Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I promised you shots of the new hand-sewn jeans - the (so far) ultimate ones. The ones without stretch. And I simply had to throw in a few of me in the new top.

So, without further ado:

It's particularly stupid to be wearing these shoes. But I REALLY wanted to look my chicest.

This is the shot where I'm badass.

This is the shot where I can really see that I need to work on my waistline.

This is the shot my mother will like... (She wants you to know I NEVER wore braces.)

This is the shot we had to take 5 times because the others were particularly unflattering.

This is the gratuitous shot of the top of my hair. Which Scott says, incidentally makes my boobs look huge.

This is the shot where my head actually competes with my boobs. My eyes are urging you to look into them, but I just don't know...

This is the one of the back of the Theory Fionula sweater. It does look better in real life...

And this is where I give you an air kiss cuz I think you rock and I want you to have a wonderful new year.

Brave New World

It is my husband's theory that all creativity starts with a little bit of destruction.

Meet Exhibit A:

Seriously, I've owned 3 of this bra, and this is the first one that looks like utter crap on the inside. Almost made it easier to rip up...

And Exhibit B:

I may have had my doubts about this but, I can already tell, this deconstruction was a very smart move. (And Scott loves demolition so much he did half the work!)

For starters, the upper front piece (the part that forms the plunge of the cleavage) is that long skinny piece. In all of the patterns I have made heretofore, that piece was twice as fat and 2/3 as long.

The bridge (where the 2 cups converge) is about 30 per cent the size of the ones I've been making. See how mini it is? It's the tiny triangular shape on the table...

And the under wires are a totally different shape than the ones I have purchased. Much better quality than the ones I have purchased, alas. I sure as hell hope it's even possible to purchase that quality of wire. It doesn't wiggle like a tightrope, you know... Intriguingly, I've bought every size of wire you can imagine and the only one that works (albeit imperfectly) is the smallest one I've got. And I'll have to cut it at the centre front or it'll be too long for the bra shape.

The band and other elastic are thinner on the RTW bra than any of the stuff I've used in my previous work (wherein I was following pattern directions).

In an extremely strange turn, all of the materials in the RTW rip-up are slimmer and smaller, and still my previous homemade bra (from pattern) construction attempts have yielded a bra that doesn't fit because it appears to be to small. Well, that is where it's not too big.

I don't understand - but I'm gaining a lot of insight.

I think I may have to rip up that other bra (the one I originally tried to replace because it's on its last legs) after all. It's not a plunge, but a balconette, and I'm so intrigued to see if the pieces are as divergent as this plunge bra is from the pre-purchased patterns I've used until now.

Sewists: Can you tell me if there's anywhere better than Bra-Makers from which to purchase wires? Have you got a source that produces ones which rival those in bras that retail for $75.00 or more? Please say yes!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Updated: Unscheduled Detour

FYI, I am working away on the bra and I still intend to take photo post of the jeans soon (but my husband's been out the last couple of days).

Having said this, while I was out spending money at physio, I did buy one other thing: a book. Y'all know of my great respect for Gary Taubes and his tome of a few years ago Good Calories, Bad Calories. Seriously, this guy is a critical thinker par excellence. And he wants you to think critically too.

I wrote about GC, BC a long time ago. It was part of a Health and Lifestyle blog theme week that I'm quite proud of. I put a lot of myself into those posts so please feel free to check them out if you haven't seen them in the past:
At any rate, the story appears to be (and I'm largely making this up) that Mr. Taubes editor got together with him and said something like: Gary, you have to write another book, one that reproduces the same message you've been spouting since GC, BC but which doesn't get too avidly scientific. Because the doctors and talk shows want to espouse your outrageously well-researched food science findings, but your first book is simply too intelligent for the average reader.

I can't tell you how many people I tried to convince (unsuccessfully) to read GC, BC. That book changed so many of my preconceptions - not with diet-spout and conjecture, but with hard science. Look, I've known forever that fat people aren't fat because they lack will power. But I didn't realize that, in fat people, the creation of fat will supercede the use of food energy in any other way. I understand from personal experience - I too live in our processed-food, carb-addicted world - that protein keeps you full and lean. Muffins do not. 500 calories of muffin is vastly different - as far as your body is concerned - than 500 calories of eggs and bacon.

Insulin regulates the uptake of fat in your body. If you want to be lean, you have to do whatever you can to diminish spikes of insulin - which is increasingly challenging in a world with crap pseudo-food in every corner and appetites that have come to appreciate it - nay, crave it.

But don't take my word for it. If you never got around to GC, BC when I was trying to convince you to read it before (and you know that's everyone), please go for his latest book - a capsule piece at 250 pages - Why We Get Fat. See the catchy title? It seems much less intimidating than the original. I mean, the book art is a measuring tape!

Don't worry. It's still got science (though - shockingly - Taubes apologizes for it and implores his reader to stick with it?!?) but it applies that science much more directly to lay readers and the issue of why the first world is drowning in obesity (even diabesity).

It's a good companion piece to GC, BC, but no substitute for the original. Mind you, if you're just not interested in 800 pages of biochemistry, this may be the book for you.

(Note: I'm still reading - 2/3 through - but I have to say the most depressing message so far is that the loss of estrogen in menopause directly impacts the body's impulse to take calories and store them as fat rather than food energy - exercise and lifestyle notwithstanding. I mean, all you need to do is look at practically every 50-something woman you see on the street to know this is the case. Just as the fat people aren't gluttonous sloths, menopausal women who were previously lean and active, don't thicken in the middle because they've started gorging on doughnuts and lying around the house. And yet, in general, they gain abdominal fat. Taubes hasn't resolved this yet - it's either a cliff-hanger or women my age may just start hanging themselves :-) I mean, he does indicate early on that replacement estrogen is just the ticket to circumvent this (he in no way advocates it), but I'm not down with hormone replacement therapy at this time.)

Questions for the post-menopausal readers: Could you share your stories with us? Did you gain weight through or after menopause? Did you find ways to manage this? Did they include HRT? If you didn't gain, were you always lean? Has any woman gone through menopause and felt more attractive, more sexy (both re: self-image and level of desire), shape-changes notwithstanding. Please share your stories!

Update: Peeps, I regret to inform you - having finished this book - that there is no mystery diet cure for the fat that comes from diminished estrogen, if that is your particular sensitivity. Nor is there one for those who battle weight genetically. Lowering carbs (and I don't mean cutting green veggies and vitamins, though he disputes our specific requirement of these) to lower insulin resistance is the only real trick Taube's got up his sleeve. Of course, it's the bulk of the trick for everyone - according to the science he quotes - because it's the main indicator of fat we accrue outside the realm of our genetic predispositions. It will help with the weight-gain of menopause, because it helps with all weight gain. But if you weren't made like Cindy Crawford, this book isn't going to transform you into her as fast as you can say "chicken with skin".

Having said this, it will likely make you much healthier - cardiovascularly and in other ways. Furthermore, if you enjoy fat and protein (specifically animal protein), you can apparently sustain a lifetime of enjoyment.

I have more thoughts about this. Thoughts I'm going to put into action and (natch) tell you all about. I was convinced about the science when reading the first book. The second only reinforces my complicity. Not to mention that I'm the original protein and fat lover - bacon and eggs for breakfast = nature's perfect food. Cheese in every format? I'm there. More to the point, when I eat fat and protein (as I've been telling people for years), I actually feel good. Not just full, but happy. It quells my hyperactive nature. What I do love about the "new" theory in this book (or maybe it's just the first time I'm noticing it) is that fat is the preferred substitution for carbs. Protein should stay reasonably constant (some number of grams I can't remember), but fat can pick up the slack. Ya'll know I LOVE fat in its every form.

