Dear Readers, here is the Prime Minister of Canada during a recent physically distanced question period:
Please take note, if you will, of our fearless leader’s very noticeable lack of a recent haircut.
You’ve already noticed the lack of recent haircut. Maybe you read an article on his lack of recent haircut. Maybe you saw that video meme of him sweeping his hair back from his face during a press briefing.
Of course Trudeau hasn’t had a haircut; all the barbers and hairdressers are sitting at home waiting out the pandemic, like so many of the rest of us.
Yet I keep hearing from friends about their hair growing out and how badly they need a haircut.
Friends, if the Prime Minister can go on camera in front of millions of people every day and reassure them with hair that is at least two months’ past its trim-by date, you can sit in your house in your pajamas and facetime with your aunt or boss with shaggy hair. Particularly considering both your aunt and your boss and everyone else you know also badly needs a trim.
And hair isn’t half of it, for some folks: body hair, eyebrows, facials, massages, gym time, sports practice: our bodies, in function and appearance, are maybe for the first time radically out of the control of their proprietors.
Of course, for some of us, that’s been more or less true all along. The one thing that is radically different is that we are all going through the non-control-of-our-appearance-ness of this at the same time. Which means it basically doesn’t count. No one can hold your haircut or your eyebrows or your roots or your reduced fitness level against you when our entire society is experiencing exactly the same thing. (Or they can try, but they’ll be dicks.) You have a once in a lifetime pass to let yourself go.
I don’t know. I personally am finding this part of it kind of amazing. Like: “oh hey, grey hair! And I can’t do a single fucking thing about it! That’s fantastic!”
I guess I could buy a box of hair dye, but I DON’T WANT TO.
This does of course reflect some privilege: for some of us, hair (for example) has been used as an active tool of discrimination and exclusion for a very long time (eg. black hair, and all the ways rules around it have been used to exclude and silence black people). And yet, it’s mostly white people I’ve seen complaining about their hair. So consider this directed solely towards those people who, like me, are at worst experiencing mild discomfort around lack of aesthetic services:
We can just collectively declare spring and summer 2020 the year in which it is trendy to look like you’d just been rescued by park rangers after being lost in Banff for a couple of months. It’s cool! It’s totally in style. It’s what everyone is doing, including the Prime Minister, and god knows he of the Vogue cover is not immune to vanity.
Let’s call it #SolidarityChic, and be done with it.
In that spirit, I share with you a few anti-vanity recent sewing projects, in all my shaggy, non-make-up, what-is-the-sun glory.
Masks, because it’s gone from fringe accessory to public participation necessity. I used the Marfy pattern and made it 1000% more complicated for myself by insisting on screen printing, stenciling, and stamping them in such a way that they match up across the centre seamline, for no reason whatsoever except that it sounded like an interesting challenge. This inspired a few cursing fits but I think they turned out pretty well in the end.
I also embarked on a large collection of stretchy pants with pockets.
For the first time in my life, I’ve needed them.
Tailored wool pants are not a great choice when you’re working 8 hours at the kitchen table with a puppy who insists on being on a lap and who sheds–not sparingly, but in a fluffy cloud that follows her like Pigpen’s dust. I have leggings of the “can wear them for an hour for a workout” variety, because their lack of pockets means I have to take off my insulin pump, which I can only do for so long.* I had two nice-ish pairs of non-stretchy jeans that are great for going out shopping or for casual Fridays at the office, but that I don’t generally wear for just hanging out.
And I had exactly one pair of stretchy jeans with pockets comfortable enough to sit at my new kitchen-table-office for hours at a time, but also seven years old and starting to wear through the knees.
So I ordered myself some leggings fabrics from Discovery Fabrics and went through the stash for any stretchy bottom-weight stretch cottons I could make into pants and went to work.
First up: two pairs of Jalie Eleanore jeans.
I have never, ever before in my life owned or wanted pull-on jean-like pants. But these were desperate times. I quickly drafted a simple pocket in the front seam (the one that looks like a pocket, but isn’t) and made one pair from an extremely stretchy blue twill with a snakeskin like embossed pattern on it from Downtown Fabrics, and another in a fantastic huge floral print with less stretch but just enough to make these work (from another Queen W store, but I forget which one).
God, I miss Queen West.
It is Jalie, so of course the sizing is impeccable and everything lines up. I can’t comment on the instructions since only partial ones were included with the pattern (which directs you to their website for the rest). But the partial directions get you through to the faux fly just fine, and if you’ve made pants before, you know what the rest is anyway.
The first pair I made without any alterations; the second pair I raised the waist by 3cm.
Next was Burda in a stretch cotton sateen bought at Fabricland years ago. Since these are for sitting at home and trying not to refresh news sites all day, I went for a straight size 42 so they’d be a bit looser in the hips and waist. I raised the waist by 3cm and they are just about perfect. Lots of extra room in the waist–at least for now, but given that I’m gaining weight like just about everyone else I know, that may not last.
