Bridesmaids dresses

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One of my closest friends is getting married and I am one of the bridesmaids. Excitingly, me and my fellow bridesmaids were given free reign with our dress choice, as long as we had the same fabric. I must admit, I was (and still am) super excited about this! Imagine, a bridesmaids dress that I can control the look of! I’m sure every sewist who has been a bridesmaid at some point has dreamt of having free reign over their dress! Shortly after I was asked to be a bridesmaid, I found out I was pregnant… And put the dress off for as long as I could.

Fast forward 13 months, and the wedding is in just a few short weeks. I still have no dress. I knew that I would be waiting until the last possible second in the hope that my post pregnancy body would resemble my pre pregnancy body, and at five months post partum, things are probably as good as they’re going to get before the wedding. I haven’t been able to exercise very much since the boy was born because of the damage he did coming out (it was lots… ‘fourth degree’ lots…) so I have been limited to walking and focusing on my diet. The other thing that has been stopping me from working on the dress is….. well, the boy. He’s lovely, but he is a baby, and babies are needy creatures. I’ve come up with a bit of a solution to my need to work with the baby around, baby wearing.

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Messy sewing space. Don’t care!

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It’s not the greatest if he’s fussy, but he actually allowed me to get some work done today and was so comfortable that he fell asleep! I managed to finish a muslin for Simplicity 2178 and will hopefully be able to show off a finished product soon.

But, but, but…. the title says dresses? Where is the other one?

The other dress is for my lovely friend Gina! For her, I made Vogue V9053 in view A

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This dress kind of drove me nuts. The pattern itself was exceptionally easy to follow, and although there were fitting issues that needed to be adressed (Gina is like me, short waisted, sway backed, and generally awesome), they were easily taken care of with a few muslins. The fabric however… well that fabric can go to hell!

It is a poly stretch charmeuse, slippery, drapey, and difficult to press. I dealt with the slipperiness and drapeyness by starching the fabric as it was pressed, and then cutting the pieces in one layer as opposed to on the fold. I was careful not to manipulate the fabric too much, and although it was stressful, it all went well. Then I had to hem the bugger….

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Ugh, that hem! The fact that it is a circle skirt with a fussy fabric made it hellish to complete! I tried using my rolled hem foot, and it went so badly that I was convinced I had wrecked the skirt and would have to cut a new one. There was not enough fabric left, so I was very distraught. After having a good cry (seriously), I worked very slowly to unpick and re-sew the hem. Miraculously, it worked.

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This dress nearly gave me an ulcer, but I am proud of it. I hand picked the zip and the lining to the zipper. It has been a long time since I have done any hand sewing, so I am relieved that it looks as good as it does.

Overall, it was a really good experience trying to fit to someone who is not me. It also made me realize that I need to be braver with my sewing and start experimenting with different fabrics and techniques. And that I’m not even close to wanting to be a sewist for a living!

Hopefully my next post will contain my dress. Until then, my friends!

My New Old Blog

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Well hello there!

It’s been nearly two years since I last blogged, which I think most would agree is far too long! I’m not really sure I can say what has taken me so long to get back to it, but since I’m currently dealing with some raging insomnia, I figured this would be the perfect time to get back to writing. No time like the present and all that jazz.

I’ve been wanting to start blogging again for a while, and I recently decided to change platforms from Blogger to WordPress in the hopes that the easier and sleeker interface will help to motivate me to write more consistently. That said, we all know how I feel about motivation, right? If you don’t, I think the name of the blog will probably give you an idea…

So what has happened in the last two years? Well… quite a bit! I’m sure I could devote several dozen entries to the happenings of the past few years, but that would be a bit, well, redundant, so I’ll just write the Coles notes version.

1. I travelled. A bit.

Shane and I took a trip to Amsterdam. It was amazing, and I really hope some day I manage to go back. Later that year, my twin sister and I went to New York. It was also amazing.

Me at the Van Loon.

Me at the Van Loon. I made my jacket.

I'm not sure where this is,  other than it's somewhere in Manhattan

I’m not sure where this is, other than it’s somewhere in Manhattan. I also made this t-shirt.

2. Ponti passed away.

Our beloved furry child, Pontificus the First (otherwise known as Ponti) passed away at the very young age of 3 years old due to Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). There is no real way of sugar coating it, it was awful. Worst period of my life. It’s been over a year and I still miss him.

