25 December 2012

Festive Finished Object!

I finished off DD's dress yesterday evening and she wore it all day today! Go me!
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I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

24 December 2012

Good Yule, Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus!

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When I was young I thought we were poor because, while my friends' Christmas tree had a variety of toy-like ornaments, ours was decorated (tastefully, hindsight tells me) with red and silver glass balls. Now I have the tree of my childhood dreams and I love it.

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I've been quite busy sewing and crafting, with some success, but it is a little too soon to reveal much of it.

After an 8-month lapse I got back to work on my two-at-a-time toe-up magic-loop socks for DH and actually rounded the (short-row) heel on one of them. But after muscling through a bunch of mistakes I decided it was smarter to unravel back to a pre-heel row and try a second draft. Unraveling socks is harder than it looks--OK, unraveling is easy, but bringing the unraveling to an end short of the cast-on row is hard.

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I'm also working on a dress for my absurdly tiny but beautiful DD, of an italian double knit (so says the FabricMart label) from McCall's 6031, which seems no longer to be available. She's humoring me but that's OK. I need more practice just following patterns. This pattern is somewhat annoying, however. It includes cheery cartoons of the designers offering very basic sewing hints but fails to illustrate or explain somewhat confusing construction details. Here is a not-very-illuminating shot of it waiting for DD to try it on.

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Enjoy your holidays!

23 November 2012

I Won! But So Can You!

Unbelievably, I won the 5 Bunka Book giveaway on Fashion Incubator! Attentive readers may notice that I just went to great efforts to off-load a batch of books on my birthday, so this could be seen as an exercise in re-cluttering. But I prefer to think about all the empty space on my shelves just waiting for new books!

The publisher, Laurence King, is generously offering a 35% discount on all titles on its website through the end of November, so all is not lost. You may even get free shipping, for sure in the UK and maybe everywhere else!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving (in the US) and a wonderful week everywhere!

16 November 2012

Fabulous Book Giveaway at Fashion Incubator!

Kathleen Fasanella at Fashion Incubator is hosting a giveaway, sponsored by Laurence King Publishing, in which ONE lucky winner will win FIVE great books: Tomoko Nakamichi's Pattern Magic, Pattern Magic 2 and Pattern Magic: Stretch Fabrics, and Hisako Sato's Drape Drape and Drape Drape 2. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment at Fashion Incubator, formatted in Haiku. So,

Post your entry now
At Fashion Incubator.
Maybe win these books!

Of course, I'm planning to win the books, so you needn't bother to enter, but do check out this exceptionally informative and interesting blog about apparel manufacturing. Among the many Fashion Incubator delights are the frequent garment construction puzzle posts, including one being worked out now on the blog. Kathleen Fasanella is the author of The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing, available through her website.

Meanwhile, on the home front, I finished my Vogue 8618 and wore it to work today. Not too shabby!

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12 November 2012

Stewed Weekend

This past weekend I made beef stew. More precisely, I made 2.5 beef stews. I bought one ton of stew meat at Costco (I was hungry) so decided I'd try three recipes. Stew 1 from a Paula Deen traditional recipe was ruined because all the liquid simmered away (due to crappy pot, not my fault at all), but I sliced the scorched parts off the meat and saved it.

Stew 2, also on Saturday (fortunately) was beef daube from Joy of Cooking, which I made because I remember Anthony Bourdain going on and on about daube in Kitchen Confidential. I made it in a good dutch oven and it turned out fine.

I set the rest of the meat to marinate overnight Saturday in preparation for making Stew 3 from an Ina Garten recipe Sunday. I also decalcified an old espresso maker, did laundry, dropped and shattered a plate full of leftover Stew 2 on the kitchen floor, cleaned the kitchen, got a couple of hours of yard work out of DS and a minute or two out of DH, read, and did the Saturday NYT crossword.

Sunday I had some nice espresso and made Stew 3, which was fine. A little sweet (as was also the case with Stew 2). More salt?

On the sewing front, I didn't do any. In fact, I guess I defied Karen's Apronalong by stewing all weekend without an apron. Sorry about that. But I almost sewed. I traced Vogue 8618 and cut it out of a nice, soft, double-sided knit (grey/cream) but can't count that as sewing because I didn't take a single stitch.

So, all stewing no sewing.

31 October 2012

No trick-or-treating for me

I have to work tonight. I could dress up in a halloween costume, but really could I be anything scarier than I already am--a law professor?


Pretty scary.

28 October 2012

Hi Everybody, Remember Me?

