Wednesday 19 November 2014

Blog Hop

Clio from fivemuses nominated me for the blog hop, and it was probably a good idea:  I just don't blog that much anymore, for reasons that I'll explain a bit below.  But perhaps this will get me back into the swing of things.

1.  Why do I write?

Record keeping -> Community.

I started off writing only for myself, as a way to keep track of what I was thinking, what I was doing, and what I wanted to learn.  I didn't link to my blog anywhere else because I thought of it as a private diary of sorts.  Then I realized that there was so much interaction going on within the sewing community and I wanted to be part of it too.

I think I started sharing my blog when I decided to enter the Burdastyle "Party Through the Decades" contest in 2010….*goes digging back in time*…..ah yes, here it is:

I tried to copy the dress that Julianne Moore wore in A Single Man, and did a fairly good job for a beginner, I must say!  I got some good feedback and a few blog readers, which encouraged me to continue.

(It's so funny to look at this photo now, 4 years later, and remember the circumstances:  my cousin and his friends are commercial photographers and had just rented a studio, so I popped in to get them to take a few free photos for me - as one does with family.  We had bought this shag rug from Ikea to mimic the set from the film, and it kept getting fur all over the dress, so one of the people assisting kept lint-rollering me.  My 5 year old son and 1 year old daughter were running around in the background, and I was terrified that they would break something expensive.  The spotlights were blinding me, and all their assistants were staring at me……and I just froze.  I couldn't think of how to pose!  And the photographer kept trying to encourage me to move a bit, but I felt like a rusty robot!  My face in most of the photos was bright red and my eyes were closed, but luckily he managed to get a few good ones.)

2.  How does my blog differ from others in its genre?

Does holding on to the same old blog design from 2010 make me different?  Does my infrequent posting make me stand out in a sea of active bloggers?

*heh heh*

I think it's pretty obvious from the frequency of my posts and the outstandingly stellar graphic design of my blog that I'm not out to make money;  I'm not giving up my day job;  I'm not trying to attract a wide readership or increase my blog traffic.

Don't get me wrong: most of my favourite blogs that I started reading years ago have evolved into some kind of business, and that's part of the reason I still love them:  they are dynamic and give back and are evidence that a creative passion can become your profession!  However, I don't have the time, talent, or inclination to do that:  I'm just here in my little corner of the world, talking science and sewing.

3.  How does my writing process work?

Procrastination.  No, seriously.  I usually only make time to blog when I should be doing something else.  In fact, I should be writing an SOP for a new drug testing protocol now, but my mind is wandering, and I figure that blogging is a better way to distract my brain than looking at the latest photos of whatever celeb we are supposed to all think is important this week.

4.  What am I working on?

I promised myself that this year I would start tackling my alteration pile.  While participating in The Sew Weekly in 2011-2012 was great to get myself motivated and try new things, the weekly format meant that if something wasn't right on the first go, it got thrown in the alteration bin under my sewing table.  And they've been there since.  There are a lot of things that were just a tiny bit too big or small, and an afternoon of work would put them back in rotation, but it's hard to go back when new patterns tempt you, isn't it?

I spy one thing that's been fixed since this photo was taken

Case in point:  This Hollyburn skirt that I made in 2012 is now about 3 inches too big in the waist.  (In fact, now that I look at this photo, it's riding a little lower than I usually like, so I guess it was always a bit too big.)   It's a great basic skirt, and the fabric is a gorgeous brown and gold shweshwe from Gaborone, so I don't want it to languish in the bin any longer!

So I made myself a deal:  for every two UFOs or alterations, I could sew a new project.  So far I've stuck to it.  This also means that I don't have a lot of things to show or blog about this year, but it's certainly helping me get rid of the physical and mental clutter.

5.  Nominations

I'm going to break this chain letter and not nominate anyone, but please take a look at some of the blogs in my blogroll that you aren't familiar with, especially the CanCon!

Friday 19 September 2014

You should probably be following me on twitter and instagram...

…because I've been so hella busy over the last few months that I've resorted to microblogging on those platforms.  My big research project, the one that takes me to Africa for occasional fabric shopping research collaboration came to an end recently, so there was a big push to get as much data as possible.  Then I was supposed to go down to part-time work this month, but was offered two part-time jobs, so I'm essentially working 1.5 jobs now.  Hmmm.  Strange how that worked out.  And tiring.

