September 30, 2010

1930s Blouse

My latest sewing endeavor is a 1930s blouse reproduction pattern by Wearing History (now discontinued) and a camisole to wear under.

The pattern is quite nice: the pieces fit together well, directions are helpful without being verbose.  I traced the pattern off, checked the fit on my dress form, and it fit!  I have a long torso so this was a nice surprise.

My fabric, on the other hand, is not the best choice.  It's a poly? sheer with nubby stripes, a clearance fabric I saw and liked for some sort of blouse.  It seemed perfect for a cowl design.  Despite cutting on the straight grain (the pattern can be cut straight or bias) my fabric is not very stable, and ravels terribly.  It's also too sheer to use in a single layer.  I'm glad I held the front up to myself before finishing the blouse!  

Luckily the stripes do cool things when the fabric is turned 90 degrees; seemed better than trying to match up vertical stripes.  Two layers are much less sheer.  Thankfully I had plenty of fabric for another set of front pieces.  It left some pretty funky looking scraps, though.

The pattern has a midriff piece that's meant to be topstitched onto the bodice front after the bust gathers are made.  The topstitching looked awful on my fabric so I put right sides together and stitched.  Well, first I thought french seams would be nice.  So I stitched it all together, lined up the stripes and everything, but the gathers were flattened on one side.  I pulled out all the stitching and did it over.  Now the stripes only match on one side and the point isn't pointy but it's good enough.

stripes match at seam

stripes don't match on this side *shrug*

Next were buttonholes for the back opening.  I have a cool 50s Singer buttonholer attachment that came with my thrift store Singer 66.  I tried the 5/8" and 5/16" buttonhole templates and neither was the right size.  My modern Pfaff's buttonholes were even worse.  And don't even mention bound buttonholes with this stuff!  So I checked on etsy and found a set of templates, 3/8", 1/2", 5/8" keyhole and one other.  As soon as they arrive we're in business!

5/8" buttonhole too large

5/16" buttonhole too small--it's almost an eyelet

Once the buttonholes are made more hand gathering will take place,  I'll sew up the rest of the blouse with french seams, and hopefully it's successful.

The camisole is from Butterick 4020, a thrift store find from 15 years ago.  I love lingerie patterns :)  Picture the white cami, view A, in cream rayon lining fabric with thin grosgrain straps and no lace.  I used what's in my stash for this project and the lining fabric isn't hard to work with and prevents show through.

September 26, 2010

Now With Photos!

I walked to get some groceries yesterday and took some pictures while I was out.
You can see a ferry and the Center arches (to left of Needle)

Last year HM and I were walking around a cool city neighborhood, back when me living there was just a hopeless dream and I was stuck in suburban purgatory.  There's a house with an amazing Passionflower vine covering an entire fence corner, just gorgeous!  I took a photo of one, with my crappy phone camera.
Nov 19, 2009
Then yesterday I passed the same plant and took another picture, this time with the awesomest camera HM got me.
Sept 25, 2010
So instead of feeling sorry for myself and how hard life is, I walk by the Passionflower and remember how freaking lucky I am to live here!  The only negative is lack of proximity to my guy.  Maybe my blog can become wildly popular and The Masses will convince him to move nearby ;p

PS: If you don't understand my smiley use it's probably because I don't follow the unwritten rules.  It's difficult to express emotion via the written word so I punctuate the best I can, using what makes sense to me.


It's been a busy couple days at Casa Me.  My guy had his surgery, recovery was better than I'd expected and now he's gone home.  The surgeon said things looked hinky but not pathological--is that technical enough without giving out personal information? lol  I discovered, once again, that I have the mother bear instinct when my loved ones are hurt or threatened: an intern was poking at HM's foot, does it hurt now? how bout now?  At first because he needed to, then because he was curious.  I was about ready to scream or start beating on him when the surgeon arrived.  He was a nice guy :)  Love the personality difference between surgeons and anesthetists.  I wanted to be a surgeon...thus I am a giant nerd.

In some ways it's nice to have some quiet time to do whatever I want (catch up on blogs).  But it's also lonely and I'm in more pain today.  Blah.  The whole finding people you like who have time is difficult.  Friends have new relationships, babies, general life changes, so I've been looking for new friends.  Boy is it hard.  I wish I could have a regular life, with energy to do stuff and choices about where I live, and with whom.  But I'm making the best of my reality.

September 21, 2010

My Poor Handsome Man

It's been a tough couple weeks for HM and I.  We've both had lots of pain but for different reasons.  My muscle pain is flaring though hopefully on the downswing.