I don't know how to manage the idea that calories matter not. I have been so indoctrinated that, while I know the science proves it, I don't know how to forego my lists and long-held perspectives. But this is the matter of another post...

Just A Theory...

Honestly, I have got to stop leaving the house. Of course, I've only done that a handful of times in the last month, but every time turns into a spendathon.

For starters: I feel the Shu lipstick was a bust - the stain is just not adequately intense. Fortunately, yesterday, as I was waiting for my physio - the only thing that seems to get me out of the house under any circumstances - I had a chance to browse at Mac. I remembered that WendyB wears a Mac shade, and that she (too) believes in intensity of colour. Thanks to her, I think I may have found my new lipstick! It's called Dubonnet and it's 17 bucks! Seriously, I've spent 4 times that amount trying to replace my former (now, discontinued) shade.

Mac Dubonnet

Then, I was compelled to repurchase my fave lip "anti-wrinkle"serum. Really, you should get it. Enough said.

After that - and I swear I had no intentions - I wandered around Holt's (the "cheapie" third floor) and found the most gorgeous Theory sweater - called Fionola. You know I don't buy clothing anymore, but when I saw this I realized it was of far better quality - both in fabric and construction - than I would be able to produce for a very long time. I purchased it in a colour called Northern Light which is, frankly, fantastic. (It's a rich blue.) It has an exposed zipper running down the back - like you can totally undo the centre back of this top! But srsly, when a sweater at 70% off still costs $130.00 before tax, what is the world coming to?? Then again, what price is too high for great tits, fantastic design, good execution and a slender shape, I ask you??

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Topsy Turvy

OK, I finished the 5th pair of pants and, woohoo, I think they're a go. To remind you of the history:
  • Original pattern in 14, in muslin (way too big everywhere but in the waist)
  • First wearable pants in modified 14 (narrowed side seams), in wool suiting, lined
  • Second wearable pants in modified 14 (see v. 1), in stretch denim - required additional reduction of side seams, the crotch and waist height were problematic, but the garment does fit fairly well...
  • Third wearable pants in a modified 14 (see v. 2), modified still further to reduce the waist height and dart depth
  • Forth wearable pants in a massively modified 14 (see v. 3), with even lower waist (3 inches lower than the original), extended darts and modified crotch depth, in non-stretch blue denim. Note: I'm pretty impressed with the crotch alteration!
Got it?

(BTW, I promise I'm going to take a photo of myself wearing these, hopefully tomorrow, but I have to wash my hair because I'm scary right now.)

The great thing is that, through a variety of iterations, I've pretty-well drafted my own wide-leg pants sloper. I'm sure that's going to come in handy on a regular occasion. And the next time I make these it's going to be with some special fabric that comes with a special story that I keep meaning to document but it hasn't happened yet.

Here's the bad part. I have systematically worked through every challenge I can think of (coats, pants, woven blouses) and now there are no more delay tactics. Friends, it's time to return to the bra project. Newish readers, you may not even know of this passion - my (so far) unsuccessful attempt to make a bra that a) fits perfectly and is b) sexy and chic.

I know I can go out and buy one. I know that most mega-crafty people think it's a crazy undertaking. But they don't love lingerie as I do. Or they're not insane. This is a code I've got to crack.

Of course, the combo of extreme frustration and disappointment (vis a vis my previous attempts), the fear of future failure (as I run out of fit options, at least in my own mind) and having come to the conclusion that, this time, I will have to start by ripping apart a new bra, purchased just for this purpose (it has a similar fabric i.e. very little to no stretch and it fits well) really isn't motivating.

But this bra isn't going to make itself.

Note: After the last set back, I did contact a well-known sewing studio in Toronto that purports to source and send out teachers of all varieties to help students of all levels to learn about whatever technique they desire. I spoke with a woman who sounded engaged and then never bothered to call me back. Can't say I'm blown away by the professionalism. (It isn't the first such experience I've had with this place.)

If this next attempt doesn't yield an attractive and wearable bra, I'm booking a weekend in Hamilton with the Bra Maker's people. But I really don't want to go to Hamilton.

So please wish me luck. Maybe 12th time is a charm? I am committed to achieving success. Really, really, really. Over and out.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mixed Media

In addition to the Mac, I got a tetralogy of books (but all in one volume): The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. (M, describing it to someone on the phone, called it a tetrapak!) When last I read this series I was at university. While I did study English Lit, I didn't read it as part of my course load. I was drawn to it, no doubt, having read something of a similar vintage (1950s masquerading as 1930s). It had been decades since I'd thought of it last, but a couple of weeks ago I had a riveting, boozy, intellectual Friday-night-dinner conversation about it with Steen. Really, for an hour, I felt like I was a member of the Algonquin Round Table.

It's not often that I use my EngLit-speak these days. Moreover, it's not often that I read an actual book. Which is odd mainly in that, for 30 plus years, I read a minimum of a book a week. I read everything - crap fiction, good fiction, change your life fiction, biographies, poetry, prose, short stories. Even, occasionally, non fiction (egad!). I was a book addict. Teachers admonished me for reading in class. You couldn't have a conversation with me wherein I wasn't throwing around some semiotic terminology, or comparing a friend's personal experience with that of one of my "characters". It really pissed some people off.

Fortunately for them, I found blogs and now I never read anything but (and the occasional print magazine).

Strangely, I do not miss books at all. One might argue that I've read enough of them to last a lifetime - thousands of books. I immersed myself in innumerable plots to live the lives of others, to avoid myself, to suffer the sufferings of those whose lives I would never otherwise encounter. It soothed my loneliness, my anxiety. Books filled me with hope and longing; they dragged me down with despair. But it was the despair of someone else.

Of course, no amount of books is enough for one lifetime...

I have an interesting quality - one which I don't see in many others, one which has served me well my whole life long. I go where my imagination takes me and I really do not overthink it. In all the years I read, I felt a chasm between myself and my creativity. The day I started writing (and in this case I'm referring to my blog) was the day I no longer felt the need to engross myself in the creative constructs of others. It was the day I found a voice to speak of my own life. And from that voice, my life developed.

Of course I still read constantly. Reading is a huge component of my profession. I also read more than 150 blogs a day - blogs that are intelligent, humourous, beautiful and artistic to observe. The democratization of self-expression thrills me. I do not feel that books surpass blogs. I feel they are part of the same creative continuum.

Which is why I'm pulling out some paper (like, a thousand pages?!) and getting with the written-word, old-style. Weird that this is the book to pull me back. I'm on the first novel - Justine, only about 50 pages in, and I'm reminded of the atmosphere - the heat and intensity of Egypt in the 1930s. So far, on this read, I'm amazed by the floridness of the text (it's practically purple, but smart!) and I'm on the lookout for cultural prejudice. One of the fascinating features of this text is that it doesn't sidebar sex. Passion isn't qualified by literary conventions - well, it is, of course, but they're more modern (dare I say, honest?) than the majority of fodder from that day and age. So far, we've had pre-marital sex, straight talk from the mistresses of wealthy Arabs, and child prostitution. And it's not wrapped up in a symbolic bow.

