Monday 26 September 2011

How to sew when you are home with a sick toddler:

Advisory:  Graphic depiction of parenting.  Reader discretion is advised.  

Call daycare and confirm that you'll be keeping the toddler home today because she had fever less than 24 hours ago.  Get toddler settled on sofa with Toupie et Binoo, sippy cup of watered-down apple juice and an oatmeal cookie.
Pull out previously cut muslin for Pendrell blouse.  Start to read directions.
"I need a douxdoux (blanket)"
Go upstairs and get douxdoux.
Go back upstairs and get green douxdoux.  Start to read instructions again.  Realize how straightforward this blouse is and predict about 2 hours, start to finish.
"I needa go toilet."
Take toddler to toilet.  Read the scintillating Les petits cochons, vont-ils aux toilets? 2X.  Give up and put toddler back in diaper.  Replace on sofa.  Pin muslin pieces together; find matching thread from great estate sale score on the weekend; thread machine and bobbin; start first seam.  Smell something bad.
"Mama.  I went caca.  Too late."
Change toddler.  Remind her that she only gets chocolate chips if toilet trip is successful (yes, I've resorted to chocolate bribery.  For the love of monkeys, she's almost 2 1/2.  I'm sick of diapers.)  Replace on sofa.  Restart Toupie et Binoo.  Finish first seam.
"I help you.  I do this too."  
Make room for toddler next to sewing machine.  Quickly unplug serger as she steps on pedal.  Open button tin as a distraction maneuver.  Toddler finds all the ladybug buttons and spends 5 happy minutes "put them for dodo (sleep)".  Finish sewing fronts to back.  Plug in iron; prepare bias binding; start to pin.  
"Mama, I need snack."
Go to kitchen and find applesauce.  Figure that should be easy on the stomach and the sofa.  

Notice that it's too quiet in the sewing room / TV room / play room / disaster area.  Rush back in to find toddler with glass headed pin in mouth.
"Mama, I find lollypop!"
Install toddler on sofa with bib, dishtowel on lap, and Mighty Machines.  Finish sewing neck binding; decide to add sleeves; gather and set.
Pick up toddler.  Feel burning fever has returned.  Get kids' Advil.  Cuddle toddler on sofa through 30 minutes of Mighty Machines ("YELLOW ONE MIGHTY MACHINES!") before you can convince her to take medicine.  Start to fall asleep with toddler in arms.  Wake up when vomit starts.  Clean up toddler.  Clean up sofa.  Clean self.  


(ps. I did manage to finish the Pendrell blouse after 8 hours.  All in all, not a bad time estimate.)

Friday 23 September 2011

Jean-Paul Gaultier

Two weeks ago, I thought/hoped that my unexpected vacation may be coming to an end, so I thought I'd better grab the chance to go see the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit at the MuseĆ© de Beaux Arts.  (Just imagining going to this exhibit with the yard apes in tow makes my blood pressure rise.  In fact, they probably have a no-kids-allowed policy, and for good reason.  All the pieces are displayed right there, within sticky finger reaching distance.)  

I took a couple of shots in the entrance of my favourite piece:  this draped jersey nautical dress with the trailing strips.  The foyer was crammed with a bus tour of people, so I figured I'd just loop around and get some more photos after I'd seen the whole exhibit.  Unfortunately, it was one-way only, so I didn't get back for more, but you can always follow the link above for much better shots than my pocket camera is capable of taking.  

The mannequins were blank-faced, with faces of local artists, singers, and even J-PG himself projected onto them, and were triggered to start when you tripped the sensors.  A strange experience until you figure it out.  

(sorry for the crap iPhone video, but that's the best yer gonna get on this blog!)

There are pieces of his earliest works;  his famous Blonde Ambition era corsets; The Uptight Charm of the Bourgeoisie; High-Tech; the film costumes from Fifth Element, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, and the Almadovar films...I'm forgetting a lot more than I'm remembering.  Maybe I'll have to go again. 

It's a genius exhibition, and it's traveling over the next two years to Dallas, San Francisco, Madrid and Rotterdam, so catch it if you can!

