Tag Archives: too much talk

Housed

Life isn't a straight road.

I don't know why I thought it should be—I'll blame my parents with their baby-boomer career-marriage-house-children white picket fence life example. Not that it suited either of them particularly, but that's a different story.

I did set out to follow that playbook, but it went quickly sideways. First with having my kids far too early (from the playbook's perspective, anyway), later with a combo of my own mental health and my husband's physical health issues that made us both end promising careers in Alberta and run home with tails between our legs.

Since then, it's been a process. First, of survival. Learning to trust myself again. Resiliency has never been my strong suit—I much preferred blazing excellence, and when I fell short of that, I had no coping skills. When I started working at Fabricland (almost five years ago), it was my first non-academic job, and I was terrified that I wasn't even capable of entry level retail work.

It turned out I was, though. Thank goodness.

It took a long time to rebuild that confidence in myself. Not to mention that minimum wage retail work doesn't exactly pay the bills when you're suddenly the sole breadwinner. It was hard to go back to grinding poverty from what had been almost a middle-class lifestyle. Hard to work two jobs when the two combined don't even earn you enough to make ends meet. Hard to learn how to be the person who works two jobs, and how to maintain any sanity. For a long time, years, I couldn't look beyond the day, maybe the next pay period. All those plans for our future were just gone.

But I did cope and I did survive, and I did start to trust in my own ability again. And I've worked. As hard as I did at grad school, as hard as being home with a small baby. Harder than I knew I could—which is how it works, I guess. Last fall I got an opportunity at my day job for a new position which has let me use a lot more of my grad-school (and artistic) skills than my first position, and that has been exciting.

I'm starting to see a future. It's beginning to feel like a career—maybe not as lucrative as a professorial job, but something I can build on.

What comes next has nothing to do with my own abilities, talent, or resiliency, though. One of the biggest resources that has helped us through rough times over the years has been family. This spring, my father decided to help us get a house.

It's the last thing on that checklist, that playbook, that road to a Normal North American Life (TM). I'm not sure why, after all these years, I'm still trying to follow it—but I do know that I wanted this badly.

I want to be able to create my own space, feel ownership for it, and to be able to work to improve it. I'm willing to take on the extra responsibility to have that freedom, even that pride. And I'm so insanely grateful to my father for making this possible, because with all the other side-steps and swerves in my life, I couldn't have done it on my own. Thank you, Dad.

Thank you.
Now if I can just find my sewing machine…

Advertisements

56 Comments

Filed under Sewing

A Christmas Mess

Apparently I don’t get more done when I have more time. My husband picked up Final Fantasy XIV again right around when the store got closed and I was sucked right back in. After three years of working 55-60 hours a week I deserved some downtime, right? And it’s relationship-feeding. Or something. Anyway, my list of things I should’ve done but haven’t is as long as ever. 

Fabricland reopened the week before the week before Christmas, which was terribly exciting and lovely to see everyone and totally ate into what was supposed to be my last-minute-accomplishing-stuff time.

The socks above, made when I should’ve been sewing things for presents, are another pair of Dreamstress Rosalie stockings. I find them a fun, quick, although not overly practical, project. I usually omit the set of darts on the top of the foot (it doesn’t really make sense to have them there as far as I can tell) and add a band at the top—that helps keep them up.  They would be more practical except that I find the toes wear through quite quickly in the lightweight super-stretchy knits I’m most inclined to use. I wonder how bad it would look to add a double layer there. The white pair up above is made in French terry and hopefully will be a bit sturdier. I need to make a garter belt—I have findings ordered from Farthingales but haven’t actually put them together yet. 

Teenager drama continues apace. My kids are lovely, fun, and goofy, with their own unique constellations of interest that fascinate me, and it was great to just BE there a bit more while the store was closed. This still didn’t prevent the single worst parenting moment we’ve run into in sixteen and a half years, mind you. 

My kids are moody, angsty, and if they fail to generate their own personal drama they have plenty of friends with an abundant supply. We’re upset as parents that one never had friends over, and the other never seems to want to be home. (Which one is which varies somewhat.) Things  aren’t quite ok but I don’t think anyone’s going to die.

Well, let’s modify that. 

In early December, my grandmother died. The one who gave me the Rocketeer. I almost want to write that the old woman who used to be my grandmother died. She hasn’t known who any of us were in a few years. Her body was failing, and her mind lived in a fractured and sometimes frightening version of the past. I’m told it was peaceful, when she went. The funeral won’t take place for a while, maybe until spring. It’s hard to bury people up here in winter. Better to cremate and wait. Her grave had been ready for a long time, anyway, the other half of my grandfather’s gravestone engraved with everything but her death date, waiting patiently since 1986. I’m not sure if I’ve grieved already, or if I’m waiting for the memorial service. She was a strong woman, maybe a little hard for her own good, but she always had my back, unwavering and unconditional support. There’s a lot to be said for that.

