Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Classic

Sophie is one of the chicest young bloggers I know. I first discovered her via Laws of General Economy, a designer item resale forum on which we both once transacted (she still does), and I've enjoyed watching her wardrobe ebb and flow.

Lately she posted about her classic 10 wardrobe items, an artful assemblage - and ageless I might add.

In fact, I totally share her perspective - on my, ahem, more mature form - re: 8 of those 10 items.

Sophie suggested I undertake her challenge and, while I LOVE the idea (and encourage you all to do the same), I am so overwhelmed by items in work and life right now, it's a struggle just to write - much less catalog.

Nonetheless, this topic is on my future-post list and one day soon I expect you'll see my take.

For now, I urge you to check out her post - and site - because it's a treat.

As a fun sidenote: I'm curious to learn, new and long-time readers, how well do you know my style? Why not guess which 2 (of Sophie's 10 basics) are the ones I don't gravitate towards on me. (Since there are only 2, I thought it would be a more chancey long-shot than to guess those on which she and I entirely concur.) Of course, it goes without saying that I love all of Sophie's choices on her. They are perfectly suited to her modern, sleek and urban look.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't Bother Putting on Your Red Light

A few days ago, for reasons that are unfathomable, I found myself at a TO bra boutique at which I no longer shop. (Trust me peeps, you don't want me on your lingerie Do Not Fly list. There's sufficient loss of income impact...)

Anyhow, while I did not buy - I couldn't stop my eyes from bugging out at this amazing confection (the colour of which is much more jewel tone in real life):

Empreinte is a high-end French brand for "full-busted women" - though French lingerie and "full-busted" are generally oxymoronic. In this instance, the term fits - as do the goods.

In case you're interested, it costs $216.00 at this boutique, which is in line with other retail establishments in TO. That's before you spend a hundred bucks on the undies. And I know you always get the matching set.

No doubt, even by my crazy-lingerie lady standards, that's rich.

It was particularly easy to walk on by because I knew I would surf until I found it at a reasonable price online. And - very quickly - I did, at my go-to, Figleaves. It's 78 pounds there - not cheap but much less expensive. I even found a promo, which cut the price down to 70 pounds.

Alas, if you read the small print (and I did, though I refused to believe it):

Due to licensing restrictions, we regret that we are unable to ship UK Empreinte ranges to countries outside the European Union.

It's true. Customer Service confirmed by email after I (seemingly successfully) purchased.

Alas, aligned with the general cursedness of online shopping in Canada (and everywhere other than Europe - this time), my affordable hopes were dashed.

I don't seem to be able to find this for less than $200 bucks before shipping and I am very pissed off. Why do the Europeans get to benefit from this? Don't they have enough already, like, being European and living in Europe and having good rail transport??

Needless to say, life is not fair.

Monday, March 28, 2011


So here's my latest project, once again for somebody else (?!), this time my daughter:

The pattern matching isn't great at the top, improves as I move down the fabric. This is one crazy pattern to try to align.

This is a securely-attached zipper that nonetheless looks like crap. This is what I'm talking about trying to resolve in this post...

The goal here was to a) match the rather difficult pattern and b) create a summer dress the kid could enjoy (should the weather ever actually improve).

Alas, I didn't excel on either account.

For starters, I'm going to level with you: I loathe matching patterns. I rarely do it, preferring to deal with solid colours (even if in very tricky fabrics), or huge florals, neither of which demand the precision of this cotton lawn.

But I saw this fabric a while ago. It was in the $2.99 bin and it was compellingly lovely. It even has a nice smidge of stretch, odd for straight cotton.

It didn't occur that it would be a freakin' bitch to match for the following reasons:
  • The pattern is very regular.
  • The pattern is neither small enough nor large enough to be inconsequential.
  • The pattern is extremely complex. Almost filigree.
  • Back diamond darts really screw with how a pattern lies at a centre back seam.
I guess you live, you learn.

The second domain of failure was in fit. While I cut the 8 (which accords with her bust, waist, hip measurements), and lengthened it substantively, I discovered at the end that (even with a mere .25 inch turn-up hem) this thing is already too short for my kid.

