On owning my nerdiness in Dresden

Whilst in Berlin I took advantage of the opportunity to join a day trip to Dresden. This medieval city was decimated by bombs at the end of the second world war and started to rebuild in earnest in the last 20 years or so. It was reunification that brought both the political will and the capital to restore the old city to its former beauty.

Dresden Old city

A parting view of the old city from the bus.

I was too slow to get the incoming view, so Zwinger Palace, which was my favourite part, is not really visible in the above photo.

Dresden Zwinger Palace

Zwinger Palace

Our tour started with 2,5 hours on the Autobahn to get to the city. I’ve now been on the infamous Autobahn of no speed limits! (Except for buses: buses have to go 100km/h.) On arriving in Dresden, we had a walking tour of the major sites before we were left to our own devices for three hours. The history was fascinating around Augustus II and his whimsies, which included converting to Catholicism so he could be king of Poland.

This is the cathedral in Dresden, while on the right is the bridge his son, who was actually devout, used to secretly attend services. There was also a mistress bridge so that Augustus could secretly visit his mistress of the moment.

Dresden concubine bridge

Mistress bridge. It was a rather open secret, I’d say.

There is still a great deal of reconstruction being done in Dresden, which explains the presence of cranes and scaffolding in some of my photos. The socialist regime did rebuild the Opera, although it was undergoing further work while I was there. It was still magnificent.

Dresden opera entrance

Dresden Opera. I am disappointed that I did not get more of the statue on the top.

Moving along, we made our way to Frauenkirche, the protestant church in the old city. En route, we passed this amazing sculpture.

Dresden sculpture

I wish I had been capable of reading the title and artist…

The Frauenkirche is quite remarkable. Much of the rubble was still around and has been placed in its original locations on the restored building. This is why there are varying colours throughout the structure. We also took a quick walk through the interior.

Finally, we viewed some spectacular murals. The historical one was made with porcelain tiles (Dresden is the home of Meissen porcelain). Dresden tile muralDresden socialist muralMy time was finally my own. The tour guide recommended the Green Vault, where palace treasures are kept, or the Old Masters museum at Zwinger Palace. She mentioned in passing that nerds might like the Math and Physics Museum at Zwinger Palace. Somewhat offended, I decided to raise my nerd flag and go look at mathematical and scientific instruments.

Dresden Zwinger mathDresden Zwinger math & physics

I was not disappointed. This museum had clocks, globes, telescopes and surveying instruments, as well as Pascal’s mechanical calculator. I think I have mentioned before my favourite museum ever is the Globe museum in Vienna, and while the collection here was small, it was enchanting. Unfortunately, the exhibit room was so dark, I could not get any decent photos. But, I liked the explanation of the exhibit enough to include here.Dresden Globe

(On a side note, I want one of these globes. The Guardian wrote a fascinating article about them. Maybe my school board could give me that instead of the tiny Group of Seven print in an ugly frame for 25 years of service.)

And then there were clocks! The explanation of the movement is really interesting. I’ve really gotten into taking photos of explanations on this trip. German museums seem to embrace understanding concepts as opposed to just learning facts…Dresden clock movement

I took a photo of this whimsical clock for my mum.

Dresden crayfish clockDresden Crayfish clock note

I was disappointed in the lack of explanation for the telescopes and surveying instruments, but they were beautiful objects in and of themselves.

I was most impressed by Blaise Pascal’s mechanical calculator. There was a computer simulation for how it worked, which involves the turning of dials to set your digits by place value.

Dresden Pascal close

Pascal calculator. The reflection from the glass somewhat obscures the place value names. Dials are turned to make this work.

I loved this museum! It was so interesting and I will own my nerdiness. This was much more interesting to me than crown jewels or old masters. The last series of photos is from the exit (or entrance) and outlines the scientific process. I think it is really outlining the process of living and learning.Dresden ObserveDresden DemonstrateDresden ExperimentDresden CompareDresden Measure


On identity and its loss

This is my last night in Berlin. It has been an interesting and affecting seven days. I have traveled for the usual reasons: art, books and beer, and have not been disappointed. I have even, in Germany, managed to find four bookstores with French books for children. And I procured a copy of a Swiss book, reviewed earlier this month in The Guardian, that is not yet available in North America.

