Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sewing: Autumn 6PAC, Part Two (Today, it's black and green.)

A couple of posts ago, I predicted a description of my black and purple Autumn 6PAC. Since then, I switched back to black and green. Will I stick to that through the end of writing this post? I'm not counting on it. But right now, the plan is:
  • Neutral Jacket: A Sewing Workshop Haiku Two jacket, the long version, in a black wool boucle from the stash that I've already tested for washability. The boucle is fairly bulky--I suspect that I might need to buy a lighter fabric for facings and such.
  • Neutral Bottom: Burda 8973, a close-fitting six-gore skirt with a bit of a trumpet skirt flip at the hem, in lightweight black denim, and I'll eliminate the lining. I'm specifying denim because I've been unable to find black wool crepe online; if I find some and a swatch survives the Wool cycle, I'll switch to wool and restore the lining.
  • Neutral Top: I already have two black linen shirts, one self-sewn, one purchased. So I could just skip this and still have a functional 6PAC. But if I finish all of the other garments, my plan is to make something turtleneckish with a lightweight black maybe-wool knit from the stash that's also been tested for washability.
  • Second Color Jacket: Another Haiku Two jacket in a gorgeous thick grassy-green cotton flannel wih a woven (not printed) pattern that gives it a woolly tweedy vibe. The change from purple to green is the flannel's fault; I just found it today. This one will also require special attention to keep the seams from being too thick.
  • Second Color Top: A Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirt in grass-green linen from the stash.
  • Two-Color Top: Er. I have nothing in the stash. I just fell in love with a silk charmeuse print in moss and black on Emma OneSock, but it's over fifty dollars a yard, so I'm firmly squelching that love.
So, it's a plan. For at least twenty minutes.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Perfume: Reviving the wish list

I just made up a Ziploc of samples of decants for a friend. In the process I remembered a bunch of old favorite perfume. More dangerously, I was reminded of perfumes that I planned to buy but never quite did.

For example, The Pour un Ete. I love tea fragrances, and I always felt that this one occupied a special niche in the tea fragrance crowd. It's bright and feminine and cold and warm and just a little bit stern. It's not weird, but it's still not dull or eager to please. As I re-read reviews, I see that everyone reads it as jasmine tea, and that might be part of the difference--all of my other tea favorites are black tea.

Then there's Din Dan. I was wandering through my "fresh citrus" fragrances--Fresh Lemon Sugar and Mandragore and ... well, see that's the problem. I only have two, and neither of them provides quite enough of a lemon blast. I remember that blast from Din Dan, though my Review Roundup post doesn't quite reflect that memory.

Then, while I'm looking at LostMarch, there's Lann-Ael. It always used to make me sad, but I never stop wishing I had another sample.

Then there's Serge Lutens Chene. I didn't buy Chene when I fell in love with it, did I? And, see how far I've drifted from my perfume collection, when I don't know if I own a bottle? My Basenotes wardrobe says I don't, and it's probably right, it's just that I remember a day and a Barney's counter and a credit card and tremendous temptation. Looks like I resisted that temptation. Good for me?

Regularly, like clockwork, I consider buying Dzing! and Luctor et Emergo. I think that's because both perfumes are seen as being weird, and I love the weird. The problem is that they're not really that weird. Elephant musk and stale popcorn? Play-Doh and cherries? Meh. Far too normal.

Sometime in the past year or so, I did acquire my highest-priority weirds: Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose, Comme des Garcons Garage, and a partial bottle of Tubereuse Criminelle. Mushrooms and buttered tuberose. Gasoline and dirty tires. Gasoline, mothballs, and decaying tuberose. Yum.

Fumerie Turque was similarly weird; as I've said before, it smells like tigers prowling around a campfire where tobacco-smoking campers once were. (Until the campers met the tigers.) I want it. I've wanted it since (lemme see) Decemer of 2009. Why don't I own it? I see it joining the above three, all of them strutting through the collection sneering at the well-behaved ladies like Estee Lauder Jasmine White Moss, and sending Rose Ikebana and Lemon Sugar fleeing in terror.

Of course, No. 19 would unsheath her claws and restore order. She can out-elegant the most ladylike, while simultaneously being beyond weird and approaching surreal. I do wonder, sometimes, why I need any perfume other than No. 19. Maybe she scares me, too.

It's Last Saturday. Din Dan?

