiveness. Please try to look past this little inconsistency. I promise it's going somewhere.)

    Um, I just counted the number of times I said “sewing” in the last paragraph – ostensibly to tell you that this post would be on another topic – and it’s pretty scary.

    Here’s the deal: While I may walk my ass off every day, I am certainly not putting in the time on fitness in any other way. My yoga practice, such as it isn’t, is inadequate to take the edge off my sewing-soreness, much less to keep me flexible and strong. There are poses I used to do with my eyes closed that I really have to psych myself up for at this point. I mean, when I can bother getting psyched.

    I’m starting to think that the sewga room is not an optimal space. Every time I go to practice yoga, I end up doing a little something with the serger, or reading a bit in some book, or reviewing a pattern. Time was, I was this non-stop about the yoga. And let me tell you, then I looked utterly fine.

    I’m a couple of weeks into a lifestyle tweak designed to increase tone and fitness level, and to rebalance my eating habits. That’s code for I’ve cut back on red wine to 5 oz / day, and I only have one, small treat each evening.

    (OK, re-reading this I have to laugh. It’s not exactly the most restrictive eating overhaul in the world. I mean, Jennifer Aniston would probably throw up from fullness if she ate as much as I resist every day.)

    But y’all know I love food. And with Christmas coming, I’ve got to make sure I leave the getting fat to the geese.

    One of my well-ingrained lifestyle overhauls from years past is to eat real food. For example: Good chocolate vs. crap candy bar. If I cannot decipher the ingredients (or if there are more than 5), I just say no. That’s actually a fairly painless thing to do. Because there’s lots of good, real food of all varieties. I also do not drink anything with sugar (unless you count red wine, and I choose not to). Happily, I loathe pop and juice doesn’t do anything for me. I also like my hot drinks to be bitter. That’s a pretty good way to weed out empty calories.

    (Proviso: I do have a half-sweet, non-fat, extra-extra-hot, no-whipped small hot chocolate as an afternoon treat when I cannot stand the idea of being without a post-lunch dessert. I urge you to try this - I’ve converted many people to this drink. It’s so much less gross than a full-sweet hot chocolate, which can throw you into diabetic shock with alacrity, never mind the hideous metallic under note of fake whipped cream. Of course, most of the converts force me to order it because they’re too embarrassed to do it for themselves.

    Whatevs, it’s my 4 bucks.

    I’m a woman of a certain age. Really, I love to say this, to be this. But a woman of a certain age – she who embarks on the train to peri-menopauseville – generally has to pay attention to the changes in her metabolism if she wants to continue to look a certain way.

    There’s a female archetype I resonate with: the woman of the Forties, or Fifties or Sixties, who drank her wine and ate her cream sauce but did so with admirable moderation. Of course, that woman would never dream of tarnishing her queenly image by discussing this in a (gasp) public forum. That’s where we diverge, I guess.

    This woman would not have eaten junk food – what a waste of a waist (I imagine she would say). She probably didn’t have much access to it back in the old days, before HFCS. She cooked red meat on a regular basis. It wasn’t loaded with hormones and antibiotics, even if she bought it at the grocery store. She enjoyed unpasteurized cheese and crackers with neat aperitif. She wouldn’t eat half a President’s Choice frozen tiramisu (and I’m not confessing to be the kind of modern woman who would do this sort of thing).

    I’ve written about moderation – not one of my fortes – many times as it pertains to food consumption. It’s a lifestyle choice I am committed to because the alternative is unappealing to me, on me. I choose not to go "extreme" when I change my diet. It’s food. I have to live on it. I don’t want to shock my system – body or mind – and I shock easily. I also recognize that every day I live in this body is a day I am exceedingly lucky – and a day that differs from each one that preceded it and each one that will follow. How I look today is neither better nor worse than how I will look a week from now. It’s a moment in time, a dot on the continuum.

    At any rate, diatribe over and out (but look at how few sewing references we encountered, in the scheme of things!). I’d love to know how you feel about self-maintenance, about your diet and lifestyle, about how sewing might impact them for better or worse. Or parenting, or looking after loved ones who may not be well. Or working long hours. Do tell.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Serging Ahead

    Here's Vogue 8634, the version C (tunic) length with the version B (3/4) sleeve:

    Sorry for the fuzzy shot... Notice how I removed the empire horizontal seam. Such an easy pattern alteration and it improves the line of this so much!

