Archive for April, 2007

pants… and the ensuing book review

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

I’ve finally done what I set out to do when I enrolled in Wardrobe Refashion; I’ve made a pair of pants using the pattern in Wendy Mullin’s book Sew U.

This project had it’s trials, and some spur of the moment fitting solutions – such as narrowing the legs by restitching the side seams, and ripping out the topstitching in the rear in order to counteract some unattractive pooching – but I’m delighted with the finished, imperfect pants, with their slight jodhpur look. A friend said, “They look store-bought” and made my day.

I approach sewing in much the same way as I do cooking, with the attitude that every recipe is a sequence of simple tasks, and can’t possibly be too difficult. This may be inherited from my mother who can tailor a suit without blinking and shrugs off her skills as unimpressive, since despite my ambitious attitude I have never made more than the simplest of sewn garments.

For the most part I found Sew U to be a good guide. The book has a practical spiral binding, and the design is hip, with simple, informative illustrations. Wendy Mullin’s writing style is friendly and encouraging. She generously shares stories of her past sewing flops so that readers can avoid making the same mistakes. There are excellent descriptions of the steps involved in prepping and sewing a garment, and suggestions for how to personalize the three patterns included (for skirt, shirt and pants.)

However there were some real problems when it came to following the directions for sewing the pants. Several important steps are missing from the instructions, and I had to guess what the correct approach might be. Also I had to flip back and forth to earlier sections of the book, tracking down information on which areas to stay stitch, or figuring out the seam allowance, which is not printed on the pattern as promised.

I felt confused when prep that was heavily emphasized at the beginning of the book was skipped entirely in the directions. I had to guess whether this pattern was the exception, or whether the book assumed that I knew to do this. I resorted to writing in the steps as I figured them out, and sticking post-its on all relevant pages. Not ideal, but a working solution.

It’s possible that if I were a less experienced sewer, or a trifle less stubborn, I might have given up the project when figuring out the missing links became a challenge. That said, without this book I would not have had the courage to make any pants, and I am now a pant-sewing fiend.

I have the bug, and at the risk of turning into Celie from the Color Purple, I can’t wait to start my next pair. The only delay is which pair (dancing in my head) to make first. So, while Sew U may not be the best absolute beginner sewing book, it’s extremely encouraging, and contains enough general sewing advice to make it a worthwhile addition to any non-expert library.

wings of desire

Thursday, April 26th, 2007


I just watched Wings of Desire again. I saw the film shortly after it was made, and I remembered it as something I was supposed to like, rather than something I connected with. It’s good to let time pass.

This time I found the film incredibly moving. Angels walking among us listen to our thoughts and fears, and each person has a story which is vulnerable and unique. This reminded me of Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson; both are full of details so specific, and yet telling of universal experience. Descriptions of the sacred embodied.

mosaic circles

Friday, April 20th, 2007

I have circles on the brain.

new pics

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007


Christine Linder has taken some photos of my new jewelry series. It’s fun to see the work through someone else’s eyes, and looking so fancy and grown up.

From my jewelry posts so far you’d think that I work exclusively in white pearls. I don’t, but it’s almost always what I use when I’m designing. The white allows me to see clearly what I’m doing with shape before I move into color.

april nor’easter

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

The dire threats of weather men are manifesting as heavy rain and gray skies instead of the threatened snow.

A day for indoor pursuits: cats, tea, making a necklace, and gloating over yesterday’s good mail:

A crow patch from bird&b at etsy.
And all the way from Australia…

…a bracelet by Helle at gooseflesh, which I immediately put on and wore out to an art opening. It kept me smiling in the middle of a roomful of networking arteeests.


Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

After three years of being quietly green, the plant I believe to be an iris is blooming. I wake up to large, outrageously complex flowers. They last a day, wilt, and then new flowers grow out of the dead heads.

It blows my mind.

a list

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Some things I noticed this week:

A woman cycling very slowly with an accordion on her back.

Two fat sparrows scavenging nest-building supplies on a pile of abandoned rubble.

The wind vane on the steeple of the Jefferson Market library swinging wildly 45 degrees back and forth while no one on 6th Avenue noticed besides me .

A pug racing around the dog park with a bulldog, a weimaraner, a german shepherd, and two black labs.

A man giving his subway seat to a lady wearing a purple raincoat and a bell-shaped pink & purple felted hat.

A plastic bag floating in place, 3 floors up.

A two-year-old stopping traffic on a busy stair while he insisted on taking them one at a time.

The distinct smell of hyacinths on a crowded bus.

    mosaic monday

    Monday, April 2nd, 2007

    Shula, of Poppalina, has started a flickr group called Mosaic Monday. Mosaic Maker is the whatever-it-is that tiles your chosen pictures – it’s good playin’.

    I took these photos on Sunday while we ran errands in Greenpoint; searching out the rumored new kitchen store, where we happened upon a demo on Gefilte fish, and exploring the Polish bookstore with it’s strange and exciting Easter finery. They also have an exceptional collection of commemorative Pope John Paul paraphernalia if you’re ever in need.

    I passed the green boots, sitting out like that, on my way home tonight.