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.

Love Your Haters

Hello lovely readers. I’m sorry for my long absence. Partially sorry. I know there are blog readers who hate those kinds of apologies–you’re not waiting on tenterhooks for my next post! no one cares if I take a break! just get on with it!–and that’s fair, but I’ve yet to find a better way to begin a post after a long absence. Think of it as filler, like “how are you doing?” or “did you watch the superbowl?”

So I’m sorry for the long absence. This winter has been a succession of things that interfere both with sewing and with taking pictures. Car troubles–I got sick–my daughter got sick–our beloved little Simba passed away quite suddenly. I have lots of posts written up and waiting just for photos, but who wants to see my bleary-eyed, tear-stained, red-nosed face on top of a sewing project? Not me and, I’m guessing, not you. It will pass, eventually, as will this interminable winter which felt two years long on December 27th and by now feels like the winter in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. As if it will never end and I will be shoveling my driveway every three days for eternity.

So I thought, what better way to ease myself back into blogging then to write a non-sewing post that is sure to piss off everyone?

I mean, if you thought the fitting post was bad, or if you were offended by my feelings about the white supremacist sexual assaulter bigot who currently occupies the Oval Office, just wait.

I used to write for publication a fair bit. Mostly small pieces in mostly small publications, and it all ground to a halt a few years back for reasons that are largely incidental to this post, but which you may hear about the next time I feel like alienating my readers with a non-sewing post.

One piece, an essay about being a single mom and a type 1 diabetic, I placed in Brain, Child magazine. I was pretty thrilled. I wrote about how hard it was to take care of my chronic illness when meeting the needs of a small child without any in-house assistance, and how often what I needed to do for myself took a backseat to what I needed to do for Frances.

I didn’t think this was particularly controversial, but it inspired my first ever hate-reader.

My boyfriend at the time found her blog post, and for reasons that will remain unknown forever sent the link to me. He was very concerned for my state of mind on reading it.

This blogger–who was neither a mother nor a diabetic, by the way, let alone a type 1 diabetic single mother–took extreme issue with my prioritizing my daughter’s needs over my own. She’d never had to do it, but she was sure that if she did, she would definitely be able to make her diabetic care needs a higher priority than her daughter. I was doing it all wrong.

“Are you ok?” boyfriend asked. “You know she’s wrong, don’t you?”

“Are you ok?” friends asked. “You don’t deserve this!”

“ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?” I replied. “I wrote something with a big enough audience that I got a HATE READ! This is amazing!”

I didn’t enjoy what she had to say, and I still think she was wrong. But good lord, if there’s one thing that divides the successful from the try-hards, it’s that the successful have very large audiences, and in that very large audience is *guaranteed* to be someone who thinks you are the worst.

Some people hate Shakespeare.

What kind of hubris does it take to think that in a world where people hate Shakespeare, every good person of sense is going to love you?

There is a landmine directly under my right foot, and here I am, about to step on it. Ready? Here goes.

GOMI:

There is an undercurrent of internalized misogyny to the site as a whole that really gets under my skin. And no, it’s not because “women need to support women, always, in every circumstance, no matter what.” Women are humans and have the inalienable human right to like and dislike anything they please for any reason whatsoever. What bothers me is that it’s almost exclusively women who come in for criticism on GOMI, and much of it is incredibly sexist. “She’s a terrible mom because I saw a picture of her kids eating cheetos” and “she’s too fat to wear that” etc. I tried to start a thread once on the execrable “dating coach” and noted misogynist Evan Marc Katz (wisdom includes: sure rape is bad, but don’t let it bother you so much!) and basically no one posted in it. They were much more interested in whether or not a mom-blogger’s kids were allowed to play in an apartment hallway unsupervised for a few minutes one afternoon.

But I’ve found that undercurrent largely (though not entirely) absent in the craft section. Intersectional feminism is a Very Big Deal to most of the regular posters there and there is little tolerance for fat shaming or racism, for instance. Generally–though not always–if you’re being criticized in the craft section on GOMI it’s not because the women there are awful sexists who hate other women.