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Rambling: The Greek Food Festival Effect. And getting motivated for the Autumn 6PAC

So, have I ever mentioned the Greek Food Festival Effect on this blog? See, long, long ago, Himself and I went to school in Pittsburgh, and every year a Greek food festival was held nearby. Every year we planned to go--unambigious, firm, gonna-go-eat-dolmas plans. Every year, for one reason or another, we didn't or couldn't go. After enough repetitions, we finally decided that there was some cosmic force at work, preventing us from going. The logical conclusion was that if we ever did go to a Greek food festival, something extraordinarily bad would happen. By preventing us, the universe was just protecting itself.

Other events, such as the Backstage Tour at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, have achieved Greek Food Festival Effect status--for perhaps fifteen years, we intended to go, and never did. I'm tempted to request tickets one last time and show up eating a gyro, just out of sheer contrariness.

My point? My point is that I'd better do the Stitcher's Guild Autumn 6PAC this year. Stitcher's Guild is a sewing website and forum. It has a seasonal group sewing event called the 6PAC. It stood, originally, for "six piece autumn collection" (I think), but as I understand it, the acronym had so much appeal that it's used for all the other seasons, too. The idea is to sew six garments for the upcoming season, the garments and colors chosen based on specific guidelines.

I planned to participate in the 2012 Spring 6PAC. And the Summer one. And the 2012 SWAP (Sewing With A Plan, a larger sewalong). I seem to recall halfheartedly planning to do past SWAPs, maybe 2007, 2008, something like that. I bought some fabric. I puttered with some patterns. I never did any of them. See the GFFE building up here?

This year's rules call for the creation of a top, bottom, and jacket in one neutral color, plus another top and jacket in a second color that can be neutral or not, plus one more top in a print containing both colors. A "bottom" in this context is skirt or pants or shorts or kilt or whatever. A jacket is a jacket or a cardigan or overshirt; I don't know if a coat or vest would qualify, though I suspect that if I read the rules more carefully, that question would be answered.

The idea is that all of these garments will go together. The overarching idea is that you will actually wear them. Now, you'd think that that would be a given, when sewing clothes, right? Not so much.

For example, in my fabric stash I have a piece of burnout velvet with an orange chiffon'y background and big, roughly 3-centimeter dots made up of concentric circles of dark purple, violet, orange, lime green, and yellow. This piece of fabric excites me more than any other item in my stash. I'm imagining making it up in an angled long-jackety shape and dressing up as a Laugh-In witch at Halloween.

Then there's the bright amethyst purple silk charmeuse. I bought that to make pipings for whatever I make out of the piece of lime-green-and-purple silk brocade that's on the other side of the shelf. If there's enough left, I could add piping to the orange polkadot chiffon.

You begin to see the problem? Now, not all sewers create unwearably gaudy garments--some create unwearably elegant or dressy garments. Some craft fine couture confections in delicate all-natural materials, wear them once, and leave them in the "dry clean/hand wash" bag for a year. Some make garments that look just dandy to everyone else's eye, but the sewer sees them as having that homemade look and never wear them out of the house.

A sewalong that requires me to sew sensible, wearable garments would be a good exercise. I'm trying to use only patterns that I've already fitted and worn, and use as much fabric from my stash as possible. And I'm trying not to think of all of this as the hobby equivalent of eating nice healthy raw broccoli. I'll be delighted with the garments when they're done--they'll be girl clothes that fit me. It's just the actual sewing that will feel uncomfortably sensible.

So what will I make? That keeps changing. Even the colors keep changing. I was going to use black and red, and then black and yellow, and then brown and yellow, and then black and green, and right now it's black and purple/magenta/violet. Of all of those, I like brown and yellow best, but I already have too many yards of fabric in not-quite-the-right-shade of brown that I may never use.

What would my black and purple 6PAC look like? That's the next post.

Image: By StephanieD. From Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

3 A.M. Thoughts: Transgressions

Mom's gone. As previously discussed.

Writing was Mom's territory. It was a huge part of her identity.

I haven't been writing much.

These are not unrelated facts. I think.

If I had had any success in writing while Mom was alive, she would have tried to be happy for me. She might have been able to act out being happy for me. But she would have been furious. Writing was hers. It was a big part of what made her feel special. And Mom wasn't good at sharing specialness.

When Mom was alive, that fact didn't bother me much. When she made little remarks here and there, I rolled my eyes and ignored her. At least, I think I ignored her. I never did work much on my writing, but that's true of so many wannabe writers that it's not a big mystery that needs unravelling.

But now that she's gone and she can't defend her territory, I find myself shying away from writing. I'm still typing out long strings of paragraphs, but I'm typing them for forums, and emails, and other places that I don't think of as mine. I'm not writing any fiction at all. I'm not writing on the blog. I'm not reading books about writing.

