Friday, February 12, 2016

Thrift Sewing Week: Final Post, The Midlife Clothing Crisis

Last summer I posted that I was sick and tired of wearing (mostly donated) black things and jeans. I went to the thrift store and randomly picked out a pile of bright summer clothes.
When the fall weather came, I fell back into the jeans uniform on weekdays, thrifted skirts or dress pants on Sundays. Life goes on no matter what you're wearing, and there are other things to focus on. It's a beauty-obsessed, consumeristic society, and who needs more of that?  Elizabeth Withey wore one dress for a whole year.

But change happens, and what's worked okay in past seasons of life sometimes just runs out of gas. I got rid of some clothes that I didn't like or that were worn out (including both my pairs of jeans), and then realized I had little left, and not much idea of what I did want to wear.  Project 333 says that nobody else really notices what you're wearing, and that may be true, but if your clothes are sending wrong messages to you, that may be enough reason to try something different.  Pondering your own path is not a bad thing, whether it leads you to 33 items, or 40 hangers, or one dress; or just remembering that you do have choices.

I realized that one reason for wearing jeans all the time was that I couldn't think of much else to put on the bottom of me. All my skirts were too long and fancy and...wool. I really like wool skirts. But you can't exactly wear office skirts around the house. I thought about how much I liked my stirrup pants and knits, way back, and a pair of purple suede desert boots...I have no idea why I got rid of those boots, maybe I just wore them out. I now own two pairs of jeggings (not the "excessive" kind, these are closer to pants), and I've thrift-sewed enough skirts and other things that I am really not missing the jeans. I have fewer clothes than I've ever had, but I have more that I can actually wear for the things I actually do.

Yesterday I packed off two final too-long, too-formal skirts, because I didn't need them, even shortened. So in honour of not needing to fix anything else, the only other photo I'm going to add this week is this (thrifted) necklace, which was paid for by selling a bit of the excess/outgrown from our bookshelves. (But that's another story.)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thrift Sewing Week: Life is miscellany

I like chameleon colours--the ones that you can't always put a name to, or that look different depending on the light. The pants I bought the other day are like that: sort of a gray with a greenish-silvery pinstripe, but when I wore them with the taupe tank top, they blended in.  I have a charcoal sweater (in the photo, from Giant Tiger), and for the longest time I thought it had blue in it; it seems to take on blueness from a blue top I wear with it. (Or maybe I just see colours strangely.)

Burgundies and browns can be like that too. I have a burgundy camisole (in the photo, not thrifted), and I know it's supposed to be burgundy because the tag said so. It's a close match for a pair of jeggings that the same store labelled "wine." But I also have a skirt from the thrift store that's sort of dark charcoal-brown, sort of burgundy, maybe what British stores call mole; and it goes, not too badly, with the camisole and with several other things that I wouldn't expect.

I'm not sure what life lesson there is in that. Maybe a repetition of the idea that we work with what's in front of us, not with store labels or what should work. Also, in real life, strangers are not likely to come up to you and ask you to explain why your camisole does or doesn't blend perfectly with your bottom half.
From today's For Better or For Worse comic strip:
"Boy, I'd hate to be perfect."
"How come?"
"'Cause anyone who's perfect can't be anything else!"
As for the skirt: I think it came from the dollar rack, or at least it didn't cost much: it's the sort of thing (strange colour, plain shape) that would get passed over even in the thrift store. I used the 5-Minute Skirt Refashion tutorial at Merrick's Art to slim it down, and then shortened it by a few inches.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quote for the day: Dustballs

"When I was a child...I was often fascinated by the dustballs that collected under my bed...It seemed as if some mysterious force came during the night and littered the floor with those dustballs while I slept. Today I find dustballs in my private world every day. How they got there, I am not sure. But I have to keep ahead of them..."  ~~ Gordon MacDonald, Ordering Your Private World

Thrift Sewing Week: A skirt story

I bought a pair of plum-purple Allison Daley Petites pants from the dollar rack at the thrift store. I don't know what the fabric is, but it's soft and has a bit of stretch. A previous height-challenged owner had re-hemmed the bottoms, but they were still too big around.
I tried taking the pants in a bit, but the results weren't great.
Besides, I was feeling a bit rebellious after reading about the senior citizens who adore Allison Dailey clothes. I'm not there quite yet! 

