Jun 29, 2011

Impulse Buy of the Day

 With my kid at her sitter this morning I went downtown to the fabric district to go buy what I need for the flowergirl dresses I am making. I went to Metro Textile Corp. on 37th Street because the prices are really good and the guy there is so helpful and so sweet, and when you get the end of the roll (which I did three times today), he doesn't charge for the extra bits. Unfortunately, however, he likes to flatter, which doesn't make it easy to avoid impulse buying two yards of silk printed with peacock feathers. (The light in my apartment is shit, so this picture here doesn't do the colours justice. It really is an amazing piece of fabric.)

Fabric guy: Your husband would love to take you out to dinner in a dress made from this silk.

Me: (Sigh) How much?

In case you need to know: $14/yard, which is half what you would pay for this same fabric at Mood.

Anyway, I will need a dress for this wedding in the fall, so it's not like it was a total impulse buy. And where can you find an amazing silk dress for $28? I don't want to mess around and make any mistakes with this fabric, so I will test out whatever I make first before cutting.  Here's the pattern I just bought (Vogue1207, on sale for $3.88  from Vogue Patterns), which I think will be lovely in this print. Business in the front, party in the back (that's what they used to say about mullets where I come from).

Jun 28, 2011


Talk about coincidence. I just won this book from Burdastyle.com (always, always comment to enter a giveaway!). And the funny thing is my kid's birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I am making tents for her party in the park. It's going to be a camping theme, which was an extrapolation on what she wanted — a marshmallow party. (When do you eat marshmallows? When you're camping. So there you go.)

Anyway, I had already decided on this A-frame tent I saw at the great blog Grosgrain. It seemed a little simpler to make and set up than the teepee style, and I wanted to make three of them so the kids don't have to fight over them. Of course the teepee is cuter, but I'm all about simplifying when it comes to planning my kid's party. We live in a tiny apartment in Manhattan and have to drag everything for the party to a nearby park. Oh, and we don't have a car and you can't grill in the park. So that means minimal everything. For food, we'll have pizza delivered to the park. Whatev.

Anyway, I'm very excited about this book. I bet it will be inspiring. And I think there will be good ideas on handmade gifts for my kid's friends. They all have a carrier now. I need something new for the next round of birthdays.


About to get married at Manhattan City Hall
Did you read the title of this post? That's what I was chanting last night to my husband on the anniversary of the day we got hitched at City Hall in Manhattan. Because we've been married four years now, and he tweeted that he started running for re-election two years ago, which sounds about right in the U.S. In Canada, our preference is to be kinda shitty until we lose a no-confidence vote, and then we're really sweet and make lots of promises (all that you have heard before) for the five weeks prior to the anniversary and hope that undoes all the damage caused by 3 years and 47 weeks of being kinda shitty.

Anyway, it's a good thing there are no term limits in marriage. But we have nothing to worry about. My husband and I are of one mind. This is a good thing when it come to dealing with our daughter. Or choosing a paint colour for our kitchen. Often our conversations go something like this:

Me: Hey, why don't we order Thai tonight?

Him: I was just thinking that too!

Me: Awesome.

But the downside of this is we are down one mind. Sharing one mind means we agree a lot, but it also means we share many of the same weaknesses. Therefore there's no one to do the heavy lifting when it comes to things like driving directions. (That's something we're both so terrible at that we made a vow to never again go to New Jersey. Getting lost in New Jersey means an hour on the wrong "express" highway and an extra $25 in tolls.) 

Jun 26, 2011

Testing, Testing, One Two ...

My sailor pants pattern is coming along...nicely, I think. Here I am sporting my test pair of shorts today in the park near our apartment. In my haste to test the fit, I omitted the buttons and the welt pockets on the back. I'm pretty pleased (though I don't look it here; I'm probably saying something like, "Hurry up and take my photo, I feel like a fool!) Now I have to choose some fabric and buttons for the real deal.

Jun 25, 2011

At Long Last some Uninterrupted Sewing Time

 So I've been wanting to make sailor pants for years. I love them. But I've never found a pair that fits right or that was in my budget. Patterns are hard to come by too. SO my first step is making a pair of these faux sailor shorts, based on a pair of capri-length faux sailor pants on loan from my friend Lizzi (in exchange I am turning them into shorts for her, so she no longer has to hear her husband say, "Are you sure you want to wear those?" Because let's face it, capris aren't flattering on anybody (I'm talking to you, tourists. They didn't need any special effects to make the hobbits look short in Lord of the Rings. They just dressed them in capri pants.)

