Saturday, April 5, 2014

Another year, another MMM

I've been seeing the odd Me Made May declaration on the interwebs and thought, "Isn't that funny, since May is so far away….".  Then I realized it isn't.  Time really gets away from you sometimes.  So, here we go:  

'I, Vicki of Another Sewing Scientist, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I will to wear a handmade garment or accessory each day for the duration of May 2014'

Because I'll be travelling for parts of MMMay2014, as I was for MMMay 2012, it will involve a bit more planning than last year.  Last year was more slapdash, with a few skipped days here and there when things weren't clean. (Hey who's counting?)  Actually, come to think of it, travelling makes things easier, because you expect to pack 5 outfits and wear them over and over when travelling, don't you?   Good enough excuse to plan a trip every May, I say.  

Me Made May 2012

(insert photo collage of MMMay2013 
whenever I can be arsed to go back to my old, 
almost-dead laptop and put the photos 

Speaking of getting older, I should say that I've reached my imaginary half-way point in life today by turning 44 years old.  Sounds crazy, I know, but ever since I can remember, I'd always imagined that I would live to be 88.  No reason; just an arbitrary "old age" I decided upon when I started to understand mortality.  

I've done a hell of a lot in 44 years:  I've travelled in 30 countries on 5 continents, I've spent 18 years on my formal education (and I'm probably not finished yet), I've made 2 new humans for the planet (sorry / not sorry), I've managed to find a partner that hasn't strangled me over the last 20+ years, I've made a lot of friends and kept most, and I like to think that I've helped a lot of people in a lot of ways.  

So what do I have planned for year 45 out of 88?  

Sewing-wise:  #Nylon2014 is the next big plan.  I'm deep in the planning-is-almost-as-good-as-the-trip phase.  So much to cram into 6 days!  Viking exhibit at the British Museum and couture wedding dresses at V&A!  London bloggers!  Andrew Scott at the Royal Court!  The Man Outside Sainsburys!  And I'm trying not to frantically sew new things before then, but don't hold me to it.

Science-wise:  I'll have to miss my annual parasitology conference this year, because it falls right at the beginning of my trip to London, but if all goes well, I'll have some interesting data to present at another conference sometime this year.  I'm coming to the end of my current B&MGates grant, so we are frantically trying to put together proposals to continue our research.  The eternal state of being in academia, I'm afraid.  I've been very lucky to work with such fascinating people in Canada, the US, Botswana and South Africa, and I hope I can continue to do so…..I've yet to make that big breakthrough discovery that we all imagine we'll make when we first get into a research career.  Maybe I never will.  But I have the next 44 years to try.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

MBU and NYlon2014

I believe it was Tanit-Isis who first coined the term "Minimum Bloggable Unit" (T, please correct me if I'm wrong!).  There has been a bit of vaguely sewing related activity around here, but not enough to really report about.

A) I fixed my Jungle January bag, and I now actually USE it.  The fabric straps do tend to slip off my shoulder because we are still firmly in winter parka season, and my jacket is coated in slippery waterproof coating, but meh.

B) I've done some alterations, which are long overdue.  I have a lot of clothes that are almost perfect and an hour or two would turn them into a wardrobe staple, but you know how those kind of projects are the least interesting.

C) I've been hemming curtains, but that is so boring that most people won't even read to the end of this sentence and will never notice when I start typing about flying monkeys instead.

But I suppose that the biggest sewing related news on my mind these days is #NYlon2014!  After spending a long (long long long long) cold winter stuck inside, watching BBC dramas, and reading British fiction, I started dreaming of a mini break in London.  It's been >20 years since I've spent any time there, but I didn't really have an excuse to spend the time or money.  So what do I do when Rachel announces that there is going to be a trans-atlantic meet-up to bring NYC and London folks together?  I start flight searching!

So far I know that the North American contingent includes Clio, Devra, Jennifer and me for sure, and Oona is a maybe.  CarmencitaB is popping over the channel.  The list of UK ladies (and gents!) is growing every day, so it's sure to be an amazing day ;)

Go here for more information and use the #NYlon2014  tag on twitter to keep up to date.

NYlon meetup 2014

I'm in the city for a few days before and after that, so let me know if you're coming along and if you'd like to do some touristing together.  I'm going to buy tickets soon to see Andrew Scott in Birdland at the Royal Court  on one of my free evenings, so if you're interested, send me an email!  

Ooooooo, I'm so excited!

