Dec 30, 2011

Finished project! Vintage Simplicity 8360

Oh hey! I was just scratching the back of my head
This is my husband's favourite actor headshot pose. The classic scratch-the-back-of-your-head pose. I think it's popular because it sets your chin at a nice angle, making the jaw line look more defined. Think I'm crazy? Here are a few examples:

Shia LeBouef is itchy

So is Jason Segal
Justin Timberlake may be running his hand through his hair...but he's probably worried about his dandruff
As you can see, I finally got my husband out for a photo shoot in his new wool knit hooded sweatshirt, sewn from the vintage Simplicity 8360 pattern I bought on Etsy from Paulassewnice (she has another copy of the same pattern available RIGHT NOW for just $4.25 US).

Hello there, little man!
An awfully photogenic man, my husband Ryan makes for a good model — especially when he accepts direction gracefully. It was a wonderful day in NYC today. Winter? What winter? 

This look says "I question your authority."

I made this hoodie to replace a gray zip-up hooded sweater my husband wore well for a couple years before losing it in Fresno, California, during a fringe theatre festival. I haven't seen a suitable replacement since, so I thought I'd try making him one. Again, here he is in the original:

After a reader found me the perfect raglan-sleeved hoodie pattern (Simplicity 8360), I bought a gray wool knit at Mood in New York City. I tried and failed to find something suitable somewhere cheaper. When I finally checked Mood, I found a perfect match for $20/yard. I needed two yards for this hoodie. Pretty pricey, but it was for his Christmas gift, after all. And the poor guy works so hard and never gets to have anything nice. Look how happy he is now (I believe this look is called "Hey! There's the bus!"

I made a couple changes to the pattern to update it for a man who likes a little more length (the 1970s pattern is a little cropped; it also has very blousey sleeves, which I took in). Instead of a drawstring on the bottom hem, I added a two-inch band. And instead of putting elastic at the ends of the sleeves, I again added bands. It's a more modern (and less feminine, I think) sweatshirt than the one in the vintage pattern. See how tough he looks in it?

Lucy also wanted to give the head scratch pose a try:

So what's your favorite pose? 

I consider it success we made it out of 2011 alive

There was a point in 2011 when I somewhat seriously considered squatting. That's how desperate I felt this year.

Not squatting in an abandoned building, mind you. We have a three-year-old, after all, and I need a daily shower and coffee within moments of waking up in order to feel human. I just wondered what would happen if we stopped paying long would it take to get thrown out, and could we save enough cash in that time to make a new life somewhere other than New York? Because life in this city become pretty unbearable after I was attacked by a crackhead, just as my husband suffered a major loss of work, on the day an earthquake shook the city, in the calm before a hurricane hit. I don't remember the earthquake (nor do I recall the attack), and the hurricane proved to be no worse than any other sudden summer storm. But an intense feeling that the other shoe was about to drop remains just the same. My husband has it too; neither of us can get an email without the other one demanding what bit of bad news it could possibly be. It's a terrible way to exist.

(I also considered lottery tickets and corruption as possible ways out. But good sense and a lack of opportunity won out).

So with all this in mind you would think I'd be ready to say good riddance to 2011. But I can't run arms outstretched into the future without worrying that it could be even worse. (After I was mugged, people said to me, "Well, now you've been you don't have to worry about THAT happening again." But life doesn't work that way. You don't get a punchcard with all the bad things that could possibly happen to you on it. If it did, there would never have been a second episode of "I Hate My Teenage Daughter").

