Feb 28, 2011

Why I've been so busy, or Advanced Patternmaking is hard, y'all!

I've been really busy with schoolwork already this semester at FIT. I'm taking Misses' Sportswear, an advanced patternmaking class, which is the third patternmaking class I have taken at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Every week we have to draft the pattern for a garment, and then sew it, doing all the finishing touches that take time. So far I've made two skirts, one I love and will wear to a wedding in a month in Wisconsin, and one that is...meh. (See left and below). 

It turned out well, but I made it to fit my dressform at school, and even with a few alterations, I don't think it suits my frame that well. I am starting running tomorrow (I had my gait analyzed at Jackrabbit in NYC yesterday and got a sweet new pair of sneakers) so maybe by real spring it will look a little better on me. Or maybe not. Perhaps I will give it to a taller svelter friend instead. Anyway, note the vent in the back (that's a special type of slit that keeps your upper thighs and lady business under wraps:

And here's the top:
Onto Project #2. A navy and champagne printed silk skirt with asymmetrical gores:
It's swingy, with just the right amount of flare to camouflage a lady's lovely hips. Also, note the great asymmetrical yoke detail on the back:
And down the front:
I'm making a ruffled blouse in a peachy silk  to match this skirt, so will post more pics later. Also: I just got my new serger delivered! So if you need me, that's where I'll be neglecting my child.

Feathers are the new "Put A Bird On It!"

If you haven't seen the new IFC show Portlandia, get thee to Youtube/Hulu/www.ifc.com stat! It's a series of sketches starring my favourite Saturday Night Live cast member Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, guitarist from the band Sleater-Kinney. Each sends up an aspect of Portland culture but is so ridiculous.... I love it. Anyone, one funny clip is this one called "Put a Bird On it!"

I think the new "Put A Bird On It" is feathers (though it's really the same thing because feathers come from birds, right?). Anyway, I am so on board with putting feathers on everything. Here's a dress I made last week (It's the Anda pattern on Burdastyle.com. It's really, really easy):

And here's the feather I put on it (using machine embroidery)!
Here's a beautiful necklace I got for Christmas from Ryan. It's from Etsy seller Sora Designs:
and here it is close up:
  Some other examples of Putting A Feather On It (from Mod Cloth):

Feb 27, 2011

How cool is this?

Nobody every comments on my blog (except you, Lizzi) so I often feel like no one is reading it. But then there's this:

How awesome is that? Lucy in the Max costume I designed and sewed, and a link to my pattern and tutorial on a Korean sewing blog. Thanks for reading and linking, guys! P.S. I can't tell what it says...but I'm hoping it's about how cute it is? Anyone know Korean?

My Husband, the Storyteller

I met this guy here with the mandolin 5&1/2 years ago in Winnipeg. He was performing his first solo show Pentecostal Wisconsin, which is all about growing up Pentecostal in Wisconsin and then leaving it all behind. I loved the show — and his dimples even more. I tracked him down later that night and yadda yadda yadda, two years later we got married at City Hall in New York City.
Listening to him tell a good story is almost as good as seeing it live. He had a funny tale yesterday on CBC Radio's Definitely Not The Opera. It's about being humiliated by a bunch of kids. You can listen here:  http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/dnto_20110226_45945.mp3
Late last year I got to see Ryan perform at a storytelling night in NYC. Storytelling is super popular right now (Take the Moth, for example, which has spread from NYC to four cities and a travelling roadshow, plus a very popular podcast and celebrity storytelling nights), and it's a form in which Ryan really excels. I don't often get to see him perform because babysitters are expensive and I'm at home with our kid while he's out. But we coughed up the money so I could see him tell a story I'd heard over a dozen times, and it was so worth it to be reminded why I was attracted to him in the first place. His story is the first in this podcast of the popular Risk show: http://risk-show.com/2010/12/episode-206-eye-of-the-beholder/
Risk was created and is hosted by Kevin Allison of the legendary sketch comedy troupe The State. Here's another great story by Ryan (his story is the last one) at a Risk storytelling night. This one is about the Rapture and losing his mom to kidney disease. One of those two things is the end of the world for a kid raised Pentecostal. You have to listen to find out which one: http://risk-show.com/2010/05/episode-116-the-end/

