Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Me Made May 2016

This will be my 5th Me Made May!  (I actually typed 4th, but then went back and checked.  Time is accelerating or something.)  Last year's pledge to take my photo every day with someone and explain the concept of MMM went over quite well; it got people talking about clothes and creativity and fast fashion, and I've already had a few people ask if I'm doing it again this year.

I don't think I will "up the ante" by wearing only 100% me made, because frankly, since I've started teaching, I don't have the free time that I used to, so I haven't made much in the past year.  More than making new things, what really needs to happen soon is facing the not-quite-right things.  I have several makes from 2010-2012 that don't fit (I didn't know how to deal with all that extra ease in the Big Four patterns).  There are also some damaged favourites that need more than a quick patch-up so I can put them in rotation again.  So, here goes:

 'I, Vicki of Another Sewing Scientist, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear a me-made item of clothes each day for the duration of May 2016, and to alter / repair / rework one old item per week'


Sunday, 3 April 2016

Why do you sew? My odd reason...

Better fit?

Creative outlet?

Ethical concerns?


How about comfort?  

I don't mean the comfort of well tailored clothes; I mean real comfort against the skin.  I haven't read any blog posts about this, but it's a major factor as to why I sew.  I hesitated to write about this because few people understand exactly what I mean, and when I try to explain it, I often get called out for being a little bit odd.  Well, bear with me and my little bit of oddness:

Really, Gap Body?  Were 6 tags really necessary?

Most RTW clothing can be uncomfortable to me, and some can be downright torturous.  I'm not talking about the usual scratchiness of a label on the back of the neck, although all trace of those are  painstakingly removed by me.  I'm talking about fiber content and thread itself.  I've had people laugh incredulously when I say that a linen or acrylic garment is too itchy.  I've had to turn garments inside out because the seam thread is irritating my skin so much that I'm scratching myself raw.  And wool is just straight out of the question, even cashmere, and even if the garment is fully lined.

Sometimes I do a better job of removing the tags than others
I can sometimes bear a garment for a few hours if it isn't too irritating, but I often can't wait to get home and rip it off.  It's not an allergy (I don't get hives), I don't have dry skin, and I'm not on the autism spectrum (although I do have family members that may be); I think I'm just one of those people with a really sensitive sense of touch.  

This acrylic hip-length sweater was exactly what I was looking for, but I almost tore my skin off both times I tried to wear it to work.
When I make my own clothes, I can pick the fabric and finishes that won't irritate me.  I can tweak something if I know it won't work, such as encasing elastic shirring rather than leaving it raw against the skin.  And I don't have to wear anything inside out anymore. 

Any other "Princess and the Pea" sewists out there?  Chime in so that I don't feel like the only one squirming away in anything other than cotton, rayon, silk, or high quality linen!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Me Made May 2015: Coming Out of the Closet

'I, Vicki of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavour to wear at least 1 garment or accessory that I have made or altered from second-hand each day for the duration of May 2015.  I also pledge to "Come Out of the Closet" and tell someone each day what MMMay is all about.  (I may or may not get photos of these people, because some may not want to play along).'

This will be my 4th Me Made May, but the first in which I won't be travelling!  Doing MMMay on the road was actually quite easy, because when you're packing for a trip, you tend to choose 5 outfits and wear them repeatedly.  Now that I'll be home, I'll have to try a little variety.

2012:  lecturing at University of Cape Town

2013:  Dinner out with Myra and Andrea in Tampa, while working at USFlorida

NYLon14, at the V&A in London.  I'm there, believe me.

How can I top last year?  

Friday, 2 January 2015

Some garments that I love but Mr. A.S.S. doesn't

I don't have a DSLR, and I usually end up taking photos on my phone or on my son's point-and-shoot camera.  I know there has been a lot of talk around the blogosphere about quality blog photography, lighting, layout, etc. but I figure that you'd all rather see a few poor quality photos than nothing from me for another few months, right?  

