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Jul. 2nd, 2015

Wore the frumpy dress to work - it's not very good for typing, the shoulders are so tight they don't want to let me have my arms active like that! I wore it with my "pure red" Nyx matte lipstick, which I'm not sure why works for me because it's so orangey; I'm thinking about getting a bright pink, similarly warm, because I have a very vibrant pink in a cheaper brand that looks nice but rubs off. The Nyx seems to stain and hold on through meals and also not dry out my lips the point where I pick that whole layer of skin off.

I need to finish that petticoat, and I'd love to make another summer dress before vacation ... but you know what's a lot more appealing lately? Playing Manuganu and watching Mad Men. So yeah. Hopefully this weekend - another three-dayer - will see some work done. I must have enough fabric to make a dress, but do I have enough to make another one with a big full skirt? It's a bad thing, having a Joann's in Ogdensburg - too close, it's too easy to pop over there and buy more fabric. (100% cotton if I do. That's the other downside of the frumpy dress, it holds in the sweat.)

Goodbye, Reenacting Memes for Ladies. You were a nice, humorous page to follow, but then you had to reveal yourself as Lost Causers who think there's something noble about the Confederacy. What does #allhistorymatters even mean? Other than "I think #alllivesmatter is a good hashtag because I'm kind of racist so I'm going to jump off that."

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Traveling is the WORST

I felt like I needed to sleep in, but my body did not sleep in, so I'm going to warily accept that and make myself go to bed early tonight.

So let me describe my crazy train adventure this weekend. I went down to the Manhattan area for Julie's mother-in-law's bridal shower and her own bachelorette party (I can now admit that the project I couldn't talk about was a pair of knitted garters for her), driving down to Syracuse, taking the train to Penn, and getting something to New Jersey. This worked well - I got up very early and it was many hours of travel, but as usual when taking a train there's a great sense of relief that I don't have to be in charge and can just sit back, even if it's for six hours. I did get a little verklempt at Port Authority because, well, it's an overwhelming place especially if you can't figure out what you're supposed to do. I had walked most of the way in, realized that I'd found the number of the line I wanted but wasn't really sure of what company ran it - it's kind of obvious that it was NJ Transit in retrospect, but there's so much going on there that I was confused - walked back out to the information guy to get that info, walked back to the NJ Transit machines, remembered that I had their app, started to buy myself a ticket with it, had to put in my credit card information in a pay phone booth which was awkward, realized that you can only buy month tickets with the app, went to a machine and got the proper ticket, found the gate, found the long line at the gate, watched most of the rest of the line fill up the bus, waited for the next bus, thought an old guy was trying to cut in line ahead of me, visualized how I was going to confront him when he actually did it, watched him not cut and breathed a sigh of relief, got on the bus and sat down, listened to these two loud children for almost the whole ride (oh my god, it was incredible, first this woman - who had wanted to get on the first bus in standing room, acting like there probably was standing room in it that people were turning down or something, it was weird - wanted to give up her seat to them (she just really wanted to stand, I guess) and the boy was not having it, but his mom made him sit, and the girl had all the receipts from the bus driver and there were issues with someone stepping on them, sitting on her dress, etc.). But that was relatively short and when it was over it was over. I got to the party and I had a great time!

In retrospect, this was all very simple.

You"re killing me, Amtrak.Collapse )

I basically got home, changed, brushed my teeth, and went to bed after that. It was rough. I didn't eat much for two days, but everything I ate was wildly bad for me, so I guess it balances out. But I did find that the not-frumpy dress is perfect for traveling! It doesn't crease too much, and the full skirt helps keep you warm when there's cold air blowing.

My fridge is emptyyyyyyy.