Ummmmmm……what am I going to sew?!?!?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Blue February - unexpected reveal

So I sewed something for Blue February, but I thought I wouldn't be able to blog about it because I was pattern testing for Sewaholic.  Fortunately, Tasia did a Belcarra Blouse reveal the other day and so I'm free to spill the beans!

Now follows a series of blurry photos taken in my lab on a bad hair day.  (Hell, let's be honest:  it was a bad face day, so I cropped most of them….)

I made view B with the sleeve tucks, though it may not be obvious from these photos because the print kind of hides them.  They are more apparent in real life and I really like the subtle detail that they add to an otherwise plain top.

It's a pattern that I would recommend when it's released in April.  It goes together quickly and doesn't take much yardage.  I sewed it over two weekend afternoons, but it should take a regular (read: childless) person less time than that because they won't be interrupted every 15 minutes with an injury to attend to or fight to referee.  The pleating actually took most of the time because I wanted to make sure that I was marking and pressing evenly, as opposed to my usual "eyeball it and hope for the best" method.

I bought this fabric during the first Montreal meet up last May, and knew that I wanted to save it for a top, but I didn't have just the right pattern until now.  It's 100% cotton shirting (almost voile, but not quite that fine.  What would you call that?)  Shannon at the Finished Garment bought some too, but I don't know if she's used it yet.  It was a great fabric to work with because it is soft and has great drape, but was easy to handle without any shifting around.   And now I wish I'd bought more in another colour way.

OK, I'm on vacation in Florida and I really should be outside enjoying the lack of 1m of snow and -20C temperatures!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Jungle January… the skin of my teeth

(Click for a little soundtrack to this post)

With 2.5 hours left in January, I think I'll just manage to get this posted in time.  Whew.  It's been a while since I've had the time to sewalong with anybody else, so I consider this a minor victory.

I didn't have much animal print fabric in my stash aside from some scaps and a large piece of beige snake print quilting cotton.  The snake print is great, but the colour is REALLY bad on my skin, and the weight makes it a bit of a challenge to use.  I decided to put it aside and do some scrap busting this time around.  

(Here are a few quick snaps taken in the lab before anyone could walk in on me; hence, the uncomfortable look on my face.)

I made this first item a few weeks ago, and managed to post it to the Flickr group, but wanted to put off blogging until I'd finished everything I'd planned.  This is roughly based on the free obi belt download at Burdastyle, but with a lot of modifications:  I didn't have enough of the print to make a whole belt, so I ended up just using it for the centre front panel.  The remainder is a heavy black cotton (almost canvas) leftover from an old Sew Weekly project.  Come to think of it, this print was also leftover from the Sew Weekly…..I used it to make one of my most-worn and most-complimented skirts (see Sick as a Leopard skirt here).  

I've worn this belt a couple of times already this month, and I like the way it acts as a bit of a waist cincher (in the first photo above, it had come a bit loose.  I tightened it up for the other two photos, which is how I usually wear it).  

Bolstered by this success, I decided to try making a bag.  My one casual handbag was a sample made by my designer cousin Genevieve Savard, and it's a bit too well-loved at this point.  I need to order another one.  If you're reading this Genevieve, I'll take a look at your etsy store soon!  

There are plenty of free bag patterns available online, but I like Novita's because of its simplicity and the fact that it's reversible.  

from Novita's blog 
For whatever reason, my printer wouldn't print the pattern, but it was fairly easy to just eyeball the image on the screen and copy it to tracing paper.  I had a really nice scrap of black wool, and an equally sized piece of poly-cotton giraffe print that worked well together:  classic black bag with a hint of print peeking out.  

Nice size, nice shape, nice topstitching, nice pockets…..

…..ah shit.  

Novita even explicitly says in her instructions to take care of which straps you sew together before you topstitch, but I guess I was sewing on too little sleep.  Again.  I don't have the time or energy to unpick this and resew it before the end of the month, so it's getting posted as is.  

And thus concludes a hastily written, unedited Jungle January blog post.  See you on the round up! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Top 5: Goals for the New Year

Top 5 Goals for the New Year

Get organized  
That includes organizing my time, my space and my mind.  I'd also really like to redo my blog, since it's just the original template I chose 3 years ago, and I haven't customized it in any way.  

And I should really add some twitter, Pinterest and subscribe-by-email buttons.  Done, although I need to figure out how to change the layout to be a bit more elegant.

And figure out how to do a bit of basic coding.  

Hmmm...this first goal seems to have turned into five.  