Mostly, however, I have been walking. A guided walk of the major sites on my first full day, and then revisiting many of the areas, if not the particular sites, ever since. With opening hours being what they are here (10h~18h), I could not always see everything I wanted to in one day, which necessitated a return.

On that initial guided walk, we were taken to the Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, alternately known as the Holocaust memorial. The bluntness and honesty of the name of the memorial had a profound effect on my experience within the installation. The memorial itself is a series of rectangular prisms, identical in all dimensions except height.

Berlin Memorial to murdered Jews levels

Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe

Some are very nearly flat, while others are quite tall. There are ~2700 of them in the installation, arranged in a grid. The grid creates paths to follow from one side to the other. Many people have interpreted the prisms to represent graves or coffins, due to the consistency in the sizing. It makes sense, but it was not my own feeling after the experience of following one of the paths.

The beginning of the path is no great ordeal: the forms are not very high and the pathway is flat. (I am not sure how visible it is in the photos, but the walking paths undulate across the installation.) I was still almost entirely in my own reality at this point, just beginning to enter the world of the memorial.

Berlin Memorial to murdered Jews midway

Midway along the path.

As I entered further into the piece, I found it very disorientating: the city noises vanished, the slabs became increasingly identical and taller than me, and the path itself dropped and rose irregularly. I felt lost within the sameness surrounding me. Not just physically adrift, but that my sense of self was lost. I was very much in the present of the experience of making my way through this art installation, having lost all connection to my own world.

Berlin Memorial to murdered Jews midpath


I had to change my path at one point and took this parallel route to the end. However, it was very uneven and the sideways slope made me even more unsettled. I felt more and more imprisoned and less and less like I had any sense of identity as I went through the centre of the memorial. It was a relief to get to the other side and return to the world, as it were: the noises of the city were incredibly comforting, as was the fact that I now towered over the stelae rather than they over me.

This is an unusual memorial: there are no lists of names or images on a plinth here (although there is an information centre which details the experiences of particular victims). It is, in fact, an art installation. As such, it is open to interpretation. In that sense, the idea of the slabs representing graves for the victims of the Holocaust is apt. But I wonder if there was also intention for the participant moving through the piece to experience, to some extent, the disorientation of the victims as they moved through their own horrific situations. Personal identity is removed and replaced by numbers and uniforms. A lack of identity for one group validates a lack of humanity in their persecutors. The difference for visitors to the site is that they regain their identities at the end of the path, and, I would hope, retain their humanity and empathy in light of the haunting journey.

On the plaid that nearly drove me mad

I love plaid. I really do! Someday, I will have my own kilt, like both of my parents, who faithfully (if somewhat unwillingly due to the haggis) wear theirs every year for the Robbie Burns dinner. This is not that day; I still have to choose a tartan for my kilt!

DF Navy:red:white cotton plaid

For the time being, I must content myself with plaids such as this. I found this cotton plaid at Downtown Fabrics in the spring and bought a yard, thinking it would be nice as a skirt. Then I avoided it, dreading all of the matching that I would have to do. I finally got around to it last week and it was an experience I will not soon repeat!


                                      Burda 8-2015-118 in black wool and grey pinstripe wool

I started with a simple three-seam pencil skirt pattern from Burdastyle magazine. It’s one I have made before with success. After the grey skirt proved a bit long, I had shortened the pattern. I also changed the vent to one that overlaps. The shorter length proved suitable for a summer skirt. Four darts, three seams, a zip, a vent and a lining: not much to this one, but for the plaid.

Some may not be aware of it, but I am a little particular. Somewhat fussy about things that should align and match. My first issue was with the lining. My navy scraps were not skirt-sized. So, I went with my standby:

Burda 8.2015.118 plaid vent


There is no magenta in this plaid. The line running through it is, in fact, red. However, undaunted, I used my magenta lining AND magenta thread in the serger, which is visible on the vent and hem edges. I’m revolting (in the verb sense) against expectation.