I figured going faux first would be easier than trying to figure out a full sailor pant. If these fit well, than I can turn this pattern into the real deal. Plus lengthen it for pants. But it's hot in NYC again and I need shorts so here we go:

The back: note the double waistband and welt pockets

My pattern. There are 11 pieces in this shorts pattern! Details, details.

My "muslin"
So here I am in the test pair I sewed this morning. I didn't bother with the lining or zipper because I just wanted to make sure I had a good fit. And I do! Hurray! And these baby's have a side zip, so I am off the hook when it comes to sewing a fly, thank you very much. Stay tuned for fabric choice.

Jun 24, 2011

From Tablecloth to Tunic Top

Is it obvious that this tunic top was made from a tablecloth? I hope not because I'll be wearing it for the rest of the summer and I wouldn't want anyone to try to eat off me. If it looks familiar that's because it is the perfect summer top, the Burdastyle.com Tunic Top With Crochet Flowers pattern, which I previously made in pink. Once again I've made it sans crochet flowers, because I neither crochet nor like excessive applique across my bust.Plus with the blue floral embroidery along the bottom, I've got enough embellishment, I think.

Once again, I recommend this pattern. And it's cheap, though some assembly is required. Just $5.40 at Burdastyle.com.

Don't ask, don't tell

I hear this now and then: "I wish somebody had told me about ________ before I got pregnant." Usually it refers to something awful, like nightly heartburn or hemorrhoids, as if having a sore butt for a few months would keep you having a kid if you really wanted one. But we all make jokes about our kids and how much we hate them sometimes, right? So, whatever.

I wish, however, that there were pregnancy-and-labour-related things now known by the general non-child-bearing public that were kept a secret. Like hemorrhoids. Or tearing. And how you maybe, probably poop at least a little when you're pushing. I think that detail should have remained on a need-to-know basis. I wish I knew who was the bitch who stepped of the proverbial birthing hut and spilled the beans. Until I find her, I'm blaming Judd Apatow.

I didn't ask my midwife how many stitches I got, and neither should you. The only point of knowing the answer to that question is for scaring other pregnant ladies, which is cruel and pointless. Like my husband said while I was pregnant, if your grandpa was having heart surgery, I wouldn't tell you about all the people I knew who had died on the operating table. Yet when you're pregnant every one will tell you about someone they know who was in labour for 364 hours and then had 92 stitches and couldn't see the colour orange for six months post-partum (I made some or all of those facts up).

I have no idea whether I pooped while pushing. My best friend likely knows because she was at the business end of things during the delivery, but she hasn't told me  — and that is why she will be my best friend forever. Also, she pushed on my lower back every six minutes for two whole days. Don't ask me why. YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW.

Alexander McQueen With Lucy

 I finally got to see the Alexander McQueen "Savage Beauty" exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday. I was a little bummed about having to drag my three-year-old along with me to the museum because I knew the exhibit would be crowded and I would have to carry all 32 pounds of her around the entire time lest she get trampled by some stilletto-wearing McQueen super-fan.  Indeed I would recommend seeing this exhibit without your kid, so you can read all the text, watch all the videos, and listen to the audio tour. Plus it's scary. So there's that.

But the fun thing about taking my kid to see Savage Beauty is the associative commentary from an almost-three-year-old. You may not be so lucky to be in New York with a toddler who can provide you with this alternative tour experience, so I'll share with you as best I can my kid's critique of Savage Beauty.

(You're not allowed to take any pictures in the exhibit, so these photos are all pillaged from the Met's website).

After standing in line for a full 30 minutes, this is the first gown you see upon entering the exhibit:

Made from black and red ostrich feathers and medical slides (the kind you may remember putting under a microscope in high school) painted red, it's stunning and really had an impact on my kid:
Can we go home now?

