31 January 2011

Lacquer Lundi

So, it's been a while since I posted a variety of varnish, a load of lacquer, a plethora of polish, ... um, yeah...I'm done now.

Last time I was at Sephora, I picked up the Sephora by OPI Havana Nights mini collection.  It contains four tiny litle bottles of polish in the prettiest shades.  From left to right, we have Teal We Meet Again, Read My Palm, Rumba Romance and Caliente Coral.  Although I am not a fan of the mini brush (it's small, so it's difficult to hold and it doesn't fan out across the nail very well), I am a fan of mini collections.  They allow me to try out a bunch of neat colours without having to store large bottles of polish that will never get used up.

On to the pretties:

Sephora by OPI - Teal We Meet Again
- part of the mini collection purchased at Sephora for $18 US

Teal We Meet Again is a polish right up my alley.  I love teal and this polish delivers with its deep greenish-blue base that catches light like a beetle's wings.  It is so pretty that the cashier at the mall told me she loved the polish I was wearing.  Of course she did - it's gorgeous.

Teal We Meet Again required two coats for complete coverage.  It wore okay with tip wear and a few tiny chips after three days.

Sephora by OPI - Read My Palm
- part of the mini collection purchased at Sephora for $18 US

Read My Palm is a lovely blue-green creme polish that leans toward the legendary Tiffany blue colour.

Read my palm applied well, as the polish formula is good.  However, it did take three coats for completely opaque coverage.  Two coats would have sufficed for the individual that is not as picky about small streaks as I am.  The wear was good, with only tip wear after two days.

Sephora by OPI - Rumba Romance
- part of the mini collection purchased at Sephora for $18 US

Rumba Romance is a coppery metallic polish that glows on the nail.  It is a warm, beautiful colour.  It caught the eyes of many of my colleagues that thought it was beautiful as well.

Rumba Romance required two coats for total opacity.  It wore well with only tip wear after two days.

Sephora by OPI - Caliente Coral
- part of the mini collection purchased at Sephora for $18 US

Calienta Coral is a juicy orange creme that is bright and sunny and delicious.  Pretty much everything the weather around here is not right now.  But, never fear, warmer days are coming to the northern hemisphere and Caliente Coral would be a perfect mani/pedi polish for a hot summer day by the pool.

Unfortunately, I needed four coats of Caliente Coral to render my nails completely streak-free and opaque.  This means that it took a fair while for the manicure to dry, which is not good for an impatient gal like myself.  The wear was okay - I had tip wear and a few small chips after two days.

Before I sign off, I wanted to gush about my new favourite hand cream, Dermalogica Mutivitamin Hand and Nail Treatment.  A while back I received a free sample of this product (when I placed an order through Spa Boutique, they tossed in a few tester freebies) and I really liked it.  This hand cream is rich and moisturizing, without being heavy.  Best of all, the cream absorbs quickly into my skin and doesn't leave me with greasy mitts.  In addition, it also has a wonderfully fresh light citrusy scent that I find very appealing.  Love it!

Now, this stuff is not cheap compared to drug store brands, but I think it's worth the extra dough that I have to shell out for it.

26 January 2011

Exams - Blech!

It's the end of semester one.  Which means it's time for final exams.  I do believe the only thing worse than writing final exams is creating final exams, proctoring final exams and marking final exams.  Oh and then I get to compute final marks and write report cards.  This time of year is always so crazy hectic that I barely have time to breath.

So, needless to say, I am dying to get back into the sewing room.  I have so many projects swirling around in my head and I have no time to make them come to fruition.  It's torture, I tells ya.  Torture!

The only good thing about the end of this semester is bidding adieu to a particularly difficult student.  Every once in a blue moon, I run across a kid that stretches my considerable patience to the limit.  That.Was.This.Kid.  However, to put it in perspective, I had 73 other students that were wonderful to be around.  So, the odds are still considerably in my favour.

Any other teachers out there with a student (or twelve) that just drives you batty?   Tell me about it, so I don't feel like I'm alone in my misery.  *sob*

16 January 2011

I Want to Believe

Scotland has the Loch Ness Monster, the Pacific Northwest (USA) has Big Foot and Mexico has El Chupacabra.  But, there's a new mythical monster and it's located in SW Ontario.