First up are my crazy pants.  Yup, they've been dubbed crazy pants by my 5-year-old, who keeps telling me to take them off.

You can tell from my expression how many fecks I give.

They give me a delightfully flat Mom Butt, but the rayon challis is soft and warm, the fit is pyjama-esque, and the print is awesomely '70s.  Who cares what anyone else thinks?

The pattern is see&sew 4810, but frankly, this is like any other pyjama or elastic-waisted pull-on trousers, of which I probably have 10 or more patterns.  I have no idea where I got this pattern, but I'm assuming I bought it when it was new (1996).  And I was drunk and/or pre-menstrual.

Next up is my pleated mystery fabric skirt.  My daughter snapped this photo of my Mom and I while we did some boxing day shopping at Ikea.  It's blurry, but it's quite a nice photo of the two of us I think!

I picked up this soft, peach skin surfaced twill in the remaindered section of Fabricville.  You know that section, where everything is labelled 100% unknown fibres and costs $3-5/metre.  I LOVED the graphic print: kinda folklore, kinda graffiti, kinda Haring.

I didn't use a pattern, but just made a wide waistband with 2" ease, then used the full width of the fabric from selvedge to selvedge for the skirt so I wouldn't waste any of the border print.  I tried gathering it to the waistband, but it was just waaaaaay too bulky.  I pleated instead by marking the centre front, side seams and back seams, then dividing each section in half repeatedly and pinning down the pleats.  It took quite a while, so there were multiple G&Ts and the Downton Abbey Christmas special involved.

Centered zip, serged seam, and scant hem turned over once and top stitched.

And of course it has huge pocketses.  Every skirt needs huge pocketses, especially when you are constantly being handed things of varying levels of stickiness by offspring.  

I'm heading into a new, quite demanding job this winter, so I expect not to make or blog anything for the next few months.  Don't worry, I'll be back in the spring.  After all, I have this beauty of a fabric to use, and it may pop up on a couple more blogs in the near future…..keep your eyes open!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Blog Hop

Clio from fivemuses nominated me for the blog hop, and it was probably a good idea:  I just don't blog that much anymore, for reasons that I'll explain a bit below.  But perhaps this will get me back into the swing of things.

1.  Why do I write?

Record keeping -> Community.

I started off writing only for myself, as a way to keep track of what I was thinking, what I was doing, and what I wanted to learn.  I didn't link to my blog anywhere else because I thought of it as a private diary of sorts.  Then I realized that there was so much interaction going on within the sewing community and I wanted to be part of it too.

I think I started sharing my blog when I decided to enter the Burdastyle "Party Through the Decades" contest in 2010….*goes digging back in time*…..ah yes, here it is:

I tried to copy the dress that Julianne Moore wore in A Single Man, and did a fairly good job for a beginner, I must say!  I got some good feedback and a few blog readers, which encouraged me to continue.

(It's so funny to look at this photo now, 4 years later, and remember the circumstances:  my cousin and his friends are commercial photographers and had just rented a studio, so I popped in to get them to take a few free photos for me - as one does with family.  We had bought this shag rug from Ikea to mimic the set from the film, and it kept getting fur all over the dress, so one of the people assisting kept lint-rollering me.  My 5 year old son and 1 year old daughter were running around in the background, and I was terrified that they would break something expensive.  The spotlights were blinding me, and all their assistants were staring at me……and I just froze.  I couldn't think of how to pose!  And the photographer kept trying to encourage me to move a bit, but I felt like a rusty robot!  My face in most of the photos was bright red and my eyes were closed, but luckily he managed to get a few good ones.)

2.  How does my blog differ from others in its genre?

Does holding on to the same old blog design from 2010 make me different?  Does my infrequent posting make me stand out in a sea of active bloggers?

*heh heh*

I think it's pretty obvious from the frequency of my posts and the outstandingly stellar graphic design of my blog that I'm not out to make money;  I'm not giving up my day job;  I'm not trying to attract a wide readership or increase my blog traffic.

