Tag Archives: whining

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…

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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…

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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?

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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…

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The fruits of procrastination

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I can’t finish Tyo’s Pikachu onesie quite yet. I ran out of yellow thread and, more problematically, I forgot to get yellow zippers and that grippy material for the bottoms of the feet. I could’ve gone out and gotten some, but that would’ve required leaving the house. I don’t have much time off this year and most of what I did have off was spent running from one family engagement to the next. Which is as it should be, but still. Busy. So I’m treating my scant leisure time with fierce protectiveness.

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It’s also been fucking cold. Long, steady, solidly cold, with lots of wind. I needed a tiny bit of black fleece for Pikachu, but it being black fleece (and on sale!) I got two metres. So today, whilst stymied on the Pikachu front, I made a fleece shirt.

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I used my knit sloper, which I haven’t done in about a million years. It felt good.

I used the same technique to up-size my sloper for (not-so-stretchy) fleece as I did with my Grandma’s sweater, with much the same results: the size is good but the shoulders are just about too wide. The sloper has pretty narrow shoulders, though, which is why I went for it. Nice thing about using my knit sloper—it’s cut out of Bristol board, so I just grabbed a sliver of soap from the bathroom (since all my chalk is AWOL. Seriously, everything is AWOL. I mean, I’m not the most organized person, but this is ridiculous.) and traced around it. So much neater than pinning everything!

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When I got to trying-on, I had to scoop out a bit under the arm, but otherwise the fit was pretty good. I thought the body was a bit short so I finished it with a wide band; the sleeves I just hemmed under with a three-step zig-zag.

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The high point of my construction was binding the neckline. I used black cotton-Lycra, the stuff I use for underwear and leggings. I just cut my strip wide, zig-zagged it in place on the right side, folded over so the edge was bound, and top stitched the whole works, then trimmed off whatever I didn’t need from the back.

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It’s not really the right fabric for a top—a little stuff and awkward, not enough drape. Nor is it a wonder of professional-looking finishing. But it’s warm and serviceable and warm and practical and warm and generally just WARM.

Yeah, I fear this blog suffers stylistically in the winter. My brain shuts down and all thoughts of fashion are replaced by cries of “Is it WAAAAARRRMM?!?”

At least it goes well with my fleece pants…

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Madly off in all directions

Despite actually having a wee bit of time that could’ve been spent sewing this weekend, I instead dithered to the point of getting almost nothing done.

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I have started a Hallowe’en outfit—not really a costume, but a fun outfit. Above will become a neon green crinoline.

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And then the blouse will be this spiderweb lace.

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This is the pile of various knits that I want to become leggings and underwear and other handy basics for the fast-impending winter.

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My Victorian obsession continues apace. My post-birthday splurge on some Truly Victorian patterns arrived. But I really can’t even start fantasizing about the outer layers before my underpinnings are under way. The pantaloons are finished (photos pending) so the next logical step should be the chemise, but of course the corset is far more fun to fantasize about even though I haven’t pulled the trigger on ordering the necessary hardware.

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I’m actually contemplating two corsets, one sedate and underwearly, and one more glamorous, using this gorgeous scrap of red and gold brocade that’s too narrow for much of anything else.

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I’m leaning towards this pattern for the chemise, as it appears most similar to the chemise instructions in my Victorian sewing texts—although the same texts refer to patterns that are available that have more shaping.

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This cotton batiste is ready to go whenever I stop dithering. Also a selection of lace.

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But of course what I really should be working on is this pair of jeans for my niece, whose birthday is tomorrow.

/sigh.

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Not dead.

Life.

Life.

Although that might be easier. Er, not. Quite.

Refugee serger camped out on the computerdesk. #sewdontclean

Refugee serger camped out on the computerdesk. #sewdontclean

To start with the good news, the serger survived her little bath. I left it a week, silica gel-packs stuffed inside (although it occurred to me later that the key part is probably the motor, which is actually mounted on the back, not inside where the gel packs were. I tried to get the cover off the motor but the bolts holding it on were not cooperative and I didn’t want to strip them. So I waited.) Anyway, when I finally dared to start it up a day or two ago, after cleaning and oiling (although I really don’t think the water touched anything that actually moved…), she was fine. Aside from her recurring tension problems, anyway. (I continue playing with the bit of extra thread wrapped around the  needle-thread tension disc.) The White (which is my main sewing machine right now despite being a little temperamental) has some rust on the foot pedal I don’t think was there before, but everything is working.

Wedding Dress Trial #1

Wedding Dress Trial #1

Which is good because I have a month to finish Epona’s wedding dress and five bridesmaid dresses. Holy fucking cow. And work is likely to be at least somewhat insane during that time, too. On the up side, the wedding dress itself is pretty simple (the practice version took two days to sew up, obviously I’d like a bit more time with the real thing) and I could’ve had the first of the bridesmaids dresses finished last night if I hadn’t kept stopping to watch bits of “Oz the Great and Powerful” with the kids and hubs.

Bridesmaid dress bodice... in progress

Bridesmaid dress bodice… in progress.

Which kids are done school now. so no peaceful days of working at home, unless I can manage to bribe my MIL to take them to the lake for a week or something.

Wedding dress back. I'm kinda stoked about how the lacing turned out.

Practice wedding dress back. I’m kinda stoked about how the lacing turned out.

Speaking of the children, it has now been over a decade since I was last pregnant. Happy birthday, Syo!

Syo is now ten.

Syo is now ten.

And I have a late birthday dress cut out for the Waif, but unlikely to be sewn up until the wedding is done. DAMN.

Waif's birthday dress.

Waif’s birthday dress.

Waif just turned five. It is a size 3 pattern. I added an inch of length to the bodice, but it will probably still be too wide. Going for the middle view, of course.

And as a result, I’m spending all my “free time” ogling corset forums and adding and removing things from my fantasy cart at Farthingales.

How’s your summer going, stitchers?

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