13 November 2013

Broads Abroad

Where have I been? Nowhere, lately, by which I mean home here in Los Angeles. But I have made Some Big Decisions. I have decided to:

  • sell my house
  • pay off all my (considerable) debts
  • retire from my employment as a law professor (technically, become a professor emerita); and
  • tour the USA and then other parts of the world on my bicycle.

Am I prepared for this? Well, I have a bicycle.

New Randonee

And a tent. I'll have to tour a bit on the cheap. My idea was to take house money and pension money accumulated at ridiculous Los Angeles levels and spend it somewhere less expensive--which is most of the world. DH, who hasn't had an income for over 10 years, does not want to leave L.A. Small problem there. We'll see.

Anyway, the title. Broads Abroad is a network of women who like to travel solo and/or are willing and able to host others of the same persuasion. If you are familiar with Couch Surfing (for travelers of all ages and genders) and Warm Showers (for bicycle tourists) Broads Abroad is similar, although intended to be more tightly controlled, I think. More careful verification of new members, for example. Broads Abroad is the brainchild of Mandy Rowe, an Australian artist and psychologist and author of the blog Midlife Spices.

Broads Abroad is very new and, I think, very exciting. Membership will be $88 AU but the first 1000 people to join will receive the first year free (and without supplying credit card information). It's not for everyone (there are 949 free memberships left!) but it might be for you!

08 September 2013

Open-heart Sergery

I've broken a few needles on my serger lately trying to substitute brute force for precision and sheer determination for knowledge, and I haven't located quite all the shards. Plus I was politely corrected over at Did You Make That when I revealed that I cleaned my serger by blowing the dust around the room with a leaf blower, I mean canned air. So I decided it was time for an inspection and cleaning. I was right about the cleaning, at least!

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I wasn't (very) worried about taking the serger apart because it was half in pieces when I got it from Amazon. To be fair, I paid a bit less for it because the box was opened (and the tweezers were missing). I had to expose the motor, tighten up the electrical connection and put the belt back where it belonged to get it working, so I've been in there before. I removed all the parts of the plastic shell that I could, and brushed and dusted and (I admit) blew all the visible dirt away. Except for the shell, this baby is all heavy metal, unlike today's sewing machines which seem to be mostly plastic inside and out. Anyway, lookie how clean she is now!

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Best of all, she still stitches. I feel so empowered!

And now to serge up some renfrews to wear with my still-hypothetical pants.

01 September 2013

Scary September

BeaJay of On the Road to Sew Wear has challenged herself to step out of her comfort zone to make this month Scary September and I've decided to join her.


BeaJay, inspired by luminaries like Margy, Shams and JillyBe and by her attendance at a Fractured Knits workshop given by Suzanne Gray, plans to release her inner arty trendsetter and become more edgy and eclectic.

Me, I'm not so brave. Instead, I'm vowing by the end of September to leave the house in the daylight in a pair of pants I made. This was also my challenge for Me-Made May '13, but I didn't make any headway on it. I'm working my way through Sandra Betzina's two Craftsy Pants classes (Fitting and Construction*) and I have produced a muslin that fits very snugly yet lets me sit and bend comfortably, but I am NOT ready to go public with it yet. So, Scary September it is.

*Incidentally, Sandra Betzina's classes get a certain amoung of negative feedback because SB's delivery is a little jumbled--she rarely finishes sentences, for example. But I love them. Sandra Betzina has been sewing and teaching for a long time. Watching her sew and think about sewing conveys so much more information and wisdom than she could possibly cram into a scripted presentation that I don't mind having to rewatch bits now and then!

28 August 2013

Keeping Up With The Young Whippersnappers

Or trying to. I don't understand Twitter or Instagram, really, but I added myself to the Sewcialists firehose and Twitter list to try to stay hip. Because that's just how I roll.

While we're at it, here's a skirt I whipped up because I had nothing to wear At first (and in this picture) it was just a tube with a waistband of stretchy black knit. But as I was walking across the parking lot to work it fell down! (As far as I know no one was looking and anyway I had on my bicycle pants underneath.) So now it has an elastic waistband.


I also made the t-shirt I'm wearing. It might be a Renfrew.

10 August 2013

Random Questions in Lieu of a Real Post

Do you sweat while you sew? More specifically, while you lay out and cut out fabric? I do, like a pig. If pigs sweat a lot. The climate does not seem to make any difference.

Has any of you who have attained "a certain age" as I have found that your fingernails and toenails have begun to grow longer and stronger than they did in your youth? I recall a conversation in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead about whether fingernails grow after death and whether toenails grow at all. Rosencrantz opines that his toenails do not grow because if they did they would be curled around the ends of his toes because he never cuts them. When I first saw this play in the 1970's I was struck by the accuracy of Rosencrantz's observation about toenails. Now my toenails need trimming every couple of weeks or my shoes don't fit. I find it irritating that it is only as I grow too old to reach my toes easily that they begin to require my attention. My fingernails, which have always grown but used to break off and stay stubby, also grow long and strong now.

Should the previous question have begun with "Have"?

Do you get regular manicures and/or pedicures? I got a manicure before my wedding and have never had a pedicure. My friends, however, swear by them.