As soon as we were able, we went to the SPCA and got a new furry child who we called Angus. He also goes by the name Ginger Balls.

I am still a cat lady. I am fine with it.

Ginger Balls.

Ginger Balls.

3. I still sew. Not as much as I’d like these days, I tend to do more reading and dreaming about it, but I have managed to get a few projects done. I really hope to actually share them with the world on a more regular basis. I’ve also gotten a bit more into knitting, and I’m hoping that I’ll move on from cowls, scarves and hats to sweaters and socks in the near future.

There is a good reason for my lack of productivity over the last little while…

4. I had a baby.

I know, right? Who’da thunk it? Not me, that’s for sure! I found out that I was pregnant at the end of February last year and miracle of miracles, things actually went well! At the end of October I gave birth to a healthy baby boy who is positively lovely, even when he is being a grump.  IMG_0021IMG_0059 IMG_3330 IMG_3508

I expect that you may get spammed with cute baby pics in the future….

Of course, there have been many more things that have happened over the course of the past two years, but these have been the most significant.

I know my absence has been a long one, but I really hope that there are people who are still willing and interested in reading what I have to write about. I’m not sure about the direction the blog will take in the future, but I’m pretty sure that it will still include me sharing my crafty projects, my attempts at staying healthy, and who knows what else. Above all else, I’m happy to be back and I hope my old readers will have me again!

Cheers!

How do you…

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Teach 20 teenagers to sew? It is fucking mind boggling! Today was the first ‘real’ class of Fashion studies I have ever taught, and although it wasn’t the worst class I have ever taught, it was a bit discouraging. Nothing but issues the whole class, a few machine related, but the large majority classroom management related. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’m pretty awesome at classroom management. I am a very capable teacher when it comes to keeping kids in line and on task, so today was disappointing.  Nothing got out of hand or anything, and probably wasn’t even really as bad as I am thinking it was; but for me, it was no fun at all. Ugh!

I think this may be one of those things that kids think is so awesome (which it totally is), until they actually  realize they aren’t going to be pumping out any grad dresses within the first week and lose interest. These kids make up the majority of the class so far, which is no fun. I am at a loss, but maybe I just need a good nights sleep to come up with a better plan. I’ve been working on report cards like a mad woman, and getting less sleep as a result. I had so much to catch up on from my medical leave, but I think I’m finally getting things under control. I even got 3 classes worth of report card comments done tonight :)

One thing that I think I am doing right to inspire the kids is wearing something ‘me made’ to every class. In fact, I’ve been pretty good about doing this since I went back to work in mid January. I told you I wasn’t idle during my blogging hiatus! Here are some of the projects I have been working on, in no particular order.

1. BurdaStyle Vintage Modern ‘Jamie’ shift dress:

Have you seen this book yet? It’s pretty fantastic. I LOVE the patterns provided, they are super cute, and the possibilities are endless for adjustment and creativity. I decided to tackle this dress first because it looked easy and quick. The good news is that it is easy, but it was not quick by any stretch of the imagination! I cut a straight 38, and the muslin looked like an honest to God potato sack! I know shift dresses are not meant to form fit, but I felt a bit like a kid trying on my mom’s clothes to play dress up. It was hideous!

Instead of giving up on it or cutting a whole new size, I decided to challenge myself and fit it properly to my proportions and personal style. I signed up for a craftsy.com course on fitting, and it was seriously worth every penny. Confession – I have signed up for MANY craftsy courses, and have actively used maybe half of them so far. I’m trying to reign myself in with all their exciting offerings, but this one was just too good to pass up.

(Any excuse to grab a kitty…)

Ahem… Back to fitting. I added long vertical darts to the front and back of the dress, shortened the bust darts by about an inch, and added short darts to the shoulders. I also made it a boat neck instead of the original scoop neck, as I hate clothes that fit close to my neck. Instead of lining it, I finished the neck and armholes with self made bias tape. I sort of wish I had been able to find a knit lining though, I hate how some knits show every lump and bump.

 Perfect it aint, but I am really proud of the fitting changes I made.

I used a double knit fabric, so I lost the zipper and had to take the dress in on each side by about an inch to get the closer fit that I was looking for. There are still some things I can do to make this fit better, possibly shortening the waist and readjusting the back. I am mildly irritated that the hemline got a bit stretched from hemming. I’m hoping that it will ‘normalize in the wash.