HM has a very painful growth on the bottom of his foot that's not a Morton's neuroma as originally thought.  He saw the podiatrist today and got the bad news: surgery Fri am to get it out and figure out what the hell it is.  It may be a tumor, it may be trigger finger of the toe.  Luckily I live close to the hospital, and of course I'm taking him.  Why do they think they'll go alone? silly boys.

As if that weren't enough, he saw the dermatologist last Thurs and had 2 (rather large) moles removed.  So spent most of the weekend sleeping and hurting :(  He doesn't get to the doctor often, is it obvious?  So now he's hopping, in constant pain, with holes dug out of his shoulder and face.  So so sad.

Btw, it's difficult to carry on a relationship wherein both partners are ill.

September 20, 2010

Have Fabric, Now For Patterns

I bought some lovely fabric last year to make a couple dresses.  One is an earthtone cotton velveteen stripe, the other cotton plaid in blue tones.  I have some trims for these fabrics as well.

With the velveteen I really want to make a fitted jumper (sleeveless dress).  Buttons down the back, unless they would dig into my back and make me crazy.  I recently finished a dress block for myself so should be able to draft and/or drape a pattern.

The plaid is trickier.  Initially I bought it to make a hat (label said cotton cashmere, it was with wools, I had a fibro-induced moment of stupid).
Instead I'm hoping to get a dress from it--only 1.5yd but it's ~60" wide.  The face is smooth, the reverse side brushed. I'd like to use the reverse side as an accent.

Perhaps a 60s style sheath from the plaid?  Or Vogue's 8280 dress, inspired by Roland Mouret's Galaxy (this means nothing to me ;).  Very Prairie made two great versions.  Mine would likely be sleeveless.

I also have a Burda raglan dress that could be fun, too.  Having trouble with Blogger so raglan dress is down there ↓  Same reason I linked to the Vogue dress rather than loading a pic of the pattern cover (it wouldn't. pout.)

My plan is to decide on a few silhouettes, sketch them (preferably over a photo of me so the proportions are correct), cut out the dress and hold the hole over a scale image of the fabric.  Sounds good, eh?  But first I need to find some pattern possibilities.

September 16, 2010

More Underwear Sewing

(L) Original pattern, (R) Longer crotch
Sorry for poor photo quality.

I had a pair of underwear cut in pink cotton jersey before the crotch length revelation.  So I cut a second pair from the same knit with a longer crotch piece (~4.5cm).  Then I sewed them up to compare.

Conclusion: Add 1-1.5cm to the original crotch length and they should be great!  Also, I've been using two-way stretch fabrics while RTW undies use 4-way stretch.  For best fit use 4-way stretch, or increase the ass of your pattern ;)

Now that I have some new undies I retired some old pair, and one or two will be cut up in the name of research.  Onward and upward!

September 15, 2010

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

I've read some great answers to this meme and thought I'd give it a try.

1. The illness[es] I live with [are]: Chronic Daily Headache, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS).

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: Headache 1993, Fibro 2005, MPS 2007

3. But I had symptoms since: 1993, 2004ish and 2005

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is:  Defining myself by who I am rather than what I do.  This is especially difficult in a culture where what we do is who we are.

5. Most people assume: That I'm fine.  They only see me when I'm well enough to go out, don't notice when I disappear for weeks or months on end, and just don't get it.

6. The hardest part about mornings are:  Pain and lack of energy.  Those are recurring themes throughout the day.

7. My favorite medical TV show is:  Don't currently have one.  Closest is Bones.

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is:  My laptop.  I ♥ my Macbook.

9. The hardest part about nights are:  Getting to sleep and how much I hurt on waking.  I could barely sleep for 9 months when the muscle pain began, until my body learned to sleep through the pain.

10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins.  I'd rather no count them...enough.

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: would rather not.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: Duh, neither.  Invisible does have its benefits but health is all it's cracked up to be.

13. Regarding working and career:  Too much to hope for.

14. People would be surprised to know:  How much I suffer.  I try to put on a good face.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been:  How many things I'm unable to do and how unreliable I am.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was:  Leave my abusive ex-husband.

17. The commercials about my illness:  Don't watch em or they don't exist.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is:  Making plans and being well enough to follow through.

19. It was really hard to have to give up:  My dream of being a surgeon.  I was 17yo and damn smart.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is:  Knitting, sewing, quilting, in 1994.  Began garment sewing a few years ago.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would:  Rather not.  Too hard to go back.

22. My illness has taught me:  Nothing that I couldn't have learned another, easier way.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is:  "What do you do all day?"  That and "You look so good/pretty."  I wear makeup to cover my pallor and the dark circles under my eyes before I leave the house, just like other women.

