Category Archives: burrow & sing

Pink? Avalanche #4, and a dress: Jan/18 #102

Is this pink or red? Can I claim that it’s red so obviously not part of the pink avalanche?

The Front, first view

I’d already made an altered Renfrew out of this fabric (which has shown up paired with other things from time to time), a very lightweight drapey poly jersey, with a nice big scrap left over–just enough to test out this top pattern before cutting into a rayon jersey I’d been hoarding for the perfect dress.

The Back

It’s not a quick jersey shirt, by any means–there’s lots of pleats and interlocking pieces–but it does work up nicely. My one quibble is that the shirt is very, very long. I have 11″ between my waist and full hips, and even so, I had to hem this by about 3″. If I make this again I’ll shorten the back at the waist. It’s tougher when it’s one piece, so I may just use the dress back pieces and shorten accordingly.

Otherwise it’s a great top. The pleated pieces across the waist mean it can’t really be tucked in, but they do snug the waist in nicely and add a nice detail.

The Side, with shadows

And so of course I cut out the dress version in the rayon jersey which is–happily–Not Pink! And because it took me so long to take pictures, I was able to trace the new pieces, alter them, take a month to hem the dress, and wear it a few times, and I can still put them in the same post. Here it is:

The main difference is that the peplum is replaced by a skirt, however:

  1. Neckband is replaced by a higher neckline with a facing.
  2. They want you to put in a zipper; I ignored that. Having ignored it, I turned the back skirt piece into a single piece.
  3. The back piece is split and has a waistband seam for the dress version.
  4. The sleeves are shorter.
The Side

I really like this dress pattern. It’s too bad, given how cold and snowy it’s been this year, that I haven’t had more chances to wear it; but it’s rayon so I should be able to continue wearing it until short sleeves become necessary.

The Back

You can see there’s a lot less bunching and dragging in the dress version, which is really just because it has seams. If you normally do a swayback or short back adjustment on top patterns, you may want to use the back pieces for the dress on the top to make that easier.

Sizing Note

I should be a 40/44 in a Burda shirt, but as usual I traced up a size 38 for most of it, grading to a 42 in the hips, and doing an FBA across the bust. In this case, with all the pleat action, I cheated a bit: I traced a 38 for the neckline and shoulder height, extended the shoulder to a 44, traced the 44 armscye down to the bust, then graded from a 44 at the top to a 38 at the waist, making it quite a dart–but it worked out perfectly. I measured the tissue and it gave me just a smidge of negative ease across the bust, and thank goodness because this was much easier than the usual cut-pivot-and-tape of a standard FBA. In the back I also extended the shoulder to the 44 line, and then graded back to a 38 at the bottom of the armscye. I also straightened the curve between the waist and the back neckline because I always find a curved seam there gives me a lot of floof between the shoulder blades that I end up removing anyway.

Bossy Pants

(Dear Readers! Friends! Tired of my wordy prologues? Tl/dr: there’s a poll at the bottom. Enjoy!)


A boyfriend once told me–repeatedly–that I am terrible at taking direction.

Let’s just sit with that one for a moment, shall we? A boyfriend repeatedly told me that I am terrible at taking direction. Why on earth, you might wonder–I certainly did–would I want to, need to, or try to, take direction from a boyfriend? Excellent questions all.

Putting aside the inappropriateness of his remark (on so many levels!), it does happen to be true.

It’s not true at work. But outside of work?

I like good rules–the kind that help societies and communities function well and for the benefit of everyone. I’m quite happy to pay taxes, for instance, and stop for stop signs, and I actually loathe shoveling the sidewalk with an unholy passion but I do it as soon as I can for the benefit of people who are using mobility aids or strollers or what have you and need that concrete bare. No problem, or at least not much bitching.

But a lot of rules are really dumb. They exist either for no benefit to anyone whatsoever, or to preserve unearned benefits for one group at the expense of another. I joyfully break those rules.