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Strike Action

I've been on strike for three weeks now, and for the first time in ages the house is clean, the dinner is homemade every night, my paperwork is all up to date and I'm getting some sewing done.  

Exhibit A is a hit: 

It's a basic bodice made from the Sorbetto pattern, but the bodice was shortened by about 12cm, the front was cut as two pieces and sewn half-way up to make a slit front, the armholes were lowered a bit.......(well, it was once the Sorbetto pattern).  I added a gathered rectangle skirt and a simple neck tie.  It's pretty see-through, so I probably should have lined it, but I have a summer dress with a slippery synthetic lining and I never wear it because it's too clammy in the 99% humidity of Montreal summers, so I say let the sun shine in.  

I sewed french seams on the bodice, bias strips for the armholes and enclosed the waistband.  I was so pleased to have enclosed all the seams so well, when I noticed that I had forgotten to finish the back skirt seam.  D'oh.  

Exhibit B is a bit of a miss:

It's a shift dress pattern from 1970, but I didn't want to interrupt the pattern by sewing a seam down the front, and I only had 2m of very narrow linen, so I couldn't cut to match the pattern.  I also left out the darts in the back for the same reason.  Result:  a shapeless shift that is a little too close to skin tone.  Maybe with some dark purple tights and a yellow cardigan for the winter, but as a summer dress it's a bit of a flop.  It's also crazy itchy.  Is linen usually this itchy?  

I did bind all the seams with bias tape because this linen fabric had a thread count of about, oh, 5 per inch.  I may be exaggerating slightly, but you get my drift.  Every time I pulled it over my head to fit it, threads would fly left and right.  I also had just exactly the right length of 50-year-old hem tape hanging around.  Score one for hanging on to every scrap.  

I've also been catching up on a lot of thrift store alterations and mending, but they aren't incredibly exciting, so I'll skip it.  In other news, I'm planning on going to NYC next week to meet up with Mena, Oona, Debi and Meg.  Woohoo!  Nothing like planning a trip when I'm completely out of money, Air Canada is on strike and I can't find a cheap hotel to book, but I can't miss the fun.   

Wednesday 7 September 2011

When thrifting isn't thrifty

I've been gone for a long time.  Well, not a Selfish Seamstress long time, but still.....

The last month consisted of:  Fly standby to Halifax (a day in the airport), drive to Cape Breton to see grandparents, drive back to Halifax, fly standby back to Montreal (another day in the airport), work like bonkers for a week to get some results before the High Throughput Centre closes for a month, fly to Vancouver, fly back to Montreal, work like bonkers to get as much organized as possible before my union voted to strike, AAAAAAND......then go on strike.  Whew.  I've been enjoying the luxury of being home during day while my kids are in school / daycare.  Now I understand how people get all their shit done:  one of them stays home.  What a novel concept.  Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?!

So the first couple of days at home consisted of long overdue housework, but then I thought I would finally take advantage of the time to myself to do some actual sewing, so I skipped off to the local thrift store.  I thought I'd scored when I found 5 metres of black cotton/lycra jersey for $5.  (I never find cheap knit at my local stores and the thrift shops.  Forget it.)  So I took it home and threw it in the washer, and then............



 and you would not believe the mess this piece of shit made of my WHITE bathroom.  It's everywhere. 

 Have you ever had to vacuum the inside of your dryer?  I have.  It's not something I had on my Sewing Bucket List, that's for sure. It's like the cotton completely disintegrated and all that was left behind was the lycra skeleton.  Oh yeah, and a fine layer of black sticky dust all over my freakin house. 

So now the time and money wasted in running many loads of laundry over again has pretty much cancelled out the savings of that little thrift store adventure.  Gah.  

Anyway, I'm working on a few little things while I'm on my (unpaid) strike/vacation:  I did a little tie dying with the offspring over the long, stormy Labour Day weekend, I'm working on a shift dress vaguely based on a pattern from 1970 using the cool linen from my first estate sale score, and I'm getting set up for my Gatsby dress.

Is it wrong of me to hope that this strike drags on a little longer?  At least until I get some sewing done.
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