Plan B: make a skirt out of them.

Step One: pick and cut them open, all the way.
There was enough fabric probably for a maxi skirt,but Mr. Fixit voted for short.
To quote the Refashionista blog: Chop.
Sew the two seams, which will now be the front and the back.
Iron and sew a hem.
Re-position the button, to make the waist fit better.
Done.
(I ran the front and back seams through the sewing machine again, after taking the photo--they still needed a little adjusting.)

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

What's for supper?

Pancakes for Shrove Tuesday.

Thrift Sewing Week: Two Tank Tops into One

Not everything I buy at the thrift store doesn't fit, luckily. I went down there today with Mr. Fixit, because we had a big load of stuff to drop off, and we went into the store just long enough for me to look for a pair of pants and a belt, both of which I needed and both of which I found. And the pants fit fine, so they won't be showing up on the Thrift Sewing Week.

I wasn't so fortunate with this taupe-coloured viscose tank top from the last trip. I should have taken that "extra small" label seriously. But I really, really liked it, especially the draping on the front. I thought I could squeeze into it, but "squeeze" was more like "breathless."
I slit the shirt up the back. Viscose doesn't fray.
And I thought about what I could use to extend the shirt. Since I was only planning on wearing it under other things, it didn't matter too much if the back didn't match. I was going to just cut a big pyramid shape out of this other (thrifted) ivory camisole, but then I thought it would work better to just sew them together, at least around the armholes and neckline.
Which is what I did. Pinning the armholes:
I sewed those, and then pinned the neckline:
Here is what the back looked like just before I sewed it:
Finished: front view.
Finished: back view. (And nobody has to see that from now on except me.)
I don't usually have to make things bigger! But it was worth it.
The new pants did make it into the photos. (My arm is up in the air because I'm taking a selfie with a tablet. It's awkward but it works.)

Monday, February 08, 2016

Thrift Sewing Week: That old thing?

I have some shortening, tightening, and in one case expanding to do on a pile of thrifted clothes, so I'm going to spread it over the week and post photos. As Charlotte Mason said, "pour encourager les autres." (To encourage other people.)

The first thing isn't thrifted, but it might as well have been. I wore this dress on dates with Mr. Fixit, and I've kept it ever since. You might remember it from my button-replacement hack a couple years ago. The idea to make it over came from a photo of an Old Navy shirt dress that popped up online: it was almost my dress! But without the floral lapels.
In the middle of the night (11:30 is the middle of the night around here), I was up sneezing and blowing my nose with a cold, and I thought "I could take those off." They were getting worn on the edges anyway and kept the dress from working with much else. Then I thought...if I do that, I might as well shorten it; and in that case the sleeves look a bit matronly, so they could come off too.
The next morning (still sneezing), I started to pick the lapels off with a stitch ripper. The floral fabric was also a facing for the  buttons and buttonholes, so I left that part intact. (It doesn't show much.)
 
Three inches off the bottom, and the trim and most of the sleeves gone.
What it looked like after hemming and turning under.
Dressing it up with a scarf (thrifted this week) and a belt. (The green stuff sticking out at the shoulders is a top I had on underneath.). That belt might not be my first choice, but I only have a couple--I'll keep looking for a better one.

The funny part is that I was wishing I had a springier dress, and now I do.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

"Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to add your link to the party. Here we go--"
1. Describe love using all five senses.

I've described my grandparents' house as smelling like pipe tobacco, aging poodle, Pine Sol, and bacon, and tasting like limburger cheese and a box of Bugles, and sounding like... lots of noise and voices, my grandmother whistling and singing, Grandpa's power tools out back of the kitchen, and someone calling "Rummy." Throw in an aging piano...those things aren't love, but love was there.

2. February is Canned Food Month. What's your favorite food that comes straight from a can?

Baked beans?