I actually dye my hair red for the sole and express purpose of clashing with my clothes. All that stuff about “redheads can’t wear pink”–or orange or yellow or whatever dumb thing–inspired me to spend money and time making my hair red every six weeks so I can wear pink–and orange and yellow, sometimes all at once–just to poke those rules in the eye.

And the idea that I should go about my life happily Taking Direction from anyone, including random strangers, is just weird. Like the man outside the grocery store who said, “Miss! Your purse is open. … Excuse me! Miss! Your purse is open! … MISS! Your purse! Is open!” At which point I looked at him, said “I heard you the first time,” and he stalked off in a huff that I hadn’t immediately corrected my pursing misdemeanor.

Or the time when, out with a large group after a dance evening, two men–neither of whom I am interested in in the slightest–had a conversation about women while staring right at me.

Man 1: Sometimes women are just too independent.

Man 2: Yes. Women can’t be too independent.

Man 1: Women who are successful and strong might have a hard time getting a man.

Man 2: Yes, a woman who wants to be with a man shouldn’t be too successful.

I do believe I stared at them in open-mouthed shock at the idea that I should be making myself lesser and my life smaller so that they could be attracted to me.

Generally, the fastest way to get me to not to something is to tell me I must do it, for no good reason whatsoever. I believe this has served me well in life. I truly believe I’m alive today and relatively functional because of this bone-deep, Canadian Shield-like stubbornness.

And yet today, Dear Readers, you have an opportunity to tell me what to do.

(Do you see how long it took me to get around to the point?)

The Point

Mind you, it’s limited. You can vote for what piece of fabric I should sew up next as the Monthly Stitch’s Miss Bossy challenge for April.

Though true to form, the instructions said participants should choose three pieces of fabric for readers to choose between, and I could only narrow it down to four. Three of them are pieces I’ve had in the stash for a few years and have struggled to find the right pattern for, so now you get to force the issue.

Anyway, here they are:

This lovely Liberty of London silk-cotton voile. It’s very light and fairly sheer, though with the mint-green background not unwearably so. I have about 2m.

Half-width. Full-width is 56″, I believe.

This linen/rayon/spandex blend. It’s as stretchy and drapey as a jersey, but it has a linen-knit-like texture and the rayon makes it very cool to the touch. I love this print, but it’s been a challenge to use as a) the stretch is entirely horizontal, so I can’t cut it on the cross-grain, and b) it’s very very narrow at 42″ wide. I have about 2m.

Full width. It is pretty.

This yellow Anna Maria Horner cotton–with I think a bit of spandex, as it has some stretch on the cross-grain. About 1.5m. I love this print! So much clashing.

Half-width. Full width is 56″. I love those climbing roses.

This Nani Iro double gauze, from off-white to orange on the cross-grain. Also 2m.

Full width.

They’re all beautiful, they all deserve to be worn rather than stuffed away in a closet for posterity, and none of them are too fussy for sewing so I should realistically be able to fit them into my April sewing plans. None of them were so expensive that I’ll be gutted if they don’t work out. And every one is going to be a challenge to find a good pattern for.

But which one?

What do you think?

V8946: A shiny pink velvet dress: Pink Avalanche #3

Look, a dress! How unlikely.

This project is a double-jeapordy impulse project: the pattern (V8946, now OOP) was picked up in the discount bin at the local fabric store for $5.99 (CDN), and the fabric was picked up at Marina’s fabric store on Ottawa St for no reason other than it was pink and shiny. And then it seemed like they would go well together.

The fabric is a light panne velvet with a very shiny foil print on it–not metallic, more like a varnish finish. It was a challenge to sew as velvet so often is but I tried not to worry too much about seams going askew so long as it fit in the end.The velvet is not super stretchy; it’s more like a stretch woven than a jersey. I can’t remember how much I got it for, but I know it was under $10/m.

This is essentially a knee-length view C. The skirt is quite boxy, so I pegged the hem about an inch on either side, and then didn’t finish the centre back until afterwards so I could see if I needed a walking(/dancing) slit.

