starting to feel some actual stirrings of actual energy. i've noticed this week that it's been marginally easier to wake up and that sleep has been more satisfying. i've been more interested in food. i've been more excited during the day about projects--not always a good thing, since i so often lose focus on the drive home.

not sure what my approach will be this evening. for dinner, i am thinking classic: grilled cheese and tomato soup. i ate some of my leftover burritos for lunch and they were satisfying and super-filling, which was unusual.

i do plan to do some work tonight. i have a feeling that if i let myself go with whatever strikes me, i could get a lot done. i pressed out the linings for both of my tops last night, although i didn't feel like dealing with the logistics of sewing them, taking them in, and figuring out the best way to attach them, but the time is drawing near. the skirt i can do easily, and i may finish my evening with that as it is relatively simple, relatively quick and likely to be something i can use to end on a high note.

i did some work also on my bias top with the rose-print liberty. it took me a few tries, but i understand the assembly procedure now and may be able to finish that as well, which would be fun. i'm not sure, but it may not need a zipper, which would, of course, be excellent.

i'm thinking toward the weekend. i may have no choice but to go out to the house because of my drivers license, which needs renewal. my ideal would be having enough finished to be able to go to jonathan and get the buttonholes on my mini-wardrobe, as well as my fake mccall dress, taken care of--then i could get out to the house and over to DMV before 1 (closing time). the best use of my time after that may be to do muslins on all of the fancy silk work i have been plotting for april, may and june. i can head up to jo-ann and get some cheap "silk" to play with, and maybe even do some work on my already-cut pucci top, which i've been considering hand-basting together. other than that, i am largely caught up on cutting, unless i want to jump ahead (which, yes, part of me wants to) to the three summer frocks i'm plotting with my new liberty acquisitions--but those are great, easy little frocks and i think they could be a great memorial day weekend project (all the more reason to cut them now? i'm not sure--but it seems premature).

heck, i should probably even do two muslins for the silk--one with muslin, to tweak any design issues and major fit changes, and one in "silk" to see how it plays out. the muslin would be easier to modify pattern-wise and i'll need to do something in silk to make sure that the drape is still appropriate.


getting back to form?

i definitely have not been as focused as i might like this week. nonetheless, in spite of strange spring weather, lingering "jet lag" from the time change, and just general tiredness, i kept at my little tops and last night was rewarded with a burst of energy and interest just as i was getting ready to shut down for the evening.

perhaps the tops are not as skillfully done as they might be. i definitely messed up on the french darts, one of which is...awkward, but potentially fixable. but i have been practicing my islander technique, and i adjusted the fit of both tops so that i can be satisfied that they will be fun and whimsical and cute when they are done. i made the neck straps last night as well. now, only the linings remain!

since wednesday night is often such a good productivity night for me, i will go home, put on the NCIS marathon that inevitably airs on wednesdays, and go forth. i might even make some dinner.

since breakfast at aaron's on sunday i have been obsessed with food. it's a good feeling. it reminds me why i started caring about food in the first place. last night i made a delicious little burrito for myself and i'm already craving another one. i'm dreaming about getting some good bacon at the saturday market and maybe pulling some meat out of the freezer. i'm thinking maybe i will bust out the rancho gordo pack this weekend to try one of the yummy soup recipes in my "heirloom beans" book. we'll see.


back to focus

staring at my project board last night, after an unusually successful day of planning on cutting on saturday, i started to feel the dreaded overwhelmed sensation again. i read these blogs--the sew weekly or what have you--and i know that i can, with direction, easily accomplish my goals if i can break them down into a discrete task and finish them within a week. a few weeks ago, i even finished an entire project in a night. and yet i continually flutter around from thing to thing until it all spirals.

that said, this week i hope to:
finish my 2 vogue liberty scrap tops
finish the purple shorts
finish the purple skirt
put buttonholes in: purple skirt and frankenpatterned ruched bodice dress.

