Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rambling: Still More Sewing

The sewing continues, with limited success. I babble on in mind-numbing detail:

I cut the HotPatterns Classix Nouveau Dolman Blouse, previously discussed and altered within an inch of its life, out of a drapey rayon blend, and made up the main bodice, and pressedpressedpressed the shoulder-and-sleeve seams so that I could see how they draped, and tried on the result. I was delighted--the fitting issues that I saw in crispish muslin went away in the drapey stuff. It looked good. It hung well. I looked like a grownup, rather than my usual persona of a severely aging college student. And it was still comfy.

That was before....The Collar. The notched collar found in the HotPatterns Plain & Simple Princess Shirt is somewhat famous. That is, infamous. There's a long tutorial here, with ten photos, on how to get the bleeping thing to assemble correctly. And a nine-page thread on PatternReview, with even more photos.

The collar on the Dolman Blouse is very similar, and the pattern offers roughly four lines of text, and no diagrams, as guidance for assembly. Unsurprisingly (though of course I was surprised; if I'd seen this coming I would have made a more complete muslin muslin), mine failed, and took the whole "wearable muslin" with it. Ripping out won't help; I was encouraged when _half_ of it went together not too badly, and I trimmed things, thus eliminating any opportunity to restart. While I may eventually master the collar, the only hope for this specific half-made blouse is a recut faced neckline. On PatternReview, I begged for guidance on adding a facing, and when I get that guidance I'll remove the collar, thus stripping even more of the original design out of the pattern. Bwaha.

So. Meanwhile. Grumble. I traced and did a muslin of the Sewing Workshop Cowl Top. It worked surprisingly well without alterations - the main flaw was insufficient material to skim over my hips. Instead of changing the front and back, I instead added a triangular piece of fabric (A gusset? Do I mean gusset?) going down from the underarm seams, and that worked just fine. I have fair to middling hopes that the wearable muslin of this one will actually be wearable. But not enough hope to use silk, even though I bought the silk in my stash so long ago that I have no memory of what it cost. I'll be buying a really cheap piece of something.

Oh, and I started working on a dress pattern, the HotPatterns Wong-Singh-Jones Kimono Wrap Dress. I got as far as doing the bodice and sleeves in muslin, and it failed miserably. The sleeves are almost symmetrical, which is generally held, I believe, to be a bad thing in a set-in sleeve.

Grumble. It's past time for a wearable garment. The Cowl Top had better work, that's all I have to say.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rambling: Holiday rambling, and sewing again

Yikes. It's been almost two weeks since I posted. I caught a cold. Is that an excuse? And I'm stressed. That usual worry fifteen hours a day, sleep eight hours, eat one hour, thing. Except the cold means that I'm sleeping lightly and have the opportunity to get in more worrying then. Somebody in charge of worrying should really pay me overtime. I seem to remember holiday vacation last year as being pretty worry-free; how'd I manage that?

So we had Christmas. It was good. Himself roasted a duck. There's crispy duck skin left in the fridge. Yum.

In addition to the sneezing and hacking and wheezing, I've been sewing. Well, I've been altering one measly pattern; no appreciable sewing has yet occurred. I started with the HotPatterns Classix Nouveau Dolman Blouse. I increased the length of the bodice and sleeves,  removed the big pleats on front and back, and blended three different sizes going from shoulders to waist to hips and cut it out from muslin and based it together and tried it on. And I have no idea whether I like it or not. There's a folds-of-fabric thing going on that might look good in an actual drapey fabric, or might just end up looking like I'm wearing melted plastic. It is comfortable; at least it's got that going for it. I suspect that whoever drafted it would take a look at my changes and wonder why I bothered to use their pattern at all. Like those movies that are named after the really good book, but don't actually resemble it.

After all this focus on a blouse, it occurs to me that I should be working on dress patterns. Why? Because the local garment fabric store (Fabric of Vision, that is, as opposed to Quiltz, which is the quilting fabric store) is having a sale in January where your discount is based on the length of the cut of fabric. More yards, more discount, up to forty percent off for four yards. Bwahaha. And a blouse doesn't use all that much yardage.

Himself said that somebody said that Buffy should be watched starting with Season 3. I don't agree, but I thought I'd start my traditional holiday BuffyFest with Season 3 instead of the first season as usual, just to see. The end of the graduation episode ("Fire bad. Tree pretty.") is on right now.

Is it deeply and fundamentally wrong that my favorite relationship in Buffy, my very very favorite, is the one between Faith and The Mayor? In fact, it's one of my favorite fictional relationships, period. Does anyone else also really love watching those two? How often do you see two fictional character derive so much pure, unconflicted enjoyment from one another's company? Sure, I can wish that they could have somehow met in another universe when they weren't evil, but would they still get along so well without the evil?

A dress pattern. I need a dress pattern, altered and ready to go. Quick.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Perfume: More Chanel Sniffs, and some Lutens

I ran by Nordstrom's one last time, to sniff more of those Les Exclusifs testers.