The front comes in two pieces, a top and bottom, with an asymmetrical seam. This part was relatively simple, despite the pleats: I did a pivot-and-slide FBA directly on the tissue to add a few inches across the bust, graded in to about a 10 at the waist, and then back out to a 14 at the hips. Thanks to velvet slippage the pleats aren’t quite as even as I would have liked but in the end all the seams lined up nicely.

Side-ish

The back, though simpler, was more of a challenge. It’s one piece cut twice: fine, except that it’s hard to shorten the bodice back if you need to without a waist seam. On the first try-on the back was a disaster with way too much excess fabric coming out in vertical and horizontal ridges along the zipper. I took about an inch off the centre back length off the top thus hiking up the dress. This is much improved, but still not as nice as I’d like; in order to fix it properly, I would probably need to add a waist seam so I can take excess length out of the bodice back. And if I make up this pattern again in the future, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

The Back: Still a disaster, but less so, if you can believe it

Sewn up in this fabric, it could not be anything but a party dress; but the pattern is quite versatile and could be work appropriate in something less, you know, shiny. I would not recommend a ponte; it would be too bulky in the pleats. But you don’t need a ton of stretch or drape.

The dress pattern is lined; I used a slightly stretchy wisper-lite lining. I joined it to the neckline and invisible zipper by machine and then hand-stitched it to the armscyes. I tacked it to the front pleat seam allowances and front waist seam on the inside to help hold it in place.

Sizing Note

This is third in a run of BMV knit patterns where the finished measurements are not on the pattern tissue (or anywhere else). Super frustrating. I measured the key points (bust, waist, hips) and chose to sew up between a size 10 and 12 at the waist, grading to a 14 at the hips; 10 in the bodice with a pivot-and-slide FBA traced right onto the pattern tissue using french curves and rulers. Given the extra length in the pattern already from the pleats, I added only width. Extra width at the waistline was partially taken out in the dart along the pleats and otherwise removed from the side seams.

Again, in their sizing chart I should be a size 16-20. Good thing I got the envelope down from the one I’m supposed to.

It’s clear from the pattern sample photos that this is meant to be close fitting. This looks like no-to-negative ease to me:

So why they have so much positive ease in the bloody pattern–which is then left to the home sewer to discover, quite likely in most cases, after cutting and sewing as the finished measurements are given nowhere–is quite beyond me.

 

Not Pink! Burda 11/17 Top #109 in Turquoise

It’s not that everything I’ve made since the beginning of December is pink. It’s just that everything I’ve made which isn’t a repeat pattern since the beginning of December is pink. (There’s a pair of chocolate brown Style Arc Katherine pants, and a bright yellow version of this Burda shirt, for example.) Except for this absolutely fantastic turquoise bamboo jersey shirt.

The Front. It tucks in well, too, if I’m wearing it to work.

Which, to be fair, I made up for the first time in pink.

But!

It was leftover pink panne velvet I knew it would look fantastic in this pattern; but also, I knew that it would be a good way to test out the fit and alterations because if it didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be crushed, since I already have that fabric in a dress.

As it turned out, the alterations did not work out. It was too snug across the shoulders and the bust, and the biceps were too tight. This velvet was much less stretchy than the jersey recommended, and the photo does show negative ease in the sleeve, so it’s not like it was a surprise. But I still can’t wear it. Luckily for the fabric, I have a good friend close by who is very similar to me in measurements, except a bit smaller everywhere, and I will finish this shirt for her.

The Back

And then I altered the pattern to broaden the shoulders and give a bit more space across the bust, and cut it out in bamboo jersey, and sewed it up, and fell in love with it, because it is a gorgeous pattern.

It is fussy.

The Side-ish

There’s no denying that putting the yoke and ties together, and neatening the seams up under the facings, is more time consuming that your standard basic knit t-shirt. But the faced front drapes beautifully, the ties are gorgeous, and the fit (once adjusted) is that perfect happy medium where it isn’t too snug to be work appropriate but also isn’t baggy. Everything matches up beautifully: the back neck band is just the right size, and if it’s installed per directions, the back shoulders are exactly the same width as the front shoulders. It’s comfortable and pretty and work-appropriate. Highly recommended.