But there's no turning back after waiting in line for 30 minutes, so we persisted. Lucy was less impressed by the first room, The Romantic Mind, which showcases some of his early work, including his graduate collection for the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Among the tailored jackets and dresses, are his "bumster" pants (circa 1993), ultra-low-rise trousers designed to elongate the body — and maybe show a little buttcrack. Again, Lucy was unimpressed. After all, her pants often look like this:

About 12 years after these pants were introduced, we'd all be sick of seeing every hootchie's G-string hanging out of the top of her low-rise jeans. But at the time, they were so innovative. If you're doubting just how innovative they were, here's a close approximation of what you were probably wearing in 1993:
McQueen's vision gets considerably darker in the next room, titled "Romantic Gothic." Actually, it gets downright scary (and more than a little S&M-ish). To illustrate that fact, the curators have included a looped soundtrack of wind punctuated by a high-pitch howling. We were trying to squeeze ourselves into the queue of people getting a closer look when Lucy said: "It sounds like a scary monster is COMING TO EAT US!" And then she looked at this piece here and said "I think that's the monster!"
The following room, The Cabinet of Curiosities, would be the one I'd linger in longest if I didn't have a kid with me. Lined with hats and accesories made from unlikely materials (including impressive wings made from balsa wood), this room featured video installations of his runway shows, which were more like performance art than fashion — disturbing performance art featuring accessories that almost all resemble shackles in some way. Not literally shackles, but the effect is the same when nearly all the models look enslaved in some way. Like this:

After that, things got a little lighter and costumey in a good way — from his tartan creations (at the time controversial because they were introduced in a bloody show called Highland Rape) to Edwardian fantasy frocks all red velvet and tulle. 

And if you like the "unconventional materials" challenges on Project Runway, then you will love the middle section of the McQueen exhibit. This one, made entirely of pheasant feathers, was my favourite:

This one was Lucy's favourite. In her words: "Why does that lady have a cake on her head? (Beat)  I like that."

And then, in response to the following: "Hey mom, look! Ladies don't play football! Only mens do!" followed by hysterical laughter.

And then something about the gowns in the following room (clustered together under the theme of "Romantic Primatism") compelled Lucy to say, "When I grow up, I want to be a dinosaur," which was the ultimate highlight of my day.

Jun 20, 2011

The Perfect Summer Top

Burdastyle.com's Tunic Top With Crochet Flowers just might be the perfect summer top. For me. You may prefer short, tight, see-through polyester shirts for summer. In fact, if you live in my neighborhood in New York, you probably do. I've seen you (and your side-boob). I, however, like flattering tops in natural fibers that don't  make you any hotter than it already is in New York City. Because I can't help the sweat trickling down the back of my leg, but I can prevent overheating my midsection in a lightweight tunic like this one here.

The pattern for this top costs just $5.40 at Burdastyle.com, which is a great price. The downside of downloading a pattern as opposed to buying one in a store is you have to print all the pages and then tape them together before cutting the pieces out. It's tedious. I'm not going to lie. But all that work seems like less of a deal if you use the pattern a few times, which I plan to do with this one here. I've already started a second, which I am making from a white and blue embroidered tablecloth. Hopefully it won't be as wrinkly as this one here:

Jun 19, 2011

Spotted in Times Square Today

 We were walking back to the subway through Times Square this afternoon after spending the morning in Bryant Park, riding the carousel and watching odd people play ping pong, when we saw this performance art. It looks like the work of Olek, a Polish street artist known for her large scale crocheted installations. Of course, we all shook hands with the crocheted person. It appears to be inspired by Yoko Ono's Grapefruit. If you also want to be bossed around by Yoko Ono, follow her Twitter feed. Like, truly follow it — like my friend Chris did.

Jun 9, 2011

This makes me so happy

Someone found my blog by googling "Mormon Spanx."

Bow-print dress and Burda

 I was super flattered this week to be asked by Burdastyle.com to be a featured member. What that means is I answer a bunch of questions about my sewing habits and style aspirations ( I say "aspirations" because my life as a work-at-home mom doesn't always allow me to exhibit the style I favour) and they feature my projects on the Burda blog. Cool right? I just need to find some time to answer the long list of questions. I'm so freaking busy with a big writing project this week I shouldn't even be writing here!

Anyway, pictured above is the finished vintage McCall's maternity dress that I cursed over last week (no, I am not pregnant. I just like the style and thought it would light and airy for summer). And then I finished and it's now a million degrees in New York, so though this is made from cotton, it's much too hot to wear. Scratch that: Everything is much to hot to wear. (My family is hanging out in the air conditioned American Museum of Natural History today while I try to get some work done.) I love navy blue. It's a bummer it can be so hard to match up, but it's lovely nonetheless.

Because I scrapped using the bow-print fabric for the main part of the dress, I had all this fabric left over. I was going to make a skirt with it, but then — horrors!! — I cut into it by mistake! Don't even ask me how it happened. It makes me shiver just thinking about ruining a yard of such cute fabric. It's destined to be a sleeveless summer top now. Or a headband — if I eff it up again!


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