I have, and will continue to, miss her. I really hope that some of those promising Alzheimer’s treatments I’ve been reading about pan out. I don’t want to be gone years before I actually die. I don’t want to lose my parents years before they actually die. 

My husband’s grandmother also isn’t well. After years of battling cancer, a few days in the hospital to help her manage her pain better somehow turned into palliative care. We spent most of my MIL’s Christmas Eve  dinner in a room at the hospital. Which is actually great for opening presents, but hard and terrible in every other way. It’s been ten years exactly since we last spent an Xmas in the hospital—that one was a doozie, too. 

So I guess it’s not true, when I said no one’s going to die. 

 Sorry, that sounds flippant. My reaction to death is bad humour. I want to start compiling a list of morbid jokes for when I die. If (when) I get terminally ill, I don’t want it to be this scary elephant in the corner that no one will talk about. I want it out in the open where we can make fun of it. 

Tyo and I made a Jalie 3244 onesie (no feet) for her cousin on Christmas Eve in under two hours. No photos as we were way under the gun. And I made some skinny little Eléonores for my other niece, the waif, who is still a toothpick. The gifts have been given but no word on whether they fit, yet. 

And I’m working on another Norse hood for my step-sister, so that she and her husband won’t have to share the one I made last year. I enjoy the handwork, aside from the part where my brain yammers at me about how crude my workmanship is and what self-respecting Viking would sew with yarn?!? Stupid researcher brain. 😉

They are happy, anyway, though my square gussets were a little smaller this time around resulting in smaller shoulders that seem to fit her better than her husband. Good to know. 

I’ve also made (though they aren’t completely finished) corsets for both my daughters. They both had expressed a desire for proper over bust ones, and Tyo had even picked out a fabric back around her birthday. 

They aren’t totally finished as I didn’t want everything closed up before I could fit them, but they are put together and mostly boned. And I ran out of time, as everything is a mess this year, including my time management. Trying to be kind to myself about that. We could all use a bit more kindness right now.

I hope that your holidays, whatever they entail, have been peaceful, and less stressful than mine. I’m looking forward to the next few days, hoping things will be a bit more relaxed and calm. 

Edit: more relaxed, yes. My body took the opportunity to get sick. Blerg! But I am almost done this shop project coat, at long last…

5 Comments

Filed under Sewing

I want to blog but I really should clean…

We’re in the midst of prep for the local comic con right now (which is in a couple of weeks). 

Tyo is going as Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury

Zera is the dark-haired girl on the right.


Syo is being Zera from Fairy Tail Zero. If you know what either of those are, good for you. Right now Tyo just needs some fingerless bike gloves and a red hat with a metal plate; Syo is getting another dress/top, and it’s in pieces in a corner of the kitchen. Where it’s been all week because I had to go out of town for work for a couple days. And my boss totally brought her sewing machine, and I was super jealous, but on the other hand I had two evenings of glorious time to myself reading, so I can’t be too sad. (Please note, this is my boss at my non-fabric-related job. :D)

Hotel room


And the kids have gone back to school, but only just barely and now it’s the long weekend already. And the house is a mess which is squicking my husband out so if I’m a good supportive spouse I will help do something about that. Especially since at least some of the mess is sewing related (see the part about the dress in the corner of the kitchen.) And the sewing room is so deeply buried it’s almost unusable, which is the point where even I get a little squirrelly.  

Which didn’t stop me from bringing home a September project, because I’m an idiot.  I’m thinking view C but with a hood. The coating isn’t very thick but I have some plain heavy flannel in stash I’ll use for interlining to make it a bit more warm, so maybe I’ll be able to wear it a bit when I get it back from the store in October. Fall slips quickly into winter here, though. 

At least I won’t be bored?

12 Comments

Filed under Sewing

Tent-ative

I love the look of this Kwik Sew nightie—but I have a sinking feeling it would look less glamorous in reality (and it takes a LOT of fabric)

Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow is on a tent-dress tear right now. And she’s making it look good. Off-handedly I commented that she’s making me think more seriously about the whole shape and the several vintage patterns I have that use it, when I’m really not sure about the shape on my actual body. Of course she said she’d love to see one made up. Wait, you mean I should actually SERIOUSLY think about this?

Sleepwear again, but the version on the left is a pretty basic pillow-case dress.

Well, I haven’t gotten that far, but here’s what a quick trawl through the pattern stash turned up.

Here’s a sort of half-pillow-case.