Feb 24, 2011

I'm Fat Because You Can't Put Your Hands Around My Waist (and other things I learned from Little House on the Prairie)

You know what myth I'd like the Mythbusters crew to tackle this season? That reading in the dark causes nearsightedness. Though that would be the most boring episode. Picture it: a time elapsed video of nerds with flashlights reading under the covers, reading in the back of a dimly-lit minivan, reading under the bleachers during lunch-hour at school...(you see where I'm going here). THEN: a time-elapsed video of other non-nerds running and playing, doing whatever it is that kids who hate reading do. AND FINALLY: (some years later) the vision testing segment. My money is on the nerds all needing glasses. In university I would conduct informal surveys in my head whereby I would count the number of people in any given room and then calculate what percentage who were wearing glasses. Example: Romantic Poetry class — almost everyone is wearing glasses. Meanwhile, Wednesday Wing Night at Maude Hunters — NO ONE IS WEARING GLASSES. My conclusion: nerds wear glasses, probably because we read too much as kids.

I read a tonne (yes, metric) as a kid. And what do I have to show for it except a cool pair of glasses? Yes, like all the other nerds: an English degree.

However, I remember so little of the books I read, it's shocking. Let me clarify: it's not shocking how little I can remember; it's the things I remember that are shocking.

Who didn't love reading Little House on the Prairie? I know I did. At the time I didn't wonder how old Ma had to be when she married Pa. But now I do. Because one of the only things I remember from that book is the fact that when they were married, Ma’s waist was so tiny that Pa could span it with his strapping hands. Think about THAT for a minute: Her waist fit in his hands. Make an "O" with your hands together and look at the space in the middle. Picture a late 19th-century lady in there. A tiny, little kitten-sized 19th-century lady. Because a kitten is about all I could span with my hands. I have long fingers and I can’t even wrap my hands around my two-year-old’s belly (however, she is shaped a little like little George Costanza — like all two-year-olds).

So thanks, Laura Ingalls Wilder, for making my tween self feel fat for not having the dimensions of a kitty cat. 

Some of my other fave books as a kid and the useful things I remember:

• Harriet the Spy — If you write shit about your friends, they WILL find it. (So be nice on your blog.)

• Anne of Green Gables — This one really is useful: croup symptoms can be allieviated with steam and syrup of ipecac. Also: in the olden days crying together was like playing Wii. Girls did it together all the time.

• Little Women — falling thru the ice is a great way to garner enough sympathy to be forgiven for anything. Also: if you’re writing a novel, back it up, dummy!

Feb 23, 2011

Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me About Bento Boxes?

 SO I was working on this story for a kid's publication, when I was forced to ask myself the question: "Do kids still use lunch boxes?"

When I was a kid the lunch box was our sole status object. What kind you had said so much about you. Also, they were the thing-most-coveted for many of us.

Anyway, I needed to know in case my reference was totally dated and incomprehensible to children: So I hit up Amazon to see what a quick search for "lunch box" turned up. I figured if they were declasse, it would be hard to find a cool one online.

Well, readers, it turns out I'm the same kid who lusted over a Care Bears lunch kit in 1984. Exhibit A: 
Note the Ninja headband with painted-on eyebrows that keeps the two halves of this Bento box together. Love.

Also: how is it possible that I had no idea of this Bento lunch craze? It seems parents in Japan work hard to make their kids lunches look like cartoon characters, which is apparently a way to show your kids love all day long....or an attempt to trick your kids into eating nasty/healthy things like hard-boiled eggs. Blech! (Oh, but it's shaped like a bunny? I'll totally eat that). I could have used some of this voodoo when my kid was 14-22 months old and refused to eat anything other than crackers.

Look at this cookbook "Yum-Yum Bento Box." Rice balls gussied up to look like baby chicks? Are you kidding me? Only a heartless beast wouldn't eat those little jezebels. Or wait...are they too cute to eat? I can't even tell anymore.And just what is that sassy little octopus made of? Bologna?