I remember all of you and read your blogs pretty regularly, but a perfect storm of circumstance has prevented me from posting. Speaking of perfect storms, I'm thinking good thoughts for all of you in the northeast US and southeast Canada as the evil Sandy heads your way. Stay safe and warm and well supplied with thread, fabric and wine! Power up your hand-cranks and treadles!

The great thing about teaching is summer. The downside to teaching is, summer ends. I've been up to here in learning Remedies and Civil Procedure and planning lessons re: same. Especially Remedies--this is basically a law school course that covers a piece of every area of substantive law: contracts, torts, real and personal property, intellectual property, construction law, environmental law, animal law, etc., plus arithmetic (it's about what relief successful plaintiffs can hope to recover in a civil action in court). It's a great course and I love it, but only the omniscient are truly prepared to teach it; me, I have to keep working at it.

But I have been sewing, just not very successfully. I took one more crack at Vogue 8508, taking in the side seams, shortening it by a foot, and installing double-ended vertical darts in the front and the back as suggested by Peg. Then I wore it to work (including cycling to and from) with a wide stretch belt around the high waist and declared it a success. In hindsight, I don't like the dress on the pattern envelope that much. What was I thinking?

I also made a bright orange Renfrew of performance knit which didn't turn out well. It rides up so I wind up with peaks rising from my shoulders in the direction of my ears. I should photograph it and show you so you could help me, but somehow taking a picture of myself in an ill-fitting tee so the world can see it keeps falling off the top of my to-do list. Meanwhile I'm turning out UFO's at a pretty good clip: a half-done Sencha of gauzy plaid shirting, a Simplicity 2520 skirt in grey double-knit that was looking good until I stitched down the yoke facing and it got all twisted. I need to try it again using a walking foot, I think, but first I have to remove all that in-the-ditch stitching holding it down.

I wish I had a sense of my own style, or even a little bit of good taste. I always have a theory when I start a garment, but even when I sew well I seem to end up with random bits of clothing that I can't wear. Or Vogue 8575 in polyester knits, which I wear almost every day.

But I have been thrifting with some success so most days I'm able to go to work fully clothed. I love this men's silk shirt I found yesterday (when all of my fellow shoppers at Goodwill were assembling Halloween costumes):

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And a couple of skirts which I should shorten but for now I can say I'm up with the whole maxi-skirt trend:

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Oh, and this Prada knock-off that ran me $2.70. But it's a really nice bag--nice suede leather, great color, sturdy. I always thought knock-offs were trash, but this is a very good purse--it's just not a Prada. I can live with that. It's not like it cost me $3000, 0r $300 or even $3!

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So, thanks for checking on me The Perfect Nose and Far, and all you sweethearts! And thanks for the award,Amity--I'll get to it shortly and I'm loving your creepy Wedding posts!

29 August 2012

Go Big or Go Home.

My law school's annual retreat was last weekend at a resort in Newport Beach, CA, so I decided to make a dress to wear to Saturday night dinner. I selected a vivid knit fabric from my escapade into Michael Levine's Loft and decided to make Very Easy Vogue 8508.


OK, it's pretty much a potato sack. I have body issues, you know? The fabric drapes nicely, and I knew it would be comfortable, and I wasn't up for dealing with putting a lot (or even a little) work into something and having it be too small. Well, it wasn't too small.

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Plus the neckline was awful--I could not get the facings to stay inside the dress. I wore something else.

So today I decided to try to fix it. I find it much easier to work on a garment after I have screwed it up and there is nothing to lose. I cut off the raglan sleeves, took in the side seams a total of 4 inches, switched over to view B with the stand-up collar--I just made it work! It fits and looks much better now. See?

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Damn. It looks just the same in the picture! (The tiara (from Oona Balloona's birthday prom) is so you will forget I'm having a bad hair day.)

Oh, well. Nice print, don't you think?

13 August 2012

Don't know quite what to make of this.

HT: Sally Pinniped

If You've Ever Wondered Where Hell is ...

It's in Glendale, California.
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And once you are there, abandon all hope of getting out.
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11 August 2012

OK, That's Better.

Three Olympic events and a good night's sleep later, the damage is undone. Fresh start in the morning today and now the V 8575 dress is finished.

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And on the model.

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I wore it riding my bicycle to new student orientation last night over cycling pants which I pretended were leggings (different shoes, of course). It was well over 90∘F. The Dry Flex knit seems to have done its job keeping me cool and dry while not looking too rumpled after the ride. It goes right into the rotation. All is forgiven.