    This is probably the fastest thing I've ever sewn - 3 hours(ish), minus the stitch ripping of the hem. It was 4 seams, hem and sleeve hems. Next time, I'm simply going to hem serge the sleeves as well as the bottom and call it a day.

    I've overexposed the shots to try to show detail. Please know that the sweater fabric (some mystery synthetic that looks just like wool) is actually lovely. You know how I am about texture. I cannot stand "screechy" feeling stuff.

    I note in the photos that the waist looks really straight but, in fact, it sucks right against one's curves in a flattering way. It has an excellent length for a short-waisted person of 5'3" - in no way too long but still bum-covering. If you are long of torso or tall, you may want to consider adding some length. Looks excellent with skinnies and leggings.

    As I mentioned in my last post, this is a deceptively large fit. The pattern sizing suggests that a small is a big 4 pattern close-fitting 8-10 (i.e. 32ish" bust). I can assure you, negative ease notwithstanding, the small fits an upper bust i.e. chest measurement of 33 just fine. My full bust measurement is 36 - 37" and the small works with no problem.

    Really, you should totally make this. Especially if you have a serger!

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    The Sencha Blouse

    Today it is so utterly gloomy and fall-like that there's barely any light to take photos with. Well, at this hour it's completely dark, but when I took these it was all flash, all the time.

    I am not one of those people who revels in the grey, damp. I don't find it moody, so much as suicide-inducing. I'll take sun any day of the week - every day. I don't much care if it's cold as fuck, but rain and darkness just drives me insane.

    Fortunately, I've had the Sencha blouse project to level me out:

    As you know I did front version 3 (keyhole neck), and my initial idea was to make the back in version 1 (2 snaps and the rest hand sewn).

    When I got started on the snaps, I was so thrilled with them that I decided the entire back would have to get snapped.

    The Snap Setter is really a useful tool - and very affordable / storable. I got some fantastic customer service when I called one day to ask about a thousand questions including, does this thing actually work or is it a total gimmick? Look, the Canadian shipping fee was not negligible (what else is new) and I didn't want to waste my time.

    In the past, I bought another version of a snap stamper, which I promptly returned because it was useless... Is the Snap Setter time consuming? Well, no more so than sewing button holes! And you get to use a hammer...

    The Sencha pattern is a joy to sew. I don't know that I'd call it Beginner, to be honest, though, when you know nothing - as I remember from very recently - everything is equally impossible. I did interface the centre back, and I'm glad, cuz even those little sz 16 snaps are heavy when you do 7 of them.

    Look at these gorgeous tucks:

    Isn't the facing pretty?? (I mean, how often do you find me showing you the garment interior for kicks??)

    And here's a shot of the interior sleeve:

    The exterior hemming was done by hand, fyi, so it's undetectable from the right side of the garment.

    The bad news is that this thing is too big. Not outrageously too big - I mean, I'll wear it soon and I intend to pair it with this:

    Seriously, how handmade-cute will that outfit be?

    I'm going to make the next version in a size 6. Note to those who intend to sew this - the finished product fits roomily. Also - and it would be so good if I paid attention to detail at the pivotal moments - there's a useful table on the pattern cover that actually tells you the dimensions of the finished garment. Oh well, you live, you learn.

    Nonetheless, I'm thrilled with this top. It is so flattering on a woman with breasts - and so relatively easy (esp. given that it's made in a woven) because most large-breasted women will not need to do a full bust adjustment. I actually think it would be harder to work this without big tits than with - and how often does that happen (we who know about clothing and fit and why models are flat as a board)??

    Anyhow, that's my review. Whatcha think??

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    More is More

    Some people finish their fancy coats and go out for a weekend's worth of restaurant meals to show 'em off. I, on the other hand, scored an extra long weekend and so far I've spent it in the sewing room.

    I know, I'm insane.

    But let me tell you what I've been making! (Gonna post photos really soon. I swear. Just need daylight...)

    First off, I decided to merge 2 versions of Vogue 8364:

    I used the 3/4 sleeve from version B (centre) and the tunic length of version C (right). And I got rid of that stupid seam under the boobs, which doesn't do anything for the look of the garment, other than fussy it up.

