Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sewing: Sewing. And pictures. And figuring out the serger.

Bwaha! I finished the purple shirt. This is the fourth in my herd of Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirts--the cooking coat with the vampire daffodils (not pictured), another in black (pictured machine-dried and unpressed; that's why it looks like a prune with arms), another in red, and, finally, the purple one.

I love this pattern. It goes together without quirks or arguments--well, except for a bit of arguing when easing in the sleeves, but it's rare for set-in sleeves to be perfectly behaved. The instructions walk me through a satisfying mitered shirttail hem and sleeve vents. See?

The final product is comfortable--long and loose enough to allow me to move any way I want, but I still don't feel like I'm wearing a tent.

But I really, really need to get another shirt pattern perfected. You can't wear the same shape in different colors every single day forever, can you? Well, you can, but surely it stops being fun. Eventually. And Himself is not a fan of this pattern, though I could solve much of that problem by extending the front hem to give it the same length as the back.

Speaking of fun, I finished some chicken pajamas:

Well, pajama pants; back when I cut these, somewhere between five and twenty years ago, I only had enough fabric for the pants.

And I'm using the serger! Bwa! Setting up for each new stitch is generally at least half an hour with the manual, but I'm pleased that I'm using them and that they work, beautifully. Overlock to finish the edges of the pieces of the purple shirt. Cover stitch to finish the hem on skirt without double-turning heavy linen:

And overlock-plus-safety-stitch on a skirt in work to go with the purple shirt:

I realize that the excitement value of these for most People Who Sew is likely low, but I'm just all bouncy about it. I've always wanted neat garment interiors, and I've always been too lazy to do Hong Kong finishes, flat-felled seams, or any of the other couture finishes. (Well, I'll do a French seam sometimes, but only on nearly straight lines.) Sewing and finishing the seams on a six-gore skirt in under an hour is just ever so exciting.

So what's next? Work on the almost-but-not-quite-perfect Plain & Simple Princess Shirt pattern? Or continue to build an unending wardrobe of Liberty Shirts?

Photos: Mine.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sewing: Toys!

Did I mention my new machine? That was one of those posts that I failed to post, I think because the writing failed to communicate sufficient excitement. So I'm going to try that again:

Himself gave me a serger for my birthday!

Bwahahahaha! Not just a serger. The serger. See, for months I've been thinking about whether I wanted one. Looking at features. I took a lesson in Portland. I read threads on PatternReview. I learned what you can do with how many needles, and what differential feed is, and what a coverstitch is. I learned which ones are loved by some people and hated by others. Himself was politely curious about all this, and asked me what I'd use it for, and more or less convinced me that buying it made no financial sense.

Then it was my birthday and he handed me the owner's package binder thingie for the one with all the features, the one that no one has any complaints about. Squeeee!

We've had too many things to do since then, and I haven't been able to do as much sewing with it as I wanted. But this weekend will be different. The house will be a flurry of lint, pins, and thread chains.


Image: Wikimedia Commons.

SOTD: Royal Apothic Extract Blackberry

This Monday I went back to Prize for my usual chocolate tile, and came face-to-face with the Royal Apothic display. Again. I bought the Green Tea that I reviewed a little while ago, and rollered on the Blackberry. And ran away.

By the way, did I mention their Apricot, tried after Green Tea but before Blackberry? It smelled like a pleasant enough apricot, and then like apricot and soap, and that was that. Mostly linear. Perfectly adequate. Meh.

The Blackberry is also linear. But that's OK; when it comes to blackberry, I don't believe in subtlety. I sometimes buy blackberry Italian sodas, and some folks put in just enough syrup to tint the fizzy water a pale pretty amethyst, creating a low-calorie drink that tastes like not-quite-water. On the other hand, the woman in the booth down the park, year before year before last, made me one that was so opaquely purple as to be almost black. When I sipped it, I could imagine the sugar crystallizing on my teeth. And she encouraged me, all the same, to "Let me know if you want more syrup."


That's how I like my blackberry. I never tried l'Artisan Mure et Musc before reformulation, but the post-reformulation version smells fizzy and fresh and healthy, rather like that barely-amethyst soda. My objection might be based on having an inferior nose, but I gave it away anyway, to a friend who appreciates it.

The Royal Apothic version is much closer to the sticky purple drink. Sweet. Purple-smelling. Not changing the least little bit as it dries down. It's not so much a perfume as a note. I'll probably end up buying it anyway.