Generally it’s because they have very high standards. And I’ve gotten to know many former and current posters there, online and in the flesh; they’re not basement-dwelling life-ruiners. (I realize that all associates of basement-dwelling life-ruiners would say that.) Most of them are exceptionally skilled sewers who are very, very irritated at seeing sewing bloggers become renowned seemingly because they’re pretty young white girls who take good pictures, rather than producing clothing of actual merit. And obviously there are pretty young white girls who take good pictures and also sew well; this is the one and only time I’m going to come close to #notallmen-ing in this post.

Before you get huffy and unload on me: I don’t post there anymore. Now I hate-read it, and how’s *that* for irony? I didn’t stop posting because they’re So! Mean! though. They’re not (most of them).

I am going to suggest an alternative way of looking at GOMI to those who receive criticism there:

For god’s sake, how arrogant do you have to be to think that everyone is required to like you, love your blog, and if they don’t, never mention it where you can see/hear it?

No, wait. That’s not the tone I was going for. Let me try again:

Otherwise good people dislike each other ALL THE TIME.

Do you know which films get the worst reviews?

The big ones. The blockbusters. Because they get the most reviews.

And which books get the most negative reviews?

The bestsellers.

Seriously.

Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing was nominated for the Booker and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, won the Giller, won the Governor General’s Literary Award for English Fiction, and more. It has 51,394 adds on GoodReads as of today, with 277 one-star reviews. And another 687 are two-star.

Naomi Alderman’s The Power was one of the most-recommended, most-buzzed books of 2017 (and I personally loved it). 111,136 people have added it on GoodReads. 562 of the reviews are one-star, and another 1,701 are two-star.

Twoism, a book of poetry by Ali Blythe, has been added on GoodReads by 89 people.

There are no one-star or two-star reviews.

(I did enjoy it. This is not a criticism of Blythe’s book, only a demonstration of scale.)

Now tell me: which of those books would you prefer to be the author of?

The ones that won prizes, were written up all over the world, discussed endlessly, and sold tens or hundreds of thousands of copies?–and which also garnered hundreds or thousands of bad reviews on GoodReads, some of them probably quite mean.

Or the one with no bad reviews and 89 readers?

And can you imagine, really, either Madeleine Thien or Naomi Alderman reading those one- and two-star reviews, and going on their websites to complain about basement-dwelling meanies or haters?

Like it or not, when you write a blog, you are creating a cultural artefact, like a book or a movie, with an audience.

I can’t imagine deciding that the only reason a person might not like your blog, and might say so publicly, is because they are composed of 100% hate with no good thing to recommend them.

Yes, of course that happens sometimes. There were a lot of reviews on The Power by white boys absolutely outraged by a portrayal of a world in which they were systematically disadvantaged, and who spectacularly missed the point (that being that power corrupts whether it’s held by a man or a woman). But not all of them. Compare these two one-star reviews, both by women:

“It all sounds ok, right? Well, it isn’t. I don’t care one bit about Alderman’s link with Atwood, her ability to write a good sentence, or the fact this book has sold and sold and sold, been broadcast on BBC radio 4, and will probably end up as a movie. It’s sick. I get that the world would alter considerably if women became the big kahunas. I get that things could go wrong. I also understand that there could be a real backlash against men if women suddenly became so strong that they could do whatever they wanted to a man, but I don’t believe women would become so feral and so insanely cruel.”

And this one:

I think the beginning of The Power was a lot stronger than the middle and the end (minus the last few pages, which I actually really enjoyed). I think with some more editing, or perhaps a few stronger or harder hitting scenes, the book would have been better. Unfortunately it kind of drifted off into a sea of blandness and I stopped caring about any of the characters and their shenanigans.”

These two reviews were written about the same book. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?

I understand the first reviewer’s reaction, though I didn’t share it. I frankly don’t understand how someone could ask for harder-hitting scenes in a book that describes rape, torture, genocide, and the slaughter of children, but that was the second reviewer’s reaction and she’s entitled to prefer books composed of 99% atrocities if she wants. Both of them are entitled to share their opinions on GoodReads, which does not exist to reassure authors and sell books but to help readers find books they’re more likely to enjoy reading, and critical and negative reviews are a part of that.

It would be completely wrong, in every sense, to say that these two women are “haters” or “losers” who live in a basement somewhere and don’t have lives and are just jealous and like to tear successful authors down. They read a book, they are sharing their opinion, it is a critical opinion.

A blog can be a wonderful tool to build communities and make friends, just like a book.