    I used a slate grey (with undertones of lavender) two-way sweater knit I found at FabricLand a while ago. Let me tell you, it was not cheap. I got it on sale, if I remember correctly, and it was still in the neighbourhood of $15.00 yard.

    On the plus side, I made a freakin' tunic for $25.00! This pattern fits large. I made the small and it was more than big enough. The envelope sizing (incorrectly) suggests that the fit is smaller...

    I decided to use my serger for the whole job, hems excepted. For starters, from start to finish (including buying fabric, re-tracing pattern, sewing) this thing took 3 hours. It was a delicious dream. I should disclose that I needed to spend an extra hour ripping out the hem (oy, on knit, what a nightmare) because it sucked. After the ripping, I serged the hem and now it looks so chic. I don't think I'll ever hem a sweater knit again. Until I get my coverstitch machine (mwahahahaha).

    I also lived seriously on the edge (get it?!) and, on realizing that the back where it meets the cowl was drooping due to extra fabric, I just opted to serge it off. Free-style. And it worked.

    I've already worn it out two days in a row and I utterly love it.

    What I'm making right now is the Colette Pattern Sencha blouse which, it appears, every home sewist in the land has taken a shot at. Remember, I had to wait months for it to come back into stock before snagging it just before I started the coat? (What? You can't remember anything else I ever sewed - or did - before the coat? That's fair.)

    I bought 2 fabrics with which to make it (there are 3 styles, I'm starting with version 3, the keyhole front). Each was on sale for a reasonable $7.00/yd.

    The fabric I'm using first is a traditional cream/black leopard print, textured woven poly. It sounds awful but the drape and hand are excellent. And it's machine washable!! I'm going to do the back version 1 (the easiest back, to match the most challenging front), and I'll test out my new Snap Setter. Here's hoping it works because I loathe button-hole making.

    The other fabric feels and looks like a matte silk. It, too, is a synthetic and machine washable. It's much slippier than the leopard because it has no surface texture and it's very drapey slim. It's in a rich merlot - just an awesome shade. I intend to make front version 2 with this fabric.

    The pattern is well-designed - as everyone says. The instructions are quite clear and - I know this will sound strange coming from me - very enjoyable to follow. I did switch around (per everyone's reviews) the steps to (0.25 inch) machine hem the sleeves and the stitching of the side seams. It's easier that way.

    I am loving the hand stitching involved. Yes, you did read that correctly, I am such a convert. The line of the blouse (which I would only make in something with good, slinky, woven drape) is gorgeous.

    I'm making the 8 and (hmmm, broken record anyone?), I fear it may be too big - even in the chest! I'm technically a 6 in Colette Patterns, but I didn't feel the need to full-bust-adjust this (Sarai makes patterns for women with fulsome breasts) and I wanted to be sure it would fit.

    It's one of those tops the final fit of which is totally unknowable till the last minute (when the back closures go in). I'm hoping it won't be too big, but if it is, no worries, I will simply make it in the 6 next time.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Atomic Age

    There's a gem of a store on Queen Street called Atomic Design. I've written about it a few times before, namely here and here. (On a whiny side note, it's weird to reflect on old outfit posts in which I feel I looked so much less crappy than I'm looking right now. I can't say it's "good weird", either.)

    But onward, this post is about how Atomic Design now has an online store. Which is so excellent if you don't live down the block. And who doesn't need a little mid-century magic to brighten up a miserable November??

    Maybe you know someone who needs a great new pop-art light? (Maybe it's me?)

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Barbie Like You've Never Seen Her

    My child made the creepiest Halloween Barbie in a Box evah! I so wish I had a photo of the kid actually in the box - which said amazing things like "Now with Brains" and "Comes with Free Hand (Bag)". You'll just have to content yourself with a couple of photos of her scary-ass make up! (Note: She went trick-or-treating in another neighbourhood with friends and had to take the subway to get there. The box was way to big to wear on public transit, so she brought it with her, on the side.)

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Lady in the House

    OK, Lovelies, here's a close up of the Lady Grey Coat, constructed via the incredible Lady Grey Sew Along. Do you think it would have killed the photography gods to give me a few good shots of my face?!?