The Front again, just because I love it so.

One construction note: I used fusible knit interfacing tape on the seams of the ties to make sure the bamboo jersey wasn’t stretched out or pulled into the bobbin case (which sometimes happens), and it did help make a smooth seam and a pair of nice, flat ties.

Hang in there: There’s lots of pink still to come.

Sizing Note

Standard Burda: Should be a 40/44; this is a 38 with an FBA. Idiosyncratic alterations also included broadening each shoulder by 3/4″; because the sleeve is snug, you’ll want to make sure the shoulders aren’t also tight or you won’t be able to move your arms.

Burda 1/18 Leggings #107: February Floral

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it here, but I take bellydance classes. This has led to any number of awkward and cringe-inducing conversations with men on dates, but despite their belief that the only reason for a woman to take bellydance lessons is to learn to seduce men with all that sexxxy jiggling, actually it’s because:

The Front, how they’re worn to class, with foot covers included.

1. It’s really really hard. It’s a completely different, fundamentally different kind of dancing than western styles I know. All of the ones I’ve ever learned–jazz, tap, ballet, salsa, bachata, merengue, waltz, your standard dance club freestyle–are 95% about where you put your feet and 5% about style, or how you put your feet there. Bellydance is about 2% where you put your feet. The rest of it is how you move the rest of you.

2. It’s also really hard not just because it’s so different, but because the way you’re using your muscles is just … challenging. I felt like my hips were on the verge of dislocation when I learned to do a hip shimmy. And after months and months of practice and repetition I’m still trying to get the backward arabesque. Challenge is good; I like it.

3. There are no men.* I mean that. There’s no sticky hands, no gross comments, no weird vibes, no jerks who won’t take no for an answer. You don’t need a partner to dance–you just dance. There’s no anachronistic and ridiculous gendered expectations like “men have to ask and men get to lead, regardless of whether they’re competent or considerate.” You just show up and dance and no one asks or expects you to be smaller, lesser, or other than you are.

Back, with waistband showing.

It’s endlessly aggravating that something I do in part because of the absence of men and gender dynamics is taken to be, not only at first but often on an ongoing basis, something I must be doing for men; that because men like it and find it appealing, that must be the point.

4. It’s also, from what I’ve seen, extremely accepting. There’s no fat shaming and no pressure to lose weight, at least in my experience. The bellydance performances I’ve seen have spanned the age and size range, styles from classic to folkloric to fusion and modern, and include people of many different gender identities. This is not the case in social dancing, where you have a Man dancing with a Woman and they adhere pretty closely to traditional gender roles, and you have an easier time finding a dance partner if you’re conventionally attractive.

That little bitch session out of the way, another big difference between bellydance lessons and classes in social dancing is that social dancing women largely do in heels (!!!!!), whereas bellydancing is done in bare feet. Your feet need to be flat on the floor and you need to have grip (socks are ok for warm-up but if you keep them on for the actual dancing, you’ll likely slip).

So when I saw this leggings pattern in the January Burda issue:

My immediate thought was that these would be perfect for belly dance class.

The Back, standard view.

They’re cute, they’re full length, and they cover the feet partially while still allowing full contact with the floor. Which you know, in summer when it’s hot bare feet are fine, but in winter in a chilly studio you want every bit of extra coverage you can get.

There was a sale at Fabricland and this polyester spandex jersey was $8/m. I mean, you know I’m not going to make something plain. And fortunately I already had a coordinating workout t-shirt or two.

The Side, with weird white balance

I love them.

I raised the back rise by 2″, tapering to 0″ at the front, and added 1″ to the back crotch curve–personal fit adjustments I make to all Burda pants patterns. The inseam was 30″, which was plenty long enough for me at 5’8″. I did have to shorten the pieces that go over the feet, but I wear a size 6 shoe, so your mileage may vary. I traced a 38 everywhere except for a 40 at the hips, and this is the fit.

