Friday, April 30, 2010


You know those "what if we won the lottery" talks? My sweetie and I were having one of those a few weeks ago (prompted by a HUGE jackpot). The conversation went something like this:

My Sweetie: So what car would you want to buy first? I think we'd need a Ferrari something something Astin Martin blah blah Lamborghini yadda yadda. And Teddy and I could go down to Barrett-Jackson . So. What would you want?

Me: A Volkswagen Golf.

My sweetie: A golf? But we've got $41 million to spend. We could have a Golf NOW. Think LUXURY.

Me: OK. A Golf with a leather interior?

My Sweetie: But.. I... You're not allowed to play anymore.

But I've been giving it some more thought. See, I don't drive, but I am HELL ON WHEELS on a Scooter. So I've have one of THESE.

But in pistachio green with a cream leather seat. And a matching helmet.
Isn't it pretty?
Sure it might be less than 5 grand BUT it would mean all kinds of OTHER luxurious things.

Like that I was going someplace on my own (or with my sweetie) for a few hours. And it wouldn't be anyplace sensible, it would just be for roaring around, killing time and looking at things. I'd have bugs in my teeth and the wind whipping around my vintage-inspired skirt (because that's how I'd dress on my scooter).
Which seems like the total pinnacle of luxury to me right now.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Swimwear Tute (that might make you dumber)

Ok before we start out I should say that I have NO expertise here. I've made a grand total of three wearable swimsuits in my entire life. And this "method" consists entirely of my own hacking and would probably send ACTUAL swimwear designers into paroxysms of horror. In fact there's a good chance that this tutorial is going to make you a worse seamstress. Or maybe dumber? Or possibly cause giant asteroids to crash into the earth?
So, fair warning. And if you want some info on making swimwear that will actually make you smarter then check out this site.

AND onward!

The first thing I did was score my fabric.
I used a Nylon/Spandex (Lycra) mix with 4 way stretch. My closest fabric shop (Farbicland at Bloor) carries solid colours of it all the time and occasionally gets ends of SUPER cute prints in too. There's some good info HERE on just what is up with swimwear fabric.
I also use a lining fabric, the best description I could get out of the scary Fabricland ladies was

*YAWN*. "A swimwear lining. For lining swimwear. No." *eye roll* "That IS what it's called. SWIMWEAR LINING."

Pah. Turns out it's made of Nylon too and has two way stretch.
I buy 50 cms of the fabric (unless there's a direction to the print, then I buy a meter) and a meter of lining fabric. I also buy 3 or so meters of pre-cut lycra binding. But it turns out that it's cheaper to cut your own and super easy too. You're also going to need a ball point or knit needle for your sewing machine.

Once I'd gotten my goodies together I needed a pattern. The first suit I made I just eyeballed a pattern based on my current suit. There is some info about making a pattern from an existing item HERE . This method took a bunch of trying on and hacking down.
For the second suit I took apart a swimsuit that fit fairly well but had that weird see-through bum thing. and voila. a muslin:

Then I laid the bits out on the fabric and pinned. I wanted a the neckline a bit higher and the bum and bit more covery so I marked that out.

Once all the pieces were cut out I made duplicates in the lining fabric. The lining I use has a two way stretch and I like to have the stretch go from side to side as opposed to up and down.

You don't HAVE to line the back of your suit. I do anyway though. This time I cut out the lining a bit smaller than the body of the suit. Which, it turns out, is not a super great idea.

Then it was time to do some piecing together. This is the stitch I used for sewing everything
(both piecing together and sewing on the binding) it's a small zigzag.

The most complex part is the back; and really, it not complex at all, you just sew the two bottom pieces separately (lining and fabric), then place them wrong sides together and sew on the crossy back thing. Easy.

Next I sammiched all the layers together.. The sammich goes lining- fabric- (good sides together) -fabric- lining.
Then it gets sewn together at the sides, crotch (heh the word crotch makes me giggle) and top straps. I used the same zigzag as before and was careful to include all the layers.

Then I flipped it right side out. And you guys! It kind of looks like a swimsuit! Exciting!

Except for the gappy bum issue; that needs to be fixed for sure. And that's where the binding comes in. For this suit I made a self binding. On account of the pre-made binding colours all looked terrible with this print.
I folded the width of the fabric in half. Folded it again. Then snipped 1.5 inch strips.