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Edith Wharton

After months of putting it to one side, I finally finished The Custom of the Country. I'm not totally sure when it's set - if it was meant to end contemporaneously to publication or start there or what - but it would make a smashing adaptation, I think, if it were set:

- late 1860s for flashbacks to Apex
- early First Bustle for Undine's New York City career
- waists descend as her marriage gets stifling and she leaves
- elegant early Natural Form with trains and all for Paris and her next marriage
- late Natural Form for St. Desert and leaving with Elmer
- Second Bustle for being married to Elmer at the very end

I'm not totally sure if the dates would work out, you'd probably be compressing a bit here and stretching a bit there, but it would be so gorgeous. Though I guess you could also do Second Bustle flashbacks, early 1890s for New York, big sleeves for leaving and Paris, late 1890s St. Desert, and early 1900s Elmer ... but I love that contrast you get with the earlier periods. It makes the whole thing feel more jangly and frenetic.

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Jun. 24th, 2015

Lost Cause stuffCollapse )

I wore my frumpy dress today and it looked pretty good! It's a bit tight in the chest (and shoulders, and upper arms - I should not have taken so much in at the shoulder seam), and it does need a petticoat because the fabric's so thin. So I cut out the pieces for one from a thrift-store sheet this evening. That's it, I did enough sewing for one day. Basically sewing. Sewing prep.

A deer's been coming back to the field behind my building, and today she has a TINY FAWN with her! They mowed most of the field, so they were sticking to the edge of the tall grass and then went in it. Someone just did a firework and she ran off across the mowed section to the woods, leaving the baby. I guess drawing off a potential predator? Come back, deer, your baby is scared. :(

I found a pin in my bra yesterday. Inside the cup, pointing up, with the tip sunk into the foam. Gave me kind of a shock to realize it had been there all day.

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Jun. 22nd, 2015

Dad called me this evening to let me know he had a car crash, fell asleep and went off the road at high speed and dislocated his shoulder. Very upsetting, really wrecked me for a few minutes. It was mid-afternoon, which we always laugh about being "naptime" because he often literally naps then. So there's that.

He also wanted to tell me I made everyone feel awkward because I wished "both my fathers and some of my grandfathers" a happy father's day. (I got a lol from Owen, that's all I really care about.) I'm not sure why it would make anyone feel awkward. Either people don't know why I said it, in which case they probably came up with a few things (hey, maybe the one I'm not addressing is my mother's father, who died years ago), or they know that one grandfather hasn't wished me a happy birthday in almost ten years, even after we exchanged letters last year, and they don't feel awkward because they recognize that the man deserves a snub. My dad dislikes him more than I do, I don't know why he brought it up. There's no way he's thinking of reconciling, near-death experiences aside.


Two different bra calculators told me that I should be wearing a 32I, which is not a size I previously knew existed. I don't think I believe it. Maybe a 34D instead of 36. Or 38? I spent most of this afternoon working on the VaVaVoom bullet bra but I still don't know how I feel about it. After finding that the cups as drafted didn't fit I drafted new ones, but then realized I just needed a little extender piece at center front for my wide ribcage. I have a hard time with bras because I have a high bust (inches-wise; proportionally with my torso I think it's average) and they're not even 100% right with the straps as short as they'll go, which I don't like to do as obviously they wear out faster that way. This is especially bad in my stripey dress, which is just meant for a different shape. They didn't do much if any updating when bringing the pattern out of retirement. At the same time, I of course want to be "that girl who dresses well, she's old-fashioned but quaintly adorable" and not "that weird girl who's always in costumes". I've altered the VVV pattern to not be so pointy and we'll see if it works to give me the shortness and support I'm not getting from regular bras, at least for dresses that need a different foundation.

I was actually thinking about a merry widow the other week, because my Rago shapewear isn't narrow enough in the waist and my hips are fine, they don't need slimming, really. I gain all my weight on my gut, I need something to haul that in for these 1950s looks. Plus the top of the girdle gets into fights with my bra, because that's how short-waisted I am. But merry widows are way more expensive than other things and I am going. to. stop. spending. I've spent my entire last paycheck and saved nothing. Plus some of my next paycheck I think, leaving enough for the rent. This is annoying. I used to save so much just a month or so ago, what happened?

My train on Saturday leaves at 7 in the morning from Syracuse omggggg That means leaving at about 4:20 from here.

