25 February 2007

Queen of the Ottoman Empire

I love Ottoman Rib 4-way Stretch Fabric. I made two pairs of pants last year (one pair was included in my 2006 SWAP) with ottoman rib fabric and I wear them to death. They stretch just enough to be comfortable (like pajamas), but they don't stretch so much that they're sloppy (like pajamas). The fabric is sturdy, but drapey and it skims over the body beautifully. Once again, I LOVE this fabric. So, when I saw that Laura of Lucy's Fabrics had posted some more on her site, I could not resist. I bought 3 yards of both the brown and black.

While there, I also picked up some leopard print cotton rib knit. Lately, I have had a craving for animal prints and this fabric is funky, without being tacky, IMHO. I have a vintage sweater pattern on its way to me and I think it would be perfect in this fabric.

In other news, I have been continuing to sew for SWAP lately. I just haven't had much to post about. I am almost finished the wearable muslins for a SWAP top and skirt. I have also cut out a SWAP dress, jacket, skirt and top, as well as the muslin for another top. Hopefully, over the next few days, I will have something to show you.

17 February 2007

The Shape of Things to Come

Approximately 6 years ago, I was fat and unhealthy. My BMI was 28.3 (which is more than 3 points above the healthy weight range) and I could barely climb a flight of stairs without feeling winded. For my entire life up to grad school and the start of my career, I was always within the normal weight range for my height (my BMI ranged between 18.5 and 21.3). I was active and in good shape. When I was writing the thesis for my M.Sc., while at the same time attending Teacher's College, healthy eating and regular exercise were the first activities to fall off my schedule due to time constraints. This continued during the beginning of my teaching career, as I was up to all hours planning lessons and marking. Finally, one day, I saw a photo of myself and was shocked at what I saw. I was a puffy, lifeless version of what I considered to be the real me. Right around the same time, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer and died after several months of steady, painful decline. He was only 65 years old.

Then the light bulb went off - I hated how looked and I hated how I felt. My father's death also drove home the fact that life is short. I realized that there are so many things in life that you that you can't control and I had better start taking care of the things that I could control. I started eating better - vegetables, lean meats and complex carbohydrates, instead of cheeseburgers, fries and chocolate bars. I also developed an exercise regimen (cardio and weight lifting) for myself. My ultimate goal was not to lose weight (although it was a happy side effect) - it was to get healthy.

Within 1 year, I had lost 40 pounds. I had reduced my measurements - I went from wearing a size 14 to a size 4. I was healthy, vibrant, strong and unstoppable. I had never been so happy with the way that I felt and looked as during that time.

Fast forward to the last year and a half. I got lax, I got over-confident...I got lazy. Although, the scale tells me that I have only gained back 5 of the 40 pounds that I lost - that doesn't paint the whole picture. I have lost muscle mass and replaced it with fat - I am getting soft and losing definition. In a nutshell, it's time to get my butt back in gear. Looking at the medical history of my family is a grim reminder that I need to give my body all the tools it needs to keep me healthy - I don't want the heart disease, diabetes and cancer that plagues (or, more importantly, plagued) so many of my relatives.

So, that's why I'm writing this blog entry. Here is my plan for the next 12 weeks. After that, I will reassess and determine my next goal.

For weeks 1 to 4:
  • Mon, Wed, Fri - Weight Lifting - full body - 45 min - perform 2 sets (10-12 reps) of each exercise - rest 1 min in between sets
  • Sun, Tues, Thurs, Sat - Cardio & Abs - 30 min - treadmill, Yourself Fitness for the XBox, dog walking, etc., followed by 40 crunches
For weeks 5 to 12:
  • Mon, Wed, Fri - Weight Lifting - full body - 60 min - perform 3 sets (10-12 reps) of each exercise - rest 1 min in between sets
  • Sun, Tues, Thurs, Sat - Cardio & Abs - 30 min - treadmill, Yourself Fitness for the XBox, dog walking, etc., followed by 40 crunches


  • I will use the ratio of 40% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 20% fat to make up a 1400 - 1500 calorie per day meal plan.
  • I will increase my intake of vegetables (unfortunately, I'm not a fruit eater), lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fat.
  • I will eat 5 smaller meals (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner) instead of 3 larger ones.
  • I will continue to take vitamin supplements (multivitamin, vitamin C, vitamin E and calcium).

