Happy Father's Day, Dad

“wherein the monuments thereof are kept and preserved”

Today another little piece of my history smoldered and stuttered out. The hardware store I worked at age seventeen closed abruptly. Employees were given notice two days ago. I only found out this evening, a few hours after they shuttered for good.

The hardware store was my second-ever job. But more relevantly I worked there alongside my father, who served there much of my life.

Working with him was such an incredible joy.

My dad loved his job and he was good at his job. His customers esteemed him too. Especially the women, because he was helpful, professional, kind, tall, and courteous. Later I’d found out so many men don’t live up.

So sure I learned about plumbing and electrical stuff and how to make keys and what kinds of creepy chemicals and solvents did what, and how a pressure cooker worked and some basics of automotive care. Yeah. But more than that, I learned something truly valuable. I learned how important it was not to squander my working hours, if at all possible. I learned to place my self-respect over a paycheck if at all possible and I mean if at all possible, and over status and over what other people’s expectations were – or what I guessed they might be.

Being raised female, I’d been told a hundred ways by a thousand people that I needed to make everyone happy before I could even think about my needs. So that was set against me. But I learned something different, in working with my father. I don’t remember a single speech or lecture. I remember his example. It somehow shone through a lot of life’s dross.

That’s how I learned how to love a job – and to respect myself at a job. That’s how I learned to love a good man, and I suppose in part how I ended up finding a good man.

So today it hurt a little to know I couldn’t walk through the aisles one last time, to bring my sons along and just tell them a little about it, before taking them out to coffee. See I know those aisles would smell the same as twenty-five years ago, in the low golden light the place always seemed to hold. Fertilizer and rubber and the little drawers of precious lamp switches and chains, and a bleachy squeak and most the things you need for your home and if you couldn’t find those things, Dave could tell you where else to look.

It hurt a little to know that a bit more of my father is gone, that I too have diminished. Yet again! Another one of life’s grubby little robberies.

But, shit. I don’t connect with self-pity when it goes up in smoke, if it’s stolen, dies out or fades away. That’s life! Like – it’s all going to burn, right? There is no posterity, some day it will all be annihilated, and it has often seemed a great and silly game that so many want to pretend otherwise. Who doesn’t know this? Damn. I find comfort in that absurdity, that groundlessness.

Another thing I learned at my father’s hand: my Buddhist practice.

So I just grieve. It’s simpler. I’ll miss the store – terribly, of course. Like I miss my family home, like I miss my grandparents’ home, like I miss all those things lost to me. Like I miss my father.

But see: I had them. I held these things, I moved through these rooms and that sun fell on my face. I will always be grateful for this golden dust in my veins, shaking it in my tingling fingertips. I can still feel that life. I won’t lose that gratitude. That, I treasure and hold as mine.

And I honor loss. That’s why I write about it here.

But I’m not sure I’d enjoy things as much as I do, if I felt entitled to them staying exactly the way I want them, for exactly as long as I demand.


Happy Father's Day, Dad a

Nels

Testing

This is a test post. 

Enclosed: another pair of jeans, made with Pacific Blue Denim (12 oz. denim, 99% cotton % spandex) and a thrifted brass zipper. Rivets from the now-defunct Frugal Outdoorsman.

Dungarees with Articulated Knees
Pocket motif traced using a bog standard carbon paper; you can see the blue a bit if you look. The blue will lift upon a washing.
Dungarees with Articulated Knees

I thought of yet another way to finish the overlap – you can see a yellow zig-zag in the middle of the photo. This is anchoring down a lovely ochre bias strip on the backside!
Dungarees with Articulated Knees

I would never sew up jeans without pocket stays.Dungarees with Articulated Knees

 

Stitched-then serged.Dungarees with Articulated Knees

Avoid rivet drama with some self-fabric shivs!Dungarees with Articulated Knees

The inside of the fly.Dungarees with Articulated Knees

Holiday Robe Sew-Along Badge

holiday robe sew-along: supplies

Join the Holiday Robe Sew-Along!