Then it was time to bind the exposed edges and fix the gappy bum problem all in one go.
This is what I do with the binding, fold it over like this:

Then encase all the layers like this:

Then sew it down with my zigzag stitch.
I don't worry about the raw edge, it doesn't fray and I chop it away once the binding is in place anyway. The tricky bit about binding the legs is that you have to pull the binding taunt and sew at the same time, making sure to catch up all the layers. Pulling the binding taunt should give this effect:

(Don't worry it doesn't look like a diaper cover when it's ON!)
And you only really want this for the back of your suit, not the front; so you give the binding some slack for the front.
When I get to the end I tuck the raw bit under and backstitch.
I repeat the binding process on the armholes, neckline and back hole bit and because there's no need to pull the binding tight I just pin it on and whip around. Which you can actually see better in this picture:
Once the binding is on I trim it close to the stitching. Like this:

And that's it. Gots myself a swimsuit. Of course you might NEED ruffles (really, who doesn't?) and to add those you just ruffle up a bit of you binding (or fabric) and sew it on with the same zigzig stich. I do this step before I even piece the suit together. And I only sew the ruffles onto the actual fabric, not the lining.
If you've read this far, (good job with that, this was a LONG post) then here comes the big reveal.
And I'm cringing RIGHT NOW. But here we go. Me in a swimsuit. On the internets, which is practically like PUBLIC. yeesh. OK. Just getting it over with. Look away now if you're easily offended.

See what I did with the ruffle there? and the neglecting to brush my hair?

Oh hey, and I shared here:

And here too:
The Girl Creative

Squeee! Look What I Got!

Eeeep! I loves parcels! Love them. Brown paper packages tied up with string... tra la la la something something something FAVORITE THINGS!

Yesterday I got a p'ticly awesome one. With surprises. That are SO PRETTY. From someone lovely.
But there's a bit of a back story; you guys know Skip right? of Skippedydoodah? If you don't you should race over and check her out. I'll wait here and make us a cup of tea.

Back? Goodo.
She's great, huh? Funny and creative and brill. A while ago I sent her something a bit silly, because she spent the winter without heating. Which, as anybody who's ever done it knows, is SUPER TOUGH. It makes everything a bunch harder and can make getting out of bed seem like an epic, Tolkienesque battle (with dragons and stuff). Skip survived with poise and grace and managed to be a helluva funny blogger too. So I sent her a parcel o'crazy.

And because she is lovely she sent me something back. So that's the back story now, on to the LOOT!


Calvin and Hobbes! I LOVE Calvin and Hobbes. Really love them. I was a kid with an imaginary friend who happened to be a frog. And Teddy has T-Bone, who, according to him, likes cheese almost as much as Hobbes likes tuna sammiches. We have every book sitting on Teddy's shelves waiting for him to be old enough to love them as much as I do.
So a hand-stenciled Calvin and Hobbes bag. Eeep.

BUT that's not all!
Look what was inside:

It's so pretty! And YELLOW! I love yellow. I love THIS yellow too.
(in fact, lookit this. I just made cushions in this EXACT shade)

This little bag is BEAUTIFULLY MADE (it has a zipper on the inside and pockets) and it has pistachio (!) lining.
It makes me feel like I could be roaring around Florence on a shiny Vespa with an artfully arranged headscarf and very red lipstick. Which is GOOD thing. Oh, and I'd need this little fellow to complete my outfit:

So Skip, thank you SO much. What a pleasure to get pretty things in the mail.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


So slow! So slow with the swimmy tute. I blame THE UNIVERSE. Stupid universe.
But it's coming along; in a blurry, too-stinkin'-dark-to-take-good-pictures way.
And look how cute the fabric is:

Kate spotted it in the depths of the swimwear knit ends basket, (she has heat-seeking missile eyeballs, except for CUTE-seeking, not heat-seeking. And also not missiles, just eyeballs.)

ok, updated... I've broken my last ball point needle. I think I just invented a new swear.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dance with the one that brung ya...

You guys! You see before you a FLAMENCO DANCIN' FOOL!
See, remember way back when I scored this scarf from the goodwill? My inner six year old demanded it because it looks like a flamenco scarf?
Well that got me thinking.
Thinking that I've always wanted to try Flamenco dancing. And how come I haven't? And dude I should get on that.
So I found a school with a 6 week total-rookie, can't-dance-at-all beginner class and I signed up. Then I had to wait for two weeks for the first class. Which was last week. I was so brutally nervous that I thought I was going to barf and I only just barely made it up the rickety stairs to the studio.
But I did.
And I LOVED it. I wasn't any good, but I LOVED it. And nobody else was super awesome at it either. It was heaps of fun in the way that learning new stuff always is, and Flamenco itself is so girly. No wait, I don't mean girly, I mean womanly (gah, that word makes me cringe), but it's grown up and powerful and super feminine. And really, I LOVED it.
Tonight's class was EVEN better. I CAN'T wait for next week.