Like a book, it is intensely personal, a long-term effort by a single person who puts a lot of themself into something that feels like an extension of their very soul.

And also like a book, it is a cultural product in the public domain which people are allowed to have and express negative opinions on–even really stupid negative opinions.

You wouldn’t support an actress going on TV to complain about how all the negative reviews of their last performance hurt her feelings and undermine the cause of feminism.

You wouldn’t support an author taking to the press to complain that criticism of their latest actions or writings meant they were jealous haters who lived to tear others down.

(Atwood tried that recently in the Globe and Mail, and it didn’t go well for her.)

You wouldn’t support a musician posting on FaceBook about how negative reviews of their last album must have been written by trolls who don’t understand the first thing about music.

So please, for the love of god, stop posting on your blog about those awful basement-dwelling GOMI trolls who are anti-feminism because they don’t like your blog. It’s childish, it’s unprofessional, and it’s deeply unattractive.

(Although I suppose if Margaret Atwood got money from the Globe to do that very thing, it is quite likely that there will always be people willing to provide an audience for mindless positivity and uncritical acceptance of every god-damned thing on the internet, so long as the ‘content creator’ is well-known. It’s not like she’s been fiscally penalized for her insistence of her every word being treated as Feminist Gospel by everyone. Yet.)

The only way to avoid negative reviews is by having no readers.

You get negative reviews because you have a lot of readers. That’s a good thing.

Since I myself have almost no readers, no one I’m talking about will see this. Alas.

Happy New Year (Please)

I think we’re all still here.

If not, this is a weird and frankly crappy version of an afterlife.

It’s an odd observation, I’ll grant you, but after this year we’ve had, even finding out that I’m actually dead and this is life beyond the grave would not surprise me.

How about you? Do you greet each day now with a “what fresh hell is this?” Do you log on to the internet braced for news of catastrophes? Do you find yourself sitting with friends in stunned silence from time to time, asking each other, “That happened, right? That was real?”

Look, if you’d gone back two years and told me that one day, I would be grateful every time the American president failed to start a nuclear war with North Korea via twitter, I would have thought you were smoking something.

But here we are, and this is a daily reality, as reported on in the press.

Other daily questions:

Does the GOP have a spine?

If so, where did they put it, and can they find it in time to prevent the destruction of all life on earth?

If not, can one be found for them? How?

North America experienced three historically unprecedented hurricanes and forest fires all over, so how is it we keep talking about climate change as something that’s going to affect us “one day?” Is today the “one day” people are talking about? Because that’s some serious and scary shit and people used to say that we’d take climate change seriously when it started affecting us and killing wealthy people in first world countries and here we are and no one seems to be taking it very seriously. Which I personally don’t find surprising, but when I said this previously, people called me a pessimist and a Cassandra. Yet here we are.

How many men who have been held up as cultural icons for decades are we going to learn have been preying on women in not-so-secrecy?

When will this (painful, potentially genital) rash of disclosures end?

When it does, how many people are going to try to shove us back in the box of “it’s not that bad” and “but why didn’t you come forward before” and “it was just a misunderstanding” and “really if you don’t want a superior at work to lock you in an office and show you his penis you should be swaddling yourself head to foot with three layers of chenille blankets every day”?

Will it work? Or is this something new?

If it is new, when is going to trickle down to those of us with predators and abusers who are not famous? Because there are absolutely some men in my history who should be in jail and aren’t, and no way no how do I yet feel like I could come forward with those stories and expect anything but excoriation and grief.

And the whole Russia thing is super weird, yes?

Did America’s former defining enemy actually buy the American election?

Are we sure that isn’t just a le Carre spy novel?

I mean, does it seem credible? Would you have gone to see a movie with that plotline, two years ago?

And Nazis?

Really, 2017? You had to bring back actual Nazis?

Strutting around in public with their faces showing giving Hitler salutes?

In America, in Europe, here in Canada?

Oh plus “I’m not a Nazi” Nazis. “Alt-right” Nazis. “Proud Boy” Nazis. “Nazi sympathizer” Nazis. I’m so glad we’ve found so many creative ways to make Nazis feel less judged about being Nazis. Meanwhile using the preferred pronouns of trans people is, apparently, an assault on freedom of speech. Because it’s good to make Nazis feel comfortable but extending the same courtesy to transgender children is special snowflake SJW ridiculousness, or somesuch.