 Awwww, look at the little egg buddies. I think they're in love:

Carrots cut into music notes? Carrots cut into music notes!

These little contraptions are molds for turning disgusting hardboiled eggs into delicious little bears and bunnies who you would just love to bite the faces off of.
And these aren't cookie cutters. They for making shapes out of vegetables. Seriously though, how stupid do you think my kid is?

Feb 9, 2011

Someone make me this, please?

If I only had a garage. And tools. (Oh, and some time to spare) I would totally try to make something like this for my apartment. Or if you live in Cape Town you could buy it from a number of shops that sell this South African designer Katie Thompson's repurposed furniture.

Feb 7, 2011

Slopealong Day 1: Taking Your Measurements

When you were in highschool did you ever have to calculate the percentage of fat in your body? We did. It was awesome. Actually, I'm kidding. It was horrible.

It went something like this: weigh yourself in front of everyone in our class — both boys and girls.  (Everyone can see that number, obviously, so it's the only thing that will be accurate going forward.) Then use the fat calipers ("Fat calipers"? WTF??!) to pinch the fat under your arm, at your waist, on your back and various other parts of your body. But rather than write down the actual number of millimeters of fat pinched, you write down something that sounds much better — say 5 mm instead of 12 mm. Then through some complicated fitness math discover that you should be able to lift 1,000 pounds because you are 120 pounds with just 4 % fat, which of course isn't true. You're more like 25% fat and can lift, like, 30 pounds (I'm making all these numbers up; I'm Canadian and have problems with measurements due to years of switching between metric and imperial). The lesson here: Math is hard when you're a lying liar who's trying to compensate for the fact that teen boys and girls have very different fat-to-muscle ratios.
Use a length of string or ribbon to mark your true waist

Where am I going with this?  The key to creating a perfect sloper is taking accurate measurements  — not what you think you should be or what you were pre-baby or what you are hoping to be by summer (par example: I wear size 29 jeans but my actual waist measures 30 inches. So for the love of properly fitting clothes, write down 30 inches! It's better to be real about the numbers than be the weakling struggling under the weight of a barbell calculated to challenge an Olympic lifter.) Like Stacey and Clinton always say, dress the body you have now. 

In this post, the first of a series I'm sure nobody will care about (please comment if you do! I need near-constant reassurance) I will show you all the measurements you need to create your front and back bodice slopers. It's super photo-heavy, which I am hoping will be helpful to those who need it. Follow the jump for more!

Feb 6, 2011

Poly What?

 I sometimes think about what aspects of myself I would like to see my daughter inherit. Actually let me rephrase that: Sometimes I think about what aspects of myself I would like for my daughter NOT to inherit. Chief among the genetic variations I would like to die with me are my butt's unfortunate ability to make a wedgie from any pair of underpants and an internal thermometer permanently set to high — often resulting in extreme sweatiness. Sadly, the term "diaper wedgie" has been in her vocabulary a year. And on a typical summer day in NYC our whole family looks like we just went swimming though we've been nowhere near a pool. Actually, on any day between the months of April to October you may find us sweating it out alongside our snowsuit-clad neighbors. (Dominicans seemingly get the chills when the temperature drops below 20 C — also the temperature at which my sanity is restored.)

That's the reason I put half the items that catch my eye back on the rack (and the reason I never shop in my neighbourhood): polyester makes me feel like I'm dying. And then I stink. Well, I don't stink. My polyester shirt stinks. It's not surprising considering polyester is basically plastic. 

So it's odd that I brought home this end piece I found in the bin at a fabric store downtown. But I like the bold pattern and colours, and if there's one advantage to polyester it's that the colours never fade.

There was just enough to make a short-sleeved version of the Batwing Top from Burdastyle.com. I'm hoping the airy Dolman sleeves will keep me from sweating my bag off.

Feb 2, 2011

Like the ones a mechanic wears?

 I had my first "Misses Sportswear (advanced patternmaking) class tonight at FIT and the professor informed us we will be making, among other things, jeans, vests and jumpsuits. Jumpsuits!


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