Saturday, July 31, 2010

This post is not about sewing

Because I haven't done any. Yes, you understood me correctly. Since my last post on Wednesday, I have no sewed a stitch. I have not oiled a machine, threaded a needle, or even looked at fabric longer than 30 seconds. I have been busy with another subject, one as dear to my heart as sewing, and slightly more urgent and expensive:


I have been trying to buy my schoolbooks for next semester with a minimum of work and money paid out. This has actually been going fairly well, as many of my books are nerd books and generally not that expensive (St. Augustine's Confessions for $8 new? Check.) I shudder for all you poor math and science people--my math textbook costs $150. Needless to say, I haven't bought it yet and am working on alternatives. For anyone who may find themselves in similar straits, or for anyone who just likes getting cheap books, I will pass on Bookfinder. This site searches bookselling places, such as Alibris,, Amazon, Amazon Marketplace, and more that I had never even heard of. And the prices it lists include shipping! This may be my new favorite website.

I hope to finish buying books (except maybe that evil math book) by Monday, and then hopefully some sewing will return--madcap panic rush sewing, as Teresa leaves for ND very very soon, and an entire week is taken away by a Habitat for Humanity trip.

(If you read this whole post, then you may like books enough to want to check out this book giveaway. And yes, I admit, I do get an extra entry for linking to it, but it actually did fit with the rest of this post.)

Oh, and one more random thing: Happy anniversary to my parents, who as of yesterday have been married for 22 happy years. :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some progress,..but mostly not

So here's the thing. Everything is waiting on something else.

Teresa's coat fits okay, as I said earlier. However, I think the main fit problem is not the coat, it's Teresa. Her shoulders are very different heights. I have decided to use shoulder pads of two different thicknesses. So I have to wait for the other shoulder pad to come in the mail, as JoAnn's doesn't sell anything thinner than the ones I've got. (And I have to order them before they can come in the mail. Ahem.) The pictures I have are very poor, as the pattern is so busy that they coat looks weird and shapeless. It looks much much better in person.

Teresa's first pair of jeans are waiting on the hem. This means they are waiting on Teresa and me to both be free at the same time. This sounds easier than it actually is, because Teresa has an out-of-town visitor visiting her, and they are usually away doing touristy things. And I am tired, and I hate hemming, so I am perhaps not as pressuring as I could be.

Teresa's second pair of jeans, which I cut out a few days ago, is waiting on top-stitching thread. We have decided to go ahead with the rainbow top-stitching, but I am not sure where to get that locally, and am resistant to paying shipping on a spool of thread. I also have never actually top-stitched anything properly--how many yards of thread per pair of pants do you need, roughly?

I am sure you are wondering where the "some progress" part comes in. You probably have forgotten all about this sewing machine. Well, I sort of had, too. But today I dragged it out onto the front porch and cleaned it with some lamp oil. It seems to work much better. At any rate the wheel turns more nicely. I am going to let it dry overnight, then oil it and give it a test run. It would be super convenient to have a second machine set up for the top-stitching. (Um. That assumes I can get it upstairs and fit it into my bedroom. Maybe not.)

I may start a fourth project while I am waiting for the various things I am waiting for. This sewing is getting me down--in fact, I'm starting to worry that I may not be able to finish these things in time for Teresa to take them with her when she leaves.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Almost done (finally)!

Well, after much procrastinating and putting-off, I am nearly done with Teresa's J2908 jeans! I decided that it was simply not worth the effort to try and fix the disastrous waistband that the pattern came with. (For those who are not familiar with this pattern, it calls for a waistband made out of a rectangle of fabric. I don't think I know any member of the female sex over the age of 12 who can wear a one-inch wide straight waistband and not have it gap.) I decided to draft a curved waistband. It worked fairly well:

It's slightly uneven, and I'm not quite sure why, but I don't suppose it will really matter. Teresa tends to go for function over form, and she never tucks her shirts in, so not only does she not care, but no one will ever see anyway. On the last pair of pants I made with this pattern, the zipper showed whenever you moved, so I overlapped the edges of the fly a good bit more than the pattern called for. I didn't measure, I just eyeballed it. The zipper is hidden now, which I like--I think an exposed zipper on pants always looks like they're pulling and too tight.