Anyway, I also managed to fit in not only a visit to NYC in August, but a visit to Toronto last week, which of course involved fun with sewing ladiez.  It feels a bit weird to blog about those trips, because they are no longer "meet ups with new sewing people", but weekends with friends.  It seems odd to blog about hanging with friends, doesn't it?

Well, I'm going to do it regardless:

HeatherLou and I drove well above the speed limit, trying to make it from Montreal to NYC in time for our dinner date with a few people that managed to get together to welcome Lauren to town.  I'm sure by now that you've read all about that weekend from Heather, Lauren, Jen, Devra, Nettie, Amanda, Suzanne, Clio, or someone else's blog/instagram/twitter, so here are just a few photos I've stolen from others.

Thank you Mood (and please don't be mad that I still haven't used all the fabric I bought at last year's visit...

At NY Botanical Gardens in the Bronx.  Garden visits are becoming de rigeur with us it seems!  Clio used to work here, so I couldn't pass up the chance to get the inside tour, so to speak.

The Blues:  some tie-dye print jerseys from Mood and Chic, and a hand batiked indigo cotton from Mali that I bought up in Harlem at Yara.  Seriously, go there.  Or check them out at

The B&Ws.  Some Anna Sui rayon challis that I hummed and hawed over until Devra bought some and tipped me over the indecision cliff.  And some Alexander Henry skull toile de jouy because seriously, look at it.

The Toronto trip was kind of a last minute impulse trip.  A film buff friend of mine was going to TIFF14 (Toronto International Film Festival), and when I saw the lineup he was going to see, I got itchy to go too.  Work + being the sole child care provider for 4/7 days a week made it tricky, but I managed to patch together enough help to make it work!

There was no fabric shopping involved this time around, and the last minute nature of my trip made a meet up impossible, especially on a school night, right Gillian? ;)  Catja and I did manage to get together and saw the premiere of Pride.

A bit of a tearjerker, but a great flashback to 1984 for those of us who were teens in the '80s, and thought that London was the coolest possible place to be on the planet.

And now some photos of the less famous people I saw at TIFF:

"Do I Sound Gay?" post screening with David Thorpe (dir.) and Dan Savage

"Rosewater" panel discussion with Maziar Bahari, Gael Garcia Bernal and Jon Stewart

Matthew Goode, Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch and Morden Tyldum (dir.) after the premiere of "The Imitation Game"

Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, and Christopher Plumber hiding back there, post "Hector and the Search for Happiness" screening

One of these days I'll post something about sewing again.  In the meantime, go check me out on instagram or twitter, because that's where I tend to hang out during my coffee breaks.  I'm just living vicariously through all your sewing until I'm out from under my work load!

Sunday 20 July 2014

Chabanel mysteries unlocked

One good thing about having summer Fridays off is that I didn't have to jealously read about the latest Montreal meet up online; I got to go.  Well, of course I did.  I have to uphold my reputation as the Sewing Blogger with the Most Meetup Miles.  

This time, we decided to tackle the Chabanel district of Montreal, which is a semi-industrial area on St. Laurent, north of the Metropolitan.   

It ain't a Canadian meet up unless it starts at Timmies.
Tonitex's mountain of fabrics dwarfing our group
We all know who would be all shook up over this fabric, don't we?
Perusing the summer/fall samples at SuziSpandex
I'm going to leave it to Cosmic Caro to do a full summary with the list of places visited, because I just can't remember, and because she is awesomely organized.  Caroline has been building upon her Montreal Sewing Directory, and I can heartily recommend this as THE premiere resource for all things sewing in Montreal.  She has created a PDF of the directory, that not only contains names, addresses, hours, description of goods, parking/transport, and maps, but also nearby eats and drinks in order to reenergize for more shopping.  There is also a list of sewing-related shops, museums and ateliers.  Whew!  I've lived near Montreal for almost 17 years now, and I didn't know about a lot of these places.  Excellent.  


I hadn't planned on buying anything this time around except some cotton/lycra jersey for underwear, but HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Yeah, right.  You know how it goes.  Here's the damage:

Quilting weight batik cotton.  And it isn't blue batik!  (only because Anne-Marie bought the whole bolt of blue batik.  *shakes fist*)  This is 1.7m @150cm, so there is enough to make pretty much anything, and even though I love love love this grassy colour, is a bit bleck next to my face.  Any suggestions?

Basic neutral linings and underwear fabrics.  Nothing to see here folks.  Move along.  