28 La Pausa: For the first few minutes, this was sunlit-bright, feminine without being girly, tangy without being citrusy; very nice, though not really exciting. Half an hour later, it was... celery. I've forgotten which note it is that I read so often as celery--ah, yes! It's cedar; I realized it when I read "pencil shavings" in the one-sentence review in BitterGrace notes. Half an hour after that, it shifted from celery to a friendly well-behaved iris, one of those moderately complex, slightly mysterious scents that I don't fall immediately in love with, but that I can imagine becoming addicted to. I think this is worth a modest decant, to help me make up my mind.

31 Rue de Cambon: I didn't like this one bit at first. I got a very rough, furniture-polish or cough-syrup-without-the-fruit opening. Later it grew much sweeter, leathery, providing much of the pleasure of a gourmand without actually including any edible-seeming notes that I could point to. It's dark and dense from beginning to end, while 28 La Pausa is bright and transparent all the way through. If I were the sort to buy perfume on impulse, I suspect I'd be ordering a (small) bottle of this right now.

One thing that I'm realizing from all this Chanel sniffing is that I'm developing a dangerously modern nose--I keep judging these fragrances from the top notes, and being surprised when they utterly transform within half an hour. Oh! And that reminds me:

Serge Lutens Jeaux de Peau: I tried this one at The Perfume House.  I keep being surprised that Serge Lutens' top notes sometimes seem to last for hours before the heart of the scent, much less the base, is revealed. The beginning of this scent was entertainingly yummy, but it was a little too gooey to make me happy--it mostly just made me laugh. I'd largely dismissed it, until I smelled it two or three hours later and found that it had settled down to something more grainy and dry, not in the sense of less sweet, but in the sense that the smooth-frosting "gooey" vibe was gone. I love sweet and grainy, so I'm rethinking this one.

Serge Lutens Vitriol d'oeillet: Cranky and medicinal. I like medicinal. I need to try this again, but that's all I have to say; all that sweet buttered toast on my other hand distracted me from paying this proper attention.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Perfume: Quick Chanel Sniffs

We're spending a few days at a hotel that's two minutes' walk from the downtown Portland Nordstrom's, which has a surprisingly good perfume department. It isn't, sadly, good enough to have many niche fragrances, except for Bond No. 9, and I have Issues with Bond No. 9. So when I drifted through, I spent my time sniffing Chanels.

No. 5 EDT: My main experience with No. 5 is my miniscule gift-set bottle of the parfum, which I perceive as strongly structured, smooth, and glowingly aldehydic for hours. The EDT, in contrast, dried down to something soft, powdery, and a little bit fruity, in less than an hour. I had expected the parfum and the EDT to be essentially the same thing, with different notes emphasized. But no; I'm perceiving them as fundamentally different.

No. 5 Eau Premiere, probably EDT: To my surprise, it's No. 5 Eau Premiere, smelled for the first time yesterday, that I see as a very closely-tied variant of the parfum. It started with a great deal of citrus, a bit more than I altogether approve of, but it dries down to the same firm architecture and glow that I get from the parfum. It still has, to me, a classic "old-lady" vibe, and I approve; nothing with No. 5's name should ever be mistaken for, say, a teen beach scent.

No. 19 Poudre, probably EDT: I love No. 19. (At least, I love the parfum.) I disapprove of flankers. So I was planning on hating this. But I found that I quite liked the top notes; they did have a family resemblance to No. 19, without doing anything to make me use the word "travesty". As it developed, it was oddly variable from sniff to sniff. Sometimes it had a good streak of green in the powder, making it a green comfort scent that I could like. Sometimes it was all retiring powdery boredom. I don't love it, but if I pretend that it doesn't carry the No. 19 name, I like its greener moments.

No. 22 EDT: Nordstrom's had Les Exclusifs testers! They told me that actually buying a bottle required a special order, but all the same, what are the odds of finding the testers? So I tried No. 22. (Why only one? All other sampling skin was already covered, that's why.) It wasn't at all what I expected--based on Luca Turin's review (I love his review of this one), I expected it to be sweet. It's not sweet, and I'm not getting the incense, and I'm not getting the white flowers. All I seem to be getting is a note that I perceive as one of the background notes in Chanel No. 5 parfum. This is a puzzlement; I'll need to try it again, with a nose not recently contaminated by any other perfume.

The dangerous result of this experiment is that I now plan to buy a .25 oz No. 5 parfum, and a 1 oz No. 5 EDT, in the not too distant future. I've mentioned my fear that I'll learn to love No. 5 after it's been reformulated out of existence; now that I am growing fond of it, I'm feeling all the more urgent.

Image: By Eric Pouhier. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

SOTD: Chanel Coco

There are perfumes that I want to like. Chanel Coco. Chanel No. 5. Guerlain Mitsouko and Shalimar and Jicky--really, all of the older classic Guerlains. Walking away from the classics, I also want to love Tauer L'Air du Desert Marocain, Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba, Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie... the list could go on.