I'm curious to know - smartie-pants readers who, no doubt, have read this carefully and more recently than I have - what's the thing that jumps out at you? And let's say you haven't read it, what book have you read most recently that have changed your perspective on things? Do you read blogs instead of print? What's your story?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Feast or Famine

I'm writing this on my new MacBook Air, which is everything they say it is, and cute. If I were a computer, I'd want to be this one. My husband has really pulled it back from the edge after leaving me for dead (metaphorically) when I first sustained the foot injury. While he may not have taken it seriously at first, he's bucked up by massaging my ankle and leg, physiotherapy-style, for hours each evening, taking care of all the mobile-elements of family life (i.e., shuttling the kid) and gifting me with top of the line technology.

I think it's safe to say I'm going to postpone the divorce.

In the true spirit of Xmas, however, this post is not about the loot but about the food. For the last two days I have eaten a shocking variety of things that can only be deemed artery-blockers.

I'm not one of those people who frowns on gluttony. No ma'am. Give me your fried, crispy masses. Pastry that gleams with butter. My heart flutters at a perfect cake crumb. I can eat a round of brie.

Seriously. On Xmas eve, we had wild mushroom brie fondue that takes a pound of rinded cheese. Generally it serves 4 till they're stuffed beyond compare. M was sick, so she wasn't eating. Scott just humoured me by eating it. There was but a small amount left yesterday for me to pair with crackers while I drank a bottle of Vouvray (this is hard to find at a decent price and it's so clear and ringy, though far sweeter than the wine I generally choose). I drank it over 8 hours, fyi. This is to say nothing of the struesel cake I ate for breakfast yesterday morning. (Is anything better for breakfast than homemade coffee cake??).

The thing is that Scott's Xmas capon takes a zillion hours to cook. We were three, but he bought a 10 pound bird. Don't ask. In fact, we tried - on a whim, yesterday morning - to invite 8 people over to share it with us. Alas, they had already started to cook their own Xmas dinner at 10 am. Anyway, by 4 p.m. I was really hungry and I had to eat some ridiculous quantity of prosciutto.

By 7 p.m. the capon was juicy, delicious ready with roasted veggies. They managed to be soft on the inside and crunchy, oily on the outside. My fave combo. I won't lie - I ate an ounce of capon and half a pan of veggies - if you can call onions, carrots and potatoes soaked in grease "veggies".

The pan generally serves 6-8.

Scott and his friend of 35 years have a term to describe extreme, painful, disgusting first-world fullness. It's called "klunk" and you can use it as a verb or a noun or an adjective, your choice. To say I was klunk at this moment does not begin to express how I felt. I really thought I might throw up (which is a horrifying thing in my book). Scott felt my stomach and seemed alarmed by its distension.

At which point I decided I would never eat again.

I sense I'm about to break the fast (it has been 12 hours), but I'm going to do it with a hard boiled egg and a slice of cheddar. Though that cake continues to call. (Don't worry - I'm over it. I still feel vaguely nauseated, thankfully.)

Why am I telling you this? Why am I admitting to this horrendous level of gluttony? I'd like to say something like it's to make you feel better about your own holiday ingestion indiscretions, but who are we kidding?? I think it unlikely that any of you have crossed the line as I have. Maybe I'm looking for that one crazy reader who can match me in the stupid eating department? Maybe I am seeking absolution? Who can say.

So here's to hot water with lemon, green salad and chicken soup. Which reminds me, I have to transform those leftovers into a stew fit for a queen. Have I mentioned that my chicken soup is legendary?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Tag

And by that I mean meme...

Dr. Monkey tagged me to tell you a few things about the Xmas me:

1. When do you know it's the holidays? When the trees start to go up. The spirit kicks in around early / mid November.

2. What do you want for Christmas this year? World peace. And a Mac.

3. Do you go all out with decorations? No. I would do more, but that would take too much effort. :-)

4. What are you doing Christmas Eve? Eating wild mushroom brie fondue with lots of green and red veggies (and baguette) followed by a moist struesel crumb cake and berries. I can smell it baking now and it's driving me crazy!!

5. What are you doing Christmas Day? Opening gifts and eating.

6. It's Christmas time. What are you reading? Blogs and mags. And maybe Santa will bring me the Alexandria Quartet - which I haven't read in 20 years, but which has been calling to me lately.

7. Favorite movie to watch during the holidays? Family Man with Tea Leoni and Nicholas Cage.

8. Favorite Christmas song? Oh that is a tough call. White Christmas (jazz version)? Santa Baby? I like the jazz standards a lot.

9. Favorite holiday drink? Red wine, same as always.

10. How is your Christmas shopping going? Done, done, done.

11. If you could spend Christmas Day anywhere else, where would you spend it? Quebec City

12. Any holiday traditions? We argue when to put up the tree, where to spend Xmas, what to eat...

13. Favorite thing about the holidays? It's a break from the regular routine and the misery of early winter. And Xmas trees are pretty. And the food is good. And it's a time to reflect at the end of the year. I like that people are in a good mood.

I am too stuffed with food and drink to choose who else should do this - but I urge you to take on the challenge. And let me know - I want to read up!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Xmas from Xtin

Y'all are the best present ever! I am rich for your friendship and I wish you the happiest holiday season.

Here's a photo of QC (aka Santa's Village) to get you in the mood. K xoxo

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pants: The Gift That Keeps on Giving...

I made the V1166 pants again in the same stretch denim and, gotta say, the fit is improving. You might recall that, for this iteration, I:
  • Lowered the waist by 2 inches
  • Increased dart length and width slightly (1/4 inch on all sides)
  • Lengthened the pants legs by an inch
  • Increased waistband by 4 inches to accommodate the increased width requirement of the lowered waist
I will maintain all of these alterations but I need to add a couple more:
  • Lower the waist 1 inch more (for a total of 3 inches). No need to increase the waistband because the 4 inch increase from the previous alteration is adequate.
  • Lower darts another .25 inch
  • Take .25 inch out of the front crotch starting 2 inches from the base (i.e. the lowest point of the curve)
The front crotch alteration is a wild card adjustment, but I fixed 2 pins in place (seriously carefully!) and determined that it pinches out that puffy lower front thing. Seems that darting the front can only do so much because the excess fabric is lower than the dart extension.

Again, in the latest version, my outer side seam allowances were more than 1.5 inches because of the stretch in the denim. I really should cut the pattern rather than the fabric next time. I have wasted so much! (Natch, the minute I switch fabrics, all bets are off...)

Some thoughts so far:
  • What were the Vogue people thinking when they determined the rise of the original pattern?! I know I'm short-waisted, but seriously - I will have removed 3 inches of fabric from the waist when all is said and done. And they aren't "low rise"!
  • I'm amazed by the volume of alterations I've made overall - and that practically all of them are on the front legs. I placed the new front leg pattern over the (uncut) original and it's an entirely different size and shape. I mean, there are NO similarities at this point. The crotch is a different curve and length, the overall length is different, the waist is lower, the legs are narrower (by an inch). And there I thought (admittedly, only for 5 minutes) that they were perfect right out of the package. Hmmm...
  • I'm intrigued to be creating a sloper - because, it appears, that's what I'm doing. I wonder how it might translate onto other patterns in the future.
The most fascinating element of this process is how sanguine I appear to be. Maybe it's the vacation. Maybe I've had to develop a new pace and some perspective on account of the injury from which I'm still healing. Who knows? All I can say is, I know I should be moving back to the bra experiment, but that fills me with anxiety and I'm not quite ready. Besides, I'll have to rip up a perfectly nice bra and that's vaguely traumatizing.