3. A principal in a UK school recently sent home a letter to parents requesting they (the parents!) dress appropriately when escorting their children to/from school (basically saying please don't wear your pajamas) You can read the letterhere. It's gotten a lot of publicity, both positive and negative. Your thoughts? And do/did you ever make the school run (or hit Starbucks, Walmart, etc) in your pjs?

We were homeschoolers, but even then we started school with clothes on, unless we were having a "wear your pajamas to not-school day." I go to the other extreme: I won't even go out the front door to get the newspaper unless I have something on besides pink bunnies.

4. Crew neck, V-neck, turtleneck, scoop neck...which is most prevalent in your wardrobe?

All about the same, except for crew necks which do strange things to me.

5. I read here recently a list of four things to avoid so you wake up happier. They were late night snacks, hitting the snooze button, social media just before bed/upon waking, checking emails.

Are you guilty of any of these behaviors? Which on that list do you need to work harder at avoiding?

Does evening T.V. with Mr. Fixit (and something to eat) count as misbehaviour?

6. Share something you remember about a house you lived in as a child? Of all the homes you lived in as a child, which did you love best?
We moved several times, but my favourite was the house we lived in for about six years when I was small, where I started school and pestered the older kids on the block. I was a regular Ramona sometimes.

7.Your favorite movie based on a true story?

I'm probably forgetting something really obvious that should be at the top of my list, but for now I'll go with The Marva Collins Story.

Linked from A Sense-able Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

There's glory for you: something to read today

From the Circe Institute blog, a good post for us all to read: Making the Glory of God Known: The Purpose of Any Lesson, by Danny Breed.
"To glorify God is to make much of God and to glorify anything else is to make much of that something else. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God showed Moses Himself by walking in front of him. Thus glory and glorifying is tied to some aspect of showing off how great God is.

"Now that we were somewhat armed with the rudiments of glory, we could ponder the various possibilities of glory in a lesson."

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Frugal Finds and Fixes: Oil, Oxfords, Organizing

1a. I went to the thrift shop to drop off our large load of board games, and bought a sleeveless top and a nice-but-too-big summer skirt.

1b. I hemmed a pair of thrifted dress pants (photo), and took in the waistband of the nice-but-too-big summer skirt.

1c. I have never considered myself a minimalist, or at least an intentional minimalist. (Being a tightwad is not necessarily the same as being a minimalist.) Recently, though, I've been reading some of the Project 333 posts: that is, cutting down what you wear (daytime clothes, shoes and accessories) to 33 items for a 3-month period. I didn't have much more than that anyway (and in some respects not enough). But just going through the thought process of it was interesting: for instance, the idea that you might own six scarves (or whatever), but decide to wear only two of them for the next while. Then when you switch things around and pull out one that was stored, it feels more like having something "new." Much like rotating children's toys: it gives them a chance to better appreciate what they have. Or eating seasonally: we get fresh plums only in late summer and fall, so they're anticipated and enjoyed during that time.

It also gave me a better sense of what things to look for at the thrift shop (got enough x, fresh out of y).
2. Mr. Fixit found a can of 3 in 1 oil on clearance. The funny part is that he just finished off his grandpa's old can of oil. Grandpa died the year we were married, so that's what you call really making something last.

3. Lydia has a part in her school musical next month. She had to supply her own shoes, by this week, and they had to be Victorian-style Oxford shoe-boots with heels. Miraculously, a pair in her size showed up on a clearance table for $12. (Maybe next year they should put on "Barefoot in the Park.")

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Cream in the Coffee Edition


1. Share a winter memory from your childhood.

Oh--probably the blizzard of late January 1977, thirty-nine years ago.



2. What was on your blog this time last year? (Besides the Hodgepodge of course!) If you weren't blogging, what in the world were you doing with all that free time?

A lot of homeschooling and some "what's for supper." I was starting to think about writing a book.

3. Ellen Goodman is quoted as saying, 'We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives...not looking for flaws, but for potential.'

Do you see more flaws or more potential in your life at the start of a new year? Have you done anything specific this month to address either one? Does the new year truly begin for you on January 1, or is there some other month of the year that feels like a fresh start and new beginning?