I found out this week that the guy who punched me in the mouth is refusing a plea deal so I will have to testify in court in February. What that means is I will have to see him (most likely), and be cross-examined by his defense attorney. My brain has so far done me the huge favour of not remembering the attack (thanks, brain!). But when I saw the police detective who helped me again at the Grand Jury, I was overcome with the feeling that I knew him — that maybe we dated in highschool, and he was really sweet to me...or maybe I've seen him on TV? It's so hard to explain. But when I saw him, I thought: "I KNOW him. He was nice to me. I was grateful." I can't remember what he said, or how our interaction went, but I am certain of the feeling of relief I felt in his presence. So I am worried when I see the crackhead who punched my face in I will remember the terror I felt — though not necessarily any specifics. And then I will never be able to leave my apartment again. I really would like to be able to leave my apartment in 2012.

There were some good things about 2011, to be sure:

• I was chosen as a "Featured member" on
• My husband appeared on One Life to Live
• I won a bunch of awesome stuff
• I went to Mexico for the first time, with some of my closest friends, and had the best time ever
• Pie continued to be awesome in 2011. And I'm feeling good about its enduring greatness for 2012.
• I made some cute dresses, like this one, this one, and my favourite, which was chosen by as a top project for the year
• I won a Halloween costume contest after pestering the shit out of my friends and readers
• I won tickets to Saturday Night Live
• We moved into a bigger apartment in a quieter neighborhood, though every time we hear a car horn honk, my three-year-old daughter sighs audibly and says, "I thought this was a quiet neighbourhood." (Oy, such a kvetcher!)
• We now live across the street from the BEST bagel shop ever. There's not even a toaster (because you would be an idiot if you were to toast a Bagel Corner bagel, I guess)
• My husband got into advertising school for copywriting, and I'm so excited for him to make a career change. It will be a challenging year, but we just have to hang in there and work harder. There's no other option. Not when you have this to wake up to:

Happy New Year. Hang in there, everybody.

Dec 27, 2011

Signing up for Minoru Sew-along

Readers, I didn't get what I wanted for Christmas, so today I did what anybody else would do: returned what I got and bought the thing I did — this pattern for the Minoru Jacket by Tasia of Sewaholic:
It's so sporty and cute, right? Tasia lives in Vancouver, which is just a ferry ride from where I was born and raised. This pattern calls for lighter weight fabrics, so it will obviously have to wait to be worn until spring. Which means I'm in no real rush to sew it — though Tasia is hosting a Minoru sew-along starting Jan. 16. I don't know if I'll even have my pattern (not to mention fabric) by then. But I love sew-alongs, and one of my resolutions for the New Year is to participate in more of them.

In other news, included my Peacock-print Bombshell Dress in its slideshow of Member Projects of 2011!
If only a gal like me had more places to wear a dress like this. Thanks for the love, Burdastyle!

Dec 21, 2011

A few cute things I've been working on

I'm still hanging my head in shame over that pink velvet dress debacle. It really made me question whether I am, in fact, halfway decent at this — in the way that running into a lame ex-boyfriend makes you wonder whether you ever have any idea what you are doing ever.

To help myself move on, I've been sewing some small projects this week — and nothing for myself. All three of these projects are for my daughter for Christmas, and all were made from fabrics I had in my stash.

My daughter is three, and she seems to understand that she can ask for something for Christmas. But her wishes are vague and weird, and left up to a certain degree of interpretation. Her main request has been for a "teacher bag" and a "teacher toy." What those two things are...we may never know. She wont' tell us. Most likely she doesn't know. (If you have any suggestions, please leave them below!)

So following roughly this great tutorial at Say Yes To Hoboken for a Notebook Lined Tee, I used some scraps of a cream-coloured denim (some weird muslin? I got it from a neighbour who was getting rid of fabric) and fabric paints to create this "teacher bag":

I'm fully expecting her to toss it aside Christmas morning and say, "THAT'S not a teacher bag!" Harumph.