2. Victory Patterns Chloe Dress:

This one is less exciting as it has been sitting in my closet for a while. I have made this one once before (for my couture project which I have just realized I never showed you… ooops!) I stuck with the size 6.

With this one I did some more fitting, and although it turned out ok, it’s not likely to be one of my favourites. The fabric is this nice looking basket weave cotton that attracts lint (and cat hair) like a motherfucker. I already have quite the reputation as a cat lady, I can’t afford to be covered in the hair even more than I am on a regular basis.

 With the fitting I kind of fiddled with it until I got the fit that I wanted, but then sort of balls’d up the pattern in the process, meaning I have to reprint and tape it together all over again. That’s probably not a bad thing, if I can make it fit in a way that is truly flattering and comfortable.

I lined it with some good quality cupro bemberg, and it is unbelievably static-y. I also misplaced (Oh, who are we kidding, lost) the neck binding pattern piece so I just attached the lining right to the neckline. The problem with this is that the damn lining doesn’t want to stay down. Ugh…

 Not the worst thing I’ve made, but it is back to the drawing board with this one. I would actually like to make one with pockets next. That would be sweet!

3. Papercut Patterns Miss. Chalmers Skirt:

I. LOVE. THIS. PATTERN!!!!!

I have been holding out for a really great skirt pattern for a little while. As much as I like pencil skirts, they aren’t practical in my day to day life. I’ve been on the hunt for a sweet casual skirt that can be dressed up to, and this pattern is it.

Below is actually my second version. In my first version, I cut a small and followed the directions as written, including the 3/8″ seam allowance, but it ended up being big. The only real change was to lower the waistband about an inch to sit lower on my hips.

I really like the fit of my second version. I kept the lowered waistband and used 5/8″ seam allowances instead, making the pattern about 3/4″ smaller all around. I think I may move down one size to see if it makes a huge difference in the fit. The waist still feels too big, especially in the back.

It still needs a bit of work, I feel like the back hem rides up a bit, so I’m going to need to add some fabric to my badonkadonk region (and I know how to do that now thanks to craftsy :)

Below is my very first version of the Miss Chalmers Skirt. Although a bit loose, I LOVE it. Why put it below the second version then?

 Simple: Awesome Ponti pictures! He snuck into the frame so I grabbed him and he took his rightful place atop my shoulders, his most favourite-est spot in the world.

I also think I look exceptionally happy in these pictures, which is really nice considering the horrid fuckery I underwent last month.

I had the same issue with the hem being shorter in the back than the front, but with some careful cutting I was able to fix the problem. My most favourite parts of the skirt are below, the zipper and the facing.

My second attempt at putting in a centre zip in a skirt and it turned out wonderfully. I used Tasia’s Lara-proof (read – idiot proof) instructions for inserting a zip and it worked so well. This will be my go to from now on. Screw invisible zippers! The black one has an invisible zip because that’s what the pattern called for, but this was easier and less time consuming.

The next part I love are the facings. I used some quilting cottons I found on sale in the remnant bin of a local sewing store. I think it really makes the skirts stand out from RTW.

I have a few more finished projects still, but I’ll leave at these tonight. Keeping busy has helped me feel better, so as long as I’m sewing, I’m a happy lady.

I’ve also started working out again, and am feeling stronger and more like myself every day. It is horribly discouraging when you are forced to stop exercising for a while to go back to it and absolutely suck balls. Fortunately it’s sucking a lot less than before. I really can’t wait for the snow to go away so I can safely run outside again.

I think I’d better end it here, I’m getting a wee bit sleepy. Until next time :)

Feeling Detached

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I have started and re-started this blog entry about a million times already (well, it seems that way anyhow). Maybe today is the day I hit publish.

I have been noticeably absent in blogging over the past few months, through no real fault of my own. Life just keeps getting in my god damn way, and I’m so tired of it. So, what’s been happening…

Not a lot of nice things to be honest. I found out that I was pregnant at the beginning of December, much to my surprise. This was not even on my radar, I was so focused on work and other things, that it was quite shocking when it was discovered. It didn’t start out well, but as time went on, things seemed to look up for us. Test results were good, and it was confirmed that there was an actual growing baby, heart beat and all. As a precaution, I was put on a medical leave for most of December, because even as test results were getting better, things were still a little off.  As per usual, things did not go well for us, and I lost the pregnancy in mid January. What a kick in the teeth that was…