Will I feel better if I drink more tea?

Was it just not enough tea yet?

How about wine?

Ugh.

~~~~~

Not everything is global doom and gloom.

(It just feels like it too much of the time.)

For instance, we got a (knock on wood) diagnosis for Frances.

Prenatal ultrasounds showed something was up with her bones; and here we are, 14 years later, knowing which funky gene is to blame.

It is a newly identified mutation and Frances is the ninth person in the history of humanity to be identified with it.

This is, perhaps you can imagine, really Big News. I’m still a bit wary of it. That particular rug, the “we’re for sure this time really certain about what’s up with Frances” rug, has been pulled out from under our feet many times. So I’ll believe it fully when the study is published next year and an anonymized Frances is indeed in it and I can see it all for myself. Frances, however, feels much better knowing what’s up, and that is good.

She’s taken to highschool like she was born to it, mastering the hallways and lockers and increased expectations and social demands like a pro. She’s kicking ass and taking names in art and languages, with a midterm 97% in French, as I expected; she is loved by her teachers and her friends, which of course. But it feels like a gift. The school is committed to inclusion and human rights and it is reflected in the way they’ve approach accessibility for her, and what a difference it’s made.

Good things happened this year, but I suspect that in years to come what I’ll mostly remember about 2017 is the constant daily unending stream of global yuck.

But hey, it’s January and we’re all still here.

(Acknowledging that “we” leaves out a lot: the fortheloveofgod American refugees showing up at the Canadian border, the ones Trump deported or who were never able to arrive at their destination, the diabetic guy who died for want of insulin after he aged off of his parent’s insurance, the victims of gun violence, the Rohingya, those displaced by natural disasters–all those who aren’t where they used to be, aren’t where they were allowed to be, or aren’t anywhere at all anymore. That “we” is a pretty lucky group, the ones who are still “here.” So.)

~~~~~

2018, here’s what I’d like:

  1. Trump no longer in charge of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. Please.
  2. Whoever replaces him to be an actually better human being, not just a slicker friendlier face on the same venomous snake.
  3. A provincial election outcome that doesn’t undo all of the work of the last 10+ years here in Ontario on climate change and LGBT rights and health care and education.
  4. For Frances’s diagnosis to stick, and for her to be able to begin to connect with some of those other 8 people, and please for them not to be douchebags.
  5. For this long-overdue reckoning on sexual harassment and assault to continue; for the balance of power to shift so that men and women and everyone else share the reins; for women to no longer be safe prey.
  6. For outrage against racism and Nazism to continue to grow, and knock that hydra to the ground.
  7. For my girl to be as healthy, happy and loved a year from now as she is today. For her to keep that miraculous self-confidence. For her to never have a #metoo story of her own.
  8. For continued progress on climate mitigation. Any progress at all, please; no more backward steps.

I have no resolutions. No magic words. I want 2018 to be a year worth living, and I have some ideas of how to make that happen for me and for my girl and how we can do our bit for the wider world. If it ever becomes specific or tangible, it may turn into a blog post.

For sewing, I swore up and down that I wasn’t going to do #2018makenine, but then not only did I do a plan, I did a Plan, complete with drawings, paints, and ink pencils. Sometime in November I’ll look it up and I full anticipate to be posting a #2018madetwo around this time next year.

I spent all day Jan 1 tracing and cutting out patterns; needless to say, not one of them is in that drawing.

At any rate: 2018: oh god, please don’t suck.

I wish you all your very own Happy New Year–a 2018 served up on a bed of thornless roses, which you can look back on with some contentment in future years.

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.

Blazer-y: McCalls 6996

My office(/cubicle) is weird.

I’m either sitting there sweltering in short sleeves (or worse, long sleeves) or freezing my butt off. A colleague of mine actually bought herself an enormous work shawl for the freezing days so she can be swaddled as she types.

I supposed I’ve just described most offices throughout history. So “weird” may not be the word, but “unpleasant,” certainly.

So I made a cardigan of the “looks enough like a blazer I can wear it at work” sort.

I’m not in general a cardigan person, but this has been very useful so far.

untitled-5
The Front. And no, no bird in the house–just sneaking a peek at my daughter doing homework upstairs.

