25 March 2012

The Taming of the Arse - Week 12

Twelve weeks or 84 days or 2 016 hours or 120 960 minutes or 7 257 600 seconds...how ever you measure it...how times flies...

Within this span, I have lost eight pounds, built up my strength (upper body, lower body and core) and cleaned up my diet a large bit.  My bum knee (the one I dislocated several years ago) has a broader range of motion and I just generally feel healthier.

Unfortunatley, over the last while I have a had a flare-up of hip pain (which a physiotherapist-turned-teacher friend thinks may be related to my sciatica), which worsens when I do jumping jacks or jogging or the like.  I have been trying to avoid activities that exacerbate the problem, but full-body exercises typically require the use of the hips.  So, I am going to look into stretching and strengthening exercises for this area. 

I have finally started to notice that my clothes are fitting better.  In the past few days, I have been able to wear some pants that have been too small for a while now - cue angels singing.  My body has a tricky habit of building muscle quickly (woo hoo!), but releasing fat slowly (boo hoo!).  It is rather disconcerting to work hard at healthy diet and exercise, only to have newly built muscle push out the existing fat, which results in my dimensions getting larger before they get smaller.  So, feel free to picture me laying on the floor, drumming my heels and screaming, "BUT, I'm supposed to be getting SMALLER!!"  However, it appears that the fat burning has begun in earnest now (cross your fingers please).  Whew!

So, if you have been playing along at home, how goes the battle of the bulge?

21 March 2012

Kimono Uno

It is a balmy 27 C (81 F) here today peeps!  Considering the normal average temperature for March in these parts is 6 C (42 F), this is a reason for celebration!  We have been having unseasonably warm weather for the last week and a half.  The sunny, warm days are welcome to stay for as long as they like!

Since the weather was so darned fabulous today, I was feeling like bright colours.  So, I popped on a recent creation, the Diane Kimono Dress from Serendipity Studio.  The addition of some strappy red sandals and a turquoise with coral necklace and I was out the door, ready to enjoy the day.

The fabric was from a free bundle from Fabric Mart - another of the awesome rayon wovens they had a while back.  I must admit that when I first got the fabric I was a bit skeptical.  The colours are not really "my" colours and the bold pattern is a tad loud (okay, it's bloody well screeching).  However, the fabric kept making eyes at me every time I opened the fabric closet.  So, I succumbed to its fibre wiles and used it despite my reservations.  Well, I'm glad I did.  I got a ton of compliments on my dress today, which is a sure fire way of elevating a so-so garment to superstar status!

But, let's talk a bit about the pattern.  The design of this dress is quite simple to put together and so easy to wear.  The pattern gives you many design options - the crossover bodice, with cut-on sleeve, can be paired with a slim skirt, a fuller skirt or a tiered skirt and the garment can be finished with varying widths of hem and sleeve bands.  The torso is nipped in at the waist with a drawstring made of self fabric.

In the pattern envelope, there are several inspiration photos of sample dresses, each made with two or more coordinating fabrics.  However, I decided to stick with the entire dress made from one single fabric - I didn't want to get too fancy on my first go 'round (which I have dubbed my Kimono Uno).  I also settled on using the fuller skirt, combined with 1.5" bands at sleeve and hem.

After some flat pattern measuring, I cut out XS, with no modifications.  This proved to be a good choice and I was fairly pleased with the fit.  My only complaint is with the width and depth of the neckline - for my small frame, the neck is a bit too big for my comfort.  I will be fixing this issue for future dresses.

I have plans to sew up many more Diane Kimono dresses.  This pattern will certainly get a lot of mileage this spring.  It's fast to sew and it provides a ton of style possibilities.  I can't wait to start mixing and matching fabrics and design elements to create some interesting dresses.  So, stay tuned, because my creativity has been unleashed.

20 March 2012

The Skirty Dozen

Happy Spring, Northern Hemispherites!

In honour of the changing of the season (goodbye winter, hello spring) and the fact that it is a lovely warm day, I decided to don a cheerful outfit today. 

The skirt is another of my "Skirty Dozen," made from a rayon woven that many of you will recognize from Fabric Mart offerings a while back.  It is soft and flowy fabric - perfect for a skirt.  It is also quite pretty with the sweet little floral pattern.

Both the teal top and the watermelon coloured cardigan punch up colours found in the print of the skirt.

The teal sandals and amber pendant are the finishing touches.

Every year, I always find winter so dreary and thus I'm positively itching to put on some bright colours by this time of March.

And it goes without saying (even though I am saying it) that I am ecstatic when sandal season rolls around.  I love banishing the socks and letting my toes feel the breezes.  Ahh... delicious...

But, enough chatting.  It looks like a certain pup is telling me it's time for a walk.

17 March 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Kiss me, I'm Irish adorable!

14 March 2012

The Skirty Dozen

Sometimes I like big, involved projects that challenge me and expand my skills.  Other times, I prefer quick and easy.  These twelve skirts (I like to call them the skirty dozen*) fall soundly into the second category.

Anyone can make an elastic waist dirndl skirt - all you need is a bit of fabric, some wide elastic and about an hour.  To make your own:

  1. Find a piece of pretty fabric.  Make sure its width is large enough to go around your hips with some wiggle room.  Let's say I am using 50" fabric - that will give me around 10" of ease.
  2. Determine the length you would like your skirt (for me, I usually like 22").  Add 2" to that measurement (24" it is).
  3. So, I cut out a piece of fabric that is 50" by 24" and stitch up the selvedge side to make a big tube.
  4. Cut a piece of elastic (I use 2" wide elastic) that is comfortable on your waist.  Attach the cut ends together to make a tube.
  5. Gather the fabric tube onto the elastic tube.  I pin the skirt to the elastic in quarters.  Then, I stretch the elastic as I serge the fabric onto it, one quarter of the tube at a time.
  6. Finish the bottom with a 2" hem.
  7. Wear and enjoy.
All the skirty dozen are made with light weight fabrics (like rayon and linen) and are therefore, great for the warmer weather. However, because of the darker colours of some of the fabrics, those skirts can be worn with tights and boots in the winter too.  So, many of these skirts can serve my wardrobe needs year round.

Here's one example in action.  The skirt is made from a coral/red/grey/black print rayon woven that Fabric Mart was offering a while back.  The coral ruffle front tank top is from Land's End and the black fulled wool blazer is so old I can't remember where I got it.  I have on black textured tights and pair of black leather boots to cozy things up.

Over the next while, I'll post each skirt as I have styled it for work and/or play.

* So, how many of you caught my awesome play on words?

11 March 2012

The Taming of the Arse - Week 10

What a busy few weeks I have had - I could barely keep my head above water.  The biggest culprits were progress reports and parent-teacher interviews.  But, all is well now.  Can I get a big, "Oh, yeah, baby!" for March Break (some of my international readers may call it Spring Break).  One blissful week off, to do with as I please.  Sigh...

On the healthy living front, I have been doing pretty well.  I am still sitting at seven pounds lost, as I seem to have hit another plateau.  However, I am taking it in stride as I can tell that I am fitter. 

My biggest accomplishment to date is my increasing ability to do push ups.  Six weeks ago ago, I could do five bent-knee push ups, one month ago I upped the tally to ten and as of today I can do eighteen.  Even though they are the sissy push ups, I am still very proud at how much stronger I am getting. 

So, tell me, my little health nuts, how goes the fight?