It's OK for me to program, or garden, or sew. Mom had no particular regard for those things, and therefore she would have let success pass unchallenged. I find myself focusing on those things, because I don't have that feeling that I'm transgressing. But writing has now become a sin against my ancestors.

I need to work on this.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sewing: UFO Massacre!

OK, not so much a massacre, but I finished two sewing UFOs, and actually wore them. Yay!

One was my third Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirt, a loose shirt with a front-to-back asymmetrical hem that Himself says looks like I ran out of fabric. I love this pattern. I fear that perhaps it has a late eighties or early nineties mood and may therefore mark me as being a style dinosaur, but I don't care. I love the completely finished bodice interior, the deep hem, the mitered edges, the cuff/vent things on the sleeves, the way that it's loose but nevertheless has a shape. It's a swinging tentlike shape, but that's OK with me.

My first Liberty Shirt, months ago, was a test garment in bargain-rack black cotton printed with big white daffodils--it has a disturbing floral vampire vibe. The result was flawed--shoulders too wide, sleeves too long, and I did one of the French seams backwards. I declared it to be a cooking coat. I slapped on some chicken-themed ribbon to tie it shut and a silver pig button as a throat closure, and now I can fry chicken while decorated with poultry, pork, and undead flowers.

For the second version, I shortened the sleeves and narrowed the shoulders using the instructions from Sandra Betzina's Fast Fit. At that point I should have made another test garment from cheap fabric, so naturally I used a high-quality black linen instead. I forgot when shortening that the sleeve length included three inches of foldover vent, so the sleeves ended up three-quarters length. But the narrowed shoulders came out just fine, so I pretended that I meant to do that. This one I actually wear outside, in the world.

I re-lengthened the sleeves on the pattern, cut a new version from tomato-red linen, let the pieces sit on a side table for weeks and weeks, and finally finished it this past weekend. And it worked! Woohoo! The shoulders could be taken in another half inch, but I'm declaring success. I think that this pattern qualifies as the elusive TnT (Tried and True) pattern, a pattern that I can merrily cut and sew at will, without any further fitting preliminaries.

Then I finished a HotPatterns Plain & Simple Princess Shirt, another TnT candidate, in a white linen/rayon blend. This is one of two white shirts that I declared to be "almost done" in February.  My estimates are unreliable.

I've used this pattern three times, but I put so much work into mastering the infamous notched collar all three times that I failed to consider other improvements. Next round, I'm planning to lengthen the bodice to allow for reliable tucking-in, give it a deep mitered hem on the bodice and cuff/venty things on the sleeves like the Liberty Shirt, and take in the vertical seams in by, well, a lot. I'll also create a short version of the sleeves.

There's no fashion risk in this shirt, because the collar already plants it firmly in the fifties and in my book anything that far back permanently counts as retro. So I'm imagining myself making an endless series of shirts that I can gloat over, Gatsby style.

I could have continued knocking off UFOs. I have two pairs of pajama pants, a pink linen shirt jacket, a denim skirt, and a blue linen shirt that each need only an hour or two of work to be done. I ignored them all and cut out a new dress in more black linen, using the Princess Frankendress pattern. I predict I'll have it done in a week or so. But tell that to the white shirt.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Writing: Writing

I don't believe in writer's block.

Well, that isn't technically true. It's true in the sense that I don't believe that it's ever genuinely impossible to write. You can always write something, even if all you do is look down at your feet and describe the stitching on your shoes. You just can't count on writing anything good. So I've always assumed that writer's block is about people refusing to write something that isn't, or may not be, good--that it's a brand of perfectionism. I'm under the impression that I'm firmly opposed to perfectionism and that I have no perfectionist tendencies.

So why haven't I blogged since June 18?

Hmmm. I suspect that I fell prey to perfectionism after all. I found myself thinking that "I don't have anything to write about." But that runs entirely counter to my writing philosophy, which is to write (and write and write) and decide afterward whether the writing contains a kernel of anything worth reading--or writing more about. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that I need to post every little bit of nonsense that I write. But when my blog is sitting there quiet and lonely for (math, math...) sixteen days, I'd argue that it does mean that it's time for the posting of the nonsense. Hence this post. See?

Even more nonsensically, I find that I can't (well, won't, but it feels like can't) post without a picture. What's with that? Sure, everybody likes a nice yawning cat, but it's not as if it's impossible to read without one.

So I'll be posting this minus picture. I click Publish before I lose my nerve. Bwaha!