Moving on, I also made her this shirt (from the last bits of blue jersey I have previously used to sew leggings and underpants, as well as the pink polka-dotted fabric I used to make tents for Lucy's camping birthday party, and a lovely bird-printed cotton I used for doll carriers). I used the Elise pattern by Violette Field Threads, which I won in a giveaway. The pattern was great, and it turned out very cute, I do believe.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that my kid actually wears it. After using cotton bias tape to finish the neckhole I realized I'd never be able to get this shirt over my kid's head, so I cut a slit in the back, bound off the opening, and added a button and elastic closure. I should have known better and used jersey as the bias strip to finish the neckhole, but the pattern instructions didn't specify and clearly I have poor judgement. Also, the pattern didn't have grain lines. Weird, non?

I also made a few flowered headbands for Lucy and her friends as little gifts. I think I'll give her this one early so she can wear it in her preschool holiday show tomorrow:

So tell me, what do you do to make yourself feel better after failing?

Dec 16, 2011

Violette Field Threads Giveaway Winner!

The winner is Sparkledonkey! (Yes, it was random, though flattery will get you everywhere, Sparkledonkey!)

Email me sbeaubien (at) gmail (dot) com so I can send you your prize: three sewing patterns from Violette Field Threads. Thanks everyone for entering!

Dec 15, 2011

My Danielle: A Velvet Wenchlet of a Dress

After a busy couple weeks filled with writing assignments, I needed to sew something this week. Something for myself. But I didn't want to go downtown, and I didn't want to spend any money. So I searched my stash for some suitable yardage. "Stash" may be a stretch these days, as I don't have much in the way of fabric on hand anymore. I also didn't want to throw good money after bad and buy a new pattern to use with a less-than-stellar fabric choice. So I thought I'd see if I could make the Danielle, a free pattern from, work for me. I wasn't too thrilled with the line drawing (which should have stopped me?):
 But I liked this version by Burda member mathildeparis:

C'est tres jolie, non? So I thought if I lengthened the sleeves like she did, and got the length of the skirt just right, it would be less '90s looking. You'd think.

But the result, dear readers, looks like something Zooey Deschanel would wear to a Ren Fair. In fact, when my husband came home last night and I out-Michael-Kors'd him by pre-emptively saying so, he suggested we get one of those giant turkey legs for the photo shoot. You know the ones: I've only seen them at the Fort Tryon Medieval Festival — they're $7 each and could feed your entire family.

 We weren't about to splurge on poultry when this dress is clearly fated for the cast-off pile. So I grabbed a ukelele as a prop instead (also Ryan's suggestion; I think he's actually getting into the idea of being my photo director). And no, I didn't adjust the colours in the photo post-download. The pink velvet is just that saturated. I choose to make the waistband out of some peacock-print silk I had leftover from my Bombshell Dress. I love this fabric and have saved every last scrap. I pondered the pairing, and thought to myself: What Would Oona Do? (WWOD) — remembering her great post on how to mix prints and colours with more prints and other colours (ones you wouldn't think to put together — even in the same (dark) room). And so I thought: yes, peacock print and (what would you call this?) pink DO go together.

 And here's the back, where you can see my darts on the bodice aren't aligned with my skirt darts because I made some adjustments and totally forgot to move the darts to match up. Whoops. Gray zipper was another WWOD brainwave:

I think I inadvertently made a dress that my 16-year-old self would have loved to wear with Dr. Marten's. Except for the pink. I passionately hated pink back then.

Where would you wear this dress? A Jane Austen Fan Club Singles Mixer? The after-party for a community theatre production of Legally Blond 3: Elle's Madcap Medieval Adventures?

Dec 13, 2011

Sneak Preview of Men's Hoodie

There she is, the mostly finished Simplicity 8360 hoodie I made my husband for Christmas, though I am going to have a hard time giving it up. It's so cozy and perfect. And see that lovely custom-cut zipper that I installed not one, but THREE times to get it just right? I also altered the pattern slightly to make it more modern and less man-blousey. I took the sleeves in and added a cuff instead of elastic, plus I added a band to the waist instead of the drawstring.