Three scraps from the bin at my new favourite fabric store, StretchTex, sold for 2$/lb.  These were ~1.5m each, 2lbs in total.  The two outer fabrics are cotton/lycra blends, and are destined to become basic kimono sleeved Ts.  The centre fabric is spandex, and may become a 2-piece bathing suit?  Maybe next summer….

Shops started closing around 16h30, so we make our way over to the resto/bar for liquid refreshment and what turned out to be a huge pattern swap.  Well, when I say swap, I mean that Renée brought the mother load of gorgeous vintage patterns that she snatches up as soon as they are dropped off for donation at her workplace (St. Vincent de Paul, I believe).  I showed tremendous restraint by only taking these 3:

Once the manager got over his initial trepidation at speaking to a group of ladies buried in vintage sewing patterns, we moved on to the drinking and eating and planning portion of the evening.

Future projects, future shopping expeditions, future museum visits, and even future career changes were discussed (keep an eye out for more patterns from Heatherlou's new business venture).  

See you all there next time?

Saturday 19 July 2014

Overeducated Seamstresses

Hey everybody!  I'm sure you've all read it by now, but if not, go to Erin's blog for my contribution to her Overeducated Seamstresses series.  

(I have actually finally finished that 1hr skirt I was talking about.  It only took me about 1 month.)

Friday 4 July 2014

The Juuuust About Right Top

I'm in Nova Scotia on holiday, and after an unusually lucky week of warm, sunny weather, we are preparing to be hit with hurricane Arthur.

My folks live in the country and have a wood burning stove, a well, and lots of candles and torches, so whatever happens, we'll be ok.  We've made a few shopping trips for essentials:  food, water, wine and library books.

I did manage to squeeze my serger into the back of the car for the drive home, so some quick holiday sewing has been done.  I wanted to test an old Burda pattern I have for a basic cap-sleeve pull-over top,  and managed to just squeeze the pieces on this fabric that I got at Scrap in San Francisco last fall. It's a handmade batik done over a plaid.  Totally too much for my usual taste.  More like something Oona would go for…..

…..well, what a coincidence, because it's Oonapalooza month!  Check Gillian's blog for more details, but basically it's an Oona inspired free for all.  What would Oona do (WWODTM)?  Use a tiny scrap of batiked plaid for a top, of course.  Duh.

Ignore the totally '80s illustrations, and just look at the line art, OK?

There isn't much to say about the construction of a dartless, pull-over top, but I did run into one snag:  my hips seem to have mysteriously grown since the last time I took my measurements, so there was no way this top was going to hang properly.  (The seams were straining just for this quick iPhone bathroom selfie.)  There wasn't enough seam allowance to let them out, so WWOD?  Slice into that baby and make it work.

Now I have a crop top that just about hides my Mom belly.  Here follows a typically awkward set of photos taken on my iPhone in the fading light, just before the mosquitoes came out in force:

"Go stand next to the boat".
"You mean this old dirty boat and pile of seaweed and construction materials and wheelbarrow?"
"Yeah, it's a perfect shot."

I was having a weird hair day, so I kept pulling it back and ruining photos.

This is my "take the feckin' photo already face". 

And this is my required outtake, making fun of Mr. A.S.S.'s photo taking stance.

I'm also wearing my jersey yoga-waisted maxi skirt that I whipped up before my rocker weekend with Clare Szabo, but that was so much awesomeness that it deserves its own post.  To follow….

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Another quick post with no photos

A couple of notes before I go away on holiday:

I've always read blogs from my blog roll, even though I use bloglovin'.  Don't know why.  Just a habit from the old days I guess.  Anyway, I've decided to finally go through my loooooong blog roll and make sure that I'm also following everyone on bloglovin'.  So, if you see that I've suddenly started following you, it doesn't mean that I haven't been reading all along.  :)

I'm going car-tripping to visit family for a couple of weeks, and while my mother has a basic Singer sewing machine, she doesn't have an overlocker.  So I put out a question on twitter as to whether it was normal to want to take my serger with me.  A resounding YES was the response.  Even Mr. A.S.S. thought it made sense.  (Oh yes, I've brainwashed him well.  Muahahahahaha.)  So instead of packing the back of the station wagon with sleeping bags and tent, it will have my Brother 1034D, plus bags of pre-matched fabric and patterns.  Do I know how to holiday or what?!

