Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nothing Looks Good. [Pause.] Good.

On Monday we often have pastries at work (perhaps to help lessen the blow of a Monday morning). The actual assortment varies, sometimes it’s doughnuts, danishes and muffins, but often it’s English muffins and bagels and sometimes fruit. I’m always curious to see what the selection is, but I rarely eat the pastries because I’m a snob. If these pastry goods are from the supermarket then I ignore them. I turn my nose up at cheap overly sweet doughnuts and mediocre bagels. They don’t look delicious. They don’t taste delicious. And any time I breakdown and have some, I always regret it because they’re just not worth it.

However, once in a blue moon there are good pastries from an actual bakery. There are flakey buttery croissants and slightly sweet muffins and scones. I know I shouldn’t partake, but good pastries are difficult to resist because they’re tasty. After careful consideration I’ll often select a pastry to eat. And while I don’t regret these pastries for their delicious flavors, I often regret my lack of restraint of eating something so bad for me that inevitably spoils my lunch.

So I always have mixed feelings on Monday morning when I see supermarket pastries. A part of me is disappointed because I want good pastries, but another part of me is relieved because it’s easy to say no to supermarket pastries. I certainly don’t need to be eating pastries and it’s rather nice to have a reason not to eat them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Revamped: Black and White Skirt

From my pile of garments that I got at the fantastic estate sale I went to in August, I selected a black and white skirt to alter. It was a dry clean only garment that lacked a fabric content label (but it may be wool or at least in part); I hand washed the skirt and afterwards saw that it had shrunk. The lining of the skirt could be seen peeking out from under the hem of the skirt. Luckily I was tearing up the skirt, and as long as it didn’t shrink again in the future, I didn’t care about this shrinkage.

I loved the fabric but hated the skirt design. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the skirt in its entirety; just the top portion of it can be seen in the above photo. The worst part about the skirt was the four pleats in the front—it’s just plain wrong. I think it would make just about any woman look like she has huge hips. The length of the skirt was about mid-shin; it was likely meant to be a loose pencil skirt with a slit in the back. Basically, it was an incredibly unflattering skirt.

My first step was tearing up the black and white skirt. I ended up cutting off the top section, below the pleats, because I didn’t want to deal with those pleats. I undid all the seams (including the zipper) because I had to take out the lining as well. So it took a bit of time.

Once the skirt fabric was taken apart, I used a skirt pattern (that was actually the skirt portion of a pencil dress) to cut the fabric down and add some darts. I sewed the zipper in and then sewed the sides together. [Pause.] I admit, I’m terrible with using measurements to my advantage, so I just sewed the sides together (through trial and error) until it looked right to me. I repeated this process for the lining. And then I attached the lining to the skirt at the top and around the zipper.

I wanted to have a waistband because I tend to prefer skirts with one. I didn’t want to use the fabric that my skirt was made of because I thought it would look too busy. I decided to use fabric from the pile of clothes my mom gave me. I selected a black wool jacket as my fabric. I hand washed it before I tore it up. Although I didn’t like the style of the jacket, as I took it apart, I could appreciate its craftsmanship—it was well made. [Pause.] I wish I could sew like that.

I used a slightly curved waistband from a skirt pattern because I thought it would fit better (since when I use a simple rectangle strip of fabric for my waistband, I’ll often have a bit of a gap, which I find annoying). I did my best to align the seams of the waistband to the skirt seams; this took me longer than I anticipated, as I messed up the alignment a couple of times. [Sigh.] The last step was hemming the skirt.

I’ve made a couple of blouses sleeveless, but I kept the basic integrity of its design. This is the first garment I’ve really revamped, breaking it entirely down before building it up anew. I took my time with it; one weekend I tore the skirt up; a second weekend I sewed the skirt section; a third weekend I added the waistband and hemmed it. There was no rush (especially since the weather wasn’t quite cool enough to wear it yet). I was pretty happy when I finished. Although I can see its flaws, I’m overall satisfied with this skirt. At least it looks better to me than it was before; it’s wearable.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shopping Depression

I often feel depressed when I go shopping at stores selling brand-new items. It didn’t use to happen. Once upon a time I liked to shop at these stores, and I would often go to the mall, discount stores, craft stores, your all-purpose has everything stores—just about any store (except thrift shops—this was during my pre-thrift days); I enjoyed browsing and impulsively buying things I didn’t need. Now I tend to go to stores selling new items when I’m specifically looking for something. I don’t enjoy window-shopping the way I used to anymore.