09 August 2012

When I Mess It Up I Don't Mess Around!

Vogue 8575. I've made 3 versions already; this would be dammit, will be the 4th.


Here's what I'm supposed to have:

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Here's what I've got, on its way to being a cycling dress of Dry Flex knit from FabricMart:

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Even the non-sewing-inclined will immediately notice that one wing seems to be (is) inside out. But look more closely and see that one tie is attached to the inside of the dress (whichever that turns out to be) and one to the outside.

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But wait--there's more!

Both wings of the dress are put together sideways! the seams between the kimono sleeves and the front and back bodice are supposed to be the shoulder seams between the front and the back of the sleeves!

Now, this is unfortunate. Especially because I did an unusually good job of matching up those pesky princess and shoulder seams. For me, anyway. And, of course, everything is serged.

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06 August 2012

Prom Night Out!

I was where it's at at Promaballoona last night!

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And so were Nhi, Sandra Mc, Amity and Jill, all in beautifully made dresses! You can also see the back of Angela of Bonne Chance in this pic.

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And another KC!

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The Prom was lovely. Oona is such a sweetheart, the SewLA Shop is a great space, and seamsters are the best people! Lots of pix here and here,here and on SewLA's Facebook page.

I didn't really get moving on my dress for Oona Balloona's Prom until afternoon. I couldn't decide what to make, and I can't see the Olympics from my sewing room, you know how it goes. I still should have had plenty of time. I've made the dress, Butterick 5489, before.

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What could possibly go wrong? OK, the striped fabric, a $2.50/pound knit from Michael Levine Loft, was a little slippery. Like, no matter where I put it, as soon as I let go it slithered to the floor. And OK, I wanted to make it a foot longer this time. So I accurately measured out an extension to lengthen the dress and carefully applied it to the front and half the back. Oops.

But things got really educational when I set to making the buttonholes at each side of the front waist to thread the ties through. I've always considered my machine's ability to make buttonholes to be a kind of magic, so when I blithely ran this creation under the buttonhole foot and it came out innocent of any stitching, I did not know what to do. I tried a few "magic" words. I brushed my teeth. I changed my needle. Nothing. At last, desperate, I read the directions and learned about gimp. Gimp? Gimp! And that my machine has special settings just for buttonholes in stretch knit. Who knew?

Now seriously pressed for time I raced ahead with the dress. I was determined to use my FabricMart mystery bundle giraffe print somehow so I made the ties and neck and arm binding with it. It's a look, OK? But I still had to deal with the hemline, which I had to hack off at knee length to match the unfortunately brief half of the back. It was nearly 9 p.m. and Heidi, Nina and Michael were getting impatient. So I made it work by doing a "Renfrew" at the hem with a wide doubled band of giraffe. Perfection. Or, at least, no worse than my original prom dress. I left the gimp threads hanging on the dress so I could brag about them.

04 August 2012

So, Promaballoona and Stuff


I live in Los Angeles. So I'm one of the Lucky Ones who can toddle off to Promaballoona in analog time and space tomorrow at SewLA. Which, by the way, is a great shop, and even better in its new location where instead of zero parking spaces it has at least 2! I was there just the other day and bought myself a copy of Sewaholic's Renfrew pattern, which I made up today into a wholly satisfactory tee.

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But what I should have been making was a dress for Promaballoona if, in fact (or in digital reality), I'm going. I'm awfully awesomely old for a prom but I suppose I could chaperone. Well, except for the being responsible and staying sober part.

Here is a photo of me last time I went to a prom, in 1968.

218481 rubber orange field marker game cone 28 inches

I kid you not. It was a yellow A-line dress with a neon orange net overlay. Or a sheer neon orange dress over a yellow petticoat. My date, my steady but very frustrated boyfriend at the time, wore a magenta tux. On which I pinned an orange boutonniere. Did I mention it was 1968?

So, now, 44 years later, whatever shall I wear? At first I thought I'd let Fate or, more accurately, FabricMart decide. I fell so hard for FM's 35% off sale (ending tomorrow 8/5) that I qualified for a free mystery bundle. You know how FabricMart tries to divine your style from what you order and match it with your mystery bundle, right? Right? Not.* Here's what I ordered:

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And here is what was in my mystery bundle:

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But totally prom material, am I right?

On the other hand, I did spend Tuesday of this past week shopping with my giveaway winner Amity and fellow seamster Nhi.