Do you indulge in notions porn? I can spend hours surfing sewing notions sites like Nancy's Notions or MacCulloch & Wallis even if I have no intent to buy anything. And why are sewing notions called haberdashery in the UK while a haberdasher in the US sells men's clothing and accessories?

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What is the best way to develop good taste? I seem to devote a lot of time (and money) to sewing garments that, even if they are successfully constructed and fit me, don't suit me or my situation in life.

And speaking of my situation in life, I am hatching a plan to retire early, sell my house and live on my pension and social security somewhere in Europe. Early could be as early as next summer. DH wants to stay in Los Angeles but I wouldn't mind leaving him behind if I can figure out how to afford it and/or talk him into getting a job. (grumble grumble) What do you think?

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10 May 2013

MMM '13 Friday Theme Post: My Sewing Space

I am wearing me-made pajamas, which you don't need to see. The MMM photo theme for today is Your Creative Space, so here's mine. Any of you who are embarrassed by the mess in your sewing room may now relax and feel superior.
First: the beating heart from which the flow of creativity gushes forth:

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It's an old computer desk. I slide the machines back and forth to get at the one I want. Miscellaneous little plastic boxes and shelves hold stuff I might need or haven't put away. Whenever I use the serger the table vibrates so much that everything falls off the back. My sewing and general DIY library is on the lowest bookshelf over the desk, where I also tape up the instructions for whatever I worked on last. In this case the instructions are actually live as I finish up Vogue 1291 which I may wear this weekend, if I also make a cami and skirt to wear with it. Yeah.
You can sort of see my pattern stash under the desk in the green baskets. Also under the desk are two grocery bags full of final exams to grade. Their very presence inspires me to sew. Or blog. Or sleep. Anything but grade.

Here is where I carefully catalog my projects:

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I'll explain my system because I know you may want to adopt it. In the upper left corner, below the beer coasters and beside and below the little pink pig, is my fabric stash database. When each new acquisition comes in from fabricmart or wherever, I cut a little piece off the corner, label it with content (if known) and size, and pin it up on the bulletin board. Of course, I haven't gone back and indexed anything I had before I got the bulletin board, but maybe I'll do that now instead of grading exams … . Also tacked up are the downloaded patterns for Three Hours Past's Blank Canvas Tee and Colette's Sorbetto, and the information sheet for Sandra Betzina's pants fitting class on Craftsy. Hey, maybe I'll make a pair of pants this afternoon… . The tea towel was a gift I demanded for my birthday last year: you'll never guess how old I am. I don't remember what's under it but I'm sure it's important.

Then there's my fabric stash itself, and my dress form wearing my nearly complete Vogue 1291.

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The bottom bin is for linings and interfacings, I think. I forget what the top bin was suposed to be for but I can see remnants of stuff I made in the past. Several nice active wear knits, some dupioni silk I got at the ASG convention in Los Angeles a couple years ago and a pretty burnout that Margy of a Fool For Fabric Oops, no, it was Jilly Be at JillyBeJoyful (but it's black and white!) made a lovely top and scarf of but I've just sat on for 3 or 4 years are all hanging in there. It looks pretty bare in there, actually, and I don't have a major league fabric stash, really, but fear not, there's more.

Here's my desk (aka my treadle table with a 1953 Singer 15-91 in it--the treadle machine is pretending to be a knic-knac in the living room) where I write and catalog patterns in an excel spread sheet. And grade. Next to the desk you can see another couple of bins of fabric. I don't know what is in them. The shelves hold some UFOs and bits of yarn and lace.

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Then, finally, there's my … well, my, um, guest bed, which holds stuff I want to alter, or listen to, or read, or put away, or send to somebody else.

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If I ever have another guest I guess I'll have to buy another bin!

01 May 2013

Me-Made-May and -- All Better!


OK, I'm in with 500 or so of you in taking Zoe's Me-Made-May Challenge. I had been hoping to spend May sewing and wearing new me-made clothing. As soon as I finish this paper which I am about to begin (it's all written in my head, don't worry). And then finish grading. And then attend a memorial service in Washington, D.C. and then my little brother's wedding in Ohio the next day. And then visit with my mother until the end of the month when I'm off to present the still-hypothetical paper at a conference in Boston. In my still-hypothetical me-made clothing. But I can do it, right? I am Woman! Meow. So anyway, Day 1 I wore this, including these shoes (which I did not make) although this is an old picture.

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch. I wanted to comment on some blog or other and had to sign up for Disqus to do it. A Perfect Nose mentioned Disqus as a way of evading spam on my own blog such as the following, which I find kind of cute in a delusional psychedelic way …
A гaw onion may pеrhaps be гubbed on unbrοken chilblains with exсeρtionаl good reѕults. This have nearly alwaуs bеen a favored actіvity іn my household. Continue 11 miles, and observe fastidіouѕly for the indication to Laupаhοehoe Level Seаshore Park on the correct.
… without subjecting people to impossible Captcha exercises. So I (think I) signed up my blog and (think I) imported all your comments but I don't know where they went! FWIW, I can still read them all on my Blogger Dashboard, but until I test commented every post showed 0 comments and 0 reactions. Now the last post says it has 1 comment (mine) and over a billion reactions which I can't see. Oh well.

Update: On the advice of my wise friends, I dumped Disqus. Happy again.