The question is where do I go from here? This is the 4th loss. I am at the point where I am ready to wash my hands of the whole fucking thing. Sometimes I’m angry about it, but lately I have just been feeling detached from the whole idea of parent hood. I feel like it is not going to happen at this point. This loss felt very final compared to the previous three. My doctor has been very kind, and is running a myriad of tests, but if medical science is unable to tell me exactly why this is happening and how they are going to fix it, I am not willing to do this a fifth time. There also will not be any adoption, surrogacy, or anything else. I will say that it does make me angry when people suggest these things flippantly, as if they were the easiest things to do in the world. Not only are they not easy to do, they are fucking expensive. I am not willing to pauper myself and my husband in order to have a child. What is the point of doing that? Have a child only to raise them in abject poverty? Nope, not going to happen.

I am thankful that I have loads of good things happening in my life, so it will be a full and happy one no matter what. As crappy as this whole situation has been, it has caused me to re-examine what my future plans are. Things don’t seem that bleak any more, and maybe it’s because I have accepted a new reality.

Here is the only proof I have that I was going to be a parent. I’m glad I have this at the very least, it makes me feel like it wasn’t a lie.

Time to move on. And hit publish…

An Ode to Mrs. Klein.

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It had been a while since I have posted, and I am busy as always. As much as things change, they also remain the same. Work is work, I keep fretting about the state of my body (promising myself to take things more seriously this week), and the kitties are still cute as ever. I also have a few sewing projects that are long overdue to be presented on my blog, but tonight I wanted to share my latest one, as I am going to wear it tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the funeral of one of the English teachers at my (former) high school, Mrs. Chris Klein. She wasn’t my teacher, she taught my twin instead. She naturally knew who I was though, and was always kind to me, which was nice. Beyond that, she was spunky as hell, and a legend at MAC high. She had this way of getting students really interested in English, and I know many of us wanted to be in her class.

I would be lying if I said that she was the most influential teacher I ever (or never) had. It did make me profoundly sad when I heard that she had passed away though. She was only my mothers age, far too young to die. A call was put out to all music teachers to participate in the liturgy for her funeral, and so I volunteered without question. Tomorrow I will be singing in the choir, something I am not entirely comfortable with (I am much happier hiding behind a euphonium when performing), but I will be there regardless in my new dress, Vogue 1151.

I am proud of this dress for many reasons. This pattern is helping me get over my fear of using patterns from the ‘big four’ companies, and dealing with the fact that I may have to alter my patterns to fit me. And that’s ok! For this one, I cut a size 12, but ended up taking so much out of the chest and back area that it’s probably closer to an 8 or 10. In the skirt, I added about an inch to the sides, so it is closer to a size 14. I also added 2 inches to the length, as my muslin was scandalously short. I can still see some areas that could have been adjusted a bit better (either a sway back adjustment or shorten the bodice), but I am happy with the result so far. I did a machine blind hem for the first time, and I added a bright orange zipper, something I know Mrs. Klein would have appreciated. She was the first person I knew to buy designer jeans from Holt Renfrew, and I think that’s pretty awesome :)

Mrs. Klein was someone who wasn’t afraid to try new things, and so I dedicate this dress to her. I hope she is at peace now.

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Warning: This blog entry may contain superficial insights.

I have come to dislike this time of year. It has nothing to do with the weather or anything like that, it’s more of a reminder of past painful events. Events that anyone who has followed my blog for a period of time probably knows what I’m talking about. If you don’t, you can go back in the archives, or just take my word for it :) When I get bummed out, I tend to be almost catatonic in my lack of doing things. I get paralysed by my sadness. This year, I have been better at combating this, I have been sewing my arse off (pictures coming soon, I promise! Lots of goodies to share, bad lighting lately for nice pictures), working out (Jamie, if you’re reading this, yes, I hurt EVERYWHERE!), and cooking dinner almost every night. And yet, the sadness still lingers a bit.

It doesn’t help that I’m feeling chubby lately as well. Am I chubbier? Probably not, I’ve certainly been heavier than I am right now, but I’ve also been lighter and more comfortable in my skin. I sort of wonder if my body is changing already because of my age. I know I’m only 30, so how can that be? No kiddos yet as well, so I can’t blame that. At any rate, I’ve been finding that I HATE my jeans lately, or at least the way I look in them. They sit way too low, and feel weird and loose/tight in some places they never did before. They are a few years old, so perhaps it’s time to retire them. So, in another depression conquering move, I decided to walk to the mall and do some jeans shopping.