If you've ever thought "huh, I bet it would be fun to learn flamenco (or whatever)". Then you totally should. (If you're in T.O. then these guys are lovely).

Hey talking of stuff that's girly, look at the ridiculous thing I made!

It's a petticoat, to make my skirts puffier. And it's almost impossible not to twirl around in it as soon as I put it on. It's loosely based on an Anthro one that Gertie posted about here.
I'm thinking of a tute for it too (it's just rectangles), and I'll be throwing together the Swimmy tute tomorrow or Friday (I bought the most ridiculously cute swimwear knit today, I can't wait to show you!)
UPDATED - You guys! Gertie has a tute that I didn't see until after I made this. It's GREAT. And Gertie is so cute I could put her in my pocket.

And lastly, about the title, I am going to be resigning over at WR and holding on to see how things shake down. Which might seem incongruous as I've also signed up for The Thrifty Garde Robe. I am genuinely impressed at ninjaEema's proactiveness (wait proactivity? -nicity?) in starting the new blog and I'm totally checking it regularly, I feel like I want to post at WR while I still can. To dance with the one that brung me, it you like.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Another Swimsuit

You guys. They're like crack.

Less than $10 worth of swimsuit fixin's, and a truncated Bear naptime and BWALA! I have another swimsuit. And I... I love it. I want to hold it's hand and take it to the movies and smooch it on the mouth.
This is it.

It isn't black. It's blue and polka dotted. And it has RUFFLES (and as we all know, everything is better with ruffles).
And white binding.
And FIRM (seriously, like Spanx firm) support everywhere, including a built-in bra thing.
AND (and I don't say this lightly) it looks better on than it does here. It's really flattering, those ruffles draw the eye up and are all "Hey lookit! We're ruffly. Check us out! NO REALLY. Don't look at the chubs. We're up here. WOOO!"

Hey, would you guys be interested in a play by play? Not a full tutorial exactly, just more sort of a this is what I did - look how easy it is - and here are the pictures.
Let me know?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Vegan Brownies - mmm mm

Remember the brownie bakin' apron?
Well the brownies in question there just happened to be the vegan kind. The lovely HollyGoLightly was curious about the recipe so I though I'd share.

(But before I do I just wanted to say that I think you guys should read this post of Holly's about answering machine messages. It made me instantly pick up my camera and use the Voice Recording function to save the really important messages from our answering machine (the ones from the day Teddy was born etc) so thank you for sharing Holly and I'm so sorry that you lost yours.)

Ok, onwards!
Now, I'm not a vegan, mostly on account of how I think bacon is the most important food group (what do you mean it's not a food group? Sure it is!) But I have a chum who is and it's nice to be able to share the crazy sugar rush when he's over for dinner. That said, these brownies don't actually have THAT much sugar in them (well, until you add a heap of dark chocolate chips and frosting!)
The recipe is from here, with some tweaks made by the folks in the comments and yours truly. This makes a fairly small number of brownies (I use an 8x8 dish but smaller would be better) because if I make more I just eat them. All of them. As fast as possible.

1 cup flour
(a bare) 1/2 cup sugar
8(ish) tbs of cocoa powder
1/2 a tsp baking powder
hefty pinch of salt
1/2 a cup of water (or soy/almond/rice milk)
2 Big tbs of of melted soy margarine (or veggie oil)
1/2 a cup of applesauce
splash of vanilla extract (but I bet almond would be awesome too)
and handful of dark chocolate chips

preheat the oven to 350
Mix the dry stuff in a big bowl.
Add the water and mix some more, then (and I don't know if this has any effect at all) leave it for a few minutes
Then add the marge/oil, vanilla and applesauce give the whole lot a sound and righteous beating.
I grease and flour the dish then stick half the mixture in, toss in the chocolate chips, add the rest of the mixture then whack it in the oven until a toothpick comes out clean (about 25-27 minutes for the 8x8 dish). Holy cow, worlds longest sentence.

And voila. because these don't have eggs in them I let the bear do this:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Le Boutique Dollaire Couture

You know when you get struck by an idea and it pesters you until you do something about it?
Well yesterday I was doing a bit of spring cleaning. OK fine. "Cleaning" is a bit of a stretch, I was poking around in my stash and daydreaming. I noticed a package jammed down the side of Big Brown Box (the big brown box where some of my fabric lives), I fished it out and closer examination revealed a $2 Dollar Store tablecloth, bought a while ago with the intention of making it into a cape for the bear.
I opened the package and discovered that there was far more material than I had imagined. And that it didn't actually feel too horrible to the touch.
Huh. I thought.