Note: Today my not quite 11-year old fit into a pair of size 14 skinny jeans from The Gap. The legs are not actually skinny on her (and, thankfully, the button elastic allows us to pull in the waist circumference), but the length is just right. Jeez.

Other than the zipper finishing, I'm very pleased with my workmanship on this garment - a plus given all the things that didn't quite work.

So, I'm remaking it right now in lovely, predictable, solid-shade denim. I added another 3.5 inches onto the bottom (in addition to the extra 2 inches I applied to the first attempt). It looks like it will fit, even in June!

Thank goodness for young, tiny nieces. Or this would just depress me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Shout Out to the Experts: Finishing Fabric Edges Around Zippers

Hello Sewists:

Y'all know how I hate inserting zippers. Nonetheless I keep on with them, invisible and "regular", though invisibles seem easier to complete without utter crisis. I don't know what my issue is. I've read and watched dozens of tutorials on working with both varieties. They all make zips look like a piece of cake. Whatever. This post isn't about how I look for any opportunity to use a) stretch fabric or b) snaps.

This post asks the question: How do you make your zippers look pretty from the inside?

When I sew, first off, I serge all exposed fabric edges - including the fabric edges that will abut the zipper. Then I install the zipper (invisible or regular). At this point - if I haven't completely lost it - the zipper is secure, but it looks kind of crappy-tacked-on atop my serged edges.

Obvs, if I line the garment, the problem is solved. Likewise, if I choose to use binding along the seam that the zipper's inserted on. Alas, 2 bound edges when the rest of garment edges are serged looks kind of stupid, no? And binding every edge is way too labour intensive for (let's say) a casual summer dress.

What do you do to nicely finish fabric edges around zippers? Do you simply leave the zipper alone and think it looks fine? Do you serge over the zipper outer edge and affix it to the outer edge of the fabric (which you then serge at the same time i.e. after you've inserted the zipper and sewn up the seam the along which the zipper sits?)

Please do tell.

Birthday Cake

Photo courtesy of Jason Sparks

Here's that yellow cake with pink cream cheese icing I promised to reveal. Don't you think it's girly-birthday, homemade goodness?? And it really tasted awesome, I'll have you know.

What's your fave birthday cake ever?

Update: I'm am gradually responding to all of your comments from the past couple of weeks and I have to tell you how enjoyable it is to re-read them! What amazing friends you are. Thanks for writing to express your thoughts and I'm sorry it's taken so long for response.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ice Queen Gorgeous

Can you get over the sassy elegance of this new Vogue pattern?

Arguably, Mr. Rucci is the company's most pedigreed designer. His garments always look incredibly expensive - entirely correct - if verging on chilly.

What do you think of this dress? Would you wear it? Would you make it? Experienced sewists, does it seem very complicatedly constructed?

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Before I went to NYC, we went out for dinner at our regular place. Sometime after the sugar rush of dessert, M grabbed my glasses and had Scott take a photo. She then promptly jumbled her hands in time elapse, and turned it into the desktop on my iPhone which, at that point, I'd owned for about 2 hours.

How the hell kids who've never touched an iPhone can adapt them to their will is beyond me. They're like demi-robots.

At any rate, she wanted to be sure that I wouldn't forget her, bless her little cyborg heart.

Ever since, she's been wearing her own 3D movie glasses (which look scarily similar) minus the lenses (which are crazy-making after all) like regular eye wear. In my day we didn't do this. In my day we avoided glasses. Ironically, this looks rather retro-chic on the child of 20/20 vision.

Since I can't figure out how to modify my iPhone desktop, this photo is destined to wink at me with its merciless cuteness evermore. Every time I look at it, I see a tween-beat poet, hanging at the Embassy, snapping her slender fingers cuz she really digs stream-of-consciousness free verse.

For a beatnik, though, she sure is wearing a lot of cashmere.

Update: Just got a photo from NC trip which proves the whole "3D glasses chic" concept:

M and her cousin C. Photo courtesy of Jason Sparks.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Winsome / Lose Some

No doubt you've been losing sleep in anticipation of the post that apprises you about how these items were received.