My main objective was to have the hem rest along a dominant white line in the plaid. To this end, I succeeded. It was impossible to match the plaid exactly over the side seams, given the curve of the hip and the fact that one side seam houses the zip.

Burda 8.2015.118 plaid lining

In endeavouring to match the plaid, I installed the zip on the right, rather than the left, side seam.

When I tried on the skirt for the first time, I wondered why the vent was in front. Oops! But look at these side seams and how the plaid matches:

Success! After three attempts to install the zip before finishing the side seam. The fourth try involved finishing the side seam, then putting in the zip. I pinned every single one of those white lines to hold them in place for stitching. The centre back seam looks pretty good, too!

Burda 8.2015.118 plaid back

Again, not an exact match on the plaid, but a match across the seam.

The only remaining difficulty was the waistband. As cut, there was no way it would align with the plaid of the skirt.

Burda 8.2015.118 plaid alternate waistband

The original waistband, cut on the cross grain.

I knew that the waistband would never be seen under a top, tucked in or otherwise. It didn’t really matter all that much, except to me. I am particular about these things, after all. My solution was to recut the waistband on the bias grain so that the direction of the plaid would change.

Burda 8.2015.118 plaid bias waistband

Bias cut waistband doesn’t need to match.

I had to piece the waistband, which means that its side seams don’t match, but even I am not fussy about that…

Tied, yet unbound

Here I am, another year at school over and, five days in, finally feeling like it might be summer. The weather has been exquisite, but the end of school is always bittersweet with its inevitable farewells, and it takes several days to get past it and into vacation mode. Today I finally feel like I am on vacation, despite the setback of a summer cold which has me sniffling and nasal rinsing repeatedly. Although I am unfettered, my clothing has been less so.


I am unsure what it says about me, but I have been making a lot of garments with ties at the neck. One can see five iterations of the same top (Jalie 2921), although the fifth is in the donation bag due to poor fabric choice. A dress, a blouse and a cardigan are also represented. I had some kind of moment through the bleak midwinter, of needing and wanting all these ties that are not, in actual fact, terribly binding. Most are too short to tie in a proper bow. So why the ties? It is probably best not to dive too deep into that one.

The knit Jalie 2921 has become quite ubiquitous in my wardrobe rotation. The order of construction appears above, although wearing preference would be quite different. The first two were in border prints that were fun to plan. My personal favourite is the navy print, and it gets worn the most often. So often, that a student commented on it. We were doing an inquiry on families and we read this book:

It is about first generation children and how their mothers speak, behave and dress differently than mothers in their new country. The boy reading it with me is a first generation child and he told me that his mother sometimes makes him wear weird clothes. I looked at his football jersey and shorts and said, “Yes, that is a really weird outfit you have on.” To which he replied “Madame, you wear the same clothes every week!” He was correct; it is only the fabric that changes. I do try to vary which of the tie tops I wear, but it all depends on the skirt I wear, and my summer skirts are navy. I finally got around to making a black linen skirt for summer, but it was too little, too late for my fashion critic.

This is the one that did not work out. Love the fabric, but it is just too beefy for the purpose. And I need to wear less black… (according to my seven-year-old critic!)

Brown is a good neutral for me. When I need something that is neither black nor blue (my favourite neutral), I turn to brown. I needed a summer weight cardigan and found a chestnut heather Italian viscose jersey at Downtown Fabrics.

I made a pretty little cardigan to wear over dresses and sleeveless tops. Since I am the Cardigan Queen (when I went to Montréal at the beginning of June for the Chagall exhibit, I went to Simons and bought five cardigans, four of them black!), I needed one for those interior temperature drops. I am always cold, even in summer, especially as I go from exterior spaces to interior ones. This cardigan, from Ottobre magazine, is a nice layer to have and fits in my purse. I opted to ignore all of the procedures using clear elastic (I hate that unwieldy stuff) and interfaced instead. The tie is an attached ribbon from Mokuba, painstakingly matched to the fabric.