knowing this will probably fail by tomororw, i offer myself the following schedule:

monday: vogue liberty tops
tuesday: shorts and/or skirt
wednesday: often my most productive night of the week, i will give myself sewer's choice. plenty of my cutting from the weekend was for simple, 1-session projects. perhaps i can tackle the new look dress or the simplicity sundress or the almost-50's project runway pattern, although i should really line that
thursday: assemble the front and, separately, the back halves of my march jacket, so i can investigate embroidery options on saturday.
friday: night off? what might be fantastic is actually to cook, and then catch up on my firefly re-watch while i do the hand-stitching on my cashmere dress. i began dreaming of this yesterday and still got sidetracked by determining if the cute bias-cut dress pattern i got will accomodate my etro charmeuse.


another advance 3929

still loving this pattern, advance 3929. this time i made view 3, a sweetheart neckline with a cap sleeve. learning from my first outing i redrew the bodice pattern slightly, taking in the sides to more of a 32 bust range, and altering the waist gathers slightly to accommodate my figure. this had the added benefit of reducing some of the excess fabric i had seen across my shoulders in my first version, so, encouraged by success, i took apart and re-assembled my first version in order to make these fitting changes. it was love at first sight all over again!

fabric, of course, liberty of london tana lawn mystery print that i got at B&J in NYC. i first saw it late last summer and was struck by the whimsy and cuteness of it--it seems to be little birds (or bees) buzzing around a bit of foliage, interspersed over lovely pink polka dots. i can't find a picture or name for it online anywhere, and they do not seem to have it anymore at the liberty mothership in london, nor at shaukat. B&J, however, have it still, and in two colorways, no less, but the website is slightly out of date.

you can't see in the picture, but i finished this piece off with a self-fabric belt made by the amazing pat's custom buttons and belts in california. i cannot say enough about how positive an experience i had with this service. my full, gushing review can be found on patternreview, along with photos of the two other belts i had done and the 200 buttons.


"under the covers with a flashlight"

It was a sticky, scorching summer, made worse for the fact that I had been relegated to the third floor of my family’s house: I had to give up my room for guests who had come to visit, and heat rises, as you well know. The pink room had sloped ceilings, but it was no bother because I was rather short back then. Okay, I’m still short. I’m painting a picture of nostalgia, leave me alone.

I was supposed to be asleep; my mom was directing a summer musical for kids and we started rehearsal bright and early every morning, so I had to be awake. But hey, I was on the third floor, and no one would be the wiser if I kept this light on for a little longer, right? I had to finish this chapter; Boba Fett was taking a team of bounty hunters to meet Gheeta the Hutt, and I just knew the job was gonna go wrong in a bad way. Sleep was not an option, not until I found out if my instincts were right.

My distinct memories from that summer are wrapped up in goofy costumes and musical numbers that I can still recall note for word, but also in staying up for hours after everyone else had gone to bed and reading the first installment of the Bounty Hunter Wars Trilogy while I ignored the discomfort of late night summer heat. They are special memories, ones that I can recall with alarming clarity—the scent of the book’s paper and ink, how badly I stuck to myself when I tried to shift positions, how low the light was coming from the old lamp on the bedside table.

I believe, more often than not, that where and when we read something has as much relevance as what we are reading. We associate certain tomes with different times in our lives, the same way we commonly do with music and types of food, scents and people. We can mark off chapters of our own stories based on the things we learned in the books we read, the friends or family members we read them with. For instance, when my aunt read James and the Giant Peach to me, I remember how the whole world got a little more magical—and was equally devastated when she couldn’t finish it before her visit ended, and my dad just couldn’t mimic her voices for the characters.

When I was ten years old, I sat on my bed at home and finished The Illustrated Man, my first Bradbury book. As I closed the back cover on a long exhale, I had a sense, then and there, that my perspective on the world had somehow shifted in ways that I wasn’t ready to understand. I can remember causing my mother so much grief for wanting to stay inside during our vacation: I was having plenty of fun on my own, thanks, learning all about the Improbability Drive and the reasons why I should always carry a towel with me. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was essential to my existence, and she couldn’t stop me from finishing that book by nightfall. Sunshine and beaches were for other people.

Of course, what we read as children has a profound impact, but I think this relevance continues into adulthood. That novella you read when you caught the plague at work and couldn’t move for two weeks. The collection of short stories you read with a good friend and the talks you had about it afterward. The book you read to escape a tragedy in your life. They connect you to your past in a powerful way, sometimes better than any pictorial or video evidence you have at hand.