I believe that every woman (person) has a certain body part, the shape of which is perplexing. For some it's a round, high ass. For others, the thighs are wide. There are those who just can't figure out how to flatter the arms. My "issue" (and I have chosen not to judge it, I am merely observing) is the boobs. Well, it's the boobs being large while the back and shoulders are narrow and the front torso is about average (relative to my pattern size). I've adapted to the FBA (full bust adjustment). That's a scary alteration, btw. About as complex as it gets. Then all the variables add to the complexities and, before you know it, you're hyperventilating.

This doesn't mean that my lower half is standard issue. I mean, this fitting process is proving that at every stage. But somehow the alterations seem knowable - more linear, in general. When I buy RTW pants, it is not an unpleasant process. Many times, I try on items that are ugly and ill-fitting, but I simply blame the garment and move on. I really don't take it personally. Not like when a blouse with buttons doesn't fit, or when a jacket won't close.

Why is this? I am, apparently, no more physically unusual in my upper body than in my lower body. (And BTW, neither are you.) Do I simply like pants more? Is it a matter of a top-half mental block? Are pants easier (in my books, definitely, but some people swear that they aren't)? Is my spatial reasoning that much improved these days? Is it beginner's romance?

What do you think? Whether you sew, or no, do you have a preferred body part when it comes to fitting and buying or making clothes? Has sewing liberated you from this? Which do you find more difficult to fit - pants or tops?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Danger: Shopping Ahead

Of course, when planning to meet up with La Historiadora de Moda, I had to arrive in the 'hood a bit early to ensure that everything was in place. There were reservations to obtain (or not). I had to scope out the stores. I'm not exactly the fastest traveler in the land right now - though I did alright.

And there was the small matter of cruising FabricLand for some denim. Cuz I'm making those pants again. Twice. Or till I get them right, whichever comes first. I managed to find the same denim that I used here, and then a stretch-free version in a slightly lighter, and bluer hue. I want to check out how different fabrics absorb the pattern and, um, provide support. And I want to see if my (totally made-up) alterations will actually work.

I didn't think this would be the holiday of learning about pants but that seems to be how it's going.

Very strangely (and I'll return to this at another time), I am totally intrigued by pants - fitting issues and all. They don't fill me with the same anxiety that the tops do. And yes, that's completely irrational.

I forgot my discount card, which almost threw me over the edge, but then I discovered that the fabrics I wanted were 40% off (the discount card amount). At FabricLand, they don't discount the discounted stuff, so that was the best I could have done.

The thing is, I was so freakin' efficient buying the fabric that I had scads of time to kill. And that was after dealing with restaurants and making sure that the street decorations were twinkling just right.

Which is where Cole Haan and Holt Renfrew came in.

I have been blessed with the ability to spend a living fortune in 10 minutes or less. I can't tell you how useful that's been at various times in my life. Except from the perspective of my bank account which is, after all is said and done, merely one of the players.

I don't buy beauty products very often (I'm a bit of a health food store shampoo kind of girl) but when I do, inevitably something convinces me to spend 35 bucks on a lipstick. To wit:
Doesn't this look totally rude??? It's shade 295. Shu U is v. Japanese modern and it doesn't believe in naming its shades, which is just as well because they are all "limited" editions.

I am, frankly, desperate to replace my beloved Bobbi Brown Cassis and this colour is a close approximation. At least on my hand.

Then, having just run out of mascara, I was bamboozled into trying this one:

Hilariously, the woman who sold it to me felt compelled to warn me stringently, multiple times, that I was NOT to shimmer the wand horizontally while applying it. Apparently, the new design of this wand means something crazy will happen to my eyelashes. Like they'll grow obscenely or affix themselves to my upper lids or something. I hear, and obey.

My final score was 30% off at Cole Haan - olive kid skin gloves with cashmere lining. Oh, they are slinky, lady goodness. And a fair sight less $$$ than they would otherwise have been.

May I remind you that Xmas is at the end of the week and I appear to be shopping exclusively for myself?!? Does that make me a bad person?

Wait. Don't answer that.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's All Academic!

Perhaps you know that I went out for lunch and a bit of shopping with one of the loveliest academics in the land. Who recently got married. And has come to Canada to party with family.

R goes by the sassy code name La Historiadora de Moda on her intelligent and lively collaborative blog Fashionable Academics. And she's such a fun date. We went to the bar at the Windsor Arms (which we had all to ourselves) and drank some great Ripasso while eating well-presented, yummy hotel food. It was SO my kind of afternoon.

Afterward, we did some shopping and R got fantastic loot. I shouldn't give it away, but I have to dish a little. (I mean, you don't love me for my self control!) Of course, I'm sure she'll fill you in on the details of her new great gloves, great pants (seriously great), great sweater and great top. Suffice it to say it is all very fashionable and maybe even a little bit academic :-)

I conclude that she is optimally Kristin-shopping-compatible (TM): She knows what she likes, when it looks right, and just like that she closes the deal.

PS: Alas, no photos. By the time we thought of it, I was too wan for the camera. But trust me, she looks as cute in real life as she does in her pics...

Merry Xmas to Me!

While out at physio yesterday, I couldn't resist stepping into the shoe store on the corner - not to buy, of course, but to ogle the pretty (discounted) boots.

Don't ask me how it happened that I managed to walk out with the only pair in the entire place that wasn't on sale (seriously). Let me assure you that the price tag was painful:
La Canadienne Tabitha Boot

You know my love of a) shearling, b) La Canadienne and c) anything that comes from Montreal and d) supporting the Canadian economy (yes, that's what I'm calling it), so technically this was a no-brainer. It marks my fourth pair of boots by this manufacturer- and I have nothing but glowing reports of my first three pairs.

The shearling is truly specatcular - so soft, so warm - and the boots, while rugged rather than elegant, will look good just right with skinny jeans. Never mind that! They'll keep me toasty and dry - with serious grips on flat soles - so that my foot can recover in style.

Notice a theme lately? Kristin and footwear?? My justification is medical necessity. And I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Updated What I Wore: The New Pants as Jeans

So I made the V1166 pants in denim, following all of the sage comment advice. And I think it worked out pretty well:

This is my public service announcement photo: DON'T wear a pale bra under a dark top when being photographed with a flash. The bra is actually pink - but it's too light for the topper. It's like my boobs are a light source!