11 February 2007

Shoes, Glorious Shoes...

It is a well documented fact that I have a severe weakness for shoes. There are few things in life that make my heart go pitter-patter like a beautiful pair of pumps. Lately, I have been in buying mode. Here are few of my latest purchases...

While down in Florida on the Sea Camp field trip, I had the opportunity to stop into a Target. While there, I picked up three pairs of shoes. The first pair are brown leather slip-ons with a cute buckle detail. The second pair are brown suede, with a wedge heel. The third pair are brown clogs, with teal embroidery and beading and another nifty buckle.

The Shoe Company (a Canadian shoe retailer that have bricks & mortar locations and online shopping) had a clearance sale on for the last few weeks and I was compelled to add a few pairs to my collection. Behold my new acquisitions:

The first pair are black leather with studs and a low heel - comfortable, yet stylish for work. The second pair are brown leather and they have a vintage flair to them - at first I didn't like these, but now I am smitten with them. The third pair are a mix of plain and snakeskin brown leather, with stud details. The fourth pair are have the most adorable studded straps done all in brown suede. The fifth and sixth pair are the same shoe, both with black lace over black satin and taupe satin, respectively - they were so comfortable I couldn't resist getting them both. I also bought a pair of black patent leather strappy dress shoes, but I can't find an image of them.

You'd think that this would sate my appetite for shoes, but alas, I am still looking for a great pair of red shoes - so, the hunt continues.

10 February 2007

It Shirr is a Great Dress! - Part 2

Project Photo
Unfortunately since the fabric is black, it is difficult to get a great photo of the dress - I will have to remedy that for the final SWAP photos. You can make out the overall eyelet pattern however. I have included a full length picture and a close up of just the bodice. Hopefully, in the close up, you can see the shirring at the shoulder, lower bust and cummerbund.

I installed the invisible zipper...twice. Wow, what a pain in the patootie!! The eyelet fabric is a tad ravelly and lightweight - this made putting in the zipper quite tricky. I had to rip out one side completely because the fabric shifted during sewing, which left the seams misaligned on either side of the zipper and left a pucker at the end. Ugh! Have you ever tried to remove teeny tiny black stitches from black fabric? It ain't easy!! But, I persevered and in the end, the results were perfect (well, perfect enough that you'd have to actually put your head under my arm to see any mistakes - and then I'd put you in a head lock and give you a noogie!)

I tried the dress on at this point and quickly realized that my, um, shall we say, lack of endowment was going to be a problem. Everything fit well, except for the surplice bodice. If I relaxed my shoulders at all the straps would fall down my arms - which is really not the look for which I was going (especially since I plan on wearing this dress to chaperon the Winter Ball at the school where I teach). I debated on several ways to fix this problem and in the end I opened up the V-neck facings and restitched the shoulder seams, 1" down from the original stitching line at the outer sleeve, tapering to nothing at the neck. This pulls the bodice up and fixes any modesty issues. At left, there is a photo if the inside of the bodice, showing the V-neck facing and the bias tape used as armhole facings.

Lastly, the skirt was hemmed. I needed to trim 3" off the bottom of the skirt. Black rayon seam tape was machine stitched to the bottom of the skirt on the right side. The skirt was then turned up 3" and hand stitched all the way around. This left me with a neatly finished hem that fell just below my knee cap, which is a flattering length on me. The photo shows the seam tape on the hem (vertical, shiny line), as well as one of the french seams in the skirt panel (thin, horizontal line).

Due to the sheerness of the fabric, I will have to wear a slip under the dress - I guess it's time to go lingerie shopping!

This a perfect little black dress. It would fit the bill, whether worn to a wedding, a nice dinner out or a formal high school dance (which is exactly where I plan to wear it on it's inaugural voyage).

P.S. Thanks to all those people that left well wishes for my health. I am finally starting to feel better - although my sinuses still feel like they are filled with glue (I know, eew!) Today, I am planning on getting together the wearable muslin for two more SWAP pieces - so stay tuned.

5 February 2007

I'm Back

Just a short post to let everyone know that I'm back from Florida. Unfortunately, I'm sick - I picked up a nasty head cold on the airplane yesterday and now I feel awful. The best part is that I have to go to work today and attempt to teach while my head feels like it's going to explode.

Wish me luck.