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Where I scored $25.00 worth of god-knows-what at $2.50/pound at Michael Levine's Loft.IMG 0593

Surely some of this stuff is crying to be made into a prom dress, right?

Maybe, maybe not. Stay tuned.

*Okay, the orange and yellow seem to have some kinship with the sky blue. But the orange and yellow are supplex for somewhat-high-viz cycling wear, for which the shiny sky blue is not suited.

01 August 2012


I hardly ever finish anything. Mostly because, although I am working on it, my image of my body is so poor and delusional that trying things on traumatizes me and causes me to fling whatever UFO it is into some dark corner and vow never to wear clothing or leave the house again.

However, I did make another iteration of the Shams Not-A-Tablecloth Skirt, correcting all the mistakes I made in the first one and making shiny new ones. Look at this lovely corner (and there are four more just like it)!
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See the tidy folded hem which is not at all just a bunch of shaggy serging! (Oops, no pic.) And the nicely turned elastic waistband!
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Well, sort of nicely turned. If I'd cut a waistband more than twice the width of the elastic that would have worked better. But OK.

And I learned something! In her tutorial, Shams says to make the hole for the waist (the Not-A-Tablecloth Skirt is basically a square circle skirt) big enough for the wearer's waist or hips. My hips are, um, generous. Making the waist large enough to get around my hips creates a lot of bulk that has to be gathered into the elastic at the waist. What I should have done is make the waist big enough to get around my shoulders and chest where, in my neighborhood, there is a lot less real estate.

I made this just in time to see Vogue Patterns come out with its version of the dress Shams originally copied to draft this skirt:


Mine doesn't look anything like this one--does anyone's? Mine looks more like this photo:

that is, bulky and shapeless. Success!

Anyway, here's my skirt:
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It's made of a middle-weight cotton I bought to make duvet covers for every bed in the house, so I bought a lot of it. A. Lot. Then, of course, decided not to bother with the duvet covers. Since then I've made it into two pairs of pajamas and this skirt. On the whole, not a bad decision.

UPDATE: My commenters are very kind, and I must definitely stop complaining (and get sewing!), but I'll just point out that Vogue doesn't think this style looks good on anybody:


Way to sell a perfectly good pattern, Vogue!

29 July 2012

Everyone's A Winner!

I know no one can wait to hear a progress report on my birthday book giveaway, so here it is: In Third Place is Jane of Lempo Bee! Jane purports to be a creative and very productive seamster in Australia with three totally adorable tousle-haired boy children. In fact, Jane's kids are so beautiful, and so reliably delighted with her craft and sewing output, that I am quite sure she has invented her whole life (created it out of whole cloth, as it were) and is really a hairy old man in Arkansas or somewhere. Nevertheless, I will play along and send Claire Schaeffer's Couture Sewing Techniques to the address "Jane" made up in South Australia. Congratulations, "Jane"!

Jane's entry was scientifically selected by me reaching into the bag and pulling out the first scrap of paper I found. BO-RING. So to select Winner Number 4 I decided to use whatever number the winner of the Olympic Women's Road Cycling event was wearing this morning in London. Now, this was kind of risky, because there were over 60 entrants in the road cycling event, while only 8 lovely women are competing for my books. Luck was with me, however, and with Marianne Vos of The Netherlands, who won the race wearing number 8. Commenter number 8 was and still is The Perfect Nose! The Perfect Nose is an enchanting, energetic and imaginative seamster whose work was already adorable enough before she splashed paint all over a dress and made total magic this week. Or last week. Or whatever month it is in the Antipodes, where TPN sews and blogs. The Perfect Nose, conveniently, wants me to send her Leather Fashion Design, and plans to make leather jackets for her entire biker gang. I might have that wrong, but I think that's what she said.

I am totally loving running this giveaway, although the logistics have turned out to be a little complicated. It turns out it is cheaper to buy Couture Sewing Techniques from Amazon and have Amazon ship it to "Jane" than to send her my copy, so that's what I am doing. So that leaves 6 books for 7 commenters, which means the point of all this scientific selection is to pick a LOSER, not a winner. Well, that sucks. So I'll figure out something to send to the loser last winner and yes, that means, except for you losers who didn't enter, EVERYONE'S A WINNER!