Some things to note:
  • They're too short (except with my Diesel "runners"). I'm wearing (practically) flat boots in the photo because I can't stand to look at those runners any more.
  • This pattern is weird. I feel that there's too much fabric between the top of my pelvis and my pubic bone. That's the "mom" element. It looks less strange with fancy fabric, fyi. I'm either going to have to experiment with the front-crotch length or find myself another pattern that doesn't yield this result. (A fly-front option might be better given my shape?)
  • The whole "OMG there's a drag line" issue doesn't really upset me. Honestly, pants have to move in a zillion directions. As long as they aren't a sign that things are too tight, I can live with them. The problem is, to get rid of every drag - at least with my current level of expertise - the pants would be too big as they stretched between washings. Even with RTW pants I do experience drag in certain positions.
  • I've got to fix the bottom of the zipper - which gave me no end of irritation on assembly.
  • I cut them using the same pattern as the previous pair (the modified 14) but I ended up needing to remove an extra inch of fabric from each side?! Ah, the power of stretch.
  • Because I'd already stitched 1 inch seams (which went to 1.5 inches), I opted to serge the seams together as a way to cut most of the extra seam fabric off. Otherwise, the (previously serged for edge-finishing, but not together) seam allowances were going to be ridiculously wide.
  • I think the waist is too high - esp. given the puff factor of my lower abdomen.
A few questions for the sewists:
  • Is it difficult to lower a waistline? Doesn't seem like it would be, but pants are a great unknown.
  • Do you hate drag lines - or do you just accept them? Do you see them as a mark of poor construction or a factor of the human form in pants, especially ones that skim?
  • Do you find fly front pants to be more supportive and less baggy below the hill of the lower abdomen and the pubic bone? Is this a common issue when making pants?
Update: I've been thinking about this obsessively all night and I've decided to try a couple of things with this (admittedly imperfect, but seemingly improvable) pattern.
  • Lower the waist by 2 inches (and extend the waistband accordingly).
  • Pinch out some of the size in the front leg, from the centre of the pattern. I won't interfere with the waistband.
  • Another alternative is, having lowered the waist, to extend the darts as a way to get rid of that extra room.
  • I don't think I'm going to mess with the front crotch depth at this point. I really think the extra fabric in the front leg is what's skewing things.
If any sewists have experience doing any of these things, and you care to weigh in, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!
So whatcha think?

Santa's Split Level*

Is this not the most fantastic gingerbread house you've ever seen??? This pad has coconut shag carpeting and a candied sugar Noguchi table. There's a pop tart on the wall acting as a Jackson Pollock. It's amazing!

You have to check out Whorange for the rest of the shots...

Photo: Whorange

* I know it's not really a split level - but I was looking for a catchy headline...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

No Pressure is the New Pressure

I've been a bit sporadic on the posting over the past few days because it was my first week back in the office after the 2.5 weeks I worked from home re: the foot injury. Gotta say it was not optimal from a healing and pain management perspective, though it was a very busy week taking care of things before starting my Xmas vacation.

You heard that right, peeps, I now have 2 weeks to sit on my ass with my legs up eating cookies. After I make them. And display them attractively. Did I mention it isn't the most present-rific scene under the tree right now. I did shop online from the comfort of my own couch (my new favourite - and dangerous style of consumption) but managed to give M a lot of the purchases as they arrived because I couldn't resist opening the packages with glee. But don't feel sorry for her. When I think of how much is waiting to be opened - without the scarcest hint of need - it disgusts me a little bit. (Happily, she doesn't have those issues.)

Yesterday, while doing a few minutes of (frankly hurty) mall wandering before going to my husband's office party at a nearby hotel, I stumbled on the Hudson's Bay Company boutique (in the Queen St. corner of The Bay) and killed time by trying on some shearling mits and fulsome-fur trapper hats. I've never been one who likes the Bay multistripes-on-cream motif, but I was entranced by a muted version of the point blanket in cashmere! Oh, once I touch that stuff it's all over. Anyway, I was half ready to buy it (no need, just for me) when I looked at the price tag: $600.00. Thankfully, at that point, my sanity was returned. Mind you, if you like iconic patterns, Canadiana, and you're rich, this is the item for you!

Malls are a soul-sucking, sick, mechanism of consumerism. I was horrified by the throngs of shoppers acting like they were on uppers, pushing by, grabbing items and rudely thrusting them back without folding them. I rarely shop in malls - never shop the week before Xmas - and the combo was depressing. I'm telling you, just shop online. And visit your local retailers, who know you by name because you've been going there for years and buying their well considered product.

Is it me, or do the chain stores put out their crappiest wares at this time of year, "discounting" them by 40%. It's easy to give 40% off when you're offloading the cheap shit that's been sitting in the warehouse and likely won't move when the Xmas-fever wears off.

At any rate, my goal for the next 2 weeks is to take care of my foot and enjoy my home, good food, and friends/family. Honestly, I don't care enough to make myself crazy (or maybe I care just the right amount!) Posting might be thin (or not) because I hope to make a zillion home-sewn garments - or a well-considered few. The sewing has really taken a hit since the foot injury, but then, what hasn't?

To give you an injury update (since I assume y'all find it fascinating): My physiotherapist continues to be "amazed" at the pace and quality of my recovery and, at this point, has suggested that I simply keep doing yoga because it targets my injury in a more refined fashion than the exercises she can offer. Of course, we strategize the required movements and actions and then I incorporate them into my practice through certain poses. Therapeutic ultrasound has been incredibly effective on me.

My foot looks almost normal (except for the injury hotspot) and the therapist believes the fracture is likely healed (based on my range of motion) and the tendon is almost healed. Alas, the things I really did a number on are 2 ligaments which are basically frayed. Apparently, ligaments don't regenerate, they scar over and then surrounding muscle tissue picks up the slack. I choose not to believe modern science on this front. I envision my ligaments miraculously healing based on careful effort and other treatments. Regardless, I shouldn't have any lasting mobility issues due to this - which is a wonderful Xmas gift, IMO.

The ligament healing process can be long. Apparently, if you want to damage something, don't make it ligaments, or the recovery may be slow - and regrettably painful. I'm trying not to freak out - to feel frightened by the pain or to allow it to make me fearful of conscious movement (which is necessary). At this point, I can irritate things, but it's very unlikely I will worsen the damage I've sustained (that would take a similar foot trauma). The part of me that is upset by my continuing discomfort is occasionally corralled by the part of me that recognizes it's pretty amazing I'm able to do as much as I can right now. Being bed-bound for 6 weeks wouldn't be unusual under the circumstances - and if you'd seen my foot after the injury, you'd agree it's a miracle how restored to its former look and feel it is.

Thank you so much, everyone, for thinking of me over the past few weeks - giving me your health vibes. I am certain it has been a great help and I am very grateful.

So let's get on with the relaxation, yes?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shout Out to the Experts: Making Pants with Different Fabrics

Hello Sewist friends (and other friends who don't sew but feel like weighing in on this for kicks):

I finally made this wide-leg pair of pants on the weekend:

Line Drawing:As you can see, they're not fitted. However, in the woven wool (with nice give) fashion fabric, they do fit. In fact, if made without their (stretch-free) lining, I suspect they might be vaguely roomy in the butt/upper leg, despite my muslin minimizing alterations. However, with the lining (and I didn't make the lining seam allowance any smaller than the fashion fabric's) I find them on the edge of too snug at the crotch/upper leg.

Here's my question:

I would like to make these again in a variety of fabrics, to see if I can a) improve the fit and b) enjoy the look. For starters, I'd like to use a stretch indigo denim having 2-way (width) stretch that turns 1 inch length of fabric into 1.5 inches when pulled taut. I do not intend to line the denim pants. They'll be like trouser jeans (or at least that's how it works in my mind). Do you think I'll need to cut some fabric off the side seams (i.e. another .25 inch or more) in order to accommodate the width stretch? I don't want them to be saggy. As an alternate option, could I cut the fabric against the grain i.e. putting the stretch on the length instead of width - or is that asking for trouble?

OK, I seem to be asking lots of questions so I'll just continue. Do you think these pants will look nice in denim, or mom-like? (Yes, I'm implying that mom-like jeans are categorically not nice.)

Thanks so much for feedback - pls. bring it on!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sewing Tip: Pants

I have some useful info for you if you happen to be making pants (like, for the first time). While your gorgeous wool fabric may have give up the yin yang, your bemberg lining will not.