 Holiday Robe Sew-Along Badge

 

As promised, here is a bit of a supplies post for the Holiday Robe Sew-Along, starting on the 10th of this month.

So first, I absolutely love this robe. I generally throw it on after showering, putting my hair up, and donning my undergarments. The jersey is so cool, and the drape and volume give a very elegant but modest effect so I don’t mind, say, answering the door if someone knocks.

Holiday Robe Sew-Along

For this sew-along we only need our pattern, our fabrics (if sewing a floor-length for an adult, I wouldn’t order fewer than five yards), and optional interfacing for the belt (you’ll want a knit or tricot interfacing; I favor Fashion Sewing Supply‘s products).

Holiday Robe Sew-Along
And before I talk fabrics, I am well-aware that sew-along peeps usually bend the rules. 🙂

The pattern I am using for the robe SAL is a pattern suited for knits or wovens, and carries a lot of ease. A lighter-weight fabric is the best choice, due to the sheer volume of the robe – especially if you’re going floor-length. My fabric choices below will highlight lightweight knits in either cotton, modal, or rayon (or a combination) – with or without lycra. You want to make sure your fabric is not sheer (unless sheer is the look you want). But remember, you can make this robe out of a variety of fabrics so if you want to try something else, post in the comments and I will give you my advice.

Obvious choices for this robe are solids, yarn-dyed stripes, and florals.

Green Jersey Fabric

Stripe Jersey Fabric

Floral Jersey Fabric
In alphabetical order, a few shops I’ve used in the last year that I’ve enjoyed working with.

Cali Fabrics is a great, quick source for inexpensive, good knits. You can search their knits by colorway. Imagine a glamorous Christmas-evening robe in this gold-on-navy sparkle knit; a playful daytime robe in this wonderful apricot jersey; something dramatic like this rose-print black and red. (You may notice the robe I demonstrate for this sew-along was made from the floral-on-sage rayon knit in this shop.)

Fabric.com is one of my staple sites. Not fast shipping, but free shipping. And they have a huge catalog of knit fabrics. I often search with highest price first, because you can find quality yardage at good prices that way.

FashionFabricsClub is rumored to be in cahoots with Fabric.com (let me know if you know better than I). They have a real hit-and-miss reputation, but the last time I purchased from them their customer service was fabulous. You can do a search on jersey knit or rayon knit to get started.

Similar to Cali Fabrics in quality and price, Girl Charlee carries great knits, and they are fast and inexpensive. Start at their knit section and work from there; cotton jersey and cotton lycra are both great choices, with lycra sporting a springier feel.

If you are interested in a cotton solid, imagine gnats is a great shop and Rachel is a wonderful person to order from! Her knit collection holds several laguna solids, which are great (and gorgeous) all-purpose solids (note: prices are per half yard).

Mood Fabrics has some of the most gorgeous fabrics around. Start in their knit/jersey section and go from there (look at this eggplant with metallic stars!). Fast shipping, too! Their customer service “Chat” function is very disappointing. But otherwise, I’ve been very happy with Mood.

There’s always Nature’s Fabrics – one of my favorite shops, hands-down. They have a lovely selection of cotton jersey prints and stripes. Many of their fabrics are knits, so searching a few other fibers yields wonderful results (like this rayon slub).

So there you have it! More than enough to get you started. Remember, you can email me or comment here if you want any guidance!

See you on the 10th!

Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

costume workshop sew-along: hat with ears

Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Hat With Ears

Yo yo yo! Today’s the day we get started on some costumery. Instead of a typical sew-along where we are all making the same garment, I’m showcasing some costuming basics so you don’t have to have endless mishaps, glue-gun burns, blunted scissors, and bent sewing machine needles!

Well let’s just be honest. You are going to get a few glue gun burns. That’s probably given.

Flames!

But here’s the thing. The real benefit of this sew-along are my Skype sessions. This is where you and I video chat and you can tell me all about your project and I can direct you to sources, help you find techniques, and advise you! My next three Fridays are open for Skype appointments  – 12 to 3 PM PST on September 16th, 23rd, and 30th! I already have slots filling in (albeit slowly) – so if you want to reserve a spot, text (360.500.3287) or email me!