This 90s McCall’s might be a good woven option—it would be perfect in a soft rayon, with the bust dart for a nice fit through the bust.

Have I mentioned lately how much I adore McCall’s old Carefree pattern line? All the cute and sweetness. I love the sleeves on the short red version. As far as I can tell, this one is shapeless with the tie extending from the bottom of the V neckline to tie under the bust.

This John Kloss  (Wait, better yet, here’s a whole post on Madalynne about him) Butterick pattern is probably my favourite in theory—fitted through the bust and then flowing free below. The maxi version looks especially yummy. I worry about those cut-in shoulders on my actual body, however—I tend to not actually like that look when I see it on me. I do love the long slit at the throat, though.

I guess this one is not actually a tent-dress—I’d call it more of a babydoll. I’m totally seduced by the Carefree cuteness again, though. I’ve had the fabric for this one picked out for years…

10 Comments

Filed under Sewing

Victorian Romp

_MG_0155My ersatz Victorian dress is finished, or at least as finished as it is likely to get, which is to say there is trim of some kind on all three main elements. (Waist, aka bodice, skirt, and overskirt.) I’m actually reasonably comfortable that it falls within the range of Victorian “normal” and isn’t too weirdly stripped-down, which is actually the biggest thing that often seems off about costumes (at least to me). Well, the skirt is probably a little too plain. And the whole thing is on the plain end. Just, hopefully not too plain. (And my neckline is completely inappropriate for a day dress as far as I can tell, while my suiting fabric would not be a good choice for evening wear… but this was my “fun” project and I don’t personally like high necks, so I picked the neckline I liked.

Button Fixin

While getting dressed, I lost a button. A significant amount of the editing involved photoshopping the button that popped off when I was getting dressed.

The bodice has a pleated ribbon trim; the overskirt has the same ribbon, but unpleated. For the skirt I took all the remaining bias tape from my main fabric and folded the edges under to make a trim I could stitch down. This was the least successful trim as the bias is somewhat rippled (even though I stitched both edges in the same direction). I wasn’t convinced the placement was any good, either, but actually looking at the photos I don’t mind it. I don’t feel inclined to rip it all off, in any case. If I had more of the red fabric I would add a pleated trim around the bottom of the skirt, but I don’t, and at least at present I don’t feel like buying more.

_MG_0132Anyway, this completion happily coincided with a couple of things. With my most recent Victorian Sewing Circle afternoon. Also, my sister-in-law, who has always dabbled in photography (and even worked as a portraitist a few times) has decided she wants to really get into the game. Photographer with a Real Camera who just wants some serious practice? Sign me up! So I got her to meet me at the Marr Residence that morning for a fun (almost*) period photo shoot.

_MG_0026ad_1

We started with boudoir shots.

It’s been a really long time since I did a real photo shoot with, like, an actual photographer. It was really fun.

 

with book light playing 2We bounced around the house, playing with the light.

At the firexcfEvery room was different.

With Tree

The Marr Residence has a great little double-lot park, and the day was warm enough that it wasn’t a huge sacrifice to run around in the snow—although the tail end of winter is not the most scenic time of year anywhere.

Angie was good enough to let me have at the electronic files. It’s also been a really long time since I took the time to seriously edit photos for anything. I am not on the Better Pictures Project. 😉 most of my blog photos are quick snaps with my iPhone, occasionally tripod shots on my point ‘n shoot, and the editing I do is only basic straightening, cropping, and a wee bit of contrast & exposure. Mostly via the built-in iPhone editor. It’s a hard reality that I have accepted—if I wait for good photos before I blog, there will be no blog.

26018139361_aecb868b5a_o

But it was sure nice to actually take some time with these, both the photo shoot and the editing. And I even had RAW to play in! (I am not a good enough photo editor to tell you if RAW actually makes a difference in the final photo, but it sure is FUN!) though most of these were done from the jpeg as it’s just faster for me. RAW is like a rabbit hole from which there is no return.

Water sepia glow (2)

I can’t help it. I love me some cheesy filtering sometimes.

I did most of the editing in GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) which is photoshop’s slightly awkward but most importantly free little brother. It can do pretty much whatever photoshop can, and doesn’t cost a dime (and it took about three seconds of googling for me to find and download the add-ons for processing RAW format and batch-editing. I do find it difficult to bounce back and forth between the two programs, as you have to remember two different ways to do everything, but if you don’t want to shell out for Photoshop it’s a pretty awesome alternative.