(Aside: I posted on FB & IG about my Quaran-ten and the google news feed on my phone started posting extreme weight loss stories. Thanks, Google, but I’m ok with the pudge.)
And then I modified a Burda leggings pattern from their Jan 2017 (Pants 106) issue so that it had a pocket in the angled side front seam, and made one out of Discovery Fabrics yoga stretch fabric and one out of their sun protection fabric. It works beautifully. It’s just the right spot for a pocket, and I made mine deep enough for my phone and keys.
Apparently both the US and UK burda sites have done an “upgrade” that makes it impossible to find patterns by issue, so I’m sorry, Dear Readers–I can’t link to them.
Next up was the Quarantees.
Criteria: No closures, nothing fussy, washable (because dog/cooking/dishes/errands), not restrictive, nice enough to wear on video calls when I need to look work-appropriate.
I made 13.
This boxy Burda tee (April 2019 #108), times two.
This flouncy Burda September 2019 tee (#110), in a Fabricland cotton voile swiss dot.
This extra flouncy Burda April 2018 tee (#108), in a Fabricland rayon challis (I think).
This other flouncy Burda February 2017 tee (#106), in a Fabricland rayon voile.
This Knipmode July 2019 tee (#11; Google translated Knipmode as Cutwear. Cute) in a cotton jersey. I love the neckline.
Burda 6202 tee in a rayon jersey.
This Knipmode April 2017 tee (shirt #2; here Google translated Knipmode as “haircut” in English. Pretty sure that’s not it, and also, it’s the same word, Google) in a Robert Kaufman cotton jersey with little neon dots on it.
This yellow rayon jersey pleated Butterick 5354 tee (OOP), to replace the yellow pleated Butterick tee I made years ago and which was wearing out.
This Burda May 2017 tie-front tee (#110) in a light cotton lawn from Needlework.
This yellow Burda knit tee (July 2019 Shirt 119) with a bow effect on the sleeves with a yellow bamboo jersey scrap.
This blue Burda July 2019 knit tee (#101) with an asymmetric neckline in a lovely bright bamboo jersey.
…and I actually have at least two more to go, cut out and ready, and another fabric or two bought expressly to make Quarantees. Theoretically, most of the above are mostly wearably muslins using new-to-me patterns and scraps from old projects. But they’re nice enough to just keep wearing, which is a win.
With more shirts than anyone could possibly need, of course our first heat warning of the year came out with temps in the 30s C and I suddenly needed shorts.
So I made a bunch of Shutdown Shorts: mostly elastic waist-band/pull-on styles, mostly using scraps and leftovers, again mostly testing and wearable muslins for new-to-me patterns.
Shorts 116 & 117 from the June 2014 issue of Burda, which looks mostly like boxer shorts, and I’m ok with that. I made it first in the plum rayon jersey (used to make up a long-sleeved front-tie tee a few years back), and then ransacked my stash of jersey scraps to make this coat-of-many-colours version.
I also made a pair in blue and green for Frances.
a) I have enough scrap jersey fabric to make three separate pairs of shorts.
b) the pile of jersey scrap fabric has not shrunk appreciably.
Jalie Simone shorts. I bought this pattern for Frances because she, sensible soul that she is, long ago embraced pull-on elastic-waist pants. I needed a global crisis to come around to this lifestyle. They were easy to sew up, and you know Jalie: impeccable sizing and drafting. They are super comfortable to wear and, bonus, don’t look like underwear. Made up in leftover rayon-linen from a dress I sewed years ago, from Fabricland.
This shortened version of the Burda leggings, also in a sun protection fabric from Discovery Fabrics, also with pockets.
I even made a dress, because I want to have faith that at some point when the weather is still nice enough that I can wear this, I will be able to wear it, in a location/at an event where a dress makes sense. Burda 6443, in a printed cotton jersey from Needlework.
My #sewcialdistancing efforts aren’t over: I’ve been told that I should expect to continue working from home “for the foreseeable future,” most likely until an effective vaccine or other treatment is in wide use. So this is just the way life is going to look for at least a few months, and likely longer. Thank god I can sew; I broke down and ordered a pair of jeans from Old Navy (I do not want to deal with topstitching and felled seams right now, Dear Readers), and in the time since I placed that order, I’ve made several garments. I paid extra for two-day delivery, which is so far a seven-day delivery, and probably still faster than regular delivery. I get it! I’m not complaining. I’m just saying sewing is now measurably faster than buying.
* Right around the beginning of the quarantine, I went on an extended pump break. The pump has always had trouble talking to my computer; there’s no other way for me to get my data; I used to be able to access it briefly during doctors’ appointments but those were all moved online; and I decided “nuts to this” and went to shots. So I don’t actually need pockets for the pump right now, and it’s a bit weird not to have something attached to me all the time, but I’m still happy to have pockets in all my new pants. Also, my blood sugars are a lot better. Yay technology!