24. But I love it when people:  Want to spend time with me, just sitting together, when I'm not able to go out.  Anyone who accepts me as I am is good people in my book.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:  Just get through today.

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them:  Get PT or massage therapy immediately (for MPS).

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is:  The amount of suffering I can experience and not die or go crazy.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was:  Recently, held me while I cried.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because:  Why not?

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel:  Glad that someone cares.

September 14, 2010

Invisible Disabilities

It's National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week.  That's a mouthful!  This is a worthy effort to draw attention to the many people dealing with chronic illness who go unnoticed.  We likely all know at least one person with a chronic illness.  You may not realized that your friend is sick, or to what extent, and may not know how to talk about it.  I'd like to help.

We understand illness as a finite process: you get sick, you are treated, you get better or you die.  Chronic illness is the wrench in this process.  Chronic illnesses change what people are able to do and, thus, who they are.  It can be very difficult, especially with our cultural focus on strength and working through obstacles, to accept that chronic illness exists or isn't a product of laziness.  Especially when it's an invisible illness and there are no obvious outward signs.  Most folks with a chronic illness are likely to downplay the seriousness of it because few people want to know or can handle the emotional difficulty. 

Friends and family often are forgotten or overlooked when talking about chronic illness.  That is a shame.  The entire family deals with the illness; a family shares each others' joys as well as struggles.  Family members may feel guilt that a loved one is suffering and they are unable to help.  The love and support of family is the best help anyone can receive!  The whole family will grieve the loss of one member's health and the change to the family.  The ill person will have to grieve who she was and learn who she can become.  This process is difficult and each member progresses at their own rate but supporting each other will help tremendously.

Friendships are difficult in their own ways.  All chronically ill people have lost friends, especially if they're hospitalized or homebound.  The friends who do stay often find it difficult to understand the illness or how their friend has changed.  Friends often are nervous or unsure to ask questions about the illness.  Most often chronically ill people are happy to talk about their situation, especially with friends.  Simply saying, "Do you mind telling me more about your illness?" is a great way to start the conversation.  Asking a disabled person, "What do you do all day" is something you may wonder but not the best conversation starter.

If your primary connection to a friend was through physical activities you don't necessarily need to give that up.  A milder version of the activity may work, or something different that retains an essence of the original.  Even sitting on a park bench is a big deal for someone used to staring at their own four walls!  You'll have more time to talk and learn about each other.  Illness can teach a great deal and you may find that your friend has a greater capacity for caring and empathy.

To those playing a supporting role: please don't forget to take care of yourselves!  The support system won't work without you.

September 12, 2010


I've switched to pop-out comments since there are some issues with Blogger's embedded comments.  Please comment or email me if this is a problem, comprehensivelyquirky (at) gmail.  Thanks!

Sewing Underwear

It may seem crazy to sew one's own underwear (or just quirky?)  But I can't find styles I like that fit, so here I am.  Plus there are so many cute fabrics available!  I traced a favorite pair of undies to make the pattern and sewed up a few pair.
First pair

In the first pair I forgot to account for the elastic I cut off and they're a bit small.

Second pair

The second pair are great!
This is a rayon/lycra knit with black Glisenette inserts and picot elastic.

Third pair

The third pair, my first in cotton, don't stretch as much vertically and seem just ok.  I can't comment more on fit since I haven't worn them yet.

Second pair (L),  originals (R)

After making a few pair I realized that my pattern is shorter than the originals.  The lost height seems to be from the crotch--how'd that happen?

I also need to add even more height to the top edge, to account for a different elastic insertion.  That way they'll sit at my hips and stay up!  If anyone's interested I can take pictures of the pattern and adjustments I make to it.

The saga of the green elastic:

Thursday night I again tried sewing elastic to the pink striped pair.  You'd think it's an easy task, and you'd be right.  Unless you want to do a good job and then we're into impossible territory for me!  I'd already ripped out the leg and waistband elastic once--I hated to waste the materials.  I ended up hand basting the elastic to the cotton knit, then zigzagged over that.  I did the leg elastic this way and it worked better than pinning and hoping.

Other sewers will know how ridiculous this "solution" is.  Next time I'll cut extra wide seam allowances and sew the fancy elastic flush to the edge of the fabric, then trim the excess.

September 10, 2010

Good Body?

A few weeks ago Gertie (New Blog for Better Sewing) posted about positive body image.  She wrote eloquently about respecting and appreciating the body you have.  It's the only one we get, it protects us and takes us through life.  All this is great when you're healthy...

When I only had head pain I was grateful that my body worked well.  Then the muscle pain started and I had a bad body.  A body that some days feels like it's trying to kill me.  My massage therapist says my body is doing its best, trying to cope with fascia's iron grip.  Most days I know that to be true.