The Abominable Snow Vizsla

Can you spot him? This is an elusive creature, capable of blending into its surroundings seamlessly.   So, look very closely. 

Witnesses are rarely taken seriously.  It seems most observers are lucky to take blurry, dark or half-formed pictures.  Nothing that will allow for serious scientific investigation.

More often than not, the Abominable Snow Vizsla leaves only tracks, as if taunting us.

 A lucky few claim to have seen it seen sprinting through the tree cover.

Or shrouded in a swirl of snow. 

This truly is is a mystery for the ages.  We may never know if this legendary creature actually exists or if it is just the product of fevered imagination. 

15 January 2011

The Wazoodle Coat

Next up is a winter coat.  I will be using the coat pattern from Butterick 2457, a vintage pattern from the 1960s.  I'm smitten with the raglan sleeves and the fabulous roll collar that stands slightly away from the neck.  Unfortunately, the pattern was not designed with pockets, so I will be adding some to make the coat more useful - I need a place for keys and the like.  I haven't yet decided whether I will place the pockets in the side seams or go for some cute patch pockets on the front.  Right now, I am leaning toward the latter.

I will be using a mid-weight wool/cashmere/acetate blend melton in balsam.  I purchased this fabric in several colourways from Wazoodle many years ago (back when they actually carried fabrics that were desirable - lately, their selection has been less than stellar).  Since I want this coat to be reasonably warm in the colder weather, I will be underlining the entire garment in a thick ivory coloured cotton flannel, also purchased from Wazoodle.

As this coat is to be a quick(ish) wearable muslin to test fit, I won't be going crazy with the tailoring techniques.  I have plans to use this pattern for a bigger project if this garment turns out well.

12 January 2011

In the Navy

I am a huge proponent of the "Don't Sew an Orphan, Sew an Outfit" approach, so I sewed up a couple of other pieces to go with my new jacket.  I absolutely hate when I make a fab piece of clothing and then have nothing to wear with it.  So, a few years back, I started sewing outfits - entire looks from head to toe.  That way, I will never have one sad little garment, sitting forlornly in my closet, being overlooked.

I have paired up my navy tropical wool Butterick 5567 (view D) jacket with a pair of navy medium weight cotton twill pants (McCall's 2101 - an elastic waist pant, now sadly out of print).  Like Carolyn, I am a big fan of elastic waist pants.  Not only does my waist change size over the course of the month, but also over the course of the day.  With my job as a teacher, I can't afford to be restricted by my clothing, so elastic waists are heaven sent to keep me comfortable. Besides, most people don't even realize that I'm wearing elastic waist pants since I rarely tuck in my tops.

The top is Vogue 8597 (view A with the long sleeves of view B), a fabulous cowl neck top with raglan sleeves.  This top is interesting as the front of the top and the cowl neck are all cut in one piece.  This makes for some quick and easy sewing.  I used a rust coloured bamboo knit from Fabric Mart that picks up the rust striations in the jacket fabric.  This top is so soft and luxurious.  I love the bamboo knits!

I have styled this outfit with navy socks and a pair of rust leather Mary Janes by Clarks.  I opted to forgo any costume jewellery, but I am wearing a sapphire and diamond channel set band on my right hand - I like how the blue sapphires play off the navy fabrics.

10 January 2011

12-4-12 *Jacket Numero Uno*

PatternButterick 5567 - view D

 Size:  size 8 - no alterations

Fabric:  navy blue (very subtly striated with dark plum) tropical weight worsted wool gabardine from Fabric Mart

Project Photo

Comments:  Since joining the Jacket a Month (12-4-12) sewalong on Stitcher's Guild, I have been seeing amazing jackets and coats everywhere.  Whether in pattern form or on retail shopping sites, I am bombarded by inspiration.  Oddly enough though, this first jacket sprang forth without any outside influence.  I picked up the pattern at the last BMV sale and while going through my stash, this wool seemed like the perfect match. 

This jacket sewed up very quickly and easily.  The pattern is drafted well, the instructions are good and all the pattern pieces fit together perfectly.  This would be an ideal project for a beginning sewist looking for a simple intro jacket project.  There is essentially no fitting due to the dropped shoulders and the large amount of ease built into the design.  Also, the jacket closes with a single snap at the neck, so there are no finicky closures (like buttons or zippers) to fret about.