Summer Dress In Double-Gauze: Samples

tres mujeres; tres vestidos

So yesterday I had the immense pleasure of spending an afternoon with three lovely women, in three versions of my latest summer dress.

An ivory with geometric motif in charcoal, for Phoenix:

Summer Dress In Double-Gauze: Samples

A gorgeous teal for Astrid (um, what is up with her perfect accessories? Tomato-red toenails and heels; beaded earrings in canary? XOMG):

Summer Dress In Double-Gauze: Samples

And a gorgoues double-faced periwinkle for Jen:

Summer Dress In Double-Gauze: Samples
Needless to say we had a lovely time – and a fabulous lunch afterwards at Frontagers. I couldn’t help thinking these three women looked like three gorgeous summer blooms!

Summer Dress In Double-Gauze: Samples
I am providing a sew-along for this very dress. Here is a supply post: we start stitching on June 15th. This sew-along is appropriate for beginners, intermediate stitchers, or advanced practitioners. In addition, it is a wonderful pattern to get acquainted with Bootstrap Fashion, one of my beloved pattern companies.

See you soon! <3

Summer Dress In Double-Gauze: Samples

Wakey-Wakey

/=/ complicity

My veganism happened to me. It wasn’t something I aspired to, or something I did “to be a better person”. Because I didn’t think I could do it. I guess I thought people who were vegan were tough sunovabitches who didn’t need food to comfort them, to fill them up, the way I did.

I believed if I became vegan, I would be hungry all the time.

And sad.

Wakey-Wakey

But wait, let me go back:

The first time I tried veganism I was thirteen. I was off to a YMCA camp, and there was little there for me to eat. I didn’t know how to advocate for myself, either. I ate plain bagels and applesauce and felt hungry and pinched and sorrowful about it all. I felt anger at all the people there who just didn’t give a shit. I was tired and grouchy.

I got home from camp, and I remember a lot of green salads and french fries at restaurants. I think I went without animal products about six months, that time around. No slouch there, I mean. Many thousands’ gallons water, hundreds of lives spared. But I didn’t feel supported, understood. I felt alone. It couldn’t last.

In the twenty-plus years since I’ve flirted with veganism and vegetarianism more than once. It was inspiring for a bit, then would come to seem impossible. An uphill battle.

But something changed earlier this year. I had finally settled into vegetarianism in earnest, and with a bit of joy. Meat had come to taste like death, like a corpse. I could leave it behind, finally. Eggs were no trouble. They’ve always been a bit repellant to me, and that conviction had been growing.

And then, early this year, I came to know I’d soon be saying goodbye to dairy. No one has loved cheese more than I. Let me tell you!

Yet, I was seeing deeply that behind any animal product, no matter how much we don’t want to look, and how much we insist we “try” to buy “humane” meat or eggs or milk, there were things happening that no human being could feel okay with. I started to know the math wasn’t right. Backyard chickens – we used to house some, remember? Well, where did all the boy chicks go, when you order your chicks from the feed store? Nowhere nice, as a very haunting video demonstrated. A two-and-a-half second video that to this day, I wish I hadn’t seen.

Where did roosters go? Did they have a quality of life? Are hens supposed to lay as many eggs as we’ve bred them for? Do they enjoy safety and longevity? Are the many health and predation issues they suffer, just “part of life”? Or is there another solution?

What about all those calves? Do they miss their mothers? Where do they go? They are slaughtered and turned to veal. The dairy industry is the meat industry. Cows cry, bellow, and feel pain. Mothers search for their babies for weeks after they are torn away.

I knew this.

And I couldn’t even stand to watch videos that answered any of these questions. I still haven’t viewed the phenomenal and award-winning documentary Earthlings; I saw less than a minute of footage and had nightmares for two days.