Reduce my mending & alteration pile
Do I really need to explain this one?  We all have that guilty pile.  

Purge unloved clothes
I actually tackled this one, and I have 3 bin bags in the trunk of my car that are full of clothes to donate!   It is always hardest to get rid of things that you've made, but I forced myself.  Now I just have to keep at it as the kids outgrow their clothes.

Make slopers  
While participating in The Sew Weekly over 2011-2012 was a great exercise to simply force me to tackle projects regularly, it didn't leave time for learning how to make muslins and alter patterns to fit my body.  I've finally recognized that besides altering for pear-shape, I should really be doing forward shoulder & narrow shoulder.  Trousers are still a mystery, but I should stop being intimidated and just jump in.  

Finally tackle those boring home sewing chores 
They have been ignored for..... *ahem*..... a while.  You know the ones: new cushion covers, curtain hemming, recovering the sofa.  

Yeah, those curtains aren't hemmed.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Top 5 of 2013: Inspirations

Top 5 Inspirations:  What books, people, blogs, trends etc. motivated you this year?

1.  Pinterest.  Yes, Pinterest.  I know that people poke fun, thinking it's all mason jars and fantasy weddings, but I've found some great inspiration from fellow sewists' pins.  

2.  Twitter:  Yes, Twitter.  I joined in 2009 during the Iranian spring, but then didn't have many friends on twitter, so I left it alone.  Then I went to Toronto for the GTA meetup in February 2013 and Gillian mentioned how many sewists were on twitter.  Back I went and found a great new way to talk fabric - literally, in the case of Friday #fabricchat!  

3.  Meeting blog friends IRL:  There's nothing like meeting the people behind your favourite blogs in person and realizing that you could talk for days.  

Feb: Toronto 

May: Montreal visit from Debbie....

...and a visit to Tampa where I got to meet Andrea and Myra.

May, August, & Sept: Montreal meetups!

August: 2 days in NYC for MPB day 

Oct: SF with Loran (not yet blogged!  coming soon!)

4.  My ever-evolving blog roll:  Take a look at my blog roll if you'd like to find some awesome new sewists, because that's where I get the bulk of my ideas.  I noticed that I've stopped keeping up with my blog reading since about March of this year, and wondered what caused that.  Then I realized that I started sharing my lab and office space with a couple of new people right at that time.  Oopsie.  Guess I had been doing more blog reading at work than I realized!

5.  Finally, one pat on my own back for starting Map the Sewintists.  I still haven't figured out how this will evolve, but if anyone has any suggestions for making it more user friendly, or switching to another format, please let me know.  It's helped me find people, and hopefully has helped some others connect.  

View Map the Sewintists in a larger map

Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 5 Misses of 2013

Continuing in the spirit of Gillian's Top 5......

Top 5 Misses: Sewing Fails, UFOs, worn once, or complete disasters:

1.  Dr. Who Hollyburn skirt:  I made this to match my daughter's circle skirt, but it is so translucent that it's almost transparent!  I didn't have any lining fabric when I sewed it, so I bought a neutral slip, but then it still looked weird.  I plan to unpick the waistband and sew in a lining whenever I get some good slippery fabric.

2.  Tiny pocket tank:  I didn't even blog about this one.  It went together easily, and I used a beautiful waxed cotton from South Africa, but it just wasn't quite right.  The colour makes me look sickly, and the fit is off on me:  the high bust is both too tight (pulls across the upper chest) AND gapes open when I lean over.  Not quite sure how to remedy that, but I don't think I'll wear it again.

3.  Red trousers:  Before sewing the successful red leggings I mentioned in my last post, I cut and basted a pair of trousers from Simplicity XXXX (something I'm too tired to look up now because I think I recycled it), using some cheap red twill.  The fit was so monstrously bad that I threw them in a pile and haven't pulled them out since.  I flubbed the zip fly, the front crotch hung about 2 inches too low, and the back was giving me a horrible wedgie.  No photos exist.  Consider yourself lucky.  

4.  14th century tunic:  I promised my man that I would sew him an historically accurate linen tunic for doing readings at conferences (he studies and teaches old->middle English literature).  The cut pieces are neatly folded balled up in my to-do pile.  Oops. 

5.  Trousers for my son:  my son is going through a phase where he hates wearing anything with a button waist.  Most of his pants are jeans with button waist.  Sigh.  So I told him that I would make him a few pairs of pull-on trousers or fleece pants.  Have I made any yet?......

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