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Jun. 21st, 2015

So yesterday I finished a particular small project I can't talk about right now. Today I took my vacation dress to the park, pinned up the hem, and started sewing it, but went home because it felt like it would rain at any minute. Finished it, then pinned the hem for my striped shirting dress. That took forever. This thing is seriously frumpy. Next pattern I cut out is going a size smaller on the waist.

It's funny, I never cared for the 1950s/60s before so I didn't consume a lot of media relating to it, but now I can't get enough. Watched the Astronauts' Wives Club premiere (liked it, couldn't tell some of the brunettes apart unfortunately), Three Coins in the Fountain, and ... a movie whose name I already forgot because I was meh on it. Woman has Soviet secrets carved on a steel mirror she needs to get to Santa Fe, there are bad guys everywhere, she meets up with a guy on the road and they travel together? Today I've been watching Ascension which is RIDICULOUS, two episodes in and my mind has been blown like three times. Great retro-futuristic aesthetic. I have some issues with the unbearably classist "on Earth, young people had an infinity of choices, but we have to stay here!" thing, also wondering about some worldbuilding holes (like the lack of sexism outside of the prostitutes sorry I mean stewardesses, but I do like the aesthetic.

I wasn't going to see any movies this weekend, but I was invited to go to Inside Out, so I did, and I way, way overthought it as usual. overthoughtsCollapse )

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Jun. 16th, 2015

Every time. Every time I sew something, I try it on before the zipper's in and I pinch it shut and oh no, it's too big! The proportions are all off! This is terrible! I should quit before I waste more time! And then I put in the zipper and it magically fits. Just needs sleeves and a hem. Duh-doy.

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Jun. 14th, 2015

Paid all my bills/loans today! Apparently I forgot the electricity last month. Oops.

I've been having a blah issue lately with dinners. There's not a ton of food in my fridge/cupboards at any time, so I end up doing things like getting enough ingredients for one thing, and having it three or four nights in a row until one ingredient's gone, then getting something else. When I start trying to make do with what's there I end up having buttered noodles etc. But today I managed to be a little more creative, and cooked Israeli couscous (bought when I was getting arborio rice to make risotto; it seems similar but is much, much cheaper) in vegetable broth (from the same day) with mushrooms and marjoram, chili powder, and coriander. It was delicious! I like the Israeli couscous - it has a chewy texture, kind of like the tapioca in bubble tea but without making me feel sick afterward.

Started working on shirting dress. I added some fabric here and there to make it fit better, then realized as I started sewing that it would have fit just fine without any adjustments. STUPID. I've fixed it by now but it would have been much simpler to do it right the first time - although it's a tricky pattern anyway, because it has right-angled seams, which are the actual worst. I thought zippers were the worst but that's because I forgot about right-angled seams. But the hard part's all done now! I'll start tomorrow on the skirt, which is getting pockets added because every full skirt I make from now on is getting pockets. I know how to do them now.

I'm actually wanting a housedress now, which is something I thought I would never ever say. (One of my mother's grandmothers HATED housedresses and housecoats and wouldn't be caught in them. The other wore them even out of the house. Go figure.) Definitely would be nice to put on while sewing/trying on, and after work, since my waist just kind of wants to expand at that point and my waistbands are generally pretty fitted. The more that I wear dresses and skirts, the more pants don't feel like the obvious comfy choice - I didn't notice the leg constriction before so much. Socialization! Five-through-eleven-year-old me knew what was going on. (Okay, no, I just wanted to be a Victorian.)

I'm ... a little disappointed with the CW dress I bought. It's a not-totally-period cotton print, see, and I thought it was at least solid and kind of sheer. But it is better than nothing, and while I'm getting SO much better and more confident in my sewing abilities with all of this, I can accept that it would be nothing if I hadn't bought it. So it goes. I still need to buy the hoop but I'm spending so much lately that it's hard to bring myself to do it.

Speaking of trying to save money, I went to a matinee today ($6.50! but dang I spend so much on movies lately, more in the past few months than in the past few YEARS because I never used to go unless someone else was paying) for Spy, which is incredibly raunchy but v. fun. It was a bit awkward as the theater was empty apart from me, in the dead center, and this elderly couple in the back. They were laughing but it was a lot of "fuck"s to hear in the company of grandparents, even if they weren't mine.