I'm really looking forward to taking some photos of Ryan in his hoodie — so long as he lets me play stylist and photo director. (For an actor he sure doesn't take direction well when it comes to posing for his wife.)
Moving on, I'm really itching to get back some selfish sewing after this project. In fact I started cutting some silk for this Anna Sui Vogue Pattern, which for some reason I was compelled to buy this year:

I thought it would be cute in chartreuse silk, paired with black tights and a brooch at the waist. But it turns out I don't have enough fabric. And my scissors are dull. So I lost my mojo on the project already because silk is such a pain and I am easily defeated after 9 p.m. at night.

So it's back to the (dwindling) stash to see what else I can conjure in the coming weeks without spending anything on new fabric.

I should remind you if you haven't already to enter my giveaway for Violette Field Threads pattern giveaway. Even if you don't sew yourself, you should enter and then give the patterns as a gift to someone who does!  (Giveaway is open until Friday, Dec. 16 at 9 a.m. and is open to anyone, anywhere).

Dec 12, 2011

Payin' It Forward With a Giveaway

UPDATE: This giveaway is now CLOSED. Thanks for entering, everyone!

Readers, when I win, you win. Because yesterday I got an email from the lovely Suzannah at Adventures in Dressmaking to tell me I had won her Violette Field Threads giveaway. Violette Field Threads sells original patterns for girl's clothing and accessories, and I've already chosen the patterns I want:

The Adele:

The Molly:

The Vivienne:

Adorable, right? But here's the thing, readers: my prize was for $75 worth of Violette Field Threads patterns. But at $8.50 a pop, I could nearly buy their whole collection for that! So I want to pay it forward and give one of my readers their choice of patterns — and not one, but THREE patterns! That's right: we're going halfsies (approximately).

So leave me a comment below to enter.

And to get another entry "Follow" my blog, and then post in the comments section to tell me that you did. (If you already follow, post that too, and you will get another entry.)

You can enter until FRIDAY, Dec. 16 at 9 a.m. The winner will be chosen at random shortly after that. You can be from ANYWHERE to enter (the prize will be emailed to you as PDFs). But remember, if you post anonymously I can't can't find you. So leave an email if your address is not linked to your identity on Blogger.

Dec 9, 2011

My husband on One Life to Live!

Our daughter was running around for a week yelling "Gigi Morasco!!" after my husband shot this small part on yesterday's episode of One Life to Live.

Follow this link if you want to see it:

Dec 7, 2011

I want this too

How greedy of me to write three posts about the things I covet in one week. But I can't afford this Holding Pattern Overnight Bag from Modcloth anyway (it's $95 US) and would be mad at my husband for spending so much on a bag for me in these tough times. But maybe you can afford it. (And I wish you no harm should you run out and buy this bag. Really. I do.)

Or you could do what I did, and enter the giveaway at and then hold your breath for the next 24 hours hoping that you will win. Seriously, isn't it cute?

Dec 6, 2011

Holiday giveaways

I'm a little embarrassed to admit how obsessed I've become this month with holiday giveaways. Maybe it's because I've actually won a bunch of stuff this year, which has shown me that by actually entering you increase your odds by, like, I don't know...100 per cent (I never took Statistics, so this is a rough estimate from an Arts-based Brain).

This year I have been the ecstatic recipient of three yards of cool printed fabric, one vintage pattern, an awesome new pattern book, AND tickets to Saturday Night Live. So how could I not bookmark the following month-long giveaways, which I am going to tell you about — even though your entering will decrease my chances of winning by approximately 2 per cent (again: Arts Brain). Because if I don't win, at least someone who dedicates part of their day to reading these thoughts I cobble together should! is giving away something great every day. Already they've given away the Colette Sewing Handbook, a subscription to Selvedge magazine and a collection of sewing books. New giveaways are posted daily on the blog, so bookmark it!

Apartment Therapy is giving away over a hundred fancy-schmancy gifts for your home. Each weekday they post SIX new giveaways, and they're pretty much all awesome. Even if you don't need a $900 shelving unit, you can sell it on Craigslist!