Quick reminder: The legendary skirt of the horned bum...:

...was painstakingly (and not outrageously successfully) created for my sister. I was able to rework the back pleats - which is to say I largely steamed them out - and which improved the drape of the back of the garment. But, understandably, I do not recommend V8602, (seems almost no info about it on the net, intriguingly) and I'd never make it again.

The seafoam confection, for my mother, was drafted from my TNT Vogue V8634, modified slightly by me, and it came out as I had hoped - pretty and looking like an actual top with no buttressing weird bits (hahaha, get it, buttressing?)

The good news is that the top fit my mother very nicely - and she really loves both the colour and the style.

The less good news is that my sister did not like the skirt - on the basis that she felt it was unflattering - and she returned it to me promptly. To give credibility to her claim, the skirt did not look outrageously flattering but it wasn't styled (she was wearing socks and the wrong top). It fit in the waist, which is great - remember I had no measurements to work from. What did surprise me is that the hem hit dowdily below the knee on her while, on me it has an attractive above-knee skim. How could this be, I wondered, since she's taller than me?

It turns out that one person can be taller than another and, still, a skirt will fit her "longer" if:
  • the taller person has a longer waist than the shorter
  • the taller person has slightly shorter upper legs and
  • the taller person is slightly broader in the pelvis
Go figure.

Of course, I could have redone the hem - I didn't top stitch it, remember, I cross stitched in anticipation that the length might need revisiting. But, my sister couldn't wait to get it off and hand it back, albeit politely. For the record, I believe - with a cami, a waist skimming cardigan or unstructured over top (like this - scroll down) and a cute pair of wedge sandals, this skirt will be adorable and chic.

She suggested I might like to make her a bag, next time.

Um, ok. I'll keep that in mind. Can't say I'm totally on board with that.

Update in response to comments: In defense of my good-natured sister, who's graciously agreed to take my child for 6 weeks this summer, she wasn't impolite and she doesn't sew. I don't think she understands how much effort I put into making the skirt. Having said that, sewing friends, I appreciate your commiseration as we all know the craziness of making a garment from scratch.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I am not the world's most photogenic person. Just ask my mother. (Caveat: My husband seems to bring out the best in me, so I'm excepting his pics...) Having said that, the photo below - taken by Peter at the Chelsea Flea Market (which, btw, I've heard about in media 15 times since going, though I'd never known of it before) - really captures my joy of browsing:

Yes, I may be cuter in person (or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it), but my natural enthusiasm is all over this photo, and it's a quality that's pretty hard to capture in a still shot.

PS: Though I'm still looking for the perfect vintage Hermes scarf, every time I unfold one, I get a jolt of thrill.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Be Here Later

May I suggest that one of you renovates your kitchen to look exactly like this:

...and then invites me to join you for a glass of wine and snacks at approximately 6 pm?

(PS: I call the banquette.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Just call me a giver (or a woman with too many garments) but this is my sewing project for the weekend:

The theory is that my kid is going to help me by cutting the pattern and observing.

That's code for whining about wanting to play on Club Penguin.

PS: I've been a woefully horrible comment responder - though I always love and appreciate all the comments you write. It's been crazy on all fronts in my life lately but I am replying, albeit slowly xo

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vini, Vidi, Vici

A couple of weeks ago, when I was recovering from one of my many winter illnesses, Scott went out with my credit card, as it happens, to buy me some wine. (Note: Yes I was sick, but I decided that I'd take a little booze over Advil - especially since the Advil was doing fuck all.) Anyway, he came back from the store with a few bottles, some of which I recognized, and one which was all new.

Something told me to look carefully at the new label. I don't know if I had a psychic moment (if yes, I should really try and work those for significant things) or if I am just drawn to what's novel, but I was intrigued enough to check the bill. Note: I never check the bill. At any rate, I was vaguely horrified to discover S had spent $53.00 on the bottle - a 2004 Brunello. I mean, I don't even drink Sangioveses??!

An argument ensued, if you're interested. My position: It behooves the wine purchaser to pay a modicum of attention to the Visa slip, especially when said slip does not belong to him. Scott's position: The person who quibbles when someone goes out to buy her some wine is a whiny bitch, regardless of how excessive the cost.

There wasn't much middle ground.