The dress is Victory Patterns’ Hazel. It has no closures and pulls on over the head. As a result, it is not terribly fitted, but is very cute. The tie is also long enough to make a bow. I just have to learn how to do it nicely.

I have long thought that the pattern presented a lovely dress, but I was not truly inspired to make it until I saw a review in Threads (pictured on the right). I love the use of the skirt fabric on the collar/tie and cuffs and actually had another planned (in black! And a black/charcoal print.). I ultimately decided that one such dress was sufficient and a great use of the floral wool challis I had purchased in 2013 and never found a use for. Only the skirt is lined, although the bodice has neckline facings. This dress is fun to wear, but being all wool, will have to wait for cooler temperatures. Maybe I do need a summer version…

The blouse is Vogue 8772, which I have made before, a few times and in a few versions. This is a workhorse pattern with many options for collars, sleeves and hem lines. I was first attracted to the pattern because of view B with the tie neck. I have had this silk/cotton since 2013 and always intended for it to be a blouse such as this, but only got it made this winter. It is lovely to wear and has the sheen associated with silk. I still have to work on shirtmaking skills, but I am getting there. There are such a lot of steps and procedures involved; it must be one of the most skill-intensive garments. Shirts and blouses are not quick projects and I tend to avoid them. I am pleased with how this one turned out. The nectarine colour is not great for me, but the mink pebbles help to balance it out somewhat (I hope!). It looks lovely with my brown skirts and cardigans, so I’ll keep it, whilst looking for a good blue or black print.

Here’s to summer! And ties that do not bind.

Sometimes I think my head is just for hats

Several years ago, Slate magazine had a euphemism contest. (Euphemistic language fascinates me: why are we so reluctant to speak frankly about bodily functions and excretions?) Slate’s competition had readers come up with euphemisms for stupidity. The winner was “Sometimes I think my head is just for looks”. I’ve modified it for my winter so far.

Those are seven hats that I have made this winter. And one cowl. I am noticing a lot of navy Malabrigo (Paris Night is the name of the colourway, actually). I bought six skeins of it when I thought I might make a cardigan. I made several hats instead. And a cowl. Only three items were duds: the cowl (not cozy enough), the sock yarn hat on the left of the group photo (too slouchy) and the hat to the right of the turquoise one (too loose).

I am a member of the 52 hat challenge group on Ravelry, although I only lurk and try to keep to one hat per week. I managed well enough in January, until that long, slouchy sock yarn hat took two weeks instead of one. Such tiny needles! So many rows of ribbing (40), then the hat (80 rows!). So tedious! No more sock yarn hats for me; I will have to find something else to do with the sock yarn I have, that does not involve sock making. I still have a hole in my right index finger from those tiny needles!

Skirts winter 2016-17

I made a few skirts this winter.

I have been busy with skirts this winter. I was unhappy with A-line skirts, so decided to try interesting shapes and details in pencil skirts. I had, in all honesty, been avoiding the dreaded skirt vent. My sample at Seneca had taken me 4,5 hours to make and I was not anxious to repeat the experience. I decided to face this nemesis, and found a brilliant tutorial. I now only make skirts with back vents! Sometimes two of them!

Vogue 7937 has two back vents. I made it twice, in navy wool and a heathered brown wool/lycra suiting called Montreal. There are no lining pieces in the pattern, so I had to draft them. On the navy lining, you can see unpicked stitches where I got it wrong and had to use the (thankfully excessive) seam allowance to fix the problem. This is a Vogue Basic Design pattern, and is a terrific basic pencil skirt with interesting details. Since most of my fabrics, which are increasingly becoming clothing, are blue and brown, these skirts get a lot of wear.