When I was studying abroad for my junior year of college, I spent spring break traveling around Europe. I began Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell in Istanbul and finished it in Rome, the first and last destinations of my trip. That book will stay with me in ways that others cannot, and I’m sure that part of my affection is wrapped up in the simultaneous journey I was taking with the characters. Jonathan Strange lived a great adventure and so did I, at the very same time, in fact.

We were even in Venice together, a kind of magic that is nigh impossible to duplicate.

But my favorite memory of reading is probably the night of July 21st, 2007. That’s right, the final installment of the Harry Potter saga. I should begin by explaining the situation: my home town had a habit of transforming one of our main avenues into Diagon Alley when each book was released. Restaurants sold butterbeer, Hogwarts house colors were worn with pride and everyone partied in the street until it was time to get in the long line and wait for your coveted copy. That year, one of the churches had agreed to turn their basement into Azkaban prison. (Yes, you read that exactly right.) The high school theater department handed over some of their lighting and set pieces, three costumed actors were hired to play Bellatrix Lestrange, and Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, and my friends and I were called in to be “prison guards” and give tours to kids and families.

We each adopted a different accent (I was the irish guard… it’s a long story) and did continuous tours for five straight hours, going hoarse before we realized that it was nearly midnight and we needed to split quick. I went to the local independent children’s book shop and ended up with a shorter wait because I hadn’t pre-ordered my copy of the book—the pre-order lines were a nightmare. Reuniting with my friends, we adjourned to Sarah’s backyard, where her parents had been kind enough to put up tents and equip them with lamps (like real wizarding tents!) and food for a full-on battalion. We settled into sleeping bags and started Deathly Hallows together. Sarah, also the fastest reader of the group, frequently gasped and demanded that everyone let her know when they had reached this or that page. We grimaced and bemoaned her speed, desperately trying to catch up until we all finally succumbed to our drowsiness. The sun woke us in the morning and it was a beautiful day.

Each and every one of us has moments like these, times when a book becomes more than a book. It is a touchstone and the stories between the pages are reflections of us. They remind us of who we were, who we are now and how we got there. The next time you have a bout of nostalgia, I encourage you not to pull out the old photo album. Head to your bookshelf instead, and see what surfaces. I guarantee it will be more than you think.

The pen is mightier than a lot of things. The sword was just the first one down.


trying to think of some of mine:

flu with "the secret garden" in my old trundle bed on radtke rd

staying up to finish "the lost boys" and needing to read another book before i could fall asleep

dune; florida / ender's game; florida

EotW, winter afternoon--i remember my feet were cold--on the green couch when it was in the living room; also, EotW in kensington gardens, i think that was my first re-read and the first time it was really alive for me...

princess diaries in puerto rico, it made everything feel better

possession in boboli gardens, and listening to the church bells

the pursuit of happiness in the haymarket wagamama, also moveable feast!

star wars = high school, freshman year, tropical heat in winter thanks to the thermostat!

clear and present danger = popasson chair in the homewood, winter, sophomore year


goals today

1 - simplicity dress skirt
2 - cut mini wardrobe purple shorts

work on bias-cut mccall

a vast improvement

last night i managed to sit down, breathe, and work--focused--on a few things.

1 - i settled my pat's order, finally. i was actually overwhelmed when i finally pulled all the fabric scraps apart--18 different samples! yowsers!

2 - finished the bodice of my new simplicity dress. i had hoped to finish the skirt as well, but i had to re-do the collar application 4 times. i tried first to ease it into the neckline, but it just wasn't happening--thank goodness i staystictched everything for a change! staystitching FTW! then i consulted my completed simplicity dress and realized that i had just left the collar edges hanging off the neckline, incorporated them into the facing application, and trimmed everything down, so that is what i did. AND i managed to keep breathing the entire time.

happily, i was determined enough to get all of the interior edge-finishing done, so it's all bound up in gorgeous red bias tape, even the collar edge.