Does anyone else have a "bad body" and struggle with their feelings toward it?

One Of These Sleeves Is Not Like The Other

 Imagine my surprise when I finished sewing together my Scribble Lace Cardigan, only to see this:

Here's a closer view with the sleeves head to head.

Not only is one sleeve too wide, the gauge is looser as well.  Perhaps the 6 months between knitting the first and second sleeves contributed?  Wednesday night I spent a good 45 minutes removing the sleeve from the body, unseaming the sleeve, then unknitting the sleeve. The thick purple wool didn't want to cooperate but I won!  I'm reknitting it, following precisely what I did in the first sleeve.  Safety pins, much counting and paper and pen are involved ;)

This is quick to knit so hopefully I'll have a finished sweater within a few days week. Still need to decide on closures...perhaps french cuff-type buttons?  Any and all ideas or comments are welcome :)

September 9, 2010

Meet the Family

Now that I have a few posts knocked out it seems time to introduce my supporting cast.  There's my Handsome Man, the very supportive and wonderful boyfriend.  He puts up with a lot and just smiles, saying "I love you."  He is the best part of my life. [edited 1/2011]

My two kitty companions: Ella the feral kitten-turned lap cat.  She loves catnip, laser pointers and snuggling with me.  Jake is happy-go-lucky and loves hiding under the covers, purring whenever I come near.  They are great company on bad days.  Also hard to capture on camera unless they're asleep ;)

Jake, in his basket

September 8, 2010


I'm supposed to teach a sock knitting class in a week but am nowhere near ready.  My pain level has been really high, I'm barely functioning, and watching tv is my main activity.  I'm worried that I won't be ready, that I will have to drop out, that I'll miss this great opportunity.  I also wish it didn't exist so I didn't have another thing to be disappointed about.

Sometimes life is just full of disappointment.  I have the makings of a good life but don't feel well enough to enjoy it.  I'm not sure writing about the negatives is a good idea, perhaps it causes me to dwell.

So a cute cat picture to lighten the mood

September 7, 2010

A Job Nobody Wants

Chronic Pain, that is.  Noooobody wants this job, least of all me.  Long hours, terrible pay, no days off, no vacation.  Imagine not having weekends: how would you recover from the week, get errands done, see friends?  Yeah.

So what's wrong with me?  Constant headache for 17 years.  Fibromyalgia.  Chronic Myofascial Pain.  Which means that my fascia, the thin covering around muscle tissue, is super tight.  And evil.  It crushes my muscles, causing pain and spasm and fatigue and pain.  Initially only my neck was involved, now it's my entire body.  The worst part is the arm and hand involvement because I define myself by what I make.

The muscle pain is the worst.  I can deal with being dumb, above and beyond pain-generated brain not workingness.  I can deal with awful headaches, they even make pain meds for that.  But muscle pain where moving is impossible, and so is staying still?  Where everything, all the time, no matter what, is sucking the life out of you?  Some days it's too much.

I don't remember what it's like to not hurt, to have normal amounts of energy.  I try to notice and value the small beauties in life.  Enjoy friends, be a good friend in return.  And mostly I try not to think about it.  So enough of this!

September 6, 2010

Actual (Knitting) Content!

I like knitting, and I love knitting lace!  It's fairly quick, uses the mathematical/pattern parts of my brain, and doesn't have to fit.  Making knits that fit is harder than you'd think.

Dane Shawl by Jane Tanner
© Comprehensively Quirky 2010

September 3, 2010

Sexism in Print

Screw the small talk, I'm jumping right in:

image by Fith Fath
A friend is writing a novel and chose to use a male main character to appeal to a wider audience (which I understand).  We discussed how upsetting it is that females are expected to imagine themselves in a male character's place.  Men and boys are rarely, if ever, expected to put themselves in a female character's shoes.  It's helpful to understand other points of view and male-centric writing deprives boys and men of that exercise.  It also reinforces the men-as-leaders paradigm.

Growing up my mom read to me and replaced male pronouns with female.  Kids' books are rampant with pointless male pronoun-ing.  I didn't realize she'd done this until I read the same books to my siblings.  I babysat two sweet little girls and they got all female leads :D


Hello!  I'm starting this blog to talk about projects, express thoughts on life and share my point of view.  I enjoy making things, primarily knitting and sewing-related.  I'm quite fidgety so having something to work on keeps me from getting bored and cranky (sad but true).

I also have health problems and chronic pain which definitely impacts my viewpoint.  Overall I'm partly normal, partly not, and fun to be around.  I hope you enjoy my ramblings :)
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