It’s really perfect. Just what I wanted. The waistband (which overlaps at the front, a detail I really like) is snugger than the pants and keeps it from slipping down. It was a super fast sew. I put most of it together in a weekday evening after dinner, with just hemming to do the next day.

Waistband Detail, plus insulin pump infusion site.

Can’t speak to the instructions as I didn’t look at them. It’s leggings with a waistband. The only tricky part is the foot covering. (What I did: hem the back leg before attached it to the front; hem the underfoot piece at the heel before attaching it to the front; then hem the front around-the-foot part to fit.) I can say that the outside notches on the legs did not match. It’s possible that I traced incorrectly, but they were way off for me–2-3″. The actual lengths of the pieces matched up fine, so I ignored the notches and it all worked out.

It’s comfortable and pretty and I’ve worn it to class and it was just perfect. I may make a second pair out of something with a bit more heft, if I can find a good fabric, for the really cold days. In the meantime, this is a huge step up from bike shorts.

Sizing Note

By body measurements I should be a size 40/42, and this is a 38/40, so one size down all around.


*In the classes I take. In the larger community and as participants in performances and such, there’s a bunch of men. But it’s still a very different vibe.

Burda 4/2016 Dress 119: Pink Avalanche #2

I started this dress in the fall of 2016, and then it spent a year getting wrinkled while sitting on my ironing table.

The Front-ish: lines are a) contrast settings on the photo editor, b) positive ease and c) slippage on the velvet while sewing.

I was petrified of wrecking the fabric by pressing the seams wrong. The combination of synthetic velvet plus lurex made me visualize melted goldish-pink gluck on my ironing board, and I couldn’t find a velvet board, and didn’t want to risk a towel. Eventually I just went ahead and pressed it with my regular pressing things on my regular tailor’s board on about medium heat and it worked beautifully. Go figure.

Technically, this is not a dress pattern for a knit, which I suppose this lurex pale pink stretch velvet is; but I thought the angled seams on the front that worked so well in Burda’s striped version would be a super fun way to play with the velvet’s nap and how the lurex catches the light.

The Side

So yes, I voluntarily chose to make a dress with half a dozen extra seams out of slippery velvet. But.

I do like it, and it is fun. And the way the light reflects off of the different sections is pretty cool.

The Back. Could stand to have some length taken out along the waist, as always.

Honestly I traced and cut this out so long ago I can’t remember anything about the sizing or alterations, and I would have had to size down for the stretch regardless so I don’t know how relevant that info would be. I do know I did an FBA by adding to the seam joins–I can’t remember how much, but I know I did that because, as I was reminded when I finally got around to cutting and installing the facing, it altered the shape of the neckline piece and thus the facing.

It’s supposed to have a zipper, but it’s so stretchy that I basted the back shut to see if I could wear it without, and it worked, so I went zipperless. Obviously this wouldn’t work if you’re using an actual stretch woven.

The facing is a tricot lining for stretch and thinness, in a flesh tone to match the gold of the lurex.

The panel seams I sewed with a walking foot and as much patience as I could muster; side, back and shoulder seams were first basted to check for fit and then serged to minimize bulk and maximize strength.

It’s incredibly comfortable and it did turn out well, and I think the angled seams would work well for any velvet so long as you have the patience for sewing it. I could stand to take this in a bit more but I’m not sure I will. I’ll see how I feel about that after I wear it a few times.

Also The Front

Pink Avalanche #1: B6489: Velour Top

The velour was bought to make a dress.

But–well–how many pink velvet/velour dresses does one person need?

The Front, looking just about exactly the way I wanted it.

(They haven’t been blogged yet, but I’d just finished two pink velvet/velour dresses. So this would have been #3.)

And the velour is so thick, so plush, and so soft, that I very selfishly did not want to reserve it for occasional wear as a dress. A pink velour dress–particularly third of three–might be worn once in a month. A shirt you can wear once a week.

So I wanted a shirt.

The Side.