As the week went on I deliberated returning it. The weather was awful. The receipt went missing. Come the next weekend, it was still sitting in the wine rack. I began to consider the possibility that I might keep it.

How I debated this crazy bottle of wine! I'm the kind of (gourmand spendy) woman who will shell out $200.00 on a meal with nary a second thought. When in NYC, I spent an absurd 30 bucks on a single glass. What was it about this bottle?? I wondered if I should save it for a special occasion and - if so - which one. I had a small anxiety attack at the thought that my housekeeper might knock it over in some kind of freak cleaning accident. (Note: The hilarious bourgeoisie that underpins this sentence does not escape me.)

What I realized, eventually, is that this wine had become a metaphor. It was the symbol of unanticipated luxury. I live well, but not excessively - except when it comes to food, and this vintage (from a temperate luxurious land, no less) kind of blew my circuits. Here I was gripped by an indulgence I had not chosen, but which I would pay for nonetheless. And so, I had to decide.

Would I return it? Or would I keep it and drink it - enjoying it on its own terms, "special occasion" be damned?

I assume you know me well enough by now.

I uncorked it on a Saturday morning and happily managed to appreciate it through its many stages of bloom.

If only, at that point, I'd owned this:

I discovered the Vinturi aerator (which costs more than $53.00, in case you're wondering) while visiting my parents. The impact is impressive. I could have enjoyed the first (whispering, thin) glass of the Brunello as much as the final one. After all, you only judge a first taste once.

Has anyone reading tried this gadget? What do you think? If no, do you use something similar perhaps?

Legal Alien

I've just returned from my long weekend getaway to see family in Charlotte and, let me say, it almost restored my religion. It appears that the local 1:4 church to people ratio has convinced God to bestow there some excellent weather. Not excellent, really, more like perfect. In truth, to date, every time I go to NC the sun shines. Moreover, apparently - in some sort of artistic joke - God also decided to put all the tasteful and houseproud people with an fantastic sense of architectural proportion in the same geographic area. I mean, there were cherry blossoms, in bloom, lining every freakin' street?!

I'm sorry if you live anywhere else and you missed this...

The trip had other high points: Visiting with family is always a good fortune. My daughter had a joyful, familial time with her cousins (an opportunity she is, sadly, rarely afforded). In honour of her soon-to-be 11th birthday, my mother and I made a cake and we all surprised her with it.

I suppose it would be cinematic if I could visually represent the sound of brain shock which, no doubt, those of you who know my mother - or any of my posts about her utter disinterest in baking - are likely experiencing, having read that last sentence.

Alas, she was out of box mix (!?) so we had to improvise. For those of you intimidated by whipping up a birthday cake in 2 hours, let me assure you it is entirely achievable. Just keep your cool. I altered the recipe - no egg whites cuz I don't like fluffy cake (more yolks instead) and greek yogurt mixed with 2% instead of buttermilk (which we didn't have on hand). I even had my first chance to bake in a gas oven, generally not recommended. Happily, my mother's oven is very high-end. Plus, it had a convection switch and I watched it like a hawk. In case you're curious, I lowered the temp by 15 degrees and it took 33 minutes (instead of 50-60 min.) I can see how you'd totally wreck a cake if you didn't know that gas ovens work differently than electric ones (which tend to bake more evenly). This cake was maybe the moistest I've ever participated in making, so there goes that prejudice.

The icing was cream cheese, butter, confectioner's sugar, vanilla and a bit of red food colouring for maximum pink. We decorated with raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. How tweenie-girl cute is that?*

However, it was not all fun and games as evidenced by this little anecdote: I see approximately one movie a year, generally with Scott, often while visiting my family. This year the choices were The King's Speech and Battle LA. Yes, you did read that correctly. Guess which one I saw?

I don't know how I'll ever get the immortal phrase, "Let's show those alien fuckers how it's done", out of my mind. It's amazing how many things require 200 rounds of ammo before they'll die. I suppose, from that perspective, it was educational.

*I didn't take photos but others did. I will post a shot as soon as I receive them...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

But Before I Go...