    At any rate, in the interests of forestalling mutiny (y'all have been the most patient crowd ever), I present to you the finished product:

    FYI, the collar isn't generally wonky, I just smushed it up by accident in this shot...

    Is it me, or is all you can focus on here the stray hair stuck on the belt?

    I pick stitched both sides of this freakin' collar - because first off I did the wrong side by accident?! Fortunately, you can't see my efforts on either side (cuz they're not particularly good).

    This shot points out how I'm going to have to put a snap at the bottom of the right lapel, above my left hand, because the fabric is just too plentiful there. It needs to be stabilized against my chest.

    This shot is specifically to show off my WendyB asterisk ring!

    The bound button hole that actually worked well. There's another I don't intend to show you!

    So there you go. Please say some good things - or some constructive ones - because this freakin' thing clocked in at 100 plus hours of labour (though still estimate another hour to go by the time I snap it an catch stitch the ribbon hem to the fashion fabric hem) and about $175.00.

    To answer a popular question: Do I like it, now that it's done?

    Well, that's not a fast answer. I do like it more than I did a couple of weeks ago (thank the sewing goddess) when I wanted to hurl it across the room. I suspect, some of my dislike was related to my tremendous sewing-fatigue. When I signed up for the sew along, it was my goal to learn. On that level, I achieved and then exceeded my every expectation. However, from the get-go, I didn't particularly jibe with the pattern. Don't get me wrong, I see it's appeal and I do think it's a lovely shape. But I felt it was an exaggerated silhouette, and I didn't know how that would work on me.

    I haven't seen every sew-alonger, finished result as yet, but I will say that I think the coat looks particularly fabulous on women of stature. I think if you have lots of shape - curves and height and substance - the silhouette exaggeration is not overwhelming, but sassy and sexy.

    I'm a smallish person with large breasts - of course, you've been living under a blog rock if you don't know that about me now :-) I think this coat is shapely on me, but still a bit much, dare I say vaguely clownish. The body feels too big. I can't move the buttons any farther over (i.e. to narrow it up) than I have without distorting the mid-line of the coat, so I'm relying on the belt and (eventually) a snap to give it more skim.

    But never mind my error (arguably, I should have noted this in the muslin stage - though my canvas cotton didn't give any evidence of this challenge in the final garment). The lapels and collar are just large. I suspected they'd be large for me, even before I started. I minimized them somewhat, and still I think they're large for me.

    Furthermore, the sew-in interfacing, in addition to the 8 panel princess seam shape, means that the peplum is extreme (more so than these shots indicate). I don't mind this, but I have hourglass proportions. If one were rather endowed of hips and bum, I'd carefully consider using fusible interfacing only, or of working with fabrics that are thinner and drapier than the boucle wool I used.

    Would I make it again? No. (Though who needs two of any coat, in truth!)

    Will I wear it? Damn straight. I'll wear it and I'll brag about it. I've nicknamed it the "Judy Jetson Jacket", in honour of the crazy peplum.

    Would I recommend it? To a woman of a specific shape, or to someone who naturally loves its cut, definitely. Just make sure to follow the sew along, for tips, and to cut your lining longer than the instructions direct - or you'll be adding some ribbon to the bottom of it to extend the lining length.

    So now I put it to you. Have you made this coat? If yes, what are your thoughts? If no, would you like to make it (or would you wear it if you found it in a store)?

    Promises, Promises

    Hey Ya'll: I was away for work over the last couple of days so I only just had a chance to take outfit photos of the new coat (here's hoping some of them are actually good...) and I will post them this evening.

    There's nothing like wearing a new coat to point out its fit idiosyncracies. Turns out, I'm not quite finished - I have to put a snap at the inner lower corner of the lapel because the fabric I used is too heavy given the position of the buttons. I can't make the buttons any snugger given the line of the coat. This thing is a little big, lending credibility to my claim that, if you want to make a perfectly fitting garment you need to actually make it in the final fabric twice. Muslin is a coarse substitute, IMO.

    Anyway, I'll give you my many thoughts about the finished product in the photo post later.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010


    The coat is done.

    Let us rejoice. With alcohol.

    (More soon...)

