Sunday, October 29, 2017

Missing for seven months, but back at last…and revisiting a favorite, the Burda 124 July 2011 kimono pattern

There are two reasons I haven't blogged much in the last seven months with many apologies to the handful of subscribers who have stuck with me for seven years, through travel and sewing adventures, terrible illness, and life's usual garden-variety highs and lows.

One reason is, sadly, purely mechanical. I lost access to this blog via a stupid neglect of a dying email address and failure to set a recovery number or address. After many months of trying to get Blogger to produce one single human employee (epic fail, let me save you time, there are none and the Blogger Forum volunteers can only try so far) I managed last night to get an AOL employee in Romania, a kind and charming human, to sit tight with me for the better part of an hour, half a dozen 'captchas,' not a few comic AOL tin-can-men alerts of disfunctional webpages, the recovery of a 2010 credit card's last four digits, and…you get the idea.

Hey, AOL Help rocks.
Blogger Help sucks.
I know they get dissed for being a last-century company, but Miss Bi***ca on the Aol Help Desk 1-800 number did her job with patience and humor—and there was no fee.

BUT the second reason for no blogging and for the inertia about reclaiming the blog itself is that I didn't actually sew very much. Is it possible that this blog inspired me, and without it, I saw no need for new clothing? I think I didn't understand how much the blogging, the community of you people, the support and learning process of fellow sewers had been an integral part of my lifelong hobby which I carried on alone for the better part of the seventies and eighties. The sewing community has transformed completely into something vibrant, proud and dazzlingly creative—no more apologies for 'loving hands at home' being a shameful fallback.

But shame there still is…witness: Earlier this year, I tried my second jumpsuit, this time a Burda Easy SS 2017 pattern, using some IKEA Ditte blue cotton, below. I even ran some black embroidery stitching around the mandatory ruffle sleeve and cropped the trousers to get a summer 2017 vibe. Low cost, maybe Swiss 10 francs all told.

What I realized about all these off the shoulder styles of the past year is that an active woman will find she is constantly pulling the damn neckline back down to affect the 'Carmen' style. Well, this Carmen does housework, and as practical and fun as this summer down-time fashion was to use as a sort of instant-dressing option, the discomfort factor was high. I have loosened the neckline elastic somewhat, but this one goes in the 'lake vacation' pile for tossing on after a swim.
The big news of our summer was the marriage of the model goddaughter to her dreamboat in England in September. (photo above) For this I needed a special outfit. As she was born in Tokyo, coincidentally in the same hospital as her betrothed, (standing left in photo) I thought a kimono would be a sentimental touch. I ordered silk from Thai Silks but when it arrived, I didn't like the shiny side of the fabric which looked cheap compared to the mat inner surface. So I reversed it, with no one the wiser. The lining was a very light lining silk, home-dyed candy pink.
As you can see above, the finished kimono went over a purchased navy blue jumpsuit from Promod on sale. I added pink and blue roses ordered online to the white hat, a gift from my daughter years ago.
And so it goes. The goddaughter is all grown up now. So is the daughter. 

But I've got my blog back! Is anybody out there?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Winter Downs Comforted by Needles

No, not acupuncture needles, or at least, not yet.

I'm wondering where the sewing mojo went this winter. Maybe a lack of outings requiring that I actually get dressed was a factor? I've been living in rotating pairs of Promod leggings in black, gray and navy under motorcycle boots and pullovers/jackets for months.

But that can't be it entirely. For decades sewing was an essential therapy and joyful hobby, whether I wore the items often or even needed them. Perhaps it was a question of identity and hope? There were once days, when seeing a Ralph Lauren, YSL, or Donna Karan Vogue Designer Pattern just released, that I went bananas with excitement, investment, and effort. Voila!

That was decades ago. It wasn't just appreciation for some pretty spectacular, highend patterns, but also that I worked in radio, television, and print journalism, an important incentive. I was 'out and about.'

I was also inspired by the stylish women in my family before me: a French Canadian grandmother who sewed up fine British wools purchased in Toronto, an aunt in p.r. in Detroit who merited an NPR obituary for being the 'Auntie Mame of Detroit,' and a mother married to a television director in Hollywood. These ladies didn't ever let themselves 'go'. They were hanging on, right to the oncologist's last deathbed bye-bye.

I have recently counted up all my Chanel-type jackets from Vogue 7975 and another OOP Vogue (five makes) and all my tie-neck or ruffled blouses (maybe 10) my eternal white shirts same, my black skirts and trousers, my kimonos (4) etc., safari jackets or vests (lots) and saw that I had fixed on my style some years ago. "Parisian wannage lounging in kimonos on safari," or something…

I guess it's obvious that I'm not going to veer off at my age into vintage 50's looks or looks I wore already, e.g. 70's bellbottom and Romanian peasant blouses or the 80's padded career woman/disco puff-skirt queen or 60's sheaths.

Perhaps it was with this full closet on my conscious that I stopped sewing for many months through the winter.

Oh, the tone of despair! Sorry!

Meanwhile, knitting filled the gap:

This was a new variation on the Best Baby Sweater in the World for a new mother who hates the pink/blue gender thing. I ended up with a classic mini-Aran, sort of "Ralph Lauren for Human Bean" look. But I fear that the classic wool blend, rugged enough for facing gales on the Irish Sea, might be a bit rough on the sprog's skin. Next time, I'll upgrade to softer baby yarn.

I made socks, too, using leftovers from my stash bag. I always use the two-socks-simultaneous method to avoid the dreaded 'Second Sock Syndrome,' and because I colorblock, etc., it's a sure way to make sure the socks match exactly. My heel-turning is still pretty hellish, requiring a few tacked-in stitches at the sides to close little corner holes, but every recipient reports that these socks are just nifty in ski boots and frigid UK winters.

I hadn't knit socks in about five years or so, so it was good to refresh that skill while watching the news, etc.
Here is a second pair, still on two double-pointed circular needles, for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about: Notice that one set is painted with nail polish so that I keep the rounds worked on the right circles.

And, third, while managing a full house for the week of Christmas, I knit Burdastyle's Jan 2016 beanie to go with the Burda Easy fake blue mink fur Wilma Flintstone vest reviewed below. This was the first time I'd ever heard of an Italian cast on and it took me three goes to really believe that I was supposed to use a stray string that was removed after the cast on. Wasn't the whole thing going to fall apart in my hands? Um, no, it worked, although I didn't trust my French skills and checked with YouTube videos in English to get the idea.

A new skill. I'm not dead yet.