Do yourself a favour and use seam allowances that are .25 inch smaller on your lining (i.e. make the lining a smidge bigger than the fashion fabric). Then, when you try to put on the finished garment, you won't feel encased in a slightly too-snug lining.

What can I say? You live, you learn.

PS: I'm starting to realize that the sign of an expert seamstress is one who can intuit how much fabric ease is required when transitioning from muslin to wearable item.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Changes Afoot

When I wrote about those Vogue pants fitting right out of the envelope, I must have been high on pain medication. Seriously.

I decided to try the muslin on again - just to do a final little check before gearing up to cut the fashion fabric and the lining. Intriguingly, the crotch was too low and the legs were too wide. It was almost like I should have cut the 12! (Note: I think the 12 would have needed a bit of enlarging in the waist, what with my once-pregnant abdomen requiring some give. Oh, who are we kidding. I would have needed biggening even before I had the child. Nonetheless, that would have been a quicker alteration, yes? Other note: The pattern I bought came in 14/16/18/20. The size 12 is in the packet I didn't buy.)

Do you know that there are lines on pants patterns (well, on this one anyway) which advise you where to shorten the crotch? It's such a good idea. I took a half an inch out. Looked good on the muslin (though I was scarily, and unusually, unscientific about the whole thing). Again, drugs - they're your friends, they're your foes. Then I took 1 inch out of the outer leg seams grading from nothing about 2 inches above the hip, all the way down to the hem seam.

Understatement: I would be so pleased if these look very nicely fitted when they finally get made. (A propos of that, I have a terrific sewing-Xmas story to tell, coming up soon.)

Brief Foot Update: I'm really on the mend (knock wood). Able to put weight on my foot again, though I'm not doing it for too long. Since physio started, I've actually been moving it more (and more directedly). I'm not hiding from the discomfort. It's part of the healing process. I don't want pain to keep me from stretching muscles that may otherwise atrophy. Something to consider when determining whether pain is "good" or "bad". Good pain generally feels less intense as you repeat the action, and usually the pain changes with movement. Bad pain just crunches in a severe way and it doesn't improve with repetition. Perhaps this is obvious to y'all, but it's a question I was asked often when I taught yoga, and I didn't really have as clear an answer as I would have liked back then.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Goddess, Thy Name is Jessica

OK, I've now worn the Goddess long line bra and here's what I can tell you:
  • It's not as tight as it initially appears. It's just very awkward to do up because of the boning.
  • It's extremely textured, so it's not going to work under something slim, unless you don't mind seeing bones and lace on the right side of your thin cashmere.
  • The cups are crazy - and I don't say that lightly. I cannot imagine a breast that will be long enough to fill them out. Oh, I know there are women to fit every bra. But I've never observed a breast (and I've seen lots of them) that would work with this wide-to-long ratio. Because of it, the cup fits a good size up (maybe a size and a half). You'll observe, even in the photo of the bride from the post referenced above, the model isn't filling the bottom of the cup. The only way, it strikes me, that this product hasn't gone the way of extinction (or improvement) is that this isn't an every day item for the modern woman. Someone wearing it twice a year isn't going to quibble over the extra i.e. unused bottom cup length if the overall shape works because of the cup boning.
  • Really, not to harp, but I've given this a lot of thought. Are "full figured" women - which one assumes cannot squeeze into a 34 back that fits more like a 32 - of generally different breast shape? I've never seen a large woman with large breasts up close and personal. Large woman, small breasts? Check. Small woman, large breasts? Check. Maybe the Goddess sloper is for large backs and large chests and the designers haven't scaled the shape of the cups for the 34 back size-purchaser?
  • Because the fabric is so sturdy, and because of the cup boning, you can get away with wearing this despite the length of the cups - but why? IMO, a bra's got to fit. All the way around.
  • The majority of my body fat hangs out below my navel and above my pubic bone. Can't tell you how unattractive it is to have the bottom stay stop right above that. The look is totally "slim Krissie-meets-tube of toothpaste". Note to readers: I'm beginning to think that for women of my shape, the body suit is a much better alternative. It doesn't suck it all in as much, but it doesn't emphasize one's (seriously pasty-white) tummy.
  • My husband gets brownie-points for telling me, unasked - and sincerely, that he doesn't feel the corset does anything to make me seem shaplier above the lower abdomen. In his opinion, I am always the shape that the corset emphasises, just as much as the corset emphasises, so it's not worth wearing. He totally concurs that the figurative arrow pointing to my "belly button bunny hill" is really unfortunate.
I suspect it's going to be more trouble than it's worth to return this - especially given my current difficulty walking - so it's likely sticking around. I may deconstruct it, eventually, and try to recreate it. (Sometimes I write sentences that seem completely insane on second reading. Hmmm, since I can't yet figure out how to make a bra that actually fits me, perhaps I'll tear apart an insanely complex piece of lingerie that also doesn't fit me and try to come up with a workable garment. That makes perfect sense!)

Another option is that I may offer it up to a reader of the appropriate stats. Something tells me there will not be a lot of takers. If your back is that small and your tits are that big, you are likely related to Jessica Rabbit.

So here's what I suggest: If you have Jessica proportions (Rabbit or Simpson), drop me a line and you might be the beneficiary of a new long line bra.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Perhaps you know that I've been searching for a long line bra for a very long time. If we want to get technical about timelines, that means years. If we want to focus on when I started my active online research, that would probably be about 6 months.

My friends, I've had a bitch of a time. For starters, are you aware that long line bras seem to come in 2 standard categories: small and delicate in both back and cup size and wide and sturdy in both back and cup size? What's a girl with a generous bust and a narrow frame to do?

Furthermore, in this day and age, the only people wearing the long line bras are the brides. The ones who want a smooth silhouette for day-to-day wear are apparently purchasing Spanx. I begrudge neither Spanx nor the women who wear them, but they are not for me. Too ugly, IMO. I prefer the shape provided by corsetry over that of elastic compression.

Finally, I realized I would need to go with the Goddess brand. It's venerable. It's the only one I could get shipped to Canada for less than a zillion dollars (via Lauren Silva, fyi). It's an online site I'd never heard of till I did my digging. I feel that the whole shopping experience has been pleasant enough, though the item ended up being out of stock (even though the site said it was in stock) and the shipping took close to a month. The main thing about Goddess, though, is that it's for the full-figured ladies.

You'll note, in the photo below, the bride-to-be is not full-figured, but let's not split hairs:

Because the bra I received (in the smallest back size they design for - a 34) is so freakin' narrow that I have not yet been able to verify if the cups will fit (they seem on the large size, in truth, though I bought a half size down). I am going to need assistance to get into this thing, people.

I was able to do up the hooks, fyi, just not from the back. And there is no way I can twist the thing around once on. It truly IS a corset. (Note: It comes with detachable straps, not that you'll need them. I bought mine in black because, as you may know, I have no interest in looking like a bride. I'm almost amazed it comes in black. I mean, what bride wears black?)

