Monday 26 December 2011

A Year in the (Sewing) Life

2011 has been quite the year.  There was travel in 4 (or 5?) countries, new experiments and collaborations to undertake at work, a 3 month strike with no income, the loss of a family member, a new school and a new language for my son, a new lab for me, conferences to speak at and prepare posters for, the ever-increasing difficulty of managing an independent-minded toddler, a collective agreement to negotiate between the Board of Directors over which I preside and the daycare staff ....I'm hoping that 2012 calms down a bit.
One constant throughout the past year has been my renewed efforts to find time for myself to sew, and everyone out there in blogland has been a great help.  Or should I say a great enabler.  I sometimes find my mind drifting when I'm in a meeting that is dragging on a little too long (....I wonder what would be the best pattern to use with that new purple gabardine.....).  I sometimes stay up too late looking at vintage patterns for sale on Etsy (It's purely to study the construction details on the envelopes, I swear).  I sometimes check out my blog roll when my kids are watching TV and I can't stand one more minute of Toupie et Binoo.  As far as addictions go, it's a relatively innocuous one.  And it's much more socially acceptable to have someone walk in a catch you reading Burdastyle than sneaking a smoke or a drink at work.  Unless you happen to work for Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Price.  
Without any further ado, here is my sewing year encapsulated:
I brought back a fabric hoard from Cape Town (pictured in the upper left) and did a little Cape Town to Canada series:
You can see that there are still a couple of unused fabrics there; I'd better get cracking before the year is up.  Plus, I'll need some more room in my storage for the hoard I plan to bring back from Botswana this February!

I started Sewing Through the Decades with Debi and Sarah:
I had randomly pulled some patterns from my collection that spanned 1940s-2010s, and planned to make one pattern from each decade.  The only one I didn't get around to finishing was 1950s.  I thought about doing a reissued 50s pattern with modern proportions, because the proportions of the 1950s patterns I own are insane.  Whereas I have a bust:waist differential of only about 5", the 50s patterns assume much, much (MUCH) more.  Like 10".  That's crazy.  I lost enthusiasm and put it on the back burner.  Maybe some perfect pattern will come my way and make me change my mind about the New Look silhouette, but for now, I'm going to call it a day.

I also went from reading Mena's blog to participating in The Sew Weekly:
It was great to join the community and draw from each other's projects and advice.  I'll probably continue to participate whenever a weekly theme coincides with free time + a previously planned project + fabric and notions already lounging in my hoard.  Mena is changing the format in the coming year, so there may be the chance to be a featured member from time to time.

You can see that there is some overlap between these three groups of projects.  If motherhood has taught me anything, it's why do one thing at a time when you can do two (or three)?  It's the only way shit gets done around here.

Oh, and I almost forgot!  The weekend escape to NYC to meet up with a bunch of people I had never met and only knew by their web pseudonyms.  Luckily, the weekend did not become the subject of an after-school special and was a legitimate meetup of sewers (sewists.  sewintists.  whatever.):
Those ladies (and gent) know how to have a good time.

That's 2011 in a nutshell.  I may as well post this today, since I seriously doubt that I'll be able to do any more sewing before the 31st.  I had 9 people staying in my house over Christmas, and now that they are gone, it's just me left to do the cleaning, cooking and child care while my man tries to get through a mountain of student papers and exams that are due.  
Happy New Year everyone!

(ms. oona just turned me on to Thinglink.  I'm going to give it a try.  Bear with me until I get it all figured out, but it should results in links within each photo subset.)

Thursday 15 December 2011


So we decided this week to try going patternless.  Now that I have my dressform (dubbed by my daughter: She Need a Head, or SNAH), it should make learning a lot easier.  On the other hand, I had about 2 hours to myself this week, so it had to be a lightning fast project.  Enter the maxi skirt:
Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a cop-out;  I've been planning to make a maxi skirt since the summer, and have lots of images pinned.  I was just waiting for the right fabric to come to me, and this rayon sarong fit the bill nicely.  This rayon has a great drape (almost like a jersey), and such a great combination of colours that will go with just about anything. 
 It's actually more of a burnt umber/black than a mustard/navy, but I just don't have the time or inclination to adjust the colours right now.  Take my word for it, it's great.  Oh yeah, and it's batik.  You expected something else?
 I love the border, and so I immediately thought, "Fold it in half and make a knee length skirt with the border on the hem.", but then I checked my closet, and (all my skirts)-1=knee length, so it was time to stir it up a bit.  I didn't want to hide the border print, so I sewed those ends together to make a tube, and then.....hey, I don't really have to describe how to make an elastic-waist skirt, do I?  How about I just show you some photos of the skirt in action:

 Good for kid wrangling...

 ....and putting decorations on the tree, and taking decorations off the tree, and putting decorations back on the tree, and....(you get my drift)

I wanted it to be MAXI maxi, and sweep the floor, even though I'm reminded of that quote from Heidi about long skirts: 

 "....(cousin Dete)...had a long trailing skirt to her dress which swept the floor, and on the floor of a goatherd's hut there are all sorts of things that do not belong to a dress."

I should amend this quote to read:

"...she had a long trailing skirt which swept the floor, and on the floor of a parasitological research facility, there are all sorts of things that do not belong to a dress." 
Ah well, rayon is machine washable.

Monday 12 December 2011

Back home, back to work, back to sewing

My family has logged almost 20,000km in flights over the past two weeks, so you'll forgive me if I've been silent in blogland.

I was in Vancouver, caring for my MIL when I heard that my strike had finally ended.  Perhaps it is my lack of religious upbringing, but it makes so much more sense to me to spend some time with someone at the end of their life, rather than waiting until they are gone and attending their funeral.  In trying to explain death to my son and nephew, we came to the conclusion that my final days should involve a party with my favourite band, a bouncy castle to jump in and a mountain of gummies to swim in (we're talking about a 6- and an 8-year-old here, but I am all over that idea.  I plan to hold them to it, although I doubt I'll be able to get Henry Rollins, Tom Waits and all the Wainwright / McGarrigle family together at the same time.  Unless I get a really awesome bouncy castle.)

I flew back to Montreal and now I have to remember how to do all that science stuff again.  The fact that my previous lab space has been taken from me and the renovations in my new space are not yet complete makes things awkward (long story, involving lots of passive aggression misdirected at me, rather than at the person responsible, but that's another story....)

With all this going on, there hasn't been much sewing happening around here, but I do have a little sneak peek for the week ahead:

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