Hah, this is interesting because I spent this morning putting board games into "keep" and "donate" piles. Not sure if that addresses a flaw or adds potential (empty shelves in the closet). I think of it more as a natural transition, and it's something that I'm not sure perfectly-organized people think of when they're carefully labelling plastic drawers etc.: children grow up, and whether their toys are messy or super-organized, one day before you realize it, their favourite stuff will be yesterday's treasures. Unless you're running a daycare or have ongoing grandchildren, what's on the shelves won't be static. This goes for adults too: we stop wearing one style of clothes and try another, we don't eat desserts as much, we buy new curtains, we change, we move on.
 
Game sorting update (photo below): Everything we kept fit on one shelf of the closet, except for a large Backgammon set and one old toy of Lydia's which didn't really need to be in there anyway. I never would have thought.
4. Who's an athlete you admire or respect and why?

Glenn Cunningham.

5. Do you like cream in your coffee? Whipped cream on your pumpkin pie? Cream cheese on a bagel? Sour cream on a baked potato? Cream of wheat for breakfast? Have you ever had a scone with clotted cream? Of all the creamy foods mentioned, which one sounds most appealing to you right this very minute?

Most of the above, except for Cream of Wheat: wallpaper paste for breakfast. I like baked potato soup with cream cheese in it. If I didn't already have chicken cacciatore going in the slow cooker (from our freezer meals), that might have sent me off to make some. Maybe tomorrow.

Skipping 6 and 7 because I can't think of any answers..

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I am crocheting a scrap-busting afghan that's "scrap" in two ways: using up most of the yarn I had on hand, and also making use of a long, narrow throw I made over twenty years ago. The ends and the middle panel are new, and when I get them sewn together I'll add a border. Maybe I should call the whole thing the "random" throw.

Linked from Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Friday, January 22, 2016

2016 Scrap Challenge: Ponytails' Yarn

Ponytails' yarn stash: the pink twist and the denim blue were already accounted for. What's left?
Slippers, made with a combination of lavender worsted and variegated purples. I did the toes with one strand of variegated plus one strand of lavender, then the backs with two strands of lavender. (Because that's how much yarn there was.) The pattern called for a very large hook, so I used one that seemed reasonably large, but I found that twelve stitches around the toes was too tight; I redid that part with about seventeen stitches around instead. Your mileage (or feet) may vary, but check as you work.

The big hook makes the crocheting quite open, and the yarn is a soft type, so I won't expect these to last as long as the Phentex beasts I've been wearing for about the past six years. But at least it's a change from rather gruesome turquoise.

Skinny scarf, made with Bernat Galaxy in "Deep Space," one of those novelty yarns with big furry bobbles. There isn't much you can do with those except simple, open stitches, so that's what I did:a long chain, two rows of double crochet, and about half a row of slip stitching before the yarn ran out.

And that's most of the yarn stash!

Another Scrap Challenge update: Skirt!

Fabric: free from Ponytails. Thread: on hand. Package of no-roll elastic: from Wal-mart. Sewing level: very easy.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

2016 Scrap Challenge, Update

Upper left corner: a large piece of fabric in a leaf  print. It's pretty, but pale; not something I'd use for clothes.
But it's fine as a tablecloth! I cut the long piece in half, then cut one of the halves in half as well so that there wouldn't be one seam running up the middle. I sewed the three pieces back together, and then hemmed it. Not hard.
On the far right of those yarn balls: Bernat Softee Chunky Twists, in "Tangerine Twist." What to do with that?
Mini Gift Bag, only I used it for a springy bunch of flowers.

Why we were never meant to do it for them (Review of a book review)

I'm fascinated by Annie Kate's review of Smart but Scattered Teens by Guare, Dawson, and Guare. Books like this say a huge amount about our culture, and the healing that parents may need to initiate if their teenage children have become infected with "do it for me" syndrome.

Check out the list of "executive skills" that the authors feel teenagers may be lacking:
"working memory, planning/prioritization, organization, time management, metacognition, response inhibition, emotional control, sustained attention, task initiation, goal-directed persistence, flexibility."
 Do you see a connection between those skills? Every single one is something that Charlotte Mason would say we must not do for children who are capable of taking it on for themselves. And yet, so often, we do...just because we do. We try so hard and worry so much, like Aunt Frances, when we should be  letting them take the reins, like Uncle Henry.