trying too hard

well, last night was a bit of a washout. i had been totally energized to get home and get to work when the signs began piling up that it wouldn't happen: i had to stop and get groceries, and none of the prepared food at WFM was suitable for a quick meal; the cable box did the weird thing where it was skipping sounds right in the middle of "jet lag," only my favorite NCIS episode ever and the start of a mini-marathon on cable where all of the episodes were not only watchable but were not annoying; the cat tried to eat my "appetizer" snack and made me drop it all over the floor; i felt overwhelmed when i looked at the small pile of fabric i had planned to cut.

still, i didn't want to be waylaid from my plans and set about trying to adapt, with at best acceptable results. i did end up making the bodice on my new simplicity dress as well as the bodice on my mccall pattern with the bias-cut chevron, but the sewing could have been a bit better, and i still have to finish the edges and make the skirts on both pieces. i did cut out all the pieces of the two vogue 6043 tops i am working on, and managed that tolerably well. i did eat dinner, i got the cable box restarted, i even finished the fitting on my 30s blouse from monday night.

it's just that throughout the process i felt like i was rushing, instead of the relaxed, easy accomplishments of monday and tuesday nights. i felt slightly overburdened by my project list even as i continue to make excellent progress on the idea board.

i ended the evening by slowing down and cleaning up, moving bits that just need hems over to the secretary desk, hanging a few things up, putting some books away, and cleaning off the table. it helped me calm down and i hope that tonight and tomorrow night i can focus more on completing simple, discrete tasks with more care.

i would like to assemble and complete my button-front frankenpattern so that i can get buttonholes made on saturday morning. and it's time to commit and organize my button/belt order from pat, so i can send that in and get it back!


what i've been focusing on

"I break up my days into tasks I know I want to get done (i.e. finishing a chapter, hemming a dress, writing a post)."
(from gertie's new blog for better sewing)

i spent the weekend really trying to plan and then execute my "platonic ideal" of a sewing schedule. friday night i ended up doing....nothing, but i did clean up and set up some space for work the rest of the weekend, so i woke up saturday feeling energized and ready. i went up to paron's at 9:30 and had a fabulous experience there, picking up a lot of helpful fabrics for projects this spring, and popped in at B&J to splurge on some liberty tana that i didn't need for a project i don't really have time for...but with focus can probably knock out in a day anyway. i skipped Mood, for the time being, and headed back home to drop of my booty and treat myself to a pizza at cosi.

after cosi, it was warm enough that i finally had the energy to go down to container store and get myself a gigantic cork board for all of my pictures and swatches. i finished my mccall's sweetheart dress and went back out to Mood to get organza swatches for my "macaron" dress and ended up with two yards of pucci that have amazingly already told me what pattnerns they want. they have been added to the "silk cutting day" pile that i am planning for good friday weekend in april. then i went back to work finishing my mccall's and then i started putting together the pieces for my new liberty dress. i got the entire thing put together, minus the shoulder ties and the facings, which still need to be cut and interfaced and finished.

to wind down, i spent some happy time watching television and working on my inspiration board and went to bed after midnight feeling very satisfied. ended up not watching downton abbey as planned, though, because i didn't want it to degrade so quickly into "something i watch while doing something else."

sunday i set myself up for some serious pattern tracing. i've been noticing on my most recent cutting days that i was losing a lot of time and energy to pattern tracing and modifications, so i determined to get a jump on my spring wish list by tracing (if not modifying) the major pieces i knew i'd want to work on--mostly the vintage pieces of the silk dresses i have my eye on, and then i did two extra dresses and a pair of shorts. with judicious break-taking for breakfast and lunch, i even managed to cut two new dresses--my "freebie" from glassoffashion, which i used with the last of my liberty purple chris and also managed to squeeze some elements for a shirt out of; and another version of my favorite simplicity/project runway dress with the new liberty lawn i didn't need!

since the weekend, and i am sure this is because it's finally getting late enough in the winter that the days are noticeably longer, i have had enough energy to set and execute goals each night--monday night i measured the hem for my cashmere dress, and yesterday i made up another version of my favorite 30s mail order top in addition to marking the hem on my latest advance 3929. i also prepped and laid out fabric for the neck tie on my glassoffashion freebie and got out the interfacing for a host of small bits i hope to take care of tonight.