I've found the right time to wear these: When I'm grumpy or stressed or expecting a bad day. See, I don't want to wear my favorites at those times, and weigh them down with negative associations. And I don't want to wear no perfume, because any perfume I don't hate is still better than no perfume. And it's not as if I hate those perfumes, I just don't love them. So if I learn to hate them, so be it. If I learn to love them, spiffy.

So today I wore Coco. I've mentioned that my main issue with it seems to be association with someone that I can't remember but apparently didn't like. I'm guessing that enough wearings will wipe that out. The other issue is that tiny tiny bit of fruitiness that I get behind the spices. The fruit that offends me isn't orange--I see that in notes lists, but I don't smell it, and it wouldn't bother me. At least one review mentions peach, and I think that's it. I like peach, but for me all of Coco's other notes belong to winter--oranges are a winter fruit to me--and that bit of fresh stone fruit clashes with them.

I suspect that I'd like Coco better if I'd never smelled Coco Mademoiselle. Just the sight of the Coco Mademoiselle bottle, with all that pink juice in it, makes me recoil. I can smell the pink in the perfume as well. And there's just enough Coco in Coco Mademoiselle to reverse-contaminate the parent in my memory's nose--when I smell Coco I get a memory of the pink. But I'll keep wearing it now and then; I'm confident that I'll grow fond of it in time.

I wore No. 5 the other day, pure parfum from that set of tiny (1/8 oz?) bottles that Chanel comes out with at Christmas, one I bought about five years ago. That was more successful; I like the otherworldly, don't-mess-with-me mood of No. 5. I can't pick out a single real-world note; I know that there are flowers in there, but they don't present themselves as flowers. It is, in fact, weird--the likely most famous perfume in the world is weird. I like that.

Image: By David Scelfo. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Perfume: The Under Twenty Project

I was bad. I bought stuff. I blame Black Friday and Cyber Monday and my current state of "meh."

As previously mentioned, I ordered a bottle of Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose. It came, and I still love it. And I love the bottle. And everybody who was there when I rudely opened the bottle at lunch in the restaurant claimed to like the scent as well, though they might have just been humoring a fanatic. ("Giles, don't make cave slayer unhappy.")

Last night I went online shopping, and I kept finding perfumes with positive reviews available at less than twenty dollars. When I reconsidered my cart, I realized that there were fewer than I thought, because two of the candidates were sample size, and that doesn't count, based on the rules that I made up. The rules are that the product must:
  • Be a fragrance, rather than, say, a lotion or soap or spray deodorant or hair spray. (I swear, I saw at least one perfumed hair spray.) But any strength is OK.
  • Contain at least half an ounce.
  • Be available from a retailer, rather than an individual.
  • Be an original manufacturer's bottle, not a decant.
  • Cost less than twenty dollars. Achieving this price with a non-product-specific discount doesn't count.
I might make a series out of this. I'm not requiring myself to actually burn the price of the bottle; if it's available as a sample as well as an under-twenty bottle I'm allowed to buy just the sample, I decree. But I confess that bottles of Balenciaga Rumba and Madame Rochas are on their way. Unsniffed. 

I was bad.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ramble: Soap Challenge

I just took a bubble bath. I'd used up my previous fancy bar of soap, so I cracked open the box around a new bar of Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange soap. The soap itself was, as usual tightly wrapped in shrinkwrapped plastic, and, as usual, it resisted my efforts to open it with my fingernail. I would normally find something to stab it with. But this time, I found myself vaguely staring at it, and my brain said, "Oh, never mind."

There's something wrong with my brain this week. And part of last week. Rather suddenly, it's doing an awful lot of "Oh, never mind." There are frequent and growing intervals of just-don't-care. And I don't know why. I don't know if I'm depressed. I don't know if it's the lack of sunlight as winter deepens; that never seemed to happen to me before. I don't know if it's stress. I am worried about several things, but I'm always worried; I'm worried fifteen hours a day, with eight hours off for sleeping and some momentary distractions here and there. I've been that way since... OK, I don't remember not being that way, so that's not it, or that's not it alone, so what...

Oh, never mind.

Image: By Roberta F. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Link: That Fume Scout Thing

So, I've created my little small list of links to information about brick-and-mortar perfume shopping. It's on this permanent page, and I figure I'll add a quick link post here when I update it.

Got more links? Send 'em! Please! Got your own lists of links? Send, them too! We may get a bit circular, but I never mind clicking a few times in the hope of new information.

Image: By Ed Uthman. Wikimedia Commons.

Link: In case you missed it (Basenotes thread about feminine perfume packaging)

I enjoyed this thread:

Stereotypical "Feminine" Bottles, Packaging: Irritating? Offensive? Humiliating?

and thought you folks might too, if you haven't already run across it.

Image: By tanakawho. Wikimedia Commons.