It’s an M6996, made up by many, beloved by most. View A, with the higher rouse and the flouncy back. I do like it. It’s pretty, comfortable, and most importantly warm.

untitled-11
The Side, plus a Very Messy Bookcase

The sizing, of course, is bananas. This is a small, or a size 8/10. I should be a large, based on the sizing chart. Fortunately there were a few reviews mentioning the sizing issues so I was able to buy the right envelope.

The Back. Flouncy.

The back is a bit weird. As you can see there’s excess around the armscye, and the bicep is still a bit loose even though I snugged it down (…from the small), but the side seams are overall towards the back (which you can’t see, but it’s true). I’ll have to think about how I want to handle that for any potential version 2. Maybe a higher armscye and a slightly slimmer sleeve?

The fabric is a remnant cotton rib knit. It has just the right amount of structure to hold the shape while still being soft and very stretchy.

I have a lovely heathered purple rib knit I’m considering for a second version, but if there are other good business-y cardigan patterns out there I’d happily consider those too.

Sizing Note

Again, I’m a size 16/18 based on their size chart, which for this pattern (though it’s not described on the pattern page–!!!) is a size Large for this particular pattern. This is a Small (8/10). There’s an FBA brought to you by the magic of pivot-and-slide, on the front pieces. It worked quite well for this pattern.

Burda 10/2017 Top #119

I’ve been making a ton of t-shirts this fall, but don’t plan to post about most of them. They’re largely FBA experiments based on a Renfrew I altered to fit me, with darts rotated into gathers at the shoulder, neckline, or centre front. Mostly I got bored of basic t-shirts and could never find the patterns I wanted, so experimentation it is. It’s worked out fairly well and you’ll see them in posts about skirts or pants.

This one was an actual pattern, though, so it gets a post.

The Front-ish

The pluses are the waist tie, which obviates the need for fitting in the waist seam, and the distinctive seam lines (drop shoulders, triangular waist panel, peplums); the negatives are the d-ring, which I was not sure I would enjoy having attached to a shirt I’m wearing. But it was worth the risk to see if it worked.

The Side

It did! Here it is, made up in a plum rayon/bamboo jersey bought at Downtown Fabrics on Queen W.

Alterations on this one were minimal:

  1. FBA, some of which was rotated into the waist above the peplum waist gathers, some of which was eased in, and some of which was removed from the side waist as an impromptu “dart.” Next time I’d do more of this latter and less of the gathering/easing.
  2. Shortened the back by 1″. Sadly I goofed and shortened it also by 1″ at the side, which was way too much and raises the waist all over: not what I wanted.
The Back. You can see the tilt.

Otherwise, this is the pattern as drafted, d-rings and all.

Next time I’d lower the neckline in the back a smidge.  I might also extend the drop shoulder just a tad. But overall I love it and wear it all the time.

Also: you don’t need the zipper. I put the zipper in, but I don’t use it. I just pull it on and off.

Sizing Note

I should be a 40/44 in a Burda shirt; this shirt is a size 38 with an FBA. The upper front is cut on the single layer due to the asymmetrical seam so I did a parallel FBA on both sides of the pattern piece. Side darts were rotated into the waist seam, and then removed during cutting & sewing along the side seams. Remaining excess was eased into the waist seam; particularly under the tie detail.

Sewing Pants in Spanish Part I: Patrones 370 Pants #3

The saddest thing about this whole post, Dear Readers, is that I finished these pants weeks ago and have been wearing them regularly but have not had a spare moment to take a picture of them. I had the best intentions this past weekend to find an hour on Saturday afternoon–and then what with holiday shopping, two birthday parties for me, one for Frances, and two other social outings, plus groceries laundry etc.–it didn’t happen. Sunday afternoon found both Frances and I napping. But I’m determined not to be the one who always posts on Amnesty Day, so! midweek evening inside pictures with messy backgrounds it is.

The last time I bought pants for work was at least five years ago. If you haven’t yet blocked it out of your memory, at the time even nice wool pants for office work, even in pantsuits, were so low-cut as to graze the hipbone.