Don't get me wrong: most of my favourite blogs that I started reading years ago have evolved into some kind of business, and that's part of the reason I still love them:  they are dynamic and give back and are evidence that a creative passion can become your profession!  However, I don't have the time, talent, or inclination to do that:  I'm just here in my little corner of the world, talking science and sewing.

3.  How does my writing process work?

Procrastination.  No, seriously.  I usually only make time to blog when I should be doing something else.  In fact, I should be writing an SOP for a new drug testing protocol now, but my mind is wandering, and I figure that blogging is a better way to distract my brain than looking at the latest photos of whatever celeb we are supposed to all think is important this week.

4.  What am I working on?

I promised myself that this year I would start tackling my alteration pile.  While participating in The Sew Weekly in 2011-2012 was great to get myself motivated and try new things, the weekly format meant that if something wasn't right on the first go, it got thrown in the alteration bin under my sewing table.  And they've been there since.  There are a lot of things that were just a tiny bit too big or small, and an afternoon of work would put them back in rotation, but it's hard to go back when new patterns tempt you, isn't it?

I spy one thing that's been fixed since this photo was taken

Case in point:  This Hollyburn skirt that I made in 2012 is now about 3 inches too big in the waist.  (In fact, now that I look at this photo, it's riding a little lower than I usually like, so I guess it was always a bit too big.)   It's a great basic skirt, and the fabric is a gorgeous brown and gold shweshwe from Gaborone, so I don't want it to languish in the bin any longer!

So I made myself a deal:  for every two UFOs or alterations, I could sew a new project.  So far I've stuck to it.  This also means that I don't have a lot of things to show or blog about this year, but it's certainly helping me get rid of the physical and mental clutter.

5.  Nominations

I'm going to break this chain letter and not nominate anyone, but please take a look at some of the blogs in my blogroll that you aren't familiar with, especially the CanCon!

Friday, 19 September 2014

You should probably be following me on twitter and instagram...

…because I've been so hella busy over the last few months that I've resorted to microblogging on those platforms.  My big research project, the one that takes me to Africa for occasional fabric shopping research collaboration came to an end recently, so there was a big push to get as much data as possible.  Then I was supposed to go down to part-time work this month, but was offered two part-time jobs, so I'm essentially working 1.5 jobs now.  Hmmm.  Strange how that worked out.  And tiring.

Anyway, I also managed to fit in not only a visit to NYC in August, but a visit to Toronto last week, which of course involved fun with sewing ladiez.  It feels a bit weird to blog about those trips, because they are no longer "meet ups with new sewing people", but weekends with friends.  It seems odd to blog about hanging with friends, doesn't it?

Well, I'm going to do it regardless:

HeatherLou and I drove well above the speed limit, trying to make it from Montreal to NYC in time for our dinner date with a few people that managed to get together to welcome Lauren to town.  I'm sure by now that you've read all about that weekend from Heather, Lauren, Jen, Devra, Nettie, Amanda, Suzanne, Clio, or someone else's blog/instagram/twitter, so here are just a few photos I've stolen from others.

Thank you Mood (and please don't be mad that I still haven't used all the fabric I bought at last year's visit...

At NY Botanical Gardens in the Bronx.  Garden visits are becoming de rigeur with us it seems!  Clio used to work here, so I couldn't pass up the chance to get the inside tour, so to speak.

The Blues:  some tie-dye print jerseys from Mood and Chic, and a hand batiked indigo cotton from Mali that I bought up in Harlem at Yara.  Seriously, go there.  Or check them out at

The B&Ws.  Some Anna Sui rayon challis that I hummed and hawed over until Devra bought some and tipped me over the indecision cliff.  And some Alexander Henry skull toile de jouy because seriously, look at it.