 

Laughing on the path redI may have had a bit too much fun with the editing process, making sepia and low-colour versions. Oh, well. They’re my photos and I’ll cheese ’em up if I want too. I also lost the cover off one of my fabric-covered buttons while getting dressed, so that had to be photoshopped out of a bunch of pics. I will warn you, I also took the liberty of some SERIOUS Photoshopping once or twice—so if you catch yourself wondering “is her waist really that small?” The answer is probably “no, not even in a corset.” PICTURES LIE!!!!

Outside house tight red

PS, should you have the inclination, you can find my photographer at Angel Jems Photography—facebook page for now, hopefully a real website at some point. Also I’ve uploaded a few more photos on my Flickr page:

Victorian Romp

and:

Victorian Romp Sepia

What we didn’t get were any shots resembling an actual Victorian portrait, standing stiffly against a backdrop and not smiling. These pesky modern photographers and their action shots and candid snaps. Maybe next time.

Outside and pensive*you’ve seen my hair, right? Short of concocting a story about how I cut it off and sold it to buy a chain for my husband’s prize watch, which he sold to buy me a comb for my beautiful hair, we’re kinda stuck. I don’t have an appropriate wig, and I’m disinclined to go out and buy one at the moment. I also don’t have a period hat for the outdoor shots.

Tree hug contras

Ok, I’ll stop now.

10 Comments

Filed under Sewing

So not cool.

img_3410So a crummy thing happened last Friday. Not a tragedy, exactly, but a bummer. And I’m not mentioning it to condemn humanity, or even as a plea for sympathy (though I’ll take it), but just because this is my record of things to do with my sewing and nothing like this has actually happened with any of my sewing before.

Remember this green dress, Burda 6686, made for a work project a couple of weeks ago? Well, like a good little employee I hung it up at Fabricland, nice and front and centre on one of the little plastic half-mannequins we have for such display, and boy did it look cute, if I do say so myself. (I think my Courtney Love reference was a bit lost, however—it just looked like a sweet little sundress.)

Well, during the busyness of last weekend’s half-price sale, somebody seized a moment when no one was looking, pulled the mannequin down, pulled the dress off it, and walked off with my dress. It was such a little thing it would have fit easily in a pocket…

img_3425So yeah. Kinda bummed. 😦 Which I already whined about thoroughly on Facebook, but anyway. One nice thing did happen since then—my management was approved to replace my materials, so I can make the dress again.

2016-03-23 22.09.10-1Plus they threw in a little bonus of comp goods of my choice as a partial comp for my time—so I was able to pick up some trims for my next Victorian costume. Because, y’know, priorities. 🙂

So really I should just buckle down and make the damn dress again, because the last thing I want is the fabric sitting there in stash mocking me. I really, really, really should…

img_3427

34 Comments

Filed under Sewing

Teeny little fix

20140722-101516-36916078.jpg
Over a year ago, I spent a slightly obscene, K-Line-worthy amount of money on this bra. It’s gorgeous, and when I tried it on, the fit was perfect—on the tightest hook, because it was a 32″ band and really, according to the bra-shop ladies, I should be wearing a 30″ band. Fortunately, they also offered free alteration with the purchase, and it would be quite easy to have it altered (and I hate altering things myself)—so, when I picked it up the next week, the bra was as gorgeous as ever, but the band was, invisibly, mysteriously, just a little shorter. Yay!

Except, when I got it home and put it on, something that I hadn’t noticed at all when trying it on happened—the wires dug in like CRAZY between the breasts. To the point where I couldn’t wear it after a few minutes, never mind all day. What the heck? How had I missed this at trying on? I was dismayed. Not to mention upset at the wasted money—no returns on altered bras, my friends.

But what could have gone wrong? It was really uncomfortable. Sometimes you don’t notice a little fit issue until you’ve worn something awhile, but this didn’t feel like that. This was too big a problem to have missed. So, perhaps it was a problem that hadn’t existed when I tried the bra on the first time. What had changed? Only the band length. How would that affect the wires digging in?

I examined the bra more closely. Sure enough, the bridge between the cups was distinctly stretchy. With the added tension on the band, I surmised that the bridge was stretching, too, throwing off the angle of the cups.

Did I mention I hate alterations? So it then sat in my underwear drawer for a year or so. Finally, in a fit of wardrobe purging this staycation, it had to either get fixed or go. I grabbed the first thing to come to hand, a scrap of silk charmeuse with some selvedge, and stitched a stay across the inside of the bridge. I think the silk will be perfect, strong and soft but not bulky.

20140722-184701-67621456.jpg

And tried it on and—no pokies!!!!

Not a glamorous or time-consuming bit of sewing, I know, but I wanted to document it just because it seemed like such a strange thing to throw off the fit of a bra. And such an easy fix. Why do we avoid these little chores so long? (Or am I the only one?)

21 Comments

Filed under Sewing