    Flowers and Sweetheart Necklines

    In case you don't know about it (which would be shocking!), there's a fab blog called The Blue Gardenia, and its got the best giveaway evah! In truth, there are lots of great giveaways and I love them all, but this one kicks some serious ass.

    And in a totally weird twist of fate, one piece of the giveaway (yes, it's a bundle of goodies), is the very dress that Gertie will be making in her next sew along.

    It's my opinion that you should a) run over to The Blue Gardenia and leave a comment and then b) check out Gerties New Blog for Better Sewing and hope for the best. At a bare minimum, you'll have some great hours reading two fantastic sewing blogs.

    Denise (write of The Blue Gardenia) has also captured an audience of sewists - and people who love design - with her "Sewing Spaces" feature. It's the basis of the post I wrote a while ago, wherein I profiled my sewga room. It's so voyeuristic-good to see the sewing studios of many sewing bloggers of note. And it's a great opp to learn about new sewing blogs too...

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    What a Difference A Day Makes

    You'll have to give into my latest moment of fantasy and optimism (and schizophrenia, apparently) as I near the end of the coat project.

    Yesterday I bought the Oct./Nov. version of Vogue Patterns - how about that awesome orange suit on the cover - and I felt truly excited about the prospect of sewing some new things.

    Everyone's been talking about the mag's new editorial policy (which is to say "something other than ads and crappy photos of outdated styling"). Let me concur. It makes the experience enjoyable.

    I mean, how often have you flipped through Vogue Patterns and thought - oooh, I want that, just like that! - as if it's Elle. You may have thought: Hmmm, if I use a different fabric and I modify it a bit and I try to ignore that hideous felt, I can get with that.

    Well, the times may be a changin', or so we can hope.

    I felt for the first time yesterday, as I looked at the garments, that I can actually sew my own wardrobe.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm no expert, or even experienced, but I have proven to myself in the last year (yay 1-year sewiversary to me!) that I have: the patience to read a pattern, the fortitude to handle the unexpected, the grit to stick with a project for months, if necessary, a great space in which to create, an organized archive, systems that work, a fantastic community of sewists and blog friends who help me to stay motivated (that means you, btw), a really good eye, a love of fabric, the ability to create things that fit me well and awesome taste.

    Really, I kick ass.

    And I'm modest.

    In truth, if I ask myself why I sew, it's not to be stressed by outcomes or to further empower my (very out-and-proud) critical self. It's for love. For love of beautiful textures and the alchemy of turning fabric into garments. For love of the potential, wrapped in each pattern envelope - a metaphor for the potential within me. And for enjoyment.

    So I bought this pattern (and a few others), recognizing fundamentally, that a shirt is just a shirt - when it's not busy changing my life.

    Yeah, it may be fancy looking on paper, but if Vogue Patterns says it's AVERAGE, really what can go wrong??! :-)

    So, has anyone made this? If yes, what did you think?

    OR, Let's say you never intend to sew a thing in your life, if you found this in a store, would you try it on?

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    A Thousand Miles Journey Starts with a Single Step

    OK, so I'm more or less at the stage that Gertie calls "finishing touches". I'd itemize the 7-10 things I've yet to accomplish (a couple are "optional"), but they'll either bore you or freak you out. Why do that to you, gentle readers??

    You might be thinking, Sheesh Kristin, only 7-10 more things and the coat is complete. Wow, that's amazing, that's so close. Why complain'st thou? (or some such query, articulated less middle-English-ly). And it wouldn't be a stupid thought, after all, given that I started with - oh - 8 zillion things on the list.

    But, as Sal so thoughtfully commented a while ago, it's my blog and I'm can complain if I want to :-)

    The thing is that every single step I take becomes, at least in my own mind, more meaningful. I know that's not a productive philosophy, but it is understandable. If I fuck up now (not that I'm going to, mind you, please hear me Universe and Sewing Goddess) I will have done a LOT of freakin' work.

    Moreover, it's not even that I worry about fucking it up. It's that I'm tired of it. And I've still got to learn how to do a variety of new things including: finishing the bound buttonholes (I thought they were finished?!?!), pick stitching the lining to the coat, affixing belt buckles and under stitching (by hand) the lapel and front facing edges.

    And then there's the fact that I'm not sure I like the finished product.

    You can see how I'm plodding on.