Here's what I can say about it so far - and I'm sure I'll return to the subject after Scott assists me in putting it on, Gone with the Wind-style.
  • It's not ugly but it is lacy. Firm lacy.
  • There's actual flexible-boning in the cups?!
  • The cups are extremely long - I don't know what this will mean to fit, but it's unusual. This may be the undoing of things for me. I don't know that my chest is going to fill out the length of the cup. How often do you hear me complaining that the bra might be too big?!
  • It's going to be insanely shaping through the waist, of that I am certain. Having said that, I fear for my internal organs.
  • I'm almost at the stage where I can confirm that there is NO way that Spanx can accomplish what the long line bra - and girdle, and corset - can. Compression simply encases adipose tissue and aims, rather ineptly, to distribute it evenly. Boning actually connects to your skeleton. Look, they're both evil mechanisms from a long-term health perspective - they mush you up in ways your natural shape has not chosen for itself. But if you want the impact, just get a corset.
  • I suspect - and again, I haven't worn it yet - that I will go down a generous dress size using this thing. Note: I have no interest in going down a dress size on a regular basis. I do love the idea of being wasp-waisted when wearing a cashmere sweater, however.
So peeps, what's your opinion? Do you prefer the idea of Spanx or long lines? Do you wear either on a regular basis? Do you own this bra and, if so, what do you think? Let's talk corsets.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ooh La La

Every once in a while, The Sartorialist hits the nail on the head:

Could this woman be chic-er?

About 10 years ago I owned a knife-pleat black, knee-length skirt (from the Gap of all places, back when they actually designed things). I wore it with a Sisley, 3/4 sleeve burnt orange, narrow boat-neck, waist length knit top. It looked just terrific with some lady-shoes I had in patent leather.

The whole outfit has moved on in pieces, gifted here or there to those on whom it might look lovely with an air of novelty. I felt damn fine when I wore it, just like the woman in this photo looks.

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gorgeous Lingerie I Own

I took a photo of the Panache "body" I bought a while ago, and then forgot to post it...

I highly recommend this piece. For starters, it's actually supportive. Nonetheless, it looks like a flimsy/sexy piece of lace - both on and off. It acts like Spanx on your abdomen - only not in a squishy, compressive way, more in a sassy, corseted way. It comes in numerous sizes, though alas, only a couple of colours. It's got snaps at the gusset so you can pee without pulling the whole thing down.

I love wearing it with a crisp, classic white blouse, the top 2 buttons of which are open to reveal the insanely good decollete this thing provides.

Oh, and I got it on sale from Figleaves (I've seen it on sale a few times) for some ridiculously low amount of money like 20 pounds.

If you want to channel your inner-French woman, this body suit is a must. Or should I say de rigeur.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Honestly, just watch this - it's beyond hilarious.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Booboo by Any Other Name...

As you know, but now reports can confirm, I have some things going on with my foot - namely a small break resulting from a rather severe (grade 3) sprain. That means my torn tendon and ligament actually caused a hairline fracture of my bone. Who knew that soft tissue rules??

Today I started physio therapy. My therapist, on hearing my story, seeing my test results and listening to my story was amazed at the state of my foot, ankle and leg. Don't mean to brag (or maybe I do, whatevs) but she said that "whatever I have done for the last 2 weeks" (i.e. yoga and yoga and elevation and ice and yoga and compression and 3000 mg of vit c and yoga) has resulted in tremendous healing over a very short period. Something tells me she's never broken part of her foot or she wouldn't say that 12 days is a "short period".

Perhaps I should hide this element of my personality (is that possible?) but I LOVE to excel. Give me a test and will problem solve till the bell rings. No mind if I haven't the vaguest idea of what's going on. Somehow, that doesn't seem to bother me.

I'm a strange sort of competitive - as I compete only with myself (and rich people I haven't managed to outpace :-)). I go into an enjoyable, almost meditative state when I decide I need to figure something out. And then I do whatever I can to achieve the goal.

Really I'm so thrilled that my yoga practice has worked to benefit my healing. Of course, I trust yoga - I've been espousing it for injuries I've never experienced lo these many years. But to experiment, so-far successfully on myself is a great gift.

My therapist has prescribed some exercises that I will do. Then I will repeat those actions in increasingly-weight bearing yoga poses, as my healing warrants. I was thrilled to learn that it is highly unlikely that I will intensify this injury with conscious movement, supported by rest and frequent elevation. I am so happy that my intuition was on the mark. Inflammation is my guide in the healing process, as well as discomfort. If I can act without too much (i.e. "bad") pain and that movement doesn't increase swelling, then I can proceed.

I suggested coming in 5 times a week but, alas, Ms. Physio said it would do nothing to expedite the process (there we are with those "ped" words again). Apparently, 2 sessions a week for the next 6 weeks (approximately), for ultrasound, review and manipulative therapy, will suffice.

Of course, when I asked how long it would be till I'll be sort of mobile again / quite mobile again / totally back to normal again, I got all kinds of answers I don't agree with. I won't put those yucky numbers into your minds.

I am grateful for this opportunity to learn about my body. I am hopeful for a swift, and complete, recovery. Let's leave it at that, shall we?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pants Encounter

Let's talk trousers, yes?

For starters, have you seen the new book Making Trousers, by David Page Coffin? I just received it, via online shopping, and I can't wait to check it out. It has a great, modern layout I can really get with - v. pictoral. I have high hopes and I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished with it.

Furthermore, today - after my 90 minutes of foot-happy yoga - I felt well enough to try a sewing expedition (notice how that word has the derivative of foot - i.e. ped - in it?!?). I sewed up the (Scott-assisted) muslin of the V1166 pants. I wore my air cast for foot stability, stopped, removed it from the cast, and stretched it often. To give you a sense of how easy these things go together, I sewed the muslin in 90 minutes - and that included numerous therapeutic breaks. Remember, lovelies, the only other pants I've sewn are prefaced by the word "lounge".

As part of my experiment, I sewed the size 14 without any deviations, save a length alteration. It has 3 pieces and the waistband is interfaced. I chopped 2 inches off the length - usually I need to chop 3 inches at least - but with these pants I think 1 - 1.5 inches is enough. I guess what I'm saying is, they're short. My muslin has utterly no give. I used 5/8 inch seam allowances. The pants fit perfectly - though there was not enough length to hem.

Of course, no one has "perfect pants" shape. If you're lucky you might have have Vogue Patterns or Burda or Kwik Sew "perfect pants" shape. Or wide leg "perfect pants" shape. I know I got lucky. I also know that I'm going to need to modify for the brown wool fashion fabric because it has much more give than my muslin. That should be, as always, interesting.

For example, I fear the trousers might be almost too-wide in the upper leg - especially in the wool. What I will say is, this pattern doesn't provide a ton of coverage for a full-derriere. However, if you need room in the thighs, it's great! With very little experience to draw on, I'm beginning to think my rise is short i.e the space between my navel (or waist) and the deepest point of my crotch. I suspect these pants would be much more chic with a cuff. Perhaps the Making Trousers book will tell me how to do this?

A propos of this, reecently Myrna wrote a fascinating post about crotch shape (I know, it's an odd topic, but germane!). See, till you start making pants, you really have no idea of how unique your own shape might be. Of course, I am the poster-girl for this lesson as it pertains to jackets and woven tops (re: the boobs). Can't tell you how much I'd appreciate not having to learn it as regards trousers. :-)

Nonetheless, I'm ready!

So tell me, how do you find pants-fitting? Is it easier than tops-fitting? Harder? Share your experience, please. I need all the info I can get.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Rise Up

While I may be laid up (now I see why they call it that), in my dreams I'm sewing. The projects I had on the go, ready to begin just before the injury, are sitting in the sewga room like time capsules, calling to me as I do my yoga each day. Gotta say, the universe has really helped me to reconnect with my practice :-) Ain't no distracting me right now.

