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.

30 April 2013

Sad Things On My Mind.

I've had a few things on my mind.

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If you bicycle and you can make out the white bike amidst the flowers and candles you know what this is. A boy on his bike was hit by a car and killed on Easter in the crosswalk at an intersection near my house. He was thrown 100 feet. The car, a Mercedes Benz, did not stop.
Did. Not. Stop.

Friends of the boy, who would have graduated from high school this June, keep the flowers fresh and the candles lit.

I pass by this corner every day.

Then there was this on Patriots' Day in Boston.

M Id 380347 Boston Marathon Bombings

Not in my neighborhood, but it still seems to matter.
More people were probably killed in Damascus that day. But


I have nothing to follow that but.

And then this.

67255169 bangladeshmapWalmart, H&M and Gap: Do your part to stop the murders of garment workers in BangladeshHere is a report on conditions in Dhaka Bangladesh, prompted by the Tazreen Fashion fire last November, and why they are so hard to change.

There is so little I can do about any of this but at least I try not to buy new clothes.

20 March 2013

On their way!

Two bundles of plus-sized patterns are on their way to Dixie and Karen at long last.

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I don't do snail mail well, I'm afraid. But to compensate for the wait, the patterns are wrapped in lovely gauzy knit reminiscent of 1970s nightmare nightwear but in fact harvested from the $2.50/pound bin at Michael Levine's loft.

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06 March 2013

Big Winners in the Plus-Sized Pyramid!

Congratulations to Karen in VA of Karen's Fiber Musings and Dixie of With Needle and Brush! You have won this tier of the Plus-Sized Pyramid of Patterns launched by Beverly aka BeaJay of On the Road to Sew Wear! Use the link on the right to send me your snail mail addresses and I'll get the patterns out to you asap!


25 February 2013

Sewing on the Red Carpet

Twitter, I'm told, was abuzz when Anne Hathaway appeared on the red carpet at the Academy Awards in this Prada dress:
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Image

"Look at those nipples!" tweeted the ignorant masses.
But you and I know those are just badly done bust darts! Sewing is important.

Another view:

18 February 2013

Put Yourself on the Map!

Vicki of Another Sewing Scientist has launched a Google map recording the location of all sewing bloggers to help us find each other in meatspace. Check out the instructions here: Map the Sewintists and then go pin yourself to the map!

And by the way, don't forget to enter the Plus-Sized Pattern Pyramid giveaway. Even if you're not quite magnificent enough for plus sizes, some of the patterns include medium sizes and even all sizes in one envelope.

View Map the Sewintists in a larger map

17 February 2013

Plus-Sized Pattern Pyramid Power!


Last month the Beautiful Beverley (aka Bea Jay) of On The Road To Sew Wear launched a Pattern Pyramid giveaway just like Karen's only Bigger and Better--this one's for Misses of Massive Magnificence! Funnygrrl of Falling Through Your Clothes and Lisa of Sew On And Sew On were Beverley's first two winners, and I am pleased to be the third! (The deadline for Lisa's giveaway seems to have passed, but Funnygrrl's goes on until March 3.)

Here is my haul:

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Plus this one, which I'm keeping and making of the organic red cotton knit on which it is reclining:

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And here are my contributions to the pyramid:

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THE RULES (As copied - and slightly amended - from Did You Make That)
Anyone, anywhere can enter the giveaway by posting a comment below by midnight US Pacific Standard Time Sunday March 3 BUT you must have an active blog. (Reasons to become obvious.)
I will randomly select 2 winners.
I will post a random selection of 4 or 5 patterns to each winner. Each winner will pick one pattern to keep for themselves, then host their own giveaway. They will randomly select a winner, post the remaining patterns to that Person C. Person C will pick a pattern for themselves, host their own giveaway and post the remaining patterns to the winner, Person D. Person D will…
All patterns are in the plus size category - ie - if the pattern comes in 2 sizing groups, then it will be the larger category. Patterns to go up to at least go up to a size 20 (most go higher). Patterns listed as "all sizes" will include plus sizes.
If you wish to take more than one pattern you can replenish the stock with a pattern you no longer want - but please make sure it is in plus size range
You get the idea!

We are taking it on trust that all pattern pieces are there.
If you’re a winner, Beverley would love it if you could make a small contribution to The Brooke. This is a charity close to the heart of Catherine, who so generously provided the original patterns. These plus sized patterns have been contributed by Catherine, Beverley and me in the spirit of the generosity of the sewing community
Please engage in a timely fashion, launching your own giveaways soon after receiving a parcel
You must be be happy to post patterns worldwide.

Thank you Beverley, and let the comments commence!

02 February 2013

Imbolc Randomness

Some random thoughts on this Groundhog Day/Candlemas/Imbolc/Brighid’s Day or the day after.

  • First of all, congratulations to Amity and Nhi on the launch of their new pattern line Lolita Patterns! Their first pattern, a darling skirt with scalloped hem in sizes 0 to 26 (Yay!) called Fuschia will be available February 6 and it's FREE! So rush on over there and take advantage of these two crazy couturieuses before they come to their senses and start charging for their work!

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  • A couple of weeks ago at Goodwill I saw a mother trying to rein in her over-excited 4(?)-year-old. She kept calling his name and he kept bellowing "Attitude! Attitude!" Indeed.

  • Rather than change the thread in my machines I made myself another Vogue 8618 using what was left of the fabric for DD's Christmas dress.

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    This comfy item is now in such heavy rotation in my wardrobe that I had to pull it out of the laundry for this picture (hence the wrinkles).

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  • Here are two patches I embroidered after figuring out how to spell the recipients' names in Arabic. Allah bless the internet! I did some of the design with a Frixion pen, which vanishes when ironed. However, apparently the marks reappear when the item gets cold and you can see some scribbles on the patch on the left. Just another reason to pay the big bucks to live in Southern California, I guess.

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  • Traveling further back in time, I was inspired by an early December post by Shams to make myself a coccoon sweater, so I ran one up that very same day and spent much of the holidays wrapped in it.

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  • I have been reading and enjoying--admiring, really--everyone's wrap-up of 2012 and thoughts or resewlutions for 2013. I love being included a little bit in so many different interesting, challenging, amusing and productive lives. As to my own life, well, I think I'm coming to a point where I can't go on tolerating some chronic low-level unhappiness of my own and will have to address it by causing some acute major unhappiness around me. I have never been one to rock the boat, much less mutiny or sink it all together. We shall see. I suppose I'll need new clothes.