 Image: By De-Okin. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Rambling: Rambling. And foot poetry.

And again, I slack off on the posting. But this time, it's worse than, "Oh. Right. I have a blog. How's it doing?" This time, I wrote posts, and then I didn't post them.

That is bad. It encourages that nonexistent writer's block to try to assert its existence. So, see, I have to challenge it by posting.

Except I can't find those posts.

And my brain is empty.

Well, it's not entirely empty. It's thinking thoughts like, "My feet hurt," and "Would it be wrong to open that bag of chips?" and "I wish I had some lemon for iced tea," and "Do I have anything to read?" But those aren't really the sort of thoughts that inspire successful prose.

Now that I've typed the word "prose" I find myself wondering if those thoughts would inspire successful poetry. Haiku?

Feet defy stomach.
To fetch chips to the sofa
I would have to stand.

No. That's really not working either.

The bathtub beckons.
Is the bubble jug handy?
Hot water soothes feet.


Chips, murder, and steam.
A book and a crinkly bag
in the bathtub. Wrong?


Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

SOTD: Aftelier Cacao (First wearing)


I bought a mini of this on kinda-sorta impulse last week, where "impulse" means that I only thought about it for two days. I finally wore it properly today.

At the beginning, the orange struck me more than the chocolate--a good bitter orange that makes me resolve to look for orange notes in other Aftelier perfumes.  And there was chocolate, of course, but Cacao didn't read as a "foody" perfume to me. There was an animalic note that made it darker and more grown-up, and contrarily seemed both dangerous and comforting--fuzzy purring, but with claws in reserve.

As it developed, there was less orange and less growl; it turned sweeter and more floral. Then the vanilla at the base grew, though the whole package started to fade away before a really satisfying vanilla fog could develop. There's barely a trace on my arm now, about twelve hours after application. But that's fine. I've never quite seem the appeal of extreme longevity, so the limited life of all-natural perfumes is just fine with me.

I like it. I can't tell yet if I love it. That may come on the second wearing.

Review Roundup: The Non-Blonde and MakeupAlley and Fragrantica and Basenotes and This Blog Really Stinks and Eyeliner On A Cat and WAFT.

Image: By Ankara. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Notion Gluttony: Buttons!

We went to Portland.

I went to the Button Emporium.

This was the result.


Photos: Mine.
(And, no, no affiliation. I just wanted to show pretty pictures of buttons.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SOTD: Ayala Moriel Schizm (Quick sniff.)

The other perfumes are bullying Schizm.

I applied some of my sample this morning, and found the slightly bitter dusty mossiness delightful. But as time went on, I began to tea

Yeah. I applied it to the same hand as yesterday's scent, and apparently the re-moistening woke up the faded scent.

So I started over on my forearm after lunch, and was enjoying it as the bitter green musty moss slowly transformed into something more floral and buttery. Then I decided to unpack my perfume Ziploc from my recent trip (I may be posting a portrait of said Ziploc tomorrow). You know that "uh-oh" moment when you feel dampness on your hands, just before the scented fog rises? Yeah. Sample vial failure. I'm now drowning in Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay.

So this is not a review. But the glimpses of Schizm that I did get were nice. Very nice.

Image: By Dick Mudde. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, September 10, 2012

SOTD: Royal Apothic Extracts Green Tea

So, at lunchtime I was in Prize, a lovely local store mentioned in my sadly outdated Ashland Fume Scout post. Next to the candy were some roll-on perfumes from a company named Royal Apothic. I rolled a streak of the one called Green Tea on my hand, bought my usual almond-sea-salt chocolate tile, and ran away. I didn't even check the price, but a Google search tells me that it's probably under twenty dollars and that this brand is sold at Anthropologie, among other places.

Green Tea started out sweet and, yes, tealike--tea with a fair bit of sugar and an unidentifiable richer sweet note that I can't quite place. Stone fruit? No, or at least not very ripe stone fruit. Bergamot? No, but it could be bergamot's second cousin. I guess, really, it's just green tea, but I perceive it as separate from the note that I read as "tea". At this phase, I persuaded Himself to sniff and he gave it his second-best rating, which is that it didn't offend him. He noted with approval that it didn't smell of aldehydes or alcohol.