It’s velour: something with a lot of seams is going to be tricky to pull off, given how slippery it is.

It’s thick: Pleats, folds, tucks and ties will be too cumbersome.

So I didn’t want something too fussy. But I didn’t want it to be too casual; I want to be able to wear it to work. It couldn’t look like a sweatshirt.

A semi-fitted t-shirt with a peplum should do the trick. Yes? But find me a semi-fitted t-shirt with a peplum suited for extremely stretchy velour knits. All of the patterns I could find were for wovens.

The Back. Could have stood some length taken out.

Ultimately I settled on B6489 (mostly view C with sleeves from D), for wovens, and set about altering it and sizing down for a knit. This wasn’t too taxing: I measured the waist pieces and marked a width that would give me just a bit of positive ease (I did not want this shirt to be snug), left the hips on the peplum quite full, measured the width of the back to make sure it wasn’t too excessive and nipped it in a bit, and then (of course) added across the bust (sigh–but just a smidge), and then graded between the marked points.

It worked beautifully. It’s so soft and so, so warm (pretty crucial for this brutal winter we’ve been having), and very pretty, and can be worn with just about every pair of pants I have.  I wore it out a few times over the winter holidays, and let me tell you, considering how infrequently I bothered to get out of my pajamas over those two weeks, that is high praise and a statement of deep approval. Every time I wear it to work someone tells me how much they like it.

And since I bought enough for a dress, I have about a metre left over. To be used for what? I’ve been thinking maybe this skirt:

Burda Style Pattern B6468 Misses' Flared Skirt

We’ll see.

The Old Year

A Year In Sewing

I tend to be wordy even when I try hard not to be, Dear Readers, so no recap. Just a few links to some favourite projects and a couple of duds.

Things I Wear All the Time

Favourite Dress to Wear to Meetings, Warm Weather Edition

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It’s super comfortable, a bit different, eye-catching and–of course–it has pockets.

Favourite Accidental Favourite

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Technically this was a practice project, but I wore it all the time this summer.

Favourite Flounces, Times Three

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I Need A Nap

And I’m thinking of making it again with long sleeves, for the cold weather.

Favourite Floral

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For obvious reasons.

Favourite Dress Maybe Ever

dress

Which made all of the practicing worthwhile.

Favourite Dress to Wear to Meetings, Cold Weather Edition

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In ponte. Yay for ponte! I wear this one at least a few times a month now that it’s cold out.

Favourite Knit Shirt

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Except not really, because I also like a lot of the altered Renfrews I’ve been sewing, but I haven’t blogged them (yet). Of the ones I have blogged, though, this one gets a ton of wear.

Yes, this is seven; it was still hard to narrow down, and there are so many more I wear all the time and are either too new or just narrowly less loved than these ones.

Duds

Why Is Yellow See Through?

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Size is wrong; needs altering before I make it up again; haven’t worn this version even once. Sigh.

Not the Flounce You’re Looking For

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Maybe in a different fabric; not in this lawn.

 

A Year In Reading

2017 was a fantastic year for literature; this tends to coincide with political and cultural turmoil, so I can’t say I’m 100% wholly happy about it, but I did really like a lot of books. I’ve made a GoodReads shelf for this year’s reads, and below are my top 7 with reviews.

Amatka

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

The Lonely Hearts Hotel

The Stone Sky (Broken Earth #3)

The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1)

Her Body and Other Parties

The Break

If there’s one that you must, simply must, make time for, it’s N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series, of which The Stone Sky was the conclusion. It was stunningly, brilliantly good and a perfect comment on and antidote to our current moment.

A Year in Greening

This used to be a green blog, and in my actual day-to-day work life I’m still a professional tree-hugger, and this has been a year for environmental issues and happenings. I won’t dwell–in this post–on the climate change clusterfuck of 2017 of wildfires and hurricanes and Trumpster and his disaster cabinet leaving the Paris Accord (lucky you! something to look forward to on zoopolis next year), and will instead dredge up a few moments of hope.