These three skirts are all from Lekala, which provides PDF patterns with personal measurements. Lekala has hundreds of patterns, many of which have interesting details, something I am always seeking. The merlot skirt (three top photos) has curved seams across the front, pieced side panels and a back pleated panel for walking ease. I did the quilter’s trick of lapping the pieced areas, forgetting that the poly suiting would have to be topstitched. So, my seams align but my topstitching does not. The second skirt (made with the other yard of Montreal wool/lycra suiting) also has curved panels across the front and a pleated panel at one side. It is difficult to see in the wool, but the lower centre photo is my attempt to show this panel. This skirt has a centre back vent. The third skirt is a basic five seam skirt, three front panels and two back panels, with a back zip and vent. I would like to remake the merlot skirt in a better fabric for the purpose. The poly blend was very disagreeable and I am not pleased with the result. The only skirt here that gets regular wear is the brown one, but only because the 5 seam skirt has proven difficult to match with the few colours I wear. It is a houndstooth check in camel, purple and green. I have some purple jersey bought for the purpose of making some kind of top to go with this skirt.

This last skirt is my new favourite. It is from Burdastyle magazine, 3/2015.124. It is a pegged skirt, meaning the hem is narrower than the body of the skirt. There are pleats along the waistline, which can be problematic for me in dresses, but I seem to get away with in skirts. Yay! I love the shape of this skirt and it is surprisingly flattering on. It has a back vent and zip and is great fun to wear. I last wore it with Jalie 2921 in a fabric called Nimble dots, purchased from Marcy Tilton in 2014. (If you think I have a thing about hats and skirts, wait until I detail my thing about tie neck tops!) The skirt itself is a beautiful wool suiting lined with purple bemberg, both from Downtown Fabrics.

Wool makes the skirt (or the hat!), as far as I’m concerned. It is no coincidence that the skirts that get the most wear are made with the loveliest wools. It is worth the expense for the ease of construction and wear.

Remember: spring is just four days away!


On speechlessness

I am quite without a voice at the moment. It started Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning, I could barely speak. My commute was eerily silent, as I was unable to sing along with my tunes. The drive in to work was decidedly non-fun as a result. I got through the morning, came to the realization that I could not do my job without speaking, and returned home to my new best friends.


The Vicks makes my décolletage positively glisten! Could that be the bodybuilders’ secret?

I have been dutifully drinking ginger tea with honey (yuck! I think I’ll try maple syrup next time. Or would that be even worse?), using the neti pot and making my collarbones gleam with Vicks, but I remain voiceless, apart from some barely coherent croaks. I managed to say a few words to the postman Friday afternoon when I met him in the hall, feeling like a teenage boy whose voice is breaking.

The last time I lost my voice, it took a week to get it back. I wondered at times if I would ever speak again. Being incapable of communication is a strange and frustrating experience. It is irritating to be unable to join in conversation, and can come across as rudeness to those unaware of the situation. My friends were most unhelpful, deliberately making provocative statements, knowing that I could not respond to them. All of us learned how expressive eyebrows are during that week. And when it was over, I had so much to say! As I suspect I will after this bout…

Of course, I have other ways to voice my thoughts and express myself. I have several modes of communication available to me: e-mail, texting, letters and, of course, fabric. I am merely speechless and not really voiceless at all.

Before my speech went thither, Halloween occurred. I participated again this year by dressing up at school. The new French Immersion curriculum has a particular emphasis on French culture, so I picked up Burda 2493: Josephine.


Burda 2493: Josephine. Or any Regency lady, really.

I thought it would be a quick and easy costume. It was, mostly. But I chose velvet for the overdress, which went fine until the lining went in. So much shifting! After the third time unsewing the tremendously long seam, I finally followed Burda’s advice and basted. After that, it went together beautifully.

I had leftover Galileo fabric that I used for the bodice. The skirt was a navy cotton velvet I found at Affordable Textiles. There are decidedly non-Regency construction methods here. It is not a faithful reproduction of the period! There is a zipper in the overdress (20th century invention) and elastic to make the ruffles of the dress neckline and sleeves. Expedient? Yes. Historically accurate? No, although it does feature the Empire waistline of the period.


Josephine from the front.