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Jun. 11th, 2015

Torturing myself over which of my patterns to use my striped poly-cotton (I'm pretty sure) with: B6108 (collarless version) or B5813 (full-skirted version). I was leaning hard enough toward the latter last night to cut out the paper pieces - the fabric's light enough for the gathers under the bust, and to make pleats in the skirt without creating too much bulk - but then I started going, is this too fancy a pattern for a casual fabric? Would I be better off with a cleaner, more shirt-like style? This pointless decision has taken on momentous importance.

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Jun. 10th, 2015

Sliced my finger open while cutting my bagel! I googled and don't think it needs stitches, but it was bleeding pretty freely. Right down nearish the joint.

I went to the drugstore for a birthday card for Bella and also got a slightly different red lipstick I thought would look red on me, no, it still comes off kind of pink! GOD. At least it was 99c. (I was going, at one point, to buy Proper Makeup from now on but then I realized it's basically all the same stuff and so it's back to Wet'n'Wild etc.)

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Jun. 8th, 2015

Spent most of today making my unflattering-but-comfortable vacation dress ("Very Easy Vogue" lol), which looks v. cute but also busty to a very bad degree (and slightly pregnant). I don't care, it's cool and for days when I'm not doing much. The shirting gathers very well; before I started cutting I contemplated making a more flattering dress, but then I decided I wanted one that wasn't too close to my body or tight, and every other pattern I have is pretty fitted.

I was feeling unfulfilled because my intention has been to purge my closet of old clothes as I sew and that's not happening - I then realized that this is because I had hardly any casual/work dresses, so I'm not replacing anything. What is it I really need to throw out? T-SHIRTS. I have quite a few t-shirts that are stretched out/never fit in the first place and need to go. I have to bite the bullet and make t-shirts. So I've sat down and patterned this ragged old Gap shirt that I've kept around because it's soooooo flattering. I wanted to use up some more of the fabric I have before buying more, but I really need these more than a cute '50s striped shirting dress. :( Also, panties. But one thing at a time

Made a strawberry rhubarb pie! It's delicious, also I think maybe the first pie I've ever made entirely on my own? Very watery but I didn't use any tapioca (didn't have any); maybe it will gel up in the fridge.

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Jun. 7th, 2015

Mad Max looks really good and I fully intend to see it at some point, but I just realized that it's reached critical mass for people talking about how it's a feminist movie. There's going to be a backlash. I don't know if it'll be in a few weeks/months or if it'll be when a sequel comes out, but ... it's coming. :/

Made a muslin waistband, pleated up my bustle underskirt, and attached them together - progress feels great! I can do anything! Just think, last Sunday all I had were the pieces pinned together and a vague sense of unease - now I have an unhemmed skirt and a semi-sheer Civil War outfit coming to me, and renewed self-confidence. Can someone remind me what fabric it is that's supposed to be like period longcloth for underclothes? I want to say Kona cotton but I thought everyone said that Kona was bad.

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Jun. 6th, 2015

Did something very daring - bought a secondhand 1860s gown on FB for the weekend event in July. Because I'm just not working on the one I half-started, and I really, really want to dress for it. I don't think I'm saving any money at all this month, what with the car insurance and so on (plus I still need to buy the cage). Bad me! But I have a lot of other sewing to do and am tired of castigating myself for not working on this. I feel so good about this decision, seriously - not only do I need to be dressed up to be taken seriously as a fashion history lady, if there are minuscule fit issues I won't be beating myself up for not doing a muslin/not adequately fitting the muslin.

It's not like this means no sewing at all, anyway. I'll have to bring up the waist to fit me. And I might have to let out the side seams of the bodice a leetle, leetle bit.

Oh! So I was going back and forth on that sewing machine, and when I went to the town festival today I ended up getting put in contact with a woman who collects antique machines. She's moving and said she'd talk to me more on the phone this evening to figure out which one of her 1950s Singers she could give me. For free. AWESOME! She told me she had a couple of Featherlights, too, and Mom asked me to ask her if she's looking to get rid of one. So that's some money saved.