I will admit that although I'm nor a huge fan of this pattern because of the aforementioned waistband issues, I do like the pockets very much. Teresa's pockets are lined with cute cotton, which I will post a picture of when I post a picture of them after they've been hemmed. I want to wash and dry them again before I hem them, though, just in case!

I also have been working on the coat I am making for Teresa out of this fabric. I made a muslin yesterday, and it fits fairly well, but I will have to do some significant alterations on the lower back because of her scoliosis. This was to be expected, though, and the coat does fit much better than I had feared. I will post before and after pictures of the muslin soon, although the fit is hard to see with the print I chose.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Musings on Modesty

As Peter puts it, "it's modesty week on the blogs!" And while I am certainly not as high-profile as Peter or Gertie or Sal, I did feel like sharing my thoughts, because this is a topic I have thought about a lot.

(Disclaimer: I am a Catholic with traditional sensibilities. I do not intend to preach in this post, or in any other post for that matter, but do be aware that what I will say does come from a religious perspective. You've been warned.)

To start off with, Gertie linked to this study, which I didn't find nearly as horrifying as some of the commenters did. A lot of commenters, particularly women, seemed to view this study as the religious patriarchy trying to oppress women. This study really didn't seem oppressive to me. Take this quote from the study overview page: "We're not telling you what to wear -- we're just telling you what we, as guys, have to guard against." To me, this study is more about providing information, and less about forcing women and girls to wear something ugly or burka-like. If I know what guys find difficult to deal with, this study can, at least theoretically, give me some information I might find helpful. (It's probably worth noting that although I found it interesting, I can't see myself changing anything about the way I dress based on it.)

However, me wanting to dress in a way that makes it easier for guys to not lust after me presupposes something, and that something is charity. Or kindness, or concern for others, or whatever you like to call it. If I dress is an immodest manner, is it my fault if someone reacts inappropriately? Not really--we all have free will and are responsible for our own actions. But at the same time, if I offer a recovering alcoholic a glass of beer and he falls off the wagon, I did help to cause that. Yes, it was his choice, but I could have been more sensitive. In the same way, while men obviously have the choice to look and whistle and imagine, or not, we can help them by dressing in a modest manner.

Being empowered does not mean that we should be selfish all the time. Peter said, "It seems many of us, scarred by the battles for equality perhaps, are loathe to admit doing something partly for others' pleasure, as if we were in some way contributing to our own objectification." In the same vein, I would suggest that the battle for equality has caused this division that is causing many of these problems, this attitude of "it's his problem, let him deal with it!" or "it's her body that's causing all the problems anyway--not my fault!" What would happen if both sexes changed their attitude and realized that objectification of a person, whether he be man or woman, is a serious problem, and one best dealt with by co-operation between the sexes? What we all dressed modestly, did our best to keep our thoughts under control, and took responsibility for our own actions?

I am very firm on the topic that modesty should be a two-way street, but at the same time I think that rules based on inches are hard to apply, arbitrary, and don't even work a lot of the time. Personally, I am a fan of the guideline that if you would be uncomfortable with someone of the opposite sex touching your bare skin in a certain place, that skin should be covered. (I don't remember where I heard it, though--if I stole it from you, please let me know so I can give you the proper credit!) I like this rule because it allows for personal comfort, while still providing a semi-objective standard. This rule doesn't work for everyone, but it's good for most people. There are obviously scenarios in which this rule can't be applied (bathing suits come instantly to mind), but for regular day-to-day wear, I like it very much.