I'm not sure this would be the best design for the busty gals in the crowd - due to the limited fitting options.  However, the rest of us boobically impaired ladies don't need much fitting.  Flat pattern, flat chest - it's all good.

Conclusion:  Nice little jacket.  I won't likely be making it again, as I prefer jackets with some more waist shaping, but this one will be a nice addition to my professional wardrobe.

8 January 2011

2011 - So Far, Not So Good

This has been a tough week in my neck of the woods.

On Monday, a friend of mine lost her father.  He died of a massive heart attack.  There were no warnings, so no one had a chance for proper good-byes.  It's tragic.

Also on Monday, a colleague of mine was laid to rest.  Marlene was a 31 year old teacher at my school.  She died suddenly of septic shock just after the holidays.  I can't imagine the grief and disbelief that her husband of three years, her parents and her friends are feeling.  I was not close to Marlene.  In fact, I barely knew her.  And that makes me sad.  Sometimes, the pace of life is so quick that we forget to cherish those around us.  I hope not to make that mistake again.

3 January 2011

Butterick 5523

PatternButterick 5523

Size:  size 8, with modifications discussed below

Fabric:  coral wool blend knit from Fabric Mart

Project Photo
Comments:  I love this dress.  It's such a wonderful addition to my work wardrobe for the winter months.  The combination of the long sleeves and the heavy knit fabric allows me to wear a dress in the dead of winter and still keep all my important bits warm and cozy.  Also, this dress is so comfortable and easy to wear.  And the best part?  People kept complimenting me all day long (even the clueless men in my department that never notice anything!).

The dress is sewed up straight out of the package, with only minor alterations.   The instructions would have you construct the bodice (complete with sleeves), followed by the skirt and then attach the two parts together.

Instead, I sewed in a different order.  I completed the  entire front, followed by the entire back.  Then, I set the sleeves in flat.  Finally, I sewed the side seams for the entire length of the dress (from sleeve cuff to armpit to hem).  Since my fabric was a very stable knit, with only minor stretchiness, I wanted to have the ability to sew smaller side seams if I needed the extra room.  In the end, I used 1/4" seams, instead of the typical 5/8" seams and this helped me avoid the stuffed sausage look.

My only qualm is with the depth of the neckline.  It's a wee bit too low for my taste.  I will be raising it by 1/2" to 1" in the next version.  I like to be able to bend over at school and not have all my wares on display (however, paltry those wares may be). 

I styled the dress with an enamel bee pin (Joan Rivers, similar here), worn at the waistline, a pair of opaque black tights and my fabulous new black leather boots (Clarks Wyld Polka).

Before I sign off, let me take a minute to gush about my boots.  I always have problems finding boots that will fit my monster calves (they are 15" in circumference in case you're wondering), but these babies zip right up, no problemo.  They are nicely cushioned in the sole, they have rounded toes and a lower heel, which is so important for a gal on her feet all day long.  I wore them for eight hours with nary a pinch, twinge or ouchie.  Also, the leather is soft and they are well made.  An extra added bonus was that I got them for an excellent price ($90 CDN, regular $160 CDN).  I will most certainly be looking for these bad boys in brown as well.  So ladies, if you have problem feet, combined with the calves of a Russian weight lifter like I do, then give these awesome boots a whirl.  You might be glad you did.

Conclusion:  This cutie pie of a cowl neck dress is a definite winner!  I can see myself making up several more versions of this little number.

2 January 2011

Hartley vs Guinness

I have a riddle for you.  

What do you get when mix a 4-pack of beer and very rambunctious pup with very strong teeth?


Don't worry.  No vizslas were harmed during the making of this riddle.

1 January 2011

One/One/One One

I'm gonna be honest.  I can't bring myself to do a recap of 2010.  The first six months of the year were some of the most grief stricken times that I have ever lived through and the final six months were some of the most joyous.  Either way, it's just too exhausting to think about.

Did I keep my New Year's Resolutions from last year?  I'm guessing probably not.  I refuse to look them up and find out.

Do I have any resolutions for the year going forward?  Not really.  I'd like to sew an outfit a month and I'd like to start exercising more.  But, other than that, I'm pretty flexible.

I finally feel like I have myself in a positive place and I won't dwell on the past.  My sewing mojo has returned, my fabric buying habit is back in full gear, we're prepping to build our dream house and Hartley keeps me laughing everyday.

Things are good.