I just had occasion to reread this piece I wrote for a home series hosted by La Belette Rouge almost 2 years ago, called "Home is Where the Guest Blogger Is". I loved every post in this series - I highly recommend that you check them out. I'm reposting mine here, in case you've not seen it and you care to know a bit more about me...

The House That Love Built and Kraft Dinner Paid For

Sometimes I think I may be the most change averse person on the planet. My friends and family tease me about it. I’ve been going on the same vacation for 8 years (well I rotate 2 or 3, but you get the idea). I mean, I request the same room every time?!? Mind you, it’s an awesome frame of reference. Which is how I see my own home.

We bought our “looks small on the outside, is big on the inside” downtown Toronto Victorian row house in 2000. My daughter was 3 months old. We didn’t so much have the money as we couldn’t, any longer, stand the closeness of the 900 sq foot condo in which we’d been suffocating with 2 dogs and a newborn. I’d always wanted a house. I’d always coveted the urban century homes I walked past on my way to work. This city is expensive though. We aren’t exactly trust fund people (or work-wealthy) so we had to look hard for something a) in the price range that b) wasn’t a rat infested hole. I think we pulled it off fantastically, actually. I saw 53 houses in 3 weeks and when I walked into the one we currently own, well I knew it was time to advise my husband about our new digs. Really, he arrived at the same time as the home inspector whom I’d “invited” in the guise of Uncle Bobby. I needed to know the place was sound, even if my methodology was vaguely sneaky. Get?

How did I know I was home? Well, the floors were straight, for starters. And there was dappled floor to ceiling light. The hardwood was buttery, the baseboards a foot high. It wasn’t perfect – let’s just say the bathrooms were, ahem, serviceable – but it clicked for me. And my husband corroborated this – to the extent that we put in an offer on the spot (after Uncle Bobby gave the go ahead). More practically, it was 5 minutes walk to a subway, 2 seconds to a bus and 3 minutes to 2 different streetcars. We don’t own a car. It’s really unnecessary here. The grocery stores and boutiques are plentiful and we’re 10 minutes from a dozen of Toronto’s more popular restaurants. (Someone might have told me, with an infant, it would be years before I’d ever check them out, but whatever…)

As luck would have it, the only reason we even looked at the place (which isn’t in a chichi neighbourhood – more bohemian artist-land than anything) is because the former owners, professors at U of T, both found tenure track positions at UCLA aka “needed to vacate the premises asap”. Thus, they dropped the original price by 30K, bringing the house into the nebulous range of “we might just be able to afford it if we eat Kraft Dinner for the next 5 years”. Luck is fickle though, and at the same time we placed our offer, two other bidders (former viewers from the days of higher price point) tried to beat us to the punch – with more funds.

I would not be beaten. The home had spoken to me and it would be mine. So I had my (rather sensitive) real estate agent call the then-owners to advise them of my obsessive love. I asked her to please tell them that I coveted the windows and the french doors between the living room and dining room and the 12 foot ceilings. I asked her to remind them about my cute little baby who would grow up in that beautiful, sunlit space. Speaking with the agent’s silken tongue, I promised to give care and love to the place they had heretofore called home.

Amazingly, it worked. The other couples bid more. Not much more, I imagine, but more nonetheless. Now we may have trumped them by offering to take possession whenever the fuck the owners preferred (which was a month later – and we hadn’t yet listed our condo, btw), but in the end, those lovely professors (the former owners of my well-loved home) gave the place to us.

Over the years we have had to fix many things. Some things outright broke; some of them lived a good life. We’ve renovated a bathroom and put in a back garden. It replaces the weed maze I gazed on hatefully for 6 years.

This home talks to me in quirks. The patio at the back of the garden sits on a spot that housed a coach house in the era of horses. Our recent garden reno was an archealogical dig. I know that people used to “pave” outer floors with coal soot because, a foot beneath the current soil, a ring of black impeded on the planting of a new tree. (The weed tree that occupied its spot till this summer was a one that, at the turn of the century, was known to metabolize soot to survive!) Even renos done at various times throughout the century, give me glimpses on another era. When our basement flooded with sewage (don’t ask, pure nightmare) before we replaced the 100 year old pipes with plastic, we discovered discarded lead piping sitting in the clay soil. Don’t worry, we removed it.