    Update: After I wrote this I did a couple of hours of work on the coat, affixing the sleeve lining to the fashion fabric, basting the lapels and front facing edges, and positioning my ribbon over the hem (getting ready to sew it on). I've also been thinking a lot about how to finish the bound buttonholes (after re-reading posts on it and asking questions). So my misery (and nervousness) has abated somewhat. Nonetheless, thank you for listening and continuing to offer your feedback. Your comments give me so much to think about and I really do follow a lot of your advice!

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    OK, This is Just Whack


    Photo: Fashionista. You should read the article about this one piece monstrosity here.

    I don't know what's weirder: that Scandanavians came up with this (I have a secret prejudice that posits all things Swedish are perfect) or that it's actually taken off in England.

    Let me give you my feedback straight. Unless you're into plushie play, just say no. Actually, even if you are into plushie play, there are ways to dress for it more flatteringly.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010


    A propos of the tremendous learning opportunity I've had in making the Lady Grey coat, this process has been entirely worth while (life changing, even) on the basis of hand stitching technique alone.

    I'm not too proud to tell you that I was afraid of hand stitching. It struck me (ha!) as tedious, painstaking, finicky and hard. Instead, it's meditative, painstaking, finicky and sort of hard, but not really. (That's quite an improvement on my initial impression!)

    Here's the thing. I'm a left handed person in a right-handed sewist's world. I sew, depending on the tutorial I'm watching or the book I'm reading and the state my brain is in, with either hand. In truth, I find it harder to re-scope the right handed instructions for left-handedness than to just sew with my non-dominant hand.

    I should mention that I'm considered ambidextrous according to those inconclusive tests. I do most everything with my right hand (except write). My dominant eye, ear and foot are on the right. Nonetheless, depending on the moment, I do choose to sew with my left hand and, if the technique is new to me, I have no precedent to follow. Once my brain is clicked into left- or right-sidedness, it's almost impossible for me to switch. I mean, I have to walk away for quite a while till my brain resets itself. Weird, I know.

    I wish there were a book called "Hand Sewing for the Left-Handed Sewist". I would SO buy it. Of course, most sewists are women and most women (by a huge majority) are right handed. In fact, the segment of self-identified, left handed women in our population is 1%. How many of them sew, I wonder?? So, something tells me that book doesn't exist.*

    Patty smartly suggested that I turn the garment upside down (she read somewhere that it works). Problem is, I generally can't figure out when I'm sewing the wrong way around to begin with. I'm telling you, peeps, my brain doesn't operate in a particularly linear fashion. What's up or down??, really, I say.

    So here's today's question: Are you a left-handed sewist? Do you know of a book about left handed tailoring? Did you just switch over to the right-hand?

    Or - if you aren't left-handed (the likelihood, after all), do you enjoy hand stitching? Hate it?

    *Update: Apparently, there is a book. Guess it doesn't hurt to check before writing the post. PS: Looking at the photo on the cover, my brain winces. I can't figure out if that's the way I want to thread my needle. Maybe I'm a right handed sewist, after all???

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Which Do You Want First?

    The good news is that the coat is really starting to look like a coat (thank God). Dare I say it myself, it is very nicely constructed (at least so far).

    The lining is not super shiny, it just doesn't photograph well...

    The belt kicks ass - I really like how it works in this fabric!

    The bad news is that I don't like it. I mean, I do hope I'm going to change my mind. Seriously. Like more than you can possibly imagine.

    Why don't I like it?

    It looks completely contrived on me. The lapels and collar are just weird on my frame - too big and too small all at once. I feel the thing is too big through the body and too small in the shoulders?!

    OK, I know it doesn't have buttons yet. I haven't pick stitched the lapels. I haven't tacked down the lining in the sleeves and at the bottom. When I tried it on I was sweaty and tired and I wasn't wearing a bra. These things may influence my thoughts about (and the fit of) the finished product.

    One thing that really does bother me about the pattern is that the lining pieces are not accurate. I, like Gertie and others, need to go out and buy lace to affix (somehow, though I don't know yet exactly the method) to the bottom of the lining to obscure the interior of the coat. Not only don't I love that look, but I really don't appreciate the extra time, effort, learning and expense that's going to put me through.

    Can you tell I've had enough of this?