I’m really looking forward to being a part of this initiative, recently announced and long worked-towards.

And I’ve spent a good part of my work time over the last year working on climate change impact adaptation planning in the community, which has been a mostly fulfilling way of combining intersectional politics with my climate change work. We* all know that climate change impacts vulnerable populations the most, globally and locally; but vulnerable voices are notably absent from climate change adaptation plans generally, which tend to be based on assessments by technical experts, who tend to be professionals and engineers, who tend not to be members of vulnerable communities. Starting the process of getting out into the community and finding those voices has been slow and difficult but mostly great.

(*”We” being those people not so stupid as to believe that 99% of climatologists globally have been somehow bought into supporting the theory of anthropogenic climate change.)

A Year in Quoting

One of my (admittedly geeky) habits is to reread A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, and one or more of the other Dickens Christmas books over the holiday. In all of the fighting over what Christmas is, what it means, and who it’s for, we tend to overlook how singularly important Dickens’ ideas of what it was about are to how we celebrate it today and the importance it has in our modern holiday calendar–and we have almost completely lost sight of the ways he used the holiday and his writings about it to focus on the less fortunate. Dickens’ Christmas books are not about middle-class happy families enjoying turkey and a nice bottle of wine after opening welcomed and appropriate gifts; they are about the vast numbers of people who can only dream of that. Dickens was a Victorian Social Justice Warrior, and he used his Christmas books to affect change in the attitudes of his contemporaries. (Except, of course, notably, for women.)

If I were you, I’d bypass The Battle of Life and The Cricket on the Hearth (the latter of which was more popular than A Christmas Carol in his lifetime), and read The Chimes or The Haunted Man. Here, to round off this year, is a bit from The Chimes, which takes place on New Year’s Eve:

The Year was Old, that day. The patient Year had lived through the reproaches and misuses of its slanderers, and faithfully performed its work. Spring, summer, autumn, winter. It had laboured through the destined round, and now laid down its weary head to die. Shut out from hope, high impulses, active happiness, itself, but active messenger of many joys to others, it made appeal in its decline to have its toiling days and patient hours remembered, and to die in peace. Trotty might have read a poor man’s allegory in the fading year; but he was past that, now.

And only he? Or has the like appeal been ever made, by a seventy years at once upon an English labourer’s head, and made in vain!

The streets were full of motion, and the shops were decked out gaily. The New Year, like an Infant Heir to the whole world, was waited for, with welcomes, presents, and rejoicings. There were books and toys for the New Year, glittering trinkets for the New Year, dresses for the New Year, schemes of fortune for the New Year; new inventions to beguile it. Its life was parceled out in almanacks and pocket-books; the coming of its moons, and stars, and tides, was known beforehand to the moment; all the workings of its seasons in their days and nights, were calculated with as much precision as Mr. Filer could work sums in men and women.

The saddest thing about The Chimes for me is how utterly contemporary so much of it feels. The wealthy assholes who pepper the book with their observations on the low character and ingratitude of the poor can be found any day of the week in a modern newspaper–now together with immigrants, refugees, and millennials. Inequality is rising. We seem so determined to repeat the mistakes of the Victorian era (in some cases literally, eg. the Trumpian’s determined clinging to a coal based economy, ffs); there may be lessons still to learn from the authors who took that society to task.

Santa Sewing

Santa Sewing being the presents you sew up to give people over the holidays, or to make for special holiday occasions. And there was a pile in December, mostly for Frances, who is not super keen on modelling so this will mostly be pictures of garments on hangers.

The excitement of figuring out how to fit Frances for pants went to my head, Dear Readers: After the jeans, I made her three pairs of leggings: one black bamboo jersey (so soft!), one taupe cotton jersey with fun animal heads for pj pants, and one a really plush grey stretch velour (even softer!). The velour pair is one half of any needed fancy-pants holiday get-ups, as Frances is a girl who generally dons a skirt or dress only under intense social pressure.

To go with it, I made her up a drapey long-sleeved top I’d previously made her in bamboo jersey, this time in a sparkly gold foiled spandex. No chance at a photo of this one yet, but soon!