Haul from the book sale:

- Books 2, 3, and 6 of the Royal Spyness mystery series, I looooooove them, sometimes a little light but every series can't be Benjamin January

- Several Tasha Alexander books; they're all trade paperbacks with Victorian paintings on the cover and look to avoid the tropes I hate, concentrating instead on suspense plots

- The Mind of America: 1820-1860, Rush Welter; not new, but the reviews I can find online are good

- a book of fancy dessert recipes

- two books for Etsy, 1910ish

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Jun. 5th, 2015

Wore my new cute dress today! The museum was too chilly to have my sweater off and then when I left it was raining and cold, so yeah, but I was happy all day in it. (Selfie in the bathroom at work because I don't have an adequate mirror at home.) I wore tap pants with it and that did some good, but it does need a slip. My hair's also been pretty good over the past couple of days because I finally accepted that the water here is very very hard and I shouldn't rinse out the vinegar rinse.

So I have a tendency to be spineless ... but I've discovered that I really, really hate it when people try to manipulate me into feeling bad and letting them do something I don't want them to do. I come from two families full of mean people (some in a good way, some in a bad way) - if you have a bag of books to donate to the book sale, and I tell you that we're not taking any more because THE SALE IS STARTING IN AN HOUR, and you go, "oh ... I kept forgetting about it ..." my response is going to be to purse my lips and look judgmental until you leave. If you apologized and seemed sorry about it, I'd bend over backward to help, but if you try to make me feel bad you can piss off.

Still can't decide if I want to go to Massena this weekend and look at a Singer 327K for sale. Pros: 1960s, probably all metal parts (have to check), aqua colored. Cons: 45 minutes away, not the best vintage machine. Mom says that a neighbor has a sewing machine of some sort for sale and she's looking into that for me, hopefully it's on par or better. I don't want to drive to Massena.

I bought a bunch of books at the sale and put them in a bag, and then I LEFT THEM, like an idiot.

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It only took five or six years

"Basic Lupine Urology!" Dick Wolf! I finally get the title! (Yes, I've been rewatching Community lately instead of Mad Men. It's short and funny.)

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Jun. 3rd, 2015

I tried on my new dress over a yoked circle skirt I made some time ago, and it seems like a good slip! (If the skirt panels were instead cut straight and gathered to the yoke.) So I went looking for the pattern, and wouldn't you know it but that's the only pattern of mine that's nowhere to be found. How? How does this always happen? I don't actually own that many patterns!

Made a great risotto tonight. I had to go out for arborio rice and vegetable broth, but that gave me some more exercise. It was pretty ordinary, but not bad!

It stays light very late up here. It's 9 and the sunset is still pretty pale. This is probably why I've been finding it hard to make myself get ready for bed at a sensible time lately.

Found the pattern, it was in a pile instead of a box. Now I just need to find a sheet somewhere. I also have a lead on an aqua Singer in Massena, but I can't go check it out until Sunday as we have a book sale Friday-Saturday and that's a ~45 minute drive. They're asking for $60 but I'm probably going to offer $40 because $60 seems high.

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Jun. 1st, 2015

I will finish this bustle skirt (which I can now do because my dress form with its enormous pendulous bosom is taped in place on the stand) before I'm allowed to sew more for everyday, but next up is this simple sundress in my pretty hibiscus fabric. I made it before and wasn't totally happy with it then, but it was a combination of a) poor fabric choice, b) not being as pretty as the model, and c) being at my highest weight. I'm pretty confident that these will combine well, what do you think?

I just keep fanning my three Retro Butterick patterns out and gloating over them. Oh, I suppose I should make a half-slip before I make another dress ... darn, do I have any fabric for that?