Our furnace gave up the ghost, and needed emergency replacement, one February (with a toddler); the roof leaked in my husband’s studio. Nothing has undercut my love for my home. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a nut when anything is out of place and I find decay everywhere (that’s the subject of a very different post). But this residence is a space where I see my own history unfold. Every change is reflected in its sturdy walls (now that we’ve replastered the damaged parts). Every occasion: a new memory in its gentle, world-worn gaze. When the winter howls outside, when the birds chirp in spring – this is the place that I have chosen. It cushions me. I stabilize it.

And so we support each other.

In My Mind I'm Already in Carolina...

Lovelies: You may know that I'm off to North Carolina to see my people. Seems like a good opportunity to unplug for a few days and experience the world old style, like they did before the internet! Still on the fence about whether my computer will be joining, but it's likely I'll be offline till mid next week. Really gotta hope, as I look out my window at the most perfect "kill yourself" weather imaginable (rain, damp, dark) - after yesterday's snow/rain combo resulting in 2 inches of ready-made slush! - that NC throws us a bone.

See you soon. xo

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Conscious Carb Revolution (Turn, Turn, Turn)

I like to think of myself as a reasonable person. I figure, since nobody else does, I'm maintaining some metaphoric centre of balance by exercising my will - my extremely formidable will, that is, the one which knows no equilibrium. I try to be moderate. Sometimes I almost succeed. For example, a few years ago I decided to embrace nutritional and lifestyle balance as an antidote to completely losing my mind. I have to say, it was one of my better attempts.

This is all a preface to my update about eschewing carbs after Xmas. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I haven't enjoyed that experiment. After reading a number of texts, I opted to eat 75g of carbs per day (by no means "low carb" in the Atkins sense of the term). It is a lower than average carb count for most. I also decided to increase my fat consumption, good fats, that is. And to cut out all processed foods and simple sugars - including almost all flour.

I cannot begin to tell you what an exercise in dullness this has been. You think that eating steak and cheese 3 meals a day is going to be exciting. And it is for about 72 hours. Then all you want is some fries. Or a piece of toast. Even if, like me, you don't actually like bread. And don't get me started on baked goods.

I kept it up rather religiously for almost 2 months, till I went to NYC in mid Feb. I didn't weigh myself, choosing instead to gauge the success of my experiment by taking body measurements. I do sew constantly, after all. My goal was to lose an inch or two in any of the core spots - bust, waist or hips. My primary objective was to become a bit lighter in the waist area, though I'm not fussy. I wanted to see if losing carbs, i.e. lowering insulin levels, would impact the distribution of fat stores on my frame.

As I've mentioned, I feel that perimenopause has begun to show itself, at least in small ways. I am adamant about retaining my current shape, hormonal fluctuations notwithstanding. Even if it means ditching the cake (sob).

My husband was the first to say that he thought this was a crazy idea. He's my biggest fan, btw, and tells everyone about how successful I've been in restoring balance to my life over the past few years with healthy diet, lifestyle habits and supplements. He sensed, from the get go, that my plan was extreme. Note: It's by no means extreme in the low carb sense of the term. But my "healthy lifestyle" diet was entirely varied and included all kinds of foods - both healthful and, ahem, enjoyable. The low carb diet of the past couple of months has been far less varied, as you would imagine.

The experiment has reminded me of many valuable lessons: cake is not good for you (except psychologically), eating sugar primes your body to want more sugar, protein and fat are satiating. It has also made me aware of my love of variety. I don't know about you, but when you start to feel guilty about eating a small bowl of full fat, unsweetened yogurt with a teaspoon of dulce de leche, I feel it's time to get a grip. When you need to choose between fresh berries and a glass of wine, that's just sad.

I know that cupcakes are the road to chubby, or at least a detour from Slimville, but there are many beautiful, moderately-carb rich, healthful foods (not containing a grain of flour, I might add), that shouldn't be sacrificed.

Or at least that's my view this week.

I was all ready to throw the low-carb plan out the window (despite losing an inch from my waist), when a few co-workers told me how lithe I was looking. The power in those words is scarily affecting. Nonetheless, the past few weeks have been carbs-as-usual. Or maybe even carbs-plus, as I seem to be making up for lost time. That, my friends, is the sign of an eating plan that doesn't fly.