I know what you are all thinking: Jeans shopping as a cure for being depressed? Are you on crack Lara? When I got to the mall, it occurred to me that this might not have been the greatest thing for my self esteem for a few reasons.

1. The perfect jeans are very few and far between.
2. The perfect jeans are usually $250.

I have a huge thing for designer jeans. I think it’s likely because growing up, I had one pair of Levi’s 501 jeans that I had to share with my twin sister, and that was it; that’s how poor we were. For the last 10 years, I have been buying nothing but designer brands, you name it, it’s likely been in my closet at one point.  Not only that, I will have about 20 pairs at any given time. Why you ask? No idea, I’m just crazy I guess. Or maybe, it’s because of the 501’s thing. It’s an expensive habit, but I have always been a savvy shopper and gotten my jeans at very reduced prices, mostly on line.

So how can someone who has 20 pairs of jeans at one time not have a single pair to wear? Well, buying clothes online can be a bit risky, and probably half of them didn’t fit me properly. I’d either sell them on e-bay or try to lose enough weight to squeeze into them (not the smartest strategy, for sure). I am happy to say that I no longer have 20 pairs of jeans in my closet, it’s more like 7. And most of them don’t fit very well any more. One of them is a  maternity pair that (hopefully) one day I will be able to wear.

Now, to get back to where we left, the mall. I am looking for skinny jeans, and it is a lesson in humility and patience. Miraculously, all the normal sizes I would have gone to fit (as in I could get them on without having to do any strange acrobatics), but the cut of the jeans was funny, or in the case of one pair, I couldn’t get it past my calf (Note to the sales guy who gave me those Nudie jeans to try on: There is NO WAY IN HELL they were a size 28. Dick). In the second shop I went to, I found a really nice pair of True Religion jeans. My size, skinny jeans that looked half descent. Price $189. In reality, that is a great price for that particular brand, but I just didn’t want to spend that much, so I kept looking, going from store to store with no luck. A voice in the back of my head was telling me to just go with them, as they were likely the best pair I would find.  I almost did, but then I passed the Gap.

I haven’t shopped at the Gap in years, mainly due to being a snobby cow, but I decided to chance it. And lo and behold, I found my jeans. The cut and fit was perfect, I didn’t feel like I was going to flash anyone when I bent over, and vanity sizing is alive and well, which made me feel better for a few milliseconds. Better than that though, was that the jeans were super flattering, more so than the designer ones, so I bought them. If this was the Lara from 1 year ago, she would have bought the TR jeans instead, despite the Gap ones looking better AND being cheaper.

Goofy smile, casual jeans

Like my top? Yep, I made that!

All dressed up and nowhere to go. I just realized how dirty my mirror is. Sorry about that.

That top? Yeah, I made that too. Can’t wait to properly show it off!

What is so different? I mean, that was a huge deal breaker for me even a year ago. Hell, those maternity jeans I have are even designer! I think the difference is that I make a lot of my own clothes now, and there’s no designer label on them. I’ve come to realize that it’s really not that important if I am wearing ‘7 for all mankind’ jeans vs. Gap jeans, as long as they flatter. I get such a kick out of making my own clothes and having them fit me and me only. I get huge compliments on the clothes I make for myself, or no comments at all, which in a weird way is better because people think I bought it from a store. To buy the clothes that I make in store would cost me so much more money because I use high quality fabrics and couture techniques. I am proud to be able to say ‘I want a new skirt’ and go down to my basement and make it from scratch, because nobody else that I know does that. The label means fuck all now. It’s kind of freeing :)

In the end, I bought two of the same pair as there was a BOGO event going on, in sizes 4 and 6 respectively (Good old vanity sizing, I’m not a 4). The fit is not that dissimilar actually, only the waistband on the 6 was noticeably bigger, I figured they would work for fat days. Incidentally, in both outfits pictured, I’m wearing each size. Bet you can’t tell which one is the 4 and which one is the 6. All the more evidence that labels are bullshit, huh? :)

I hope my ramblings made at least a bit of sense, it was actually very cathartic to write down and share with you. I’m actually feeling a bit better now! I’m gonna crack open a diet cherry Pepsi and enjoy this feeling for a little while longer.

Cheers!