Archive | September, 2010

Combating Jet Lag and Other Trip Goals

28 Sep

We leave for Pisa, Italy on Thursday, so this will be my last post before the trip. I have spent the last few days preparing for jet lag.  I’m one of those people who gets slammed to the point of completely missing the first two days of an overseas trip.  I usually feel like someone just dropped me off on Mars and expected me to function without a space suit.

It’s such a waste of adventure, not to mention money, to miss days of a trip due to jet lag, so I try to prepare in advance.  Through trial and error, I have figured out what works for me, so maybe it will help someone else.

About five days before an overseas trip (eastbound), I start going to bed one hour earlier each night and getting up one hour earlier each day.  This is the fourth day, so I will go to bed at 6:00 pm tonight and get up tomorrow morning at 2:00 am.  Last night, I went to bed at 7:00 pm and got up this morning at 3:00 am.  For westbound travel, you would reverse the process and go to bed one hour later each day.

Am I tired?  Oh, you betcha!  I think what really happens with this scheme is that I get the jet lag over with before I go, so that I can enjoy my trip when I get there.  It really works, though, so I’m not complaining.

Some other things I do for jet lag are to drink lots of water on the flight, limit my food intake, walk around the plane a bit, and try to get some sleep.  I try to stay out in the sun as long as possible when I get to my destination.  If I do all of those things,  I can usually stay up until bedtime (overseas time) the first day, which is the main goal.  After a good first night’s sleep, I’m fine.

So, now that I’ve overcome jet lag, what are my other goals for the trip?  I have a list of all the things I want to see, the food I want to eat (it IS Italy, after all), and the places I want to shop for fabric.  But, one of the things I’ve decided to do while I’m there this time is to take as many pictures of middle-aged, Italian women as I can.

Italian women are the style icons of the planet, but every time I tried to find pictures of middle-aged, Italian women when I was planning my travel wardrobe, I ran into a dead-end.  It seems that those lovely, middle-aged women are as invisible as we middle-aged, American women…sigh!

I know I’ll have to be careful when taking the pictures.  I don’t want to look like I’m stalking these poor ladies.  I do hope, however, to have enough pictures to post here, so that we can all get style ideas from them.  I think it will be fun.

It’s a two-week trip, so I’ll “see” you all when I return.

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As Promised, Infinity Scarf Instructions

27 Sep

I have decided that making one’s own silk scarf is the biggest bargain in sewing.  At Nordstrom, a large-sized silk designer scarf goes for between $250.00 and $350.00.  No kidding!  I paid $18.00 for 1 1/2 yards of silk at a local fabric store, and it took me about a half hour to make each of my infinity scarves. As they say, it’s a no-brainer!

Here are pictures of my two infinity scarves with the TSW cardigan I just completed:

The first scarf is a brown/seafoam green crinkle silk sheer, and the second is a black and cream polka-dot silk sheer.  I used the instructions from the current issue of Vogue Magazine to make the infinity scarf.  In case you are wondering what an infinity scarf is, it’s a scarf in a continuous circle (redundant?) that can be wrapped around your head a few times to give that current chunky, turtle-neck look.

You will need about 1 1/2 yards of 60 inch silk.  When you get your silk home, even out the ends of the fabric as much as possible.  Also, make sure you know how to use the rolled hem feature of your serger by testing a small sample before you begin.  Did I make a test hem?  No.  Do as I say, not as I do :).

The first thing you will do is fold the fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together, and pin.  Starting about 3 or 4 inches from the cut edge, serge until you get about 3 or 4 inches from the other cut edge (you’re stitching the selvages together):

Both ends will look like this. You will have 3 or 4 inches unstitched on either side.

The next part is a bit tricky.  With right sides together, stitch the ends together from selvage to selvage.  The scarf will be all bunched up at this point, but carry on.

There will be a hole in the middle of the scarf now.  Turn the scarf inside-out, through the hole, so that the public side of the scarf is facing out:

When you are finished sewing the edges and turning inside-out, it should look like this.

Now hand stitch the rest of the selvage seam closed, and viola, you have an infinity scarf!

Happy sewing!

Last Minute Travel Wardrobe Additions

25 Sep

I am really thrilled with this project.  I’ve had The Sewing Workshop Valencia pattern for a long time, and made the pants several times, even modifying them to have a zipper.  I really like these pants.

On the other hand, I’ve been very leery of making the jacket.  It’s everything I usually don’t like in a jacket.  It has drop shoulders (not good on my narrow frame), wide sleeves, and just lots of material everywhere.  This kind of jacket usually makes me look like a Mini-Me version of myself.  Here’s the TSW picture of the jacket:

Here is my version with some modifications:

Let me just say that I love this cardigan (yes, I used a sweater knit).  I really needed a heavy cardigan for the trip to wear in the evening.  I just couldn’t come up with the right pattern.  I wanted an Eileen Fisher-type cardi and the more I looked at this pattern, the more I thought it might work.

I had to make some modifications because I used a sweater knit.  I didn’t use the facings.  This is what the inside looked like after I sewed the back to the front without facings:

The crazy thing about this jacket is that the “lapel” on the front is not a separate piece.  It is actually a part of the front and goes all the way around to the back to make a collar.  Because it was so unorthodox, I got really confused about how to attach the front to the back.  I had it upside down and inside out several times before I finally got it right.

The other modification was to finish the hems and the center fronts with the serger (no turned up hem).  Here is a another picture:

Here I’ve included one of two infinity scarves I made.  But more on that (including instructions) tomorrow.