A red sweater–some kind of textured poly knit, bought in the summer for dirt cheap, and finally sewed up. Frances loves this one and has been wearing it constantly since finished. This is a raglan sleeved Ottobre pattern (I can look up the issue for anyone who’s interested).

A large-loop cotton terry sweatshirt in the same pattern, slightly long to be worn with leggings.  This fabric came from Needlework and was a bit on the pricey side but so worth it. It is super soft and comfortable and very, very warm. Unfortunately even with differential feed turned up to max and the longest stitch length on my machine, and even after throwing it in the washer/dryer, the hem bands werestill super wavy. !!! Lots of hot steam and pressing has mostly repaired it, thank goodness.

Finally finished this very colourful cardigan. I think it’s acrylic but I’m not 100% sure (ends table). You could have knocked me over with a feather when she chose this fabric and the red sweater one above, after so many years of wearing nothing but blue, grey and off-white. Also an Ottobre pattern.

Pajamas. It’s impossible to find pajamas that fit her well in stores, and we have a tradition of new pajamas plus reading materials for a Christmas Eve present, so: flannel pajama bottoms, yarn-dyed plaid, with an ivory cotton jersey pajama shirt. Coordinated, and extremely comfortable and warm. Somewhat Christmas-y but still wearable all winter.

“Label” in the back of the PJ pants

And then another pajama top out of the same animal-print cotton jersey to match the leggings/pj pants.

I don’t know–do you think that’s enough for one person?

She’s just about all done growing so I can finally sew her things without fear of them becoming too small, hence the deluge.

A couple of drawstring bags for wrapping gifts. French seams to ensure that the bags last forever. I mean–come on–animals dressed up for an ugly sweater party. How could I resist?

There was another one with owls in Santa hats but I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of it

A couple of cross-stitched gift tags to accompany them. Yes, I know, work–but the tags and bags can be reused endlessly and with essentially no effort.

A new tree ornament.

I made a card for a dear friend, Jenn, who is (if you can believe it) largely committed to a social-media-free existence, so I can’t link to her. But she does read here, so Merry Christmas, Jenn!

Cross-stitch front of the card. No chance to take a picture of the finished card, but I folded a few extra inches for framing back, tacked them flat, and then used temporary glue to afix it to a piece of xmas-patterned red cardstock.

And this–which I’m still not exactly sure how I want to finish. It’s supposed to be for a gift tag but the aida count I used made it a bit too big for that.

But come on. Who doesn’t love an owl in mittens and a Rudolph costume?

(The cross stitch patterns all came from The Cross Stitcher magazine; mostly back issues, except for the card which I believe was in the December 17 issue. But it might have been January 18.)

A thematically-appropriate pencil/pen/brush/crayon/whatever holder  and zippered pouch for my Aunt Heather. If you click through to her author site you’ll understand immediately. Poor woman’s going to be swimming in seahorses (no pun intended) someday.

And hey, a few things for me, too:

This lovely pale pink foiled spandex, turned into another gathered-neckline Renfrew. Can be paired with skirts or jeans, so good both for dancing and holiday festivities. This and the gold I used for Frances were both bought at Fabricland on sale for $8.something/metre, and this was the 0.7m at the end of the bolt, so it was a $5 or $6 shirt. The foiling basically is plastic so sewing, and particularly hemming, were challenging. I had to redo one portion of the bottom hem four times. But it finally turned out and I like it, though I’m petrified to press the seams and melt the foil.

And a velour long-sleeved shirt, the softest ever raspberry polyester (not a phrase I imagined myself ever using) turned into a dress, a finally completed hot pink foiled panne velvet dress and dusty pink lurex stretch velvet dress–which will have their own posts at some point.

Still needed hemming at this point.

This is a metric tonne of pink. Maybe I should branch out.

It was a lot of sewing. And while I’ve enjoyed taking a bit of a break over the holidays so far and catching up on some reading, I can’t wait to get back to it.