I should probably add (and then I will finally shut up) that I am not at all a fan of the fashion police. I may think what you're wearing is beyond tacky or horribly skanky, but when you get right down to it, we all have to make our own choices, and forcing people to comply with our ideas of what is modest and what isn't is a very sticky issue. There are very few people, if any, who get up in the morning and think, "Hmm. What is the worst outfit I have in my closet to wear today?" Most people are trying to look nice most of the time. Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate to offer advice ("Dear sister, are you aware I can see right through your skirt? You may want to try a slip with that."), but going around judging strangers for what they are wearing only causes negative feelings and more divisions.

Anyway, I have given my opinion pretty strongly here, I think, but don't let that scare you away from jumping in. Agree? Disagree? A little of each?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

International fabric shopping

I was on vacation recently, visiting family in Montreal. I had the opportunity to go check out the fabric district. Sadly, I did not have a camera--I forgot it at home, and my cell phone only works inside the United States. I used this post from the Selfish Seamstress for recommendations for where to go. I had clear goals in mind: I wanted knits to make simple dresses and/or shirts out of, and I was hoping to score some cheap windbreaker fabric for Teresa's coat.

Did I ever accomplish my goals! I scored slightly over 3 meters of this lovely gray knit, which was on a clearance table for $1.98/meter.

I bought 3 more meters of this stripe, which I love and the rest of my family isn't so fond of, for $5/meter.

Those two fabrics came from different stores, and I don't remember the name of either store. I'm sorry. I also got windbreaker fabric! It's blue with adorable polka dots. I wish it were a fabric I could make a dress out of! This was quite reasonable too, at $5/meter. I do remember which store that came from, I think--it was called St. Hubert or something along those lines. And it was enormous and on a corner. Sadly, I haven't got a photo of the windbreaker fabric. It came home from Montreal in a box of books (I did much more book acquiring than fabric acquiring) under the back seat, and my mother has requested that the books stay in the car until such time as we have the ability to deal with them well. And apparently shoving the box under my bed (there is no free shelf space in my room at all) does not count as dealing well.

While I was doing this shopping, I got a chance to try out my loser French. I realized as soon as I climbed on the metro that I should have looked up some of the phrases you never learn in French class, but are oh so useful for fabric shopping--"Is this dry-clean only?" "Can you tell me whether you sell any cotton knits?" "Can you tell me how much this costs? (Okay, so I probably learned and promptly forgot that last one. Ahem.) I did know how to say a few things in French, and I would say I spoke English in only about half the stores. Which I consider pretty good. My greatest success was the time I asked for three meters, and the lady at the cutting counter said that there were slightly more than three meters, and I had to buy it all. And I understood her!

My greatest failure was when I walked into a different store and the man behind the cutting counter said something utterly unintelligible. I gave him what I assume was a very blank look and said, "Pardon?" He slowly repeated himself: "Comment ca va?"* Oops. I hastily racked my brains for how adverbs worked and triumphantly replied, "Bien!" He laughed and said, "You speak more English than French, eh?"

*This means "How's it going?"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My fabric organization scheme

I told you I would tell you how I keep track of my fabric, and now I will. I have a somewhat odd way to organize my fabric, but I think it is quite practical. Nearly every piece of fabric I own has its own index card. (Exceptions are small scraps and my quilting cottons.)

On this index card is written information I think I will find useful--the type of fabric, how much I have of it, where it came from and when I got it, and pattern ideas I have for it. (You may notice that this fabric, did, in fact, turn into NL 6807.) I also cut out a little bit of the fabric, from the selvage where possible, and glue that to the card.

I have many of these cards. Actually, I'm a bit behind on creating them for my more recent fabric acquisitions--I should really get on that.

Now, why do I have these cards? Why don't I just put my fabric in see-through boxes? It's because I am going to be living on a college campus next year. I don't forsee having space to bring all my fabric, nor do I necessarily want to make a trip back home every time I want a new piece of fabric. This simplifies my life a lot--I can look at my cards, decide what fabric I want, and (here comes the really cool part) give the card to my father, who works at Catholic University. He can take it home with him, and bring me the fabric the next day he comes in! This saves me time and money, as he would travel home and back to work anyway. But it also saves him time, because I don't have to explain to him what piece of fabric I want exactly. He can just match and grab. (My father is hardly clueless when it comes to sewing, but I still doubt that "the checked shirting" would be enough information for him. It certainly wouldn't be for me!)