I wonder if a person could make a passable cocktail/evening dress from a dollar store tablecloth?

It turns out that the answer is yah? kind of?

Like lot's of things this looks better on the hanger than it does on me (also, the skirt is kind of puffier than it looks here).
I'd like to think if I was ACTUALLY going somewhere that required a cocktail dress I might put a little makeup on or maybe get all crazy and run a brush through my hair... but in all honesty... who knows, it's been a while, and I don't get invited to a lot of formal dos.

Anyhoo, I drafted the pattern myself (for "drafted" read "eyeballed, cut, swore, cut then eyeballed some more") and I don't think that the straight top loves me back. The scalloped edges went all the way around the tablecloth and I though it was too cute not to include, so I did.
I was kind of (and I mean SUPER loosely here people) inspired by this Jim Hjelm bridesmaid's dress (jh5804).

And of course the devil is in the details. It would require some ridiculously high strappy shoes, a bit of costume bling and a floaty goodwill flamenco scarf.

Et, Voila. Cocktail dress.
Now. I'll have a Dirty Martini, frogs in the pond, just scare it with the vermouth.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

my two cents worth...

I'm guessing that everyone who is reading this knows about the changes that are happening with Wardrobe Refashion. If you don't then the gist is here (essentially the site is changing and there will be a fee). If you're not interested in refashioning then now might be a good time to go and check out this super cute Meerkat video..

It's taken me ages to collect my thoughts about it. And mostly I'm feeling... sad. and a bit mopey.
Firstly I should say that I've filled in Nikki's survey, so I don't feel like I'm talking behind her back. ( I know that sounds silly but I'd want the same consideration) and I have no intention AT ALL of badmouthing her. Because she has done a fantastic job for four years, because wardrobe refashion genuinely changed my life and because the world is round and the internetses are a small place.

But I'm still bummed.

Firstly of all. I'm really not kidding when I say that WR changed my life. I discovered it around this time last year. I lurked. I ooohed and aaahed at the pretties. I didn't have a personal blog at the time and I was a bit too chicken to take the actual pledge but I decided that I would follow along at home with the July '09 pledge.
I was super excited. I rooted through my wardrobe, dusted off my sewing machine, and decided that I would make myself a dress form. So I did, out of this stuff. My sweetie plastering it on me as we giggled maniacally.

The thing about a dress form is that it makes you look at your own body in away that just glancing in a mirror doesn't. You're faced with your own reality, in impartial paper. Observable in 360 glorious degrees.
You guys. It was brutal.

The NEXT DAY I decided that maybe pie-mashpotatos-chocolate-cookiescookiescookies didn't love me back. And that maybe a bit less sugar and white flour and delicious delicious carbs would be a good thing. I joined the gym. I lost a bit of weight. I got to refashion things to be a little smaller instead of bigger.

So Wardrobe Refashion inadvertently made 50lbs less fat than I've been in the last 5/7 years and the fittest I've ever been in my life.

I joined up for real for the first time this January and it's been SO much fun. I re-upped instantly in March. And it's changed the way I think about buying lots of things (not just clothes).

When Nikki posted that the site would be changing to a pay format. I was a bit "oh", Because, you know, who doesn't love free? but I slept on it and decided
"OK, Wardrobe Refashion is important to me. Nikki has worked hard. I love how supportive and awesome the WR community is, and I think that I would pay to maintain it the way it is. The same way that I would pay fees to keep a community center afloat. I wonder how much it will be?"

So yup. I wasn't thrilled, but I was on board with the idea of paying to keep the site around.

I was SUPER disappointed when Nikki announced that the site would be changing completely. No longer being a forum/community driven by user posts. My absolute favorite thing about WR is it's egalitarian nature, that it isn't featured writers deciding content but us guys. What makes it awesome is our projects (successes AND failures), a sense of community that offers encouragement and genuine kindness as well as advice, and even just a place to say "YOU GUYS! Squeee! Look what I scored at the thrift store" to folks who get it.
The proposed fee's were also a bit of a surprise. I was hoping they would be say, the equivalent of an extra large caramel corretto ($7/8) as in, kind of decadent but easy enough to justify for something enjoyable and nice. $20, is a new pair of ballet flats or a third of my gym membership or a lunch date. Or you know, boring old groceries. It's not a huge amount, but it's enough so that I would feel weird and guilty about spending it on myself.