Y'all know I got an iPhone just before I went to NY. Seriously, I don't know how I've lived without this thing - a freakin' extension of my brain - for so long. Like everyone else, I love surfing the app store for interesting buys. My latest find is a program called Low Carb Diet Assistant and it rocks.

See, I love to keep track of things with lists. But, in truth, I'm getting bored of my regular catalog. I mean, I know calorie counts in my sleep. Furthermore, I do believe that eating fewer carbs - especially the sugar-laden and processed ones - is a sounder premise than counting calories. One of the best things about this app is that I can determine and set my preferred daily carb count. I've set it at 90g per day.

Those of you who live low carb are probably laughing at this point. But that's ok, because I'm not doing your plan. Instead, I've decided to live the Conscious Carb Lifestyle (yes, I made up this name. Catchy, huh?). It involves eating the most healthy, delicious, low-sugar, not-processed foods I can manage. Of course, I will be challenged on the basis that I love sugar, flour and junk food. But I know how much better I feel when eating well. Which, to me, means well-roundedly.

My diet includes cappuccino, wine, cheese, veggies, chocolate and full-fat dairy. It contains healthy fat, burgers (with half a bun, let's not go crazy), other kinds of meat and soy, eggs and nuts/seeds. For the foreseeable future, it will aim to stay under 90g carbs a day. I will probably continue to monitor calories - because despite myself, I don't seem to be able to shake that habit. Calories consumed will stay in the very normal range, as they have always been (well, except when I was binging from stress).

So let's see how this works. I wonder if I'll be able to lose an inch on my waistline with this plan. One thing's for sure - I'll enjoy it. And let's face it peeps, you only live in this body once.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Seafoam Dreams

As you may know, shortly I am going to visit my family in North Carolina. You've lived the skirt experiment for my sister, here's the (arguably more successful) tunic sweater for my mother:

It's my modified version of V8634, a universally flattering pattern that I can't recommend enough. It doesn't hurt that you can make the entire thing (save edge stiching the cowl seam) on a serger in 2 hours. (Note: cutting time is on top of that.) I like to serge hem the sleeves and bodice in a contrasting colour. IMO, chocolate brown is perfect with muted green.

This top doesn't fit my dress form outrageously well but then it's not my size. I made the medium - remember this sweater fits quite large. Definitely consider going down a size, especially if your fabric is on the stretchier side.

On this topic, do any of you find it really challenging to sew for others (others whose measurements you actually have access to) because you're so attuned to trying to get everything to fit YOU perfectly? Even as I fit to my mother's measurements - and her ease preferences - I was disturbed by how wrong this thing looked when I tried it on me.

I love this fabric. It's a soft, warm, seafoam sweater knit - alas, arguably too warm for NC at this time of year. I've bought it on two occasions now and each time I've ended up using it for someone else. The first time, I cut it against the grain by accident (stupid mistake I've never made before or since) and it was like a straight jacket on me. Fortunately, my friend Nicole (a redhead) fits into it perfectly.

I will go back to the shop to see if, by any chance, some of this fabric remains. I really should buy whatever's left. I don't think I will ever tire of it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


So I'm readying myself for Peter's jeans sew along by reading Pants for Real People - I ordered it last week, before I knew about the sew along, because it is my goal to understand pants fitting expertly.

It's a great book, just like the (scandalously unstylish) bible Fit for Real People, and on page 24 there's a reference to a custom fit pattern company called Unique Patterns. This company uses body scanning technology to design "perfectly fitting" paper patterns for its clients. The patterns available are mainly New Look and Simplicity - which generally don't appeal to me - but the site is extremely well organized and, it appears, if you like those patterns, you can determine how much ease is built into each for free because that info is available on the catalog spec pages. Here's a sample.