I have all my cards in a box specially designed for holding index cards. I have little dividers in there, which divide my cards into the three divisions of fancy fabrics, knits, and wovens. In other words, they match the divisions of the actual fabrics.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Vintage patterns for sale

Zo at So, Zo is moving, and she's getting rid of some vintage patterns. She's going to use the money they sell for to ship (or help ship) her other sewing supplies to her new house. Most of them seem to come in a 36" bust. These patterns are cheap, too--one pound each, plus postage. Hop on over and see if there's one you like!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I was tagged!

Andrea of Invisible Flower tagged me in an 8 question questionnaire. Here are my answers:

1) What outfit from a movie would you love to re-create?
I would love to recreate one of Scarlett O'Hara's dresses from Gone With the Wind, something like what this person has done. Honestly, the only reason I haven't tried is that I would have no place to wear it! Well, and the expense.

2) Tell us about your sewing spot/room. What is your favorite thing about it?
My sewing spot is a table in my bedroom. I can't really pick a favorite thing about's very small and cramped. I suppose I like the fact that it's right underneath the window. It will soon be changing, though, when I move into a college dorm room. Hopefully it will be slightly less cramped. And hopefully my room mate doesn't mind scraps of fabric on the floor!

3) Where did you learn to sew? Who taught you?
I learned to sew in Germany. My mother taught me to handsew when I was four. I dropped it, picked it up again around 8 or 9, sewing with a machine this time, dropped it again, and then picked it up for good (at least so far) in the summer before 11th grade. I should find the doll's quilt I started in my first fit of enthusiasm and post a picture of it.

4) If you could have dinner with one person from the past, who would it be?
This is a difficult question, a very difficult question. I think I would have to go with Jesus, for obvious reasons, Thomas Aquinas, because he is an awesome philosopher, or my grandmother, because she died before I really got a chance to know her.

5) What/Who inspires you?
This is another hard question. I am inspired by many different things. As far as sewing related inspirations go, I am primarily inspired by looking at the things other seamstresses have sewed, or by flipping through catalogs. Occasionally I will be inspired by something in a store, but I don't spend that much time in real stores any more.

6) What will always make you laugh?
Funny things that my little siblings say. My friends can also usually make me laugh.

7) What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I have trouble with ice cream. It tends to give me a stomachache. When possible, I opt for sorbet. But honestly, in my book, nothing beats chocolate-chip cookie dough ice cream.

8) What is something you would like us to know about you that you have never shared on your blog?
Um. Hm. Sewing related? I am a terrible cheater. I skip any step I think I can do without. This means I skip almost all basting, a great deal of ironing, and anything else I think I can get away with. This is probably a fault that will come back to bite me some day. Being impatient and lazy is a terrible combination.

Now, rather than tagging anyone specifically, I'm tagging anyone who would like to participate. That way, no one gets put on the spot and no one gets excluded. (And it saves me the trouble of having to look back through old posts and make sure I don't tag someone who already did this....)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fabric storage

Or, finally she posts a picture or two!

I'll admit it--my fabric storage is a mess. In theory, it's organized, but in practice, it's sort of shoved into boxes. I have my fabric separated into four categories. One is wovens suitable for clothes, one is knits, one is quilting cottons, and one is "fancy" fabrics--velvet, lace, and so on.

This is my box of wovens:

Yes, it's a cardboard box. Actually, it's my serger's box! Since I took this picture, I have improved things a little bit. My dressmaker's dummy no longer lives on top of the box. However, I still have everything jammed in the box where I can't see it. (This is not quite as bad as it sounds, and a future post on how I keep track of what fabric I have will explain why.) And yes, it's ugly and impractical.