The problem is I often just see a sea of crap; just poorly made items made of low-end materials all for a “low low price!” [Sigh.] Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen for this before. I’ve bought my share of cheap crap. Besides an array of cheap clothes, I’ve bought a lot of craft supplies. I like to make stuff, and I would go into a craft store and there were beads, chains, yarn, wood blocks, drawing pads, paints, pencils, containers and pretty much any craft supply you could imagine. I bought enough stuff that I feel like I became my own little crafts store.

But no more. I feel like I hardly buy anything new any more. And I’m just surprised at the 180 I did. It started off slow. A few years ago, a friend took me to a thrift shop and I’ll admit, I was skeptical. [Pause.] Okay, I was a snob. I didn’t want used items. Other people wore it? Ew, gross. But of course I found something I wanted: a cream Ann Taylor top. I think I got it for $8 and I’ve worn it with skirts and jeans; and with that one top, I think I was hooked. At first I went to thrift shops infrequently, but as time went on, I became used to thrift shops and started to prefer them not only for the price, but also for the constant influx of different items.

And now, when I go to the mall I almost feel full of resignation. It’s just not fun for me anymore. I won’t really want to go in, but I’ll want to go to that one store where I may find a good pair of shoes. And sometimes out of shear curiosity, I’ll briefly check out the clothing they’re selling at the mall, but I quickly get depressed at the monotony and low quality of it all. I just don’t see anything I want to buy. [Pause.] On the up side, it makes shopping a much quicker and cheaper experience for me.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Tortoise or the Hare of Sewing

Sewing tends to be a solitary experience for me, but not long ago I sewed with a friend one afternoon, and it was interesting to see how our approaches were so glaringly different. I go slowly at every step of the way. I usually try to follow a pattern’s directions and I’ll often look up how to do something that I’ve never done before or haven’t done in a while. When I make a mistake I’ll undo my sewing and do it again (which happens more often than I would like). I tend to be more cautious, so sewing consumes quite a bit of time for me.

My friend on the other hand, sews quickly. She does it her own way. She takes short cuts. She’ll finish a circle skirt in an afternoon using the selvage edge as the hem. She’ll sew a dress and only have one pocket (in the side seam) because she was too impatient to put in the second pocket. I don’t know if she bothers to finish her edges or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she thought it was unnecessary. She just wants to be done with a project. She doesn’t want to spend days or weeks on a garment, and I understand this desire to be finished.

When I first started, I sewed more quickly (or perhaps I should say with less care) because I too, just wanted to get it done. I would sew for long periods of time, determined to finish a garment over the weekend. However, I often became frustrated and would more mistakes because I was tired, and this in turn made me more irritated. [Pause.] This wasn’t so fun. And in the end, I had a lot of messy garments that I wasn’t particularly excited about.

I came to the conclusion that as much as I wanted to get a project done, I’d rather have something that I actually liked in the end, which meant I wanted things to look right. I want my garments to be somewhat well made (at least as well as I can do). So now I sew more slowly. I’ll sew a bit on a weekend here and a weekend there. I don’t give myself time constraints any more. Believe me, I’d like to sew faster (with accuracy), but I’m a tortoise and I go slow.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Absent-Minded Lesson

It’s often the mundane tasks that I’ll make a stupid mistake because I’m not giving it my full attention. It could be because I’m in a rush or feeling tired or I’m thinking of something else, so I’ll mess up unbeknownst to me (and will later kick myself over it).

Somehow grocery shopping will get the better of me; it’s the bagging of groceries that I’ll make a dumb mistake: I’ll forget a bag. This time is was some meat. A few months back it was a bag of apples. The time before that was meat (but I remembered about it in the parking lot and went back in the store and luckily it was still there—which was nice).

I suppose this time I could’ve gone back to the supermarket to see if my meat was still there, but considering the time and drive, it just didn’t seem worth it. Fifteen minutes to get there, park, go inside and find the cashier to ask about my forgotten meat and then drive back seemed like a lot of effort—especially if my meat was no longer there. It was late and I was tired, so I cut my losses. It sucks but maybe this time the lesson of forgotten groceries will finally stick. [Pause.] I’d really like not to relearn this lesson again. [Sigh.]