I used a cotton broadcloth with dragonflies for the dress. I had made other plans for the fabric when I bought it in 2013, but then I remembered my feelings about yellow. This is more of an orange-yellow, which is why it looks fine with all of the blues. The print is rather whimsical, so perhaps it is best that it did not become a “real” garment. One of the students asked me if I was a pioneer! Did pioneers wear velvet overdresses with trains?!? But I did see her point: because of its smaller scale print and the fact that it is cotton, it does not read as an empress’ gown. My own students treated me like an empress on the Halloween parade by holding up the train. I had my very own ladies-in-waiting! In hindsight, for my costume to make sense, I should have engaged a Napoleon…


On stress fabric (and fabric stress)

People react to stress differently: some eat, some drink, some exercise more and some become consumers of goods. I fall into the final category and my goods are fabrics. I have become much more disciplined in my fabric purchases since the fabric extravaganza of 2014, and have only made three orders in 2016. Two were in May, when I was told I may be getting a split grade, and the third was two weeks ago, when it actually became a reality. My stress fabric from the most recent order arrived on Monday.


Stress fabric from EOS! There are 8,5 yards here. I love how it arrives, wrapped in tissue and packaged with my name on it. Still predominantly blue and brown, although I have branched out to teal on the blue spectrum!

I must be less stressed: in May, I ordered 19 yards, while this time I ordered only 8,5 yards! The funny thing about stress fabric is that I use it quickly. Often, I have completed the deliberations over how I will use it, and it is simply a matter of finding the time to launder it and to prepare the necessities of construction. There is only one fabric from the May orders for which I have no assigned project. My original idea for it fell flat and I have not yet come up with a Plan B.

It helps that I have some patterns for basics that I particularly like. In fact, four of the ten May stress fabrics were made into Ottobre 2.2006.1, a basic knit top.

Not terribly exciting as projects, but three of the four filled a gap in my wardrobe. The fourth, which was both the last to be made and the last picture (on the right), was not as successful. I liked the fabric, but not as the top.

I was more successful in repeating one of my favourite skirts from the spring, Burda 6835.

Skirts always look odd on my dress form! The Portofino stretch cotton from Marcy Tilton was a great choice for this skirt. I was also fortunate to have a zipper for the exposed zip that almost perfectly matched and was more attractive than the regular separating zips with their light grey teeth. The teeth on this zip look more like pewter.

Bengaline is legendary as a recommended fabric for many of Australia’s Style Arc patterns, but it is rather difficult to come by in this part of the world. I managed to obtain some in that May order from EOS, and made the Style Arc Linda pant.


My dress form has no legs, so pants are photographed on the floor!

I had plenty of fabric to do full-length pants. In fact, I cut full-length pants. However, I found this print overwhelming when it reached the ground and proceeded to cut off 20cm (8″) in order to make capris. Much more wearable, if only for one season.

My final garment from those May orders was completed just last week-end. Another Style Arc pattern, this one is the Patti dress.


As a column, I look best with long seams in dresses. The seam lines on this are great for me and the hem is only a slight A-line. Perfect!

This dress ticks so many boxes for me: no waist seam, long shoulder princess lines on the front and back for shaping and only a slight flare at the hem which means no vent! There is no lining, which is not my preference, but my fabric was opaque enough.


Can you see the beautiful shaping? I can’t see the beautiful shaping…

The fabric is Lido, a whimsical print from Marcy Tilton. Although a mid-scale print, the seam line shaping is quite obscured. I was actually worried that it might be too large a print for so much shaping and would look fractured. This is not the case, but I regret that the seaming is lost in the busyness of the print.

Photos of the interior to prove that the seams are shaped! It required further alterations, but was quite wearable (I wore it to work last Monday for the first day of my split class!). I found that the back neckline gaped. Fortunately, I had done the more extensive alteration of raising the waist on the five pattern pieces that make up the dress. (These five pieces yield nine panels! Lots of curvy seams to prepare and stitch.) The usual process on a princess seam dress is to remove excess from the princess seams, which translated into alterations on four dress pieces and both facing pieces. I was feeling lazy, and low on tracing paper, so chose to dart the excess on the centre back panel and the back facing. I then forced out the darts on both pieces. This is where the excess was, and it saved me paper and aggravation, for a time.