But it was a conversation, two in a row in fact, that lit the lamp of awareness. I had started to explore the cruelty of eggs and milk, aloud, when the topic came up. I wasn’t in a hurry to talk about it all; but I was thinking it through. And these two conversations I was met with ignorance – a man passionate about “natural” foods, who insisted the males on the dairy farms had good lives after they were “sold”. I said, “Where are they sold to? What becomes of them?” – and he said, “They go to farms,” as if these bulls were given long happy lives. Then, two days later, a woman who promoted cage-free eggs on Facebook responded with startling vitriol when I suggested any kind of egg consumption may not be very ethical by any human standard.

The anger that met my most open-hearted musing really made an impression. I came to see that if I wanted to offer a choice to people, I would have to step across the threshold myself.

And I woke up a few days later and knew, Today’s the day.

And now? I’m vegan.

It has been a beautiful experience. I could write so much more about it! Veganism this time around has given me an intense, keen joy. To my astonishment, my family and many friends have followed along. Some to full veganism, some to vegetarianism, some to just less animal products – good for them, good for the environment, good for the heart and mind.

My children follow. My daughter is a passionate, lovely vegan. Her sense of humor is different than mine; but we are wicked and we share our joys and frustrations together. My son, who I never thought to see eschew meat, became a vegetarian just before my birthday. He is working toward veganism now.

Our household has changed. It happened so quickly, but it is not a surprise, not really.

Gentleness suits us. It seems to deliver more life, more humor, and more peace. Some people think when we consume meat, we consume not just hormones and poisons and unsafe chemicals – but adrenaline and fear and hate.

I don’t know what I think of that, but I do know that veganism brings me joy. I wouldn’t have found this serenity if I hadn’t let myself change. I find there is more to learn, more to love. I find I don’t have to listen to arguments, apathy, and angry words from people who don’t demonstrate a better plan for the environment, for the compassionate heart. They are free to their opinion, but are they who I want to advise me? This helps me think deeply – who do I want to listen to? Who can help me?

Joy has entered my household, in a surprising, wonderful way.

May you find the same!

maxi dress sew-along: cutting and marking

Welcome back to our sew-along! Today we will be cutting our fabrics and marking them. It’s a lot of work, and some people dislike cutting. I, however, enjoy it quite a bit! It is a good time to familiarize myself with the pattern I’m about to create.

First, we need to prepare our pattern a bit more. For instance: I am installing a zipper in the back, and although 3/8″ is perfectly adequate for a zipper installation and, in fact, would mean the seam allowances would be entirely hidden by the zipper tape, I am going to advocate for a larger seam allowance to show off our flat-lining technique. This means we will be cutting the fashion fabric with a 1″ seam allowance at the back seam only; we will cut our lining pieces somewhat larger still in order to flat-line. I am going to be adorable and actually show you how to draft for the flat-lined pieces here, too!

So first: the bodice pieces, fashion fabric:

Now: the bodice pieces, for the underlining:

The Fabulous Flying Fox!

the Fabulous Flying Fox!

It’s winter. So – time for some ridiculously adorable, and cozy, headgear!

The Fabulous Flying Fox!

The Fabulous Flying Fox!

The Fabulous Flying Fox!
I’ve been working hard on making up an aviator-style cap to my liking. This, my third iteration, finally made me happy. With good reason.

The Fabulous Flying Fox!
I absolutely adored the topstitching detail. And the lovely twill-weave of the wool, which adds a subtle but beautiful texture:

The Fabulous Flying Fox!
The Fabulous Flying Fox!
The Fabulous Flying Fox!

The Fabulous Flying Fox!

Do  you know how long I spent shopping for the right grommets? And I was way too into it! I have decided I need my entire life to be about snaps and grommets!

The Fabulous Flying Fox!

Two types of faux-fur for ears. Ya know.

And of course, a handsome model. The handsomest!

The Fabulous Flying Fox!
I put this cap in my Etsy shop – and I have some fabulous wools to make it up in. My personal favorite is the overdyed houndstooth, which is a black with a pale, slate-toned blue:

(Fabrics For) The Fabulous Flying Fox!