EVEN SO, I think that I could probably do the mental shuffling and justification required if WR was going to stay how it is. As it is I am hoping that Nikki will offer a free trial of the new set up, and that the new WR will retain enough of what I love about the OLD WR that I could justify ponying up the cash.
So that would be my take.
In other news... I drafted a pattern! and made a muslin! and did my first french seams! but now it's too dark to take pictures, so.. I guess tomorrow?
hope your weekend was lovely.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday? Again?

What a poopie week. Do let me explain my absence with a spot of whining...

Remember that sunshine I mentioned? Yah. Me too... Barely. Le sigh. I got my mouth, and my wardrobe all ready for spring. And then it rained.
So my wardrobe is full of summery dresses all whispering "Oh hey Erin! We're super excited! Is it time? Time to go dancing/strolling/to the farmers market/for a coffee outside. Now? Now is it time? How about now? Now?"
And I've had to patiently explain to them that it's only April and that I was foolish to get their hopes up.
And then go and eat chocolate.

That's the other thing. Sugar and I are no longer friends. We tried to keep it casual but it's always been kind of an all or nothing relationship between us. BUT when there's a chocolate Lindt bunny in the house... well I'm eating it. Over three days. For breakfast. And it's little eggie chums too. Because there's nothing like starting the day with a crazy shaking sugar rush and a brutal crash.
And nope. I couldn't just leave it alone. Compulsive eater over here people. I didn't get to be overweight by ignoring chocolate and being rational.

I'm also a little bummed over the WR thing. But I actually wanted to try and talk about that a little more in another post.

So that's that, my "problems" = kinda dumb. I hope your week was shiny and awesome. And I'll maybe see you tomorrow with something that I've been sulkily working on.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Dilemna

Sunshiny sunshiny sunshininess! Squee.
You know what this means?
Well at any rate, it means browser window shopping for new sandals. Only I have conflict. Very real conflict.
And here's why:

Yup. They're... ridiculous. But they're what my inner six year old wants. Observe if you will,

Me: OOOU! They have Pink on them! and they're REALLY high! And now we're grown ups we can wear REALLY high shoes. And they have pink! PLEEEASE?

Me: No Erin. We can't. They're... look I'm gone be honest... they're kind of ridiculous. And maybe a bit whorey? Tiny bit?

Me: NOOOO! No they're not. They're LUVERLY. We LOVES them.

Me: Not so much. and 'sides. We'd fall on our ass. A'ly we can't walk in heels and B'ly. What? We'd wear them to take the dog out would we? To the Gym? The playground? Really?

Me: We could LEARN to walk in them. We could we could. OH HEY! Is that a giant duck? *tap tap tap*

Me: Did you just add them to our shopping bag?

Me: Noooo.

Me: Uh Huh. I'm sitting right here. Listen, what about these? They're cute and sensible right?
Me: But.... but... I... I hate you.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Self Portrait Bean Bag

OK. Hands up if you're a tiny bit uncomfortable in front of a camera? I TOTALLY am. In fact there is only one picture of me between 14 and 16 years old in EXISTENCE. I had a shaved head. And a sneer. It was not my best look ever.

I'm trying to get less crazy about pictures and doing WR has helped, because I don't have a dress form (tiny jealous sigh at the folks that do... ) I end up "modeling" my befores and afters.

Which has made me mighty familiar with the self-timer mode on my camera. I don't have a tripod and I totally can't justify one (I don't have enough camera really, and I KNOW that I wouldn't take it anywhere). So I made myself a little something to make propping my camera in weird places safer and more stable.

(That's technically NOT a camera. It's a rabbit. I know this. But I don't have a spare camera.)

It's a bean bag. Only with rice and not beans. And while I feel a bit silly calling this a tutorial, here goes:

1. Grab a spot of fabric of some type. I used a bit of toddler t-shirt sleeve. Because it was RIGHT THERE. But you could use anything at all.

2. Sew around 3 (or 4) sides of your fabric leaving a hole to jam your chosen filling into. I wanted my beanbag to be fit-in-a-pocketable so I made it roughly 5" by 3".

3. Turn it right side out

4. Fill'er Up. I used an icing bag. A funnel, rolled up bit of paper or your paws would work just as well. And that's basmati going in... mmm basmati. Careful not to overfill, you want there to be some space to allow your camera to nestle in.

5. Sew Up the hole. And go crazy with the posing. Work it baby! Eyes and teeth! The camera loves ya!

Oh, and I almost forgot, 'cause the camera has someplace stable and non jiggly to rest, I turn off the flash and up the exposure time (with that little +/_ button).
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