In case you wonder if I've lost my inextinguishable obsession - no way! I conspire to develop new systems to help me get back to the sewing as I heal, even if for short bursts. I've convinced Scott to help me cut out the fabric for my patterns. I tried to convince him to trace my patterns, but no dice. So I will have to cut the pattern to the sizes I envision and hope they're on the mark.

I have a new sewing chair, a loaner from Scott's office, which has wheels so I can shuffle around. Now I need to create a viable support for the healing foot (maybe my air cast will be enough, maybe I'll need to create a ramp to elevate my foot)?

When I've got it sorted, here are the things I'm working on next - the pants for V1166:

They're Very Easy, apparently, which is what I'm looking for in my first pants project. I have made yoga pants, but I don't think they're the same beast - at least from a fitting perspective.

Now we're going to see if my lower body is easier to fit than my upper body. And also how long it takes to determine the fit on pants when one's ability to stand isn't stellar.

The other thing I'm mentally working on is the next version of V8413, the dress I made originally in scary-cheap poly double knit (one of my few online fabric forays). I have some burnt orange double knit in my stash, specifically to remake this, and have just been waiting for an opp to get started. Who knows, I might even make a different version this time. Anyone have any suggestions about which version they think would be cutest on me??

Since I got the news about my foot yesterday I've been feeling very strange. I don't know if I'm in denial, or if I'm the arbiter of the extent of this injury as it has occurred within my own body, but I do not believe that this is going to keep me down for long.

I called the physio clinic immediately - according to many, the best in the city and the one my doctor recommended to me. (Sidebar: Ever had your doctor call clinicians to get you an emergency appointment for tests, request verbal diagnosis same-day and then call you an hour after the appt. on a day she doesn't work to give you the results and the name of a physio location (and therapist) which she directs you to a) call immediately and b) then respond to her to advise when your first appt. is so she can send the results over asap???)

I spoke at some length with the friendly physio clinic receptionist whom, I advised, that I am extremely engaged and motivated to work through this injury as quickly and competently as is humanly possible. I told her I would come in daily, I would do whatever exercises are required times 2 - with all the precision required, whereupon she (I detect, vaguely amusedly) responded that one needs to rest between sessions. Whatever. If I were an Olympic athlete she'd take me at my word. She doesn't know that I have the steely will of a skilled professional when it comes to healing. Perhaps y'all know this about me by now, I am utterly single-minded in my pursuit of things. Especially resolution. Especially in matters of my own health and well-being.

No mind, they'll be taking me seriously on Monday at my first appointment. Everybody does, eventually.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Yoga in the Time of Foot Sprain

I'm hesitant to publish this post, because I don't want to be seen as giving specific or "one shoe fits all" advice and also, frankly, while ya'll are reading it, I'll be at the hospital verifying the current status of my injury (managed lo these last 9 days, primarily, with yoga).

Having said that, I can't say how much I'd appreciate a thoughtful post by a long-time practitioner of yoga, designed to address foot injury, if I were (say) surfing the net while suffering with a bad sprain.

Mega Disclaimer: This post is not intended for new practitioners of yoga, those without a strong home practice or those who do not own props / have a good practical understanding of the Iyengar method. All yogas are good yogas, but with injury, it's my opinion that you are high on drugs to practice without the use of props and the anatomical and structural awareness that the Iyengar method mandates.

It is not intended for couch cupcakes (so much nicer than potatoes, no?). Foot injuries are as complex and varied as the foot itself. This practice is designed to address some serious tissue damage as it presents on my outer foot specifically (no one else's), top of the metatarsals / moving towards the toes. It factors in an outer ankle injury I sustained at the same time, which isn't a core complaint. It presumes a fairly strong and flexible body, pre-injury.

Core Goals: To diminish swelling, strengthen the foot and ankle, restore mobility, maintain and develop upper body fitness (in light of an inability to put weight on the legs and a need to use arms more in facilitating movement), maintain symmetry in a body compensating for lack of mobility on one side, control anxiety and depression (which can occur after an injury that limits mobility, particularly at the darkest time of the year).

Duration: I don't set a specific length of practice but I've discovered that, each time, I practice for about 75 minutes - and I do mix up the poses. I have done this daily since the day after the injury occurred. I feel it's key to practice daily because it's my main form of movement. In general, I spend 10 minutes in each supported pose and do the more active ones over a series of repetitions...

Format Below: Name of Pose (with link, if available): Yogic Action, Family of Pose, Notes as relevant
  1. Savasana 2 over bolster / Savasana 2 over blocks: Chest Opener, Supported Backbend. Helps to relieve arm tension (crutches hurt armpits!), neck tension, anxiety, promotes circulation in upper body
  2. Viparita Karani: Chest opener, Partial Inversion, Supported Backbend, same as above but also reduces swelling in legs and feet, improves heart function, tones adrenal glands, reduces anxiety
  3. Legs up the wall, no bolster: Leg Stretch, Partial Inversion, Reduces swelling in legs and feet, promotes relaxation. Do variations such as widening legs apart, bringing feet to wall, crossing legs (if possible), baddha konasana legs (if possible)
  4. Ardha Matsyendrasana (keeping the lower leg straight, on the injured side so there's no pressure on the ankle or foot): Balancer, Twist, Maintains mobility and tone in torso, stretches the muscles, tones the kidneys and adrenal glands. Twists work on those neurotransmitters that make you stressy or hungry. Give you a sense of your core mobility.
  5. Navasana: Balancer, Seated, Ain't no better pose for core strength (except for,maybe, a push up). You can balance the back of your head against a wall if it makes you feel more secure about maintaining balance i.e. not falling forward. Do not fall forward on that foot! You can also bend your knees if the stretch is too intense for either leg or for the injured foot.
  6. Dandasana: Chest opener, Foot stretch, Seated. A wonderful pose for bringing minute action into the foot. Use wall for back support if necessary. You can also use the wall for your feet, depending on the nature of your injury.
  7. Inverted Dandasana (Legs lifted (not against a wall), arms overhead): Chest opener, hamstring lengthener, abdominal stengthener, Prone/Partial Inversion: You may need to put something like a thin plank under your tailbone if your hamstrings/groins are tight and your abs are not strong enough. Cycle this into a few (non-yoga) ab poses - bicycle legs while doing crunches, legs up while doing crunches.
  8. Gomukhasana, arms only: Chest opener, arm stretch, Seated.
  9. Chataranga Dandasana, on knees: Who am I kidding, this is the only version I ever do! Prone, Core strengthener.
  10. Sarvangasana / Halasana / Karnapidasana Inversion, Chest opener (if you don't know these poses very well, don't even consider trying them now...) You need enough abdominal strength, flexibility and balance, to get into and out of a full inversion without touching your toes to any surface (except a wall, and only do halasana if your injury is up to it). Not gonna show you karnapidasana - if you don't know it, walk on by (ha!)
  11. Upavistha Konasana: Groin opener, Forward Bend, Reduces anxiety. Use a prop under your hips if your hamstrings and groins are too tight or bring your head to a chair instead of to a block or your knees. If you raise your hips, you need to be certain that you aren't overstretching your foot ligaments (that can happen). Massage your foot towards your knee, as firmly as you can manage without intense pain. Reduces inflammation.
  12. Paschimottanasana: Groin opener, Forward Bend, Reduces anxiety. See above.
  13. Savasana: Resorative
Update: The foot is fractured (albeit not badly). The more concerning fact is that the soft tissue damage appears to be extensive. Physio begins on Monday. Give me positive foot vibes, please. xo