The McCall Pattern Company is giving away a sewing-related gift each day, from shiny new shears to sewing machines! Like all giveaways, you have to provide your email address, which may result in more emails than you want in a day, but if that's the price to pay for a new serger, count me in!

• I love Wired magazine even more now that they're giving away $13,000 worth of techie stuff — including the very laptop my husband is required to buy for ad school in January. Make my dreams come true,!

• And, of course, there are those lucky ladies of the blogosphere who give away stuff all the time: Katy of No Big Dill, Grosgrain (which has a Shabby Apple dress giveaway right now. And December 12 is Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway Day, so check the website for amazing handmade giveaways that week.

You can thank me later.

All I Want For Christmas Is...

All the cool kids are doing it. Sewing a Minoru jacket by Sewaholic, that is. (What, I wonder, does "Minoru" mean? Is it a hybrid minotaur-Suburu? ....uh, actually I just looked it up and the jacket is named for a park in Richmond, B.C. Moving on!)

I've been seeing amazing versions of this new jacket pattern by Vancouver's own Tasia (Home province pride!) pop up on all my favourite sewing blogs:  Julia Bobbin's in blue, Novita's cool version, another by lladybird. The jacket is designed to work with lighter-weight fabrics (canvas, twill, poplin, denim) and winter has barely begun in NYC, so it's not seasonally appropriate for me to begin sewing a decidedly springy coat just now....or is it?

Perhaps planning a spring coat in December is exactly the stroke of genius I need to make me go slowly and carefully. (Sometimes I just freak out over how excited I am to wear a new garment that I take stupid shortcuts). If I sew this coat (and spend $18 on the pattern, plus the cost of fabric, lining, zipper et al.), I want to do it right. Maybe even make a muslin — though I think I may not need to: Tasia's patterns are designed with the pear-shaped lady in mind, so for once I may not need to make any alterations! Halleluyah!

Anyway, in case you were wondering what to get me for Christmas (dear husband), this pattern would suffice. (Also three yards of cotton canvas or poplin in chartreuse and printed lining fabric, a separating zipper and 2-inch elastic).

Dec 5, 2011

I want this

I NEED one of these labels for the hoodie I am making my husband  — as a completely unsubtle reminder how much effort went into his Christmas gift this year.

They're $4.50 for four labels, at Sublime Stitching. I saw them in Bust magazine's Holiday Gift Ideas email.

The monster who hates her Christmas tree

For those people who consider themselves too selfish to ever be suited to having children: you are probably right. Because if there is one thing about parenting you should know, it's that all of your aesthetic aspirations will be trampled upon by the tiny feet you work so hard to care for. And you are  monster if you care about the fact that your sweet little darling put cut up pieces of twine all over your Christmas tree and 3/4 of the ornaments are clumped up on the bottom 18 inches of the tree like so many Canadians huddled along the border. And if you dare to redistribute them because the rest of the tree looks downright barren, your husband will give you a look that says, "I feel like I barely know you." Because then you are the perfectionist whose kid ends up in therapy because she's unable to accomplish anything out of fear her mother will swoop in and fix it. Oh, okay: not you. Me. ME! I am the one stuck with a tree that looks like this:

If we lived in a house in a city that didn't demand your dining table abut your Christmas tree, I would have two trees and my kid could cover hers in garbage, which is what she wants. Until then, the only thing for me to do is stop caring. Again: my husband thinks I am a monster.

Here's my contribution to diabetes this week: Homemade Gingerbread Caramels wrapped in origami boxes I made from cardstock:

Here's my assistant trying to sneak a taste (is it Food Safe (TM) to wrap candy in your underpants?)

That's all for today, folks. (P.S. I interviewed two people in Saskatchewan last week and they BOTH said "folks" repeatedly. Cute, right?)


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