After two 50-degree days, I've finally come to terms with this cold, which should be here for most of the week. It would have been easier if the landlord would close the windows in the hall and/or turn the heat back on, but I suppose that would be too much to ask for. Still, it's been good for knitting. Remember when I said a few weeks ago that I was almost ready to put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn? Well, I was wrong - I still had to do 16 rows with a different system of increases. But this afternoon I got to take them off, finally, and I lost 130 stitches per row, which should make things speed up.

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It's been a strangely frustrating day

To start with, it's ridic cold here and some of my windows wouldn't shut this morning; I had to get them mostly closed and come back several hours later to finish them.

I tried on the dress before I put the neckline trim on and was mad because a chunky-torso'd dork was in it instead of a lithe model. Then I tried to put it on my dress form (part of the reason I was unhappy before was, I could tell, because it was way too cold to wear a sundress and I was uncomfortable) and it didn't remotely fit, the bust was in totally the wrong place, etc. and this is after extensive surgery on it. (I don't understand how the Uniquely You form works for everyone else, I don't. AD shoes seem to be literally the only "YMMV" thing that does for me.)

There are bits of something in the oven that burn more every time I use it, but I forget to try to get them out whenever the oven's cooled down.

I made the dough for a loaf of whole wheat bread and it was so dense and heavy that I threw it out and started over, determined to adhere more closely to the directions. When I did, it still came out dense and heavy although slightly less, and it never really rose very much. I've put the rye flour in the fridge because it's clearly not beneficial to the process and I'm never using it again.

Lastly I've been trying to arrange the top of my bustle skirt, and the form keeps SLIDING DOWN like a butt while my bustle looks like a beehive-shaped piece of shit anyway.

On the plus side ... I got my AH flair changed to be broader, like the other fashion historians there, when it's warmer I will feel more positive about the dress (it's a darned cute print, anyway, and if there are fit issues I can fix them, although I don't want to as it's lined), and I had a nice dinner tonight.


I've really cut down on the internal pressure to do historical sewing beyond the bustle dress, and it's making me feel so much better. The Civil War Weekend is probably going to be done in mufti, unless work is going to pay me to finish getting it all together. On the other hand, will I feel really disappointed if I'm there all day and don't get to be dressed up? Or will I be happy because I'm the coordinator and I may have to run all around doing things? Man, I don't know. I just know that apart from the small letdown at the end of the project, I really enjoyed making this dress, and I'm enjoying my knitting, and I'm enjoying figuring out which of my non-1950s patterns I'm going to use with my pink-hibiscus-on-black Hawaiian shirting, and I'm really enjoying never feeling like the next step is insurmountably hard*/the final garment isn't going to fit/my in-depth knowledge of the period combined with my sub-par skills or corset or whatever will result in something disappointing even if it does fit. It's just chill.

* This is some weird psychological self-bummer rather than anything rational

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May. 30th, 2015

My legs (esp. my knees) are absolutely killing me, I think it must be because my sandals aren't supportive. But my sneakers don't breathe at all, and I can't just stop walking everywhere. :(

I put the zipper into my dress around lunch and then spent most of the afternoon doing the lining, pressing, and pinning so that I could take the rest to the park ... where I only had about an hour before having to go home and make dinner (spinach and mushroom handpies, made with not quite enough butter in the dough). I was going to finish it tonight and wear it tomorrow, but I'd rather go to the park in the morning again and sew there, as long as it's not raining. All that's left now is 3/4 of the hem.

It definitely needs a slip - it's a very full skirt, almost a full circle, but it hangs straight down. Of course there is nothing available online that is exactly right. Le sigh. I'll probably make one, but I'd really prefer not to.

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May. 28th, 2015

I managed to get into an argument over the word "ghetto" in the Harry Potter subreddit. Never ever underestimate my ability to find conflict.

After work, betook myself to *sigh* Walmart (in Potsdam) to get a fan and a good heavy cast-iron pot; also ended up with a more appropriately-sized garbage with a pedal, a baking sheet with sides for making granola, and a power strip for the fan. I now feel bad for shopping at Walmart, but good for having a fan and a decent yoghurt pot.

Hey, sorry I haven't sent those letters yet - my stationery has completely disappeared. I should be able to find it in less time than it took to find my stupid passport, but ...

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