The Toronto trip was kind of a last minute impulse trip.  A film buff friend of mine was going to TIFF14 (Toronto International Film Festival), and when I saw the lineup he was going to see, I got itchy to go too.  Work + being the sole child care provider for 4/7 days a week made it tricky, but I managed to patch together enough help to make it work!

There was no fabric shopping involved this time around, and the last minute nature of my trip made a meet up impossible, especially on a school night, right Gillian? ;)  Catja and I did manage to get together and saw the premiere of Pride.

A bit of a tearjerker, but a great flashback to 1984 for those of us who were teens in the '80s, and thought that London was the coolest possible place to be on the planet.

And now some photos of the less famous people I saw at TIFF:

"Do I Sound Gay?" post screening with David Thorpe (dir.) and Dan Savage

"Rosewater" panel discussion with Maziar Bahari, Gael Garcia Bernal and Jon Stewart

Matthew Goode, Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch and Morden Tyldum (dir.) after the premiere of "The Imitation Game"

Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, and Christopher Plumber hiding back there, post "Hector and the Search for Happiness" screening

One of these days I'll post something about sewing again.  In the meantime, go check me out on instagram or twitter, because that's where I tend to hang out during my coffee breaks.  I'm just living vicariously through all your sewing until I'm out from under my work load!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Chabanel mysteries unlocked

One good thing about having summer Fridays off is that I didn't have to jealously read about the latest Montreal meet up online; I got to go.  Well, of course I did.  I have to uphold my reputation as the Sewing Blogger with the Most Meetup Miles.  

This time, we decided to tackle the Chabanel district of Montreal, which is a semi-industrial area on St. Laurent, north of the Metropolitan.   

It ain't a Canadian meet up unless it starts at Timmies.
Tonitex's mountain of fabrics dwarfing our group
We all know who would be all shook up over this fabric, don't we?
Perusing the summer/fall samples at SuziSpandex
I'm going to leave it to Cosmic Caro to do a full summary with the list of places visited, because I just can't remember, and because she is awesomely organized.  Caroline has been building upon her Montreal Sewing Directory, and I can heartily recommend this as THE premiere resource for all things sewing in Montreal.  She has created a PDF of the directory, that not only contains names, addresses, hours, description of goods, parking/transport, and maps, but also nearby eats and drinks in order to reenergize for more shopping.  There is also a list of sewing-related shops, museums and ateliers.  Whew!  I've lived near Montreal for almost 17 years now, and I didn't know about a lot of these places.  Excellent.  


I hadn't planned on buying anything this time around except some cotton/lycra jersey for underwear, but HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Yeah, right.  You know how it goes.  Here's the damage:

Quilting weight batik cotton.  And it isn't blue batik!  (only because Anne-Marie bought the whole bolt of blue batik.  *shakes fist*)  This is 1.7m @150cm, so there is enough to make pretty much anything, and even though I love love love this grassy colour, is a bit bleck next to my face.  Any suggestions?

Basic neutral linings and underwear fabrics.  Nothing to see here folks.  Move along.  

Three scraps from the bin at my new favourite fabric store, StretchTex, sold for 2$/lb.  These were ~1.5m each, 2lbs in total.  The two outer fabrics are cotton/lycra blends, and are destined to become basic kimono sleeved Ts.  The centre fabric is spandex, and may become a 2-piece bathing suit?  Maybe next summer….

Shops started closing around 16h30, so we make our way over to the resto/bar for liquid refreshment and what turned out to be a huge pattern swap.  Well, when I say swap, I mean that RenĂ©e brought the mother load of gorgeous vintage patterns that she snatches up as soon as they are dropped off for donation at her workplace (St. Vincent de Paul, I believe).  I showed tremendous restraint by only taking these 3:

Once the manager got over his initial trepidation at speaking to a group of ladies buried in vintage sewing patterns, we moved on to the drinking and eating and planning portion of the evening.

Future projects, future shopping expeditions, future museum visits, and even future career changes were discussed (keep an eye out for more patterns from Heatherlou's new business venture).  

See you all there next time?

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