The Sewing Project

March 30, 2010

I’m afraid I have overly expensive taste when it comes to clothes. This is not because I’m a brand whore (in fact I try to find clothes that don’t come from major designers), but is instead because I love fabric… luxuriously soft textiles that I can never afford.

Then when I was home before Christmas, working my way through an overly ambitious list of handmade gifts, I made a trip to a fabric store with my Mom. We found the most beautiful burgundy herringbone wool, for the most outrageously on sale price! So we set out to make my first sewing project: a winter dress for the job interview I’d nail (eventually). The dress had a bit of everything basic: darts, a zipper, cap sleeves, and my Mom was a fantastic teacher. Its one of those skills she’s had forever (part of what inspired me to learn).

She made my Dance and Halloween costume every year. She would start the costumes at least a month before halloween, and I remember many a night of standing on a foot stool wearing pinned together paper, trusting her that this really was a princess costume I was wearing. Before us, she made business suits for herself as a young career woman… yes…blazers, jackets, skirts, blouses, the whole ordeal. Before Mom, my grandmother made all 4 of her daughters clothes for school. My mom was the youngest kid in small town Alliance to wear bell bottoms. When they first came into style her big sisters all had them, so she needed them too… and since bell bottoms weren’t made in her tiny size… Grandma stepped up. All in all, there is quite the history of sewing greatness to live up to. And while this is entirely inspiring, my desire to learn is driven by two simple goals:

1) to learn one seriously useful and money saving skill that will never be forgotten (much like riding a bike)

and 2) To start a wardrobe that I’ve seriously invested myself in. Because when you invest time and effort rather than money, you will undoubtedly appreciate and understand it all the more.

This is the most rewarding part. No seam is just a seam. Especially with these first few projects, every step marks a new skill learned. You equally appreciate the feats and the flaws; and wearing your own clothes instills both a sense of confidence and paranoia that you just don’t get from a store (this thing I’m wearing is 100% unique, but the seam might rip when I sit down). Its quite the adventure.

Oh and shopping… you thought clothes shopping was fun. Fabric shopping is truly addictive! Imagine shopping not only for the perfect item (which exists en mass  in your head), but for the ideal color and texture. You go to by fabric for one project, and inevitably discover your next three.

I’ve now completed 2 full projects (One with the leadership of my Mom) and I’m about to start number 3. Photos and stories to follow…


Sketchbook 101

February 17, 2010

Just a peek into one of my recent Christmas projects…

The only thing more satisfying than keeping a sketchbook filled with your own thoughts and doodles, is keeping one that is yours inside and out. Last year, thanks to a friend who is tirelessly passionate about bookbinding, I learned how to hand bind sketchbooks. Then from a combination of her expertise, a few you tube videos, and my mother’s sewing finesse, I started Dave off with a set of personalized sketchbooks. The goal: to never have to buy another overpriced and ordinary sketchbook again.

row of hand bound sketchbooks

Here’s the idea: Each sketchbook is covered in basic millboard with a different colored binding (for filing purposes). They’re all made to fit in one removable cover I made out of a recycled old leather jacket. Thus, the leather is already worn, aged, and soft. The books are bound so that they open flat, and are the perfect size for sketching on your lap.

It doesn’t seem to matter how many knitting projects I do…I am just plain slow. Just like reading, some people are frustratingly fast, while others are perpetually slow (like myself). Its not that I can’t read fast, its just that if I actually want to retain anything I have to take it down a notch.

Never the less, the cowl is done! After one month of on and off knitting sprees (depending on our supply of ER episodes) it is finally complete. To make it even sweeter, it’s actually still cold outside and I can’t wait to wear it. The pattern is called a “good luck cowl” and I got it from the Drop Stitch Knitter. It’s the first lace pattern I have ever attempted, and it’s supposed to be lucky (a horseshoe pattern). I guess you probably have to wear it right side up or the luck will drain out? I think I’ll try it out at my next job interview…

The yarn is 50% Merino Wool and 50% silk, and is quite possibly the softest, prettiest thing I own.

good luck cowl and yarn

Coffee Cozy

February 10, 2010

About 4 months ago we made the switch from coffee-maker to french press. And I will never go back. We get our coffee beans from a friend, who buys them green from a shop in Toronto, roasts them at home, then sells them to friends and neighbors. No batch is the same; the beans are different, and the roasting changes each time.

Then we grind the beans with our awesome sized coffee grinder (thanks to Kim and Brad) and steep the coffee till dark before plunging it to perfection. All other coffee tastes bland and fails in comparison. My only issue  is the thick sludge at the bottom of the cup. Of course, for some people like Dave, this stuff is gold…he throws it back like dark chocolate and grinds it in his teeth, I cringe.

The only thing our french press needed was a little more insulation…so I made it a cozy. I think it’s cute. He kind of looks like he’s in a marching band. Oh and his awesome yellow buttons are vintage (1920’s).

The original pattern is from design sponge and is extremely simple. Three things to keep in mind: don’t make it so long that it crowds the spout  (you’ll get lint in your coffee), place the buttons so they don’t interfere with the handle, and make it a little small so it has to stretch. Easy!

french press cozyfrench press cozy