The sad thing is that the teenage years may be almost too late to change some of those lifelong habits, although the point of the book is that there's still time. (I haven't read the book, just the review.) If you have younger children in your care, these are the things you should be doing, or rather, not doing. Letting them begin an activity and encouraging them to stick with it for a reasonable amount of time, to get some "goal-directed persistence" (see Charlotte Mason's "Inconstant Kitty"). Teaching them to be prompt and orderly (organization, time management). Using learning methods such as narration (working memory, sustained attention). Dealing with tantrums and other emotional disruptions (emotional control, response inhibition). I would add, seeing a situation from the other person's point of view and deciding to do what benefits another person, or the larger group or community, rather than yourself; developing empathy. As I've discussed here and elsewhere, I'm with those who believe that one of the best ways to gain empathy and flexibility in thinking is to have a very good store of stories.

That is what we can do for our children: give them that store, train them in habits, and allow them to develop their wills. What we can't or shouldn't do: think for them, remember for them, rob them of their initiative.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Skate on over

Some words of welcome from our Hodgepodge hostess:  "Welcome to another edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Please only link here today if you've answered the questions. And be sure to skate over and say hi to the blogger linking before you...we're all about being neighborly here in the middle of a week. Here we go-"

1. Speaking of skating...when did you last 'skate on thin ice', 'skate over the details', 'encounter a cheapskate', or just plain skate?
 
I was a Canadian kid...our school was a short walk from the hockey arena, and we all skated, even those of us who only sort-of skated (that would be me). We all wanted to be either Bobby Orr (later Wayne Gretzky) or Karen Magnussen (later Dorothy Hamill). When I got to my teens and going to the roller rink was popular, I was always amazed at how easy roller skating seemed. Eight little wheels felt a whole lot better holding me up than two skinny little blades.

But I haven't done either in a lot of years.

2. What would you say is the biggest problem of people your age? 

I don't know, we're all so different. Some mid-lifers still have young kids at home, some have kids in university, some are grandparents, some are all of those. Some are working and plan to be at the same job for years yet, some are changing what they do, others are thinking retirement. So maybe the biggest problem is feeling like we get lumped all together.

3. What's your favorite accessory? Is it something you wear every day, often, or only on special occasions?

Right now that would be two pashmina-type scarves: I have one in berry, from the thrift store, and one in mixed greens, from Giant Tiger.
4. January 20th is National Cheese Lover's Day. Are you a lover of cheese? What's your favorite dish made with cheese? Last thing you ate that contained some kind of cheese?
One of my grandfathers loved strong cheese, including Limburger (which we didn't like much), and Imperial Cold Pack Cheddar (which we did). Both still make me think of him. (Also Kraft Squeez-a-Snak.)

To quote Ben Gunn in Treasure Island:  "Marooned three years agone," he continued, "and lived on goats since then, and berries, and oysters. Wherever a man is, says I, a man can do for himself. But, mate, my heart is sore for Christian diet. You mightn't happen to have a piece of cheese about you, now? No? Well, many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese--toasted, mostly--and woke up again, and here I were."

5. What's something guaranteed to make you roll your eyes?

Weather forecasters who say we're only going to have a few light flurries. (Photos taken on Tuesday.)
This is not a snowman, it's one of our bushes.

6. Your favorite book series?
I don't read a lot of adult series books (though I did like them when I was young). Probably Jan Karon's Mitford books...or the Brother Cadfael mysteries.

7. Why did you choose your profession?

Well, that would mean first defining a profession. Other than miscellaneous office work and the general jobs of homekeeping, mothering, and wifing, most of what I have done as an adult (paid or unpaid) has involved reading, writing, teaching; and reading, writing, and talking to people about learning and books. I don't think I chose that, more like it chose me.

 8. Insert your own random thought here.

I just started reading Fathers and Sons. I am very happy that it's not hundreds of pages long.

Linked from The Peaceful Easy Hodgepodge Feeling at From This Side of the Pond.