I have a few unblogged projects that just need photographing, so hopefully I'll get around to it while I'm on holiday.  If not, just imagine two short skirts and one maxi.  There.  Blogging done.

Wednesday 18 June 2014


This hasn't happened before, but when I was deleting spam yesterday, a whole batch of comments were deleted too!  Sorry to all those who commented on my #NYLon post….  >:(

Monday 9 June 2014

Arise and Meet

Anyone not from the Great White North could be excused for not knowing that we hibernate.

Well, not literally.

But we do tend to hunker down from about November-May, trying to minimize our time outdoors and maximize our time under the blankets.  But when spring does arrive, boy do we break out.  From May-September it's non-stop  music festivals, street fares, film fests and drinks on the terrasses.

Source:  Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 



So now that our record-breaking snowfall has finally melted, we've rubbed our eyes and emerged from our dens with only one thing in mind:  meet-up time!  Caroline of Sew-Eng has organized two events for 2014's brief active season for Montrealers.  


Saturday June 14th on St-Hubert
Fabrics Store on St-Hubert

  • 12h - Pizzelli Coq, 7616 St-Hubert, 514-495-0111
    Reservation under "Caroline Côté" (10 pers.)
  • 14h - Start shopping at KAVA going South
    Kava, 7609 St-Hubert, métro Jarry.
  • 5@7 - Gainzbar, 6289 St-Hubert, 514-272-3753
    Reservations under "Caroline Côté" at 17h (10 pers.)
  • Saturday itinerary in google map.
On St-Hubert, it will be the best place to find :
  • Notions and threads (Kava, Notions stores, etc.)
  • High end fabrics (Couture Elle, etc.)
  • Vast choices of apparel, home dec, vinyl, quilting cotton, knitting yarns. (more than 20 stores)

And if you can't make that one, or need another fabric fix, there's always:


Friday July 18th on Chabanel

Warehouses on Chabanel
  • 12h - Tim Hortons, 9485 St-Laurent TBC ??
  • 14h - Start shopping at Cuir Boilard, 185 Louvain.
  • 5@7 - Rapahël Bistro, wine bar,
    8497 Ste-Dominique (corner de Liège)
     (15 min on foot) TBC
  • Friday itinerary  in google map.

On Chabanel, it will be the perfect day to shop for :
  • leather skins (Cuir Boilard and 2 stores at 99 Chabanel O.)
  • swim/sports fabrics at the unique SuzieSpandex on St-Laurent, corner Chabanel.
  • bargain priced fabrics everywhere (apparel, home dec, not much for quilting)

Quick!  Send Caro an email and join the fun before the dark winter sets in and we have to go back underground.  

Wednesday 28 May 2014

#NYLon2014 has both recharged and exhausted me

Buckle up my dears; this is going to be a photo heavy post:

I can't quite remember what possessed me to barge in on politely approach the NYC ladies and demand tentatively propose that I join them in London.  It was probably twitter.  Everything starts on twitter.  In any case, the combination of one week of holiday time that had to be used before May 31st, my man being home FOR A WHOLE WEEK to look after the kids, a British Airways seat sale, and the eternal temptation that is London, I jumped in.

And am I ever glad I got to join in the best meet-up evah.  Just look at the undeniable photographic evidence:

Leaving our flat for the meet up (from Rachael's Instagram)

The whole gang at the V&A (Kitty Wong Photography)
Jennifer, me, Clio, Rachael and Devra managed one group photo (Kitty Wong Photography)

iPhone snaps from the Tea Room at the V&A (from whence we were evicted not once, but twice)

Then we broke off into smaller groups and headed to Goldhawk Road:

Racing each other to Goldhawk Road (from Rachael's Instagram)

I bought almost all my fabric at Classic Textiles and the African Wax shop across the street

Swimming ladies cotton lining, silver stretch denim, 2X liberty prints and prawn wax cotton. 

Stopping to refuel, followed by more shopping

Then we went to the pub for some food….
….and drinks….
…and more drinks…..

….and more drinks….

(The rest of the photos are being withheld to protect the innocent.)

Rachael posted a roundup with Kitty Wong's great photos, attendee names and blogs, and a google survey to share more information about yourself.  Go check it out!  

And finally, if you really want to know why I go to all the meet-ups I can, read Devra's perfect summary here.  It's not about buying fabric:  we can do that anywhere.  It's about the great group of authentic people that you get to know in real life, sometimes better than those you see everyday.

See you next year for #NYLon2015?

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