I performed these alterations last Sunday, and decided to make another Patti dress in a fabric that has caused me undue stress since purchasing it in April, 2014.


Milly poppy cotton sateen from Sawyer Brook. When I type too quickly and inattentively, poppy becomes poopy!

How could such a beautiful fabric cause stress, you may ask? For the very reason that it is beautiful, that there were only two yards of it, that it had to be a dress and that the dress it had to be was eluding me. Sometimes owning fabric becomes oppressive. (I have another that refused to let on what it wanted to be until just recently, too, but I’ll get to that one in a bit.)

So, from April, 2014 until last Sunday (18 September 2016), the poppy fabric would not co-operate and become a garment. After I completed the Lido dress, I realised it was perfect for the poppies. Low on fabric, I plotted it all out. The Patti dress calls for 2,2m and I had just 2 yards. It is mostly necessary for the length of the pieces. I managed to fit everything on a single layer with this directional fabric, but I needed more pattern pieces. For which I needed more tracing paper. For which I needed Boris (my car) to get to the art supply store. Boris decided he needed a new battery and set everything behind schedule by a couple of hours. I was just glad it was on a Sunday at lunchtime and not Monday at 6:30am, when I set off for work! Eventually, I completed all the pattern pieces, but was far too tired to cut the fabric.

Monday was overwhelming, with my split class, so again, I got little done, apart from pinning the pattern pieces for cutting. I wake up at 4am these days, so I cut out all of the dress pieces before work Tuesday. I was home after 6 again, so had enough energy for marking, fusing and pinning seams. Wednesday at 4am, I sewed the major seams and decided I wanted the dress for Curriculum Night, which was Thursday. I managed to leave work early enough to get home by 4:30 and finished the dress, except for the hem, which I finished Thursday morning. 4am has its advantages!

We again have the problem of seaming being obscured by a busy print. But it’s such a beautiful print! I don’t generally like florals, unless they are stylized, which these poppies are. I further complicated matters (and my time crunch) by adding a lining. I could have fully lined the dress, but I was afraid of not nailing the understitching at the neckline and having the lining peek over the dress. I kept the facings and made a front and back lining following the line of the side seam and carrying it out to the centre front and back, using the dress hem line as my lining cut line. I did not account for the curve of the facing over the bust.

The lining is very short! The light coloured line you see is my basting of the hem line for the lining. Needless to say, the lining was not hemmed. The deep curve of the facing at the armhole was tricky and really only behaves itself on the body. On the dress form, it creates bulk at that point. You can also see the self fabric facing. This is a cotton, and a fine one at that, but it was actually quite necessary to add the lining. It was somewhat sheer, and cotton is sticky without a lining, making it difficult to dress. I am really pleased with how it turned out and it did get worn to Curriculum Night!

My other instance of fabric stressing me out was resolved this summer. I bought this gorgeous linen in November 2015 and found its pattern in August 2016. So, just 8 or 9 months of stress with this one.


Linen digital print newsprint collage from Emma One Sock. This is my old apartment; the parquet in my new one has a dark stain.

I eyed this one for several months. It sold out quickly last summer, but EOS was able to restock it. I purchased it during the Thanksgiving sale last November. I thought it wanted to be a shirt, but could not imagine wearing it as such. Again, only two yards. It seemed too light for a bottom, but it ultimately became a skirt, just in time for my trip to Amsterdam and Brussels.

I don’t usually like pleats, but these ones are stitched down and there is a waistband. It is a really fun skirt to wear and the print is so unique. (My students were touching my skirt last week to see if I was wearing a newspaper!) The linen is sheer and it had to be lined. It was August 21, the day of my flight to Amsterdam, so I had little choice but to overpay for rayon bemberg at Fabricland. I used this tutorial, as the pattern is for an unlined skirt.

Fabric both relieves and creates stress. My fabric cupboards have been whittled down considerably, which makes the contents less oppressive for me, but I do sometimes give in to temptation and beauty, as I did recently. I just hope those fabrics will not be around long enough to oppress me.

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