If you want to buy the patterns you need to be a member, which I believe requires you to be body scanned or manually measured at home (by you). However, the scanning (only available in certain states) or manual measurements systems (for those not close to the scanning machines) do cost. The manual system is $40.00 USD. I can't determine, online, how much the body scan costs. It's done at boutiques. This entitles you to access to the member lounge on the site, which includes education resources, and to purchase the patterns according to your specifics. The patterns are much more expensive here than they are on the proprietary sites (upwards of $25.00 per), because they're tailored. I wonder if one receives special instructions with those patterns - in addition to the unique pattern?

At any rate, I think there's real value in figuring out how to measure yourself for perfect fit. However, if you have a particularly challenging shape, or fitting really is beyond the scope of your personal resources - and it does take talent, experience and no end of patience - then this could be a sound alternative. I have to say, if this vendor stocked Vogue Patterns, I'd be much more inclined to try it, just for kicks, because I make those patterns.

In truth, all the big pattern companies design with standard measurements, although pattern ease and slopers vary from pattern to pattern and brand to brand. The point is, if you've had serious fit issues with, say, pants, you could purchase a custom made pattern from this site and then copy the adjustments (specifically the rather challenging crotch adjustments) to any of the other patterns you own.

I'm not promoting this - I don't have any first-hand info about the company - but I do think the concept is intriguing.

Has anyone tried it? Does it work? Might you find the site useful (if you own New Look patterns, for example) because you can take note of the ease measurements - something that many patterns don't tell you so explicitly - and factor them into your garment construction of already-purchased patterns?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Uplifting Design

La Perla is the go to European sexy-lady brand - if the sexy lady in question happens to be reasonably small-chested, that is. I've always admired its delicacy of composition. Everything looks wispy in the chicest way.

Alas, the brand's design-aesthetic does not lend itself to large breasts. I believe its sweet-spot size is a 32C. Note for future post: I have a long-held theory that 32C is, in fact, the ultimate breast size. You can wear practically every brand of lingerie or go without, should the outfit necessitate it. Not to mention you're unlikely to sag all to hell in middle age. (Keep in mind, I'm talking about an actual 32C - a compact, but still pneumatic, size. Far too many wear this size though their breasts are a good 2 cup sizes up...) 32C is a diffusion size - brands that cater to small breasts stock it but it's often the intro size for larger cup brands.

Needless to say, I'm not maligning the tinier or more voluminous chests. Y'all know I'm the champion of breasts everywhere. Every shape has the potential to be entirely lovely, especially when well-sheathed, and there are many brands to suit small and large alike.

Really this is all a preamble to my fine visit to the La Perla boutique in NYC. It's like church for your boobs! I managed to snap this quick pic of the Gaultier Createur bra:

You really can't see it in this shot (I took it surreptitiously on the iPhone of questionable pics, though there's a good photo if you follow the link at the top of the post) but the handiwork is fantastic. The apex of the conical cup is so beautifully executed. It's like the fabric braids are sutured to an underlying layer of tulle.

Another feature of La Perla is its stratospheric pricing. This bra is $523.00USD. Just as well you can't really wear it under a t-shirt.

So what do you think of this piece? Is it elegance itself, in your opinion, or stupidly unwearable? And while we're at it - do you believe in an "optimal breast size"? If yes, is it the size you wear? Let's discuss!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I am Getting Very Sleepy...

No question, I'm suggestible. I'm also one of those sad-ass people who believes anything - no matter how implausible. Not that I'm trying to give y'all ammunition, but if you tell me, in 1993 you opened for Bob Dylan at the Forum, I'll ask you what you ate in the green room. People seem to have fun with this element of my personality. Mean people.

Anyway, back to my suggestible, rather than gullible, nature - this week two blog phenomena are underway:
Don't misunderstand, I'm not participating in either - though both are enjoyable themes in which many of my blog friends are engaged. I mean, I can barely get my ass out the door in the morning, much less take photos or plan handmade / itemized outfits on a daily basis.

But in this weird, osmosis-like turn, I've managed to wear entirely home-sewn items this week:
And, insanely, Tuesday's outfit was leopard-plus - since I went one step further and wore the leopard top with a pony-hair skinny leopard belt.

So, if it's solidarity you seek, I'm on it. But I'm not joining you at the new ice hotel in South Carolina. Even if they have managed to control the atmospheric temperature above a small span of Hilton Head. That's where I draw the line.