Green Tea is reliably pleasing, without any weirdness. Those are characteristics that usually bore me, but it does have some personality, quirks that appeal to my weird-loving heart.  As it dries down, it maintains a little tension between (mostly) sweet and (a little) bitter, rather than frantically spraying syrup at me. Once in a while I get a confusing whiff of tangy floral that makes me look around to see what perfume bottle is near, then sniff my hand and say, "Oh!"  It's similar to the way that Luctor et Emergo shifts between Play-Doh and cherries--when one personality is dominant, you find yourself doubting that the other one was ever there. I was initially going to call it linear, but if I don't say that about Luctor et Emergo, I can't say it about Green Tea.

It has very modest projection, while still offering an occasional surprise whiff--just from that one streak on my hand. That makes it a candidate for the "inoffensive but interesting" crowd for wearing to plays, airplanes, and other occasions when other people are trapped near me.  In my collection, that category is currently dominated by Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange and k. hall Designs Cypress & Cassis, both solids and both flat-out linear, so Green Tea beats them on that point. I rather wish that Green Tea were also a solid, so that I could add it to my no-Ziploc-needed airplane wardrobe.

Hmmm. I Google Royal Apothic and learn that they mainly do home fragrances--as do Pacifica and k. hall Designs.  Does that explain the lack of aggressive projection and the lack of classic note development?

Anyway, I like it. I don't think that I even need to add "for under twenty dollars" though I will say, "as a comfort scent." It's not going to be on my desert island list, but there's a good chance that I'll buy one, and if you're less addicted to weird than me, you may like it even better.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, September 8, 2012

So. That sewing with a plan concept. Let's start with analyzing my recent plan-free sewing:

What I made and I wear:

Black linen Liberty Shirt
Red linen Liberty Shirt
Black linen gored skirt
Pink silk crepe cowl neck top

What I made and don't or rarely wear:

Two white notched-collar blouses
One green notched-collar blouse
Red and white polka dot cowl neck top
Green and white polka dot tunic.

An obvious pattern is the Liberty Shirt versus the notched-collar shirt. The Liberty Shirt is easy to make and feels satisfyingly solid when done. It's terribly comfortable and doesn't need any fussing or rearranging when worn.  It does need pressing, but that's just to smooth it out, rather than fighting with recalcitrant facings and twisted bits.

The notched-collar shirt is more fitted and shorter, so it takes more fussing. It's designed with loose facings; I stitch them down but that always involves a little arguing. I don't like the sleeves with either cuffs or a turned hem. The collar (it's that HotPatterns notched collar) always involved a moment of "will it work?" suspense.

Oh, and the Liberty Shirts are all in pure linen, while none of the notched-collar shirts are.

So it appears that the sensible thing is to make more linen Liberty Shirts, and meanwhile to lengthen the notched-collar shirt, give it sleeve vents like the Liberty Shirt, and audition it in some linen to see if I wear it. I do love the faintly retro feel of that shirt, but apparently not enough to wear it.

Moving on, what I expect to make and likely succeed at:

Black wool/rayon gored skirt
Matching Liberty Shirt
Grass green Liberty Shirt
Chocolate brown gored skirt
Cream linen Liberty Shirt
Amber/pumpkin Liberty Shirt

This seems sort of plannish, in that all of the Liberty Shirts (black, red, black again, green, cream, pumpkin) should go with all of the skirts (black, black again, brown.)

Fun plans with lower odds of success:

Cassis gored skirt  (Cassis, you ask? OK, OK, purple.)
Matching Liberty Shirt with dark cassis silk facings.
Sewing Workshop Haiku Two jacket in a tweedy green cotton flannel with green silk facings
An improved version of the notched-collar shirt pattern, in a pink Japanese cotton with green polka dots

Plannish? The cassis shirt should work with its matching skirt, both black skirts and might play nice with the brown skirt. The cassis skirt... um...yeah. It would probably work with the cream shirt. Maybe the green shirt. It wouldn't actually clash with the black shirt, but I think all that visual weight on top will be weird.

The green jacket should work with all the skirts, but I'm not sure if the shape pairs well with the shape of the Liberty Shirts.

The Japanese cotton shirt has no friends other than maybe the black and brown skirts. I think that it's part of another, so far unplanned, family/capsule.


Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Joining yet another sewalong: Make all my clothes for a year

So I make sewing plans--for the Autumn 6PAC, for a SWAP, for the PatternReview Mini Wardrobe contest--and then I do whatever I darn well please. Not that that's a bad thing; it's my sewing time and my wardrobe, after all. But I am sold on this whole planning concept and I'd like to actually carry out a plan or two.

I've joined yet another sew-along, one with more flexibility: the Make All Your Clothes For A Year sewalong on PatternReview. My definition of "all" is not going to include underwear, hosiery, raingear, or, really, most accessories. Oh, and I will likely buy the 2013 OSF souvenir tee and the 2013 Daedalus Project tee and possibly another souvenir tee or so. Otherwise, I'm planning to make every new clothing item that I acquire, from 9/2/2012 to 9/1/2013.  Bwaha!

Now to figure out the planning part.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rambling: Writing and roleplaying and blaming WoW

So, I'm sitting in a Starbucks with a glass of iced tea peoplewatching through the window and typing this. And in addition to puzzling over the iPad's determination to correct "peoplewatching" to "peoples arching", I'm thinking about that writing thing.

When I was a kid I thought I was going to "be a writer." I abandoned that goal later in favor of studying to be an engineer and then working as a programmer. That was in no small part due to The Paycheck Factor. While I don't remember any time when my parents were truly unable to pay the rent or mortgage or the electric bill, they were a few weeks away from that situation a number of times. I remember small heirlooms being sold now and then, probably to buy those few weeks that got us past the payment or to the paycheck.

So when I went to college, my choice of study was very much about the paycheck--not necessarily about a big one, but certainly about a reliable one. Remember Trillian in Hitchhiker's Guide? "With a degree in Maths and another in was either that or the dole queue again on Monday." I assumed that studying English or creative writing would have the same result. I'm not at all certain that that was the right call, but there it is.

So I didn't write. Well, I didn't Write. No novels, stories, essays, poems, columns. I did write with a small w. For one thing, I spent hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours playing text-based role playing games, the ones with more writing and minimal game mechanics and game code. That isn't Writing, but the instantaneous reaction of others to what you've written does, I think, build some skills--it's rather like getting hundreds of miniature critiques in an evening.

I miss that. World of Warcraft and all its friends seem to have killed off text-based gaming--while MUSHed and MUDs and MOOs are still there, they seem to have lost critical mass. A MUSHMUDMOO needs a certain (large) number of competent and experienced players, and a smaller number of excited newbies. Some of those competent players must welcome the newbies and mentor the not-hopeless ones into becoming competent players. As critical mass was lost, that welcome went away--most competent players took their roleplay to private virtual locations that excluded the newbies, leaving the newbie-wranglers with no one but the newbies to play with.

Uh. I was talking about writing, wasn't I? All this bleebling about online roleplaying seems off topic, but it's really not. During my share of the golden age of text-based roleplaying, I was getting everything that I needed from writing. I was creating characters and situations and emotions, and building things with language. And I had an audience--I had readers. It was great. And it's gone forever. If I do write a book someday, and even get it published, I suspect that that experience may be a pale substitute.

Tea time is done. More rambling later.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Rambling: Gluttony

St. Cupcaaaaaaaaake!

We're on vacation. In Portland. Eating. Everything.

Ok, maybe not everything, but I just ate a fabulous peanut butter chocolate thing from a company named (lemme look...) Suzanne's Chocolaterie at the PSU Saturday Market. And a pint of chocolate milk from Lady-Lane Farm that competes with a long-mourned chocolate milk that was fortified with cream that we used to be able to get in the Bay Area before it vanished. And before that I ate a vanilla-with-chocolate-icing cupcake from St. Cupcake. It joined its sibling, which I ate yesterday

(Did I mention that I've been losing weight on a low-sugar lowish-carb lowish-milk diet? Yeah. That will resume post vacation.)

Of course I also ate low-carb food yesterday. Like the fish sauce wings from Pok Pok. And a charcuterie plate and gravlax and fried chicken from Irving Street Cafe. That's healthy, right?

Then there was nose gluttony. I finally bought a bottle of Parfums de Nicolai Number One at The Perfume Shoppe, after accepting that I can tell myself all I want that it's functionally redundant with Serge Lutens Un Lys; I'm still going to want it. And I ordered a small bottle of Chanel 28 La Pausa at Nordstrom's and they're going to tell me if they can get small bottle of 31 Rue de Cambon and we'll see if fiscal responsibility wins.

That is all. Right now.