Here you can see my fancy fabrics, which are the three piles on the left, and my knits, which is the one small pile on the right (with the blue striped fabric on top). This may have to be changed, as I bought 7 more yards of thickish knits (which I still have to photograph and blog about) a few days ago. The striped box on the shelf above is full of my serger cones. And some spare elastic.
This is the box I keep my quilting cottons in. I actually like this storage idea. This is a shoe rack that my mother didn't want. The cottons are roughly sorted by color, and I have some notions in there too, in those purple boxes. I have a jar of empty spools and a jar of buttons there too, as well as a bag of scraps and my sister's knitting needle binder. And my other sister's Mardi Gras beads.
So yes, this is a mess. It's not that well organized, and it really really unattractive. However, I have two severely limiting factors. One is money. The shelves I have are the shelves I've got to work with. The other is space. I forget if I have posted a picture of my bedroom/sewing room, but it is small. Think college dorm room size. I simple haven't room for another shelf or some super-organizer.

That said, if anyone has any ideas, send them my way! These disheveled piles of fabric (because honestly, that's what these are) are starting to weigh down on me.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I have an excuse this time!

It's not a good excuse, but at least I have one. It is WAY too hot to sew. Even the thought of turning on an extra light bulb makes me want to pass out. Yesterday, with the humidity factored in, it felt like it was 110 degrees. Gack! (For those of you not on the East coast, all of us East Coasters are suffering under an extreme heat wave which has been breaking records all up and down the coast.) I hate hate hate the heat. I intend to move to Northern Canada some day and live in the Arctic with the polar bears. (Okay, maybe not quite that extreme....)

I have only been doing tiny bits of sewing in fits and starts, and am actually nearly done the Jalie 2908 jeans for Teresa. I suspect, though, that with this heat, the couple of hours I have left will take all week. *sigh*

Monday, July 5, 2010

Where have all the sleeves gone?

I was messing around on Polyvore today, and I figured out why it is that I so very rarely buy dresses off the rack. Besides the fit issues, I mean. Most dresses haven't got sleeves anymore! When did that happen? I'm used to summer dresses being sleeveless, but it seems to me that now all the dresses are sleeveless, with a significant number being strapless.

Strapless is out of the question. As my grandmother said to my mother, and could just as well have said to me, "You can't wear a strapless dress! You have nothing to hold it up!" I have tried on strapless dresses before....not happening. Besides, I honestly don't really like the way most strapless dresses look. I find wide expanses of skin to be not at all attractive, no matter how nicely tended the skin may be.

Sleeveless...meh. I haven't got a huge moral issue with sleeveless dresses or anything like that. Nor do I dislike the genre of sleeveless as much as I dislike the genre of strapless. I have a couple of sleeveless dresses and shirts. I just greatly prefer that my clothing have sleeves, or at least something that will approximate the look of a sleeve.

I guess this is why I sew. In theory, I can make my dresses look like anything I want! Assuming that is, I can find a pattern that's close enough to the ideal to alter. Easier said than done. For example, I can't find sewing patterns that look like this or like this.

I guess I need to learn to draft. Hmm. I don't think drafting lessons and poor college student budget usually coincide, do they?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth!

Yes, I get to post about both holidays...this is the greatest advantage of having dual citizenship. You get twice as much cake!

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Apparently a test that they use to see if someone is a terrorist sometimes is to ask him to sing the Star Spangled Banner. If he knows and sings all four verses, chances are good that he's not an American! Such a shame--the other verses are so nice.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Museum meet-ups?

If you are free on the 29th of August and are near (or willing to get yourself near Nashville), or free on the 24th of July and near NYC, you'll want to check out this post by Gertie.

I am not anywhere near Nashville, and I am only near NYC in a very extended sense of the word (read: a Chinatown bus trip away), plus I have plans already for both of those days, so I won't be at either meet-up. If you go, be sure and post pictures!

I have been doing almost no sewing this past week or so. I always lose my mojo in the summer, but it's really bad this year. I hope to do just a little bit of sewing today, but I said that yesterday as well.

In a completely non-sewing related note, I have gotten my roommate for next year at college. We've exchanged some emails, and I'm pretty sure we're going to get along well. Hooray!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Well, today is Canada Day!

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.