Consider Your Cyber Personality

21 Sep

I’ve been posting on the internet for years in various places, mostly craft sites, but also some financial and sports sites.  In the early days, I didn’t understand the whole “cyber personality” thing, and I’m sure I probably offended a lot of people.  Why?  Because I have a very dark sense of humor that requires facial expressions and hand gestures to really “get” my meaning.

Non-verbal communication is lost on the internet.  So, if I say something to you that I mean to be funny, and you can’t see my facial expression, the joke can be misunderstood and you might take offense.  I don’t realize that you’ve taken offense, because I can’t “see” your reaction, so I don’t have the opportunity to make an apology or explain myself.

On the internet, you are at the mercy of your writing skills.  On the internet, you have to plan ahead. It’s kind of like teaching.  When I am planning an activity with my students, I have to be able to imagine all of the outcomes of the activity before we begin.  Do I give them the glue before or after I give them the paper?  If I give them the glue before, it may end up in places I couldn’t have imagined.  You get the picture.

I bring this up because I see people putting hoof-in-mouth on the internet all the time (me included).  And I see people becoming unreasonably offended, as well.  Since I am very adept at both (long after I wrote this, I realized someone could possibly take this the wrong way, lol.  I mean I am adept at putting hoof in mouth AND being unreasonably offended), I feel I can give some advice, so here goes:

Advice to the hoof-in-mouth folks:

1.  When someone asks your opinion, make sure you answer for yourself only.  Example question: What do you think of face lifts?  Good answer:  I wouldn’t get a facelift because I’d be afraid of the outcome.  Possibly offensive answer:  I don’t think women should get facelifts because it makes them look like freaks.

2.  If you are in a bad mood, you probably ought to refrain from comment.

3.  If you decide to comment anyway, re-read before pressing the post icon.  Think about the ramifications of your comment.

Advice to easily offended or easily annoyed folks:

1.  Lighten up.  You have probably been misunderstood on the internet before.

2.  Remember, most people want to say the right thing and be a contributing part of the group.  But, people are human – including you.  We all make mistakes.

3. Everyone has their own cyber personality.  Some cyber personalities are social and friendly, some are analytical, some are funny, some are opinionated.  It’s what makes the cyber world turn.

Most importantly, on whatever side of the fence you are standing, please don’t start a 4th grade girls’ club.  In the teaching world, we are always discouraged when our delightful little 2nd and 3rd grade girls become 4th graders and start developing clicks, because we know it’s just the beginning of a, sadly, long and winding road.

The Travel Wardrobe Completed

18 Sep

The travel wardrobe is finally finished. Rifinito!  De finition!  Absolutely done!

It was a great sewing experience for me, and I learned a lot through the process.  For one thing, I have some new TNT patterns that are fitted perfectly to my body.  That alone was enough to make the whole endeavor worth it.

These are the patterns I used that are now TNT:

Loes Hinse Oxford Pants:

This is the top pattern I used for most of the tops.  It’s Vogue 8323:

Also, I used up some stash (of course, let’s not mention how many fabric shopping sprees I went on).  So, here are a few pictures of the various pieces, mixed and matched up to a point.  Please use your imagination for the rest.


Some other patterns that were used were the Vogue 8585 Marcy Tilton asymmetrical top, which is also a TNT but I knew that before I started this project.  The skirt is Butterick 3134, which is a lovely skirt pattern that I’ve made long and short, with and without elastic and zipper at the waist.  You can do pretty much anything with this pattern.

All in all, I think I have a comfortable travel wardrobe that is a step above the American shorts, t-shirt, and sneaker travel look.  Hopefully, it will pack small and withstand the rigors of the suite case.  I may have to do some touch up ironing on the road, but not too much.  After all, the whole purpose is to enjoy this fabulous trip to Italy.

Winter Wardrobe Planning

16 Sep

I know I haven’t posted lately, but I really have been busy sewing.  I just need to get my DH in one spot long enough to take some pictures of the travel wardrobe.  For all practical purposes, it’s finished.  And just in the nick of time, because I’m REALLY tired of sewing knits.

Since I don’t want to talk about the travel wardrobe too much until I have the pics, I decided to post about some winter sewing ideas.  First of all, you must understand that I’m planning a rather laid back fall.  I’m having foot surgery in November, after the Italy trip.  I’ll be limited to gimping around the house for about two weeks.  The good news?  The surgery will be done on my non-sewing left foot.  Yes!  So, I plan on doing a lot of sewing.

Stitcher’s Guild is having a winter 6-pack sew along, so I’m going through my stash, thinking about what I have and what I need.  One thing I really want to sew is a Mizono jacket I saw today at an ASG luncheon.  It’s this one:

I would never have looked twice at this pattern, but when I saw it in person, I fell in love with it.  And Shams, if you read this, this jacket should definitely be on your radar!  It has an asymmetrical collar and that crazy zig-zag button action.

I actually saw two of these made up, one in a polyester fabric, and another in a waterproof fabric from Rose City Textiles.  Both were lovely.

That will be my layering piece, unless I change my mind.  I want my winter 6-pack to be casual, and I have some brown and blue denim I need to sew up.  They will probably be skirts because I love to wear skirts and tights in the winter, and I hate to wear jeans.  I’ll need some woven tops, as well – and some cardigans, of course.  That’s about the extent of the plan, so far.

Hopefully, I’ll get my travel wardrobe pics together on Saturday.  I’ll post them and talk about the trials and tribulations (and there were many) of sewing the collection.  Until then – ciao!

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