I’ve never, ever been a fan of the low-cut look, particularly at work, but when you don’t sew you’re at the mercy of the manufacturers, so I have a few pairs of pants like this. Then I started sewing, and made pants which reliably covered my underwear when sitting down. Then I lost weight, and none of them fit. Now the only pants I have in my wardrobe which stay up are the ones that don’t reliably cover my underwear. Yet the patterns I have–mostly from StyleArc, which only sells one size per envelope–are too big.

(I did make myself another pair of Jasmines as I’d adjusted them a bunch for shorts previously, but you don’t really need to see another pair of Jasmines from me.)

(Woops, you got to see them anyway.)

This is a problem. I hate going back to the drawing board with pants because the fitting is so finicky, but you know, I need pants!

The ones in my Burda magazines are either too casual, don’t have pockets (which I need for my insulin pump) or have large and dramatic front pleats, which I’m not a real fan of. But there are two patterns in one of the Patrones issues I bought that look fantastic: one with cool pockets and interesting seamlines, and one swishy without pleats and a nice high waist. The one with cool seamlines was too low-cut for my taste, and the high-waisted one had slash pockets that I’m not really a fan of, but either seemed like doable fixes.

(They don’t appear to have a website and they certainly don’t offer individual patterns for sale, so my apologies for the lack of links in this post. You can buy individual issues through this website in different langauges–but alas, not english.)

I traced them both out in the summer and they sat, languishing, in the back of the magazine. Once again The Monthly Stitch provided the kick in the butt I needed to get working on a project I’d already planned–and this time, actually needed.

First up: cool seamlines. Which I was delighted to learn, while translating the instructions, is meant to be made out of stretch cotton. I happened to have this stretch cotton sateen in my stash, destined to be pants and waiting for a pattern, for years.

The Front

I traced the size 44 as the best match, then measured key points to make sure it would be in the ballpark. With the multiple seamlines front and back, I figured further fitting would be a piece of cake. I raised the waist 1″ front and back, and added 2″ to the crotch curve. (Note: Patrones skips some sizing in their patterns, so this pattern for example is listed as “size 40-48,” but the pattern sheets include sizes 40, 44 and 48. You’ll need to grade between the sizing lines if you fall between.)

Pocket linings and waistband facings are a very bright floral scrap quilting cotton. I can’t have the whole thing be neutral. They just wouldn’t be my pants. But also, using a non-stretch woven for the waistband facing means that the waistband stays the original size all day.

Also note the inside button in addition to the hook-and-eye closure.

OK, and look: these are a 44.

The Back. Fitting perhaps a shade too well.

AND THEY FIT.

No mountains of excess ease.

I know the photos show some wrinkling at the seams but that’s a factor of a) contrast settings on the photo editing program and b) sewing each seam with a serge and with a regular sewing machine stitch to make sure they are good and strong. They are good strong seams, but they are also seams with some introduced wobbliness.

I did make some alterations:

  1. snugging the waist a bit, where I fall between sizes.
  2. taking most of the 2″ I put into the crotch curve back out again–I’m thinking Patrones may be drafted for someone a bit closer to my shape, because it seemed mostly unnecessary. I figured this out after I adjusted the fit on the back princess seams so it’s now a bit too snug back there, but still wearable.
  3. using the back princess seams to take excess out of the thighs below the butt
  4. adding a 2″ cuff to the bottom because I forgot to measure and add to the inseam before cutting it out
  5. I took a very small amount out of the side seams–maybe 1/8″. I might put it back into the next one.
  6. about 1″ out of the centre back waist to keep the waistband snugger (it was gaping quite a bit), which is why it dips a bit.

Surely if Patrones can do it, other pattern companies that shall remain nameless can also do it.

The Side.

The tissue has been adjusted and I’m ready to make more; a teal stretch denim is all washed up and ready to go.  Next time I might raise the centre back maybe another 3/4″ but otherwise I’m happy with them. They’re comfortable, they don’t need lining, you can make them out of twill or sateen and because of the seamlines and the pocket shape they don’t look like blue jeans. They’re easy to fit because of the princess seams. The only downside is that by the end of the day they do bag out a little bit in the butt. I’m not sure if there would be a stretch fabric with good enough recovery to guarantee this not happening if you have a job where you are sitting and standing all day long, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Sizing Note

According to the Patrones sizing chart, I am just under a size 44. These pants are a size 44 as traced, with personal fit modifications and a higher rise.

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