26 July 2012

More Winning, and Some Thoughts About Underwear

William the cat has completely lost interest in naturally selecting winners for my sewing book giveaway so I've had to devise another method. Tradition has it that law professors grade final exams by throwing them down the stairs, awarding the top grade to the one that travels the farthest, etc. (This belief persists because students are otherwise unable to figure out why they got the grade they got and the exams are seldom returned with useful comments.) Let me make clear that I have never graded exams by this method, but it seemed like it might work for picking giveaway winners so I gave it a try. Here are the 7 remaining entries tossed down my front steps. (It's the San Fernando Valley so there aren't a lot of stairs around.)
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And the A+ goes to:
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Carole Mellin! Who neither chose a book nor left an email address or link, but wisely and wittily blogs at Mia's Sewing Room.

Meanwhile, Amity and I are going to meet on Tuesday July 31 at Michael Levine's Loft (where, I confess, I have never ventured) so I can deliver her grand prize in person and we can shop and talk and eat. We are meeting at 10:30 a.m. so any reader in Los Angeles is welcome to show up and join us. Let me know you are coming and we'll even wait for you.

Don't get any ideas, Carole. I'm not delivering your prize in person to Atlanta (right?), much as I might like to.

And now for something completely different: underwear. I admit it. I get chub rub when I wear a dress. The solution to chub rub (if you aren't wearing slacks, leggings or tights) is underwear extending down one's thighs. Unless one is willing to lose 50 or 60 pounds which, frankly, I'm not and it's rude of you to even mention it. There are lots of ladies' undergarments for sale that extend down the wearer's thighs, but they are almost all what is euphemistically called "shapewear". As if anyone substantial enough to want a lining between her legs is the wrong shape and wants--or, at least, should want--to be squeezed into a smaller, smoother one. The only alternatives I can find are bicycle shorts and pettipants. Pettipants seem to come in two fabrics: nylon and cotton. If I'm going to wear nylon in hot weather I might as well wrap my legs in plastic and leave puddles of sweat wherever I sit, while many dress fabrics cling to cotton.

I have no problem with anyone who wants to wear shapewear. Barbara of Sewing on the Edge wrote a thoughtful (all Barbara's posts are thoughtful) post on Spanx and I agree with pretty much everything she said. (Barbara is too tasteful to mention chub rub, which she probably doesn't have anyway.) I wear shapewear when I want to (almost never) but I don't want to feel like I owe it to anyone who has to look at me and I resent it being the only option for chub rub. Anyway I'd need shapewear to extend from my neck to below my knees or there would be a roll of fat wherever it ended.

This one might do, but does it come in my size? And can I get it with 3/4 length sleeves?
Vedette 350 marcelle firm control waist cincher

So when FabricMart offered silk cotton batiste for a good price (you know FabricMart is selling everything on the site for 35% off don't you? That sale might even still be going on if this post ever ends) I made myself some silk/cotton pettipants. Well, pajama bottoms, really.IMG 0563IMG 0566

I started with the Butterick 6837 pajama pattern because they are almost the only pants I've ever made, and reduced the width a lot. Then I cut off the elastic waistband I had just put on badly and tried another, wider one. That had the effect of raising the crotch which had been too low but is now too high, I think. Not comfortable. But the fabric is better than nylon or cotton knit so it's a start. I may try Evange's bloomer tutorial on YouTube next, but I am open to desperate for other suggestions. I just have this possibly small time between Kotex and Depends to wear something comfortable and I'd like to take advantage of it.

25 July 2012

How Science Selects A Giveaway Winner!

I've seen lots of blog giveaway winner announcements and most of them use some little random number generator that I can't find. I found it once before but I didn't know how to post its results on my blog. (As I age and my brain cells slough off I have to reserve the ones remaining for important tasks like rotating darts and finding my eyeglasses, right?) Anyway, that's dull. So to rank the winners of my Spectacular Second Blogiversary-Hundredth Post-Awful Birthday Book Giveaway I turned to natural selection. I wrote the name of each entrant on a piece of cardboard, folded them up, and put them on the sewing dining room table.

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Then I waited a half a second. Employing his uncanny senses and unerring instincts, William the cat came from wherever the heck he was and knew exactly what I needed.

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In a flash, he had selected the winning entry and pushed it onto the floor. It was a struggle, but I retrieved it before it went under the china cabinet, and the winner is ...

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Amity Originals! Amity reveals in her comment that she is a lawyer in Los Angeles (maybe William wants me to save money on postage and spend it on treats?). A glance at her blog reveals that she is also a skilled seamster and the Pattern Review member known as Spaiyq. Amity expressed a preference for The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff, so as soon as she emails me to confirm that choice or make a different one I'll send it off (or maybe deliver it in person?) and move on to Winner Number Two!