Sweet Dreams (and Nightmares)

Monday, July 29, 2013

I am a very vivid dreamer. I have long, epic, masterpiece dreams.  I still remember dreams I had as a kid.  I remember them vividly, and in detail.

However, I also have nightmares.  Nightmares were something I thought would stop as I got older, or at least get less intense, though I am finding the older I get, the more vividly I dream, which is awesome when it is a fun dream, and terrifying when it is a nightmare. My nightmares have changed, I no longer dream about being chased by bears, or having to drive a car when I was only 5 and didn't know how a car worked...  I feel like my dreams and nightmares are much more nonsensical now.

In general, I have a pretty strange sleep pattern. As a teenager, I remember going through bouts of not being able to sleep.  I wouldn't call it insomnia, as I would sleep, but normally for just a few hours at a time, then wake up again for an hour or so, then go back to sleep.  I now go back and forth between periods of sleeping well for 8 hours, to periods of sleeping like this:
9pm - sleep on the couch for an hour.
10pm: Go upstairs to bed, and toss and turn for an hour.
11pm-3am - sleep/dream.
3:15-5am Wake Up, go downstairs, watch documentaries, fall in and out of sleep/dream.
5am: stumble upstairs and sleep.
6:30am: Wake-Up and Start my day.

So, anyway, on Friday night I woke up around 3 and went downstairs and put on some documentary on Ancient Egypt, curled up with Oliver and tried to get back to sleep for a bit. I was having this dream that my parents, my brother, my aunt and uncle, my cousin and her husband and Dan and I all lived in our tiny, 1100 sq ft house.  I was wandering around looking for a place to sleep, and finally settled on the couch.  In my dream, I was still somewhat aware of my surroundings, so my position on the couch, and the lighting played a role in what was happening and what I was seeing, which is interesting and terrifying because it makes the strange events seem very, very real.  I dreamed I was trying to sleep, when I noticed a large dog coming down the stairs.  I figured it was one of my relatives dogs, and called it over to me.  It sat in front of me, and in then hazy blue light of the TV, I tried to make out which dog it was.  I could tell there was something not quite right about the dog. Suddenly, it got up, walked behind me, stood on it's hind legs, and as it hovered over me and I realized it had a human face. This dog was probably 7' tall, standing up on it's hind legs, with a cloth around his waist, and a HUMAN FACE.  This was the most terrifying things in the whole entire world at that moment, though now it sounds comical. So, naturally, I start screaming, but I was still in that paralyzed REM dream state, so my screams came out like weird muffled moans.  So, that was disturbing, and I assume it has something to do with me thinking too much about Anubis before sleeping...

Last night I had another screaming dream.  In this one, I had gotten up to use the bathroom (exciting content, huh?) and while standing at the sink I noticed a ghostly figure slumped in the corner of the room.  It started slowly moving towards me, and as it got close it grabbed my arm. I started screaming "NOOOOOO" but again, was paralyzed by sleep so it came out like "mrph hrmph MHRMPHAMLMMMOOOOO".  I was in bed this time, so Dan was able to gently wake me up and snap me out of it.

I don't believe that dreams serve as any great insight into the future or anything like that.  I feel like they are just a mash-up of bits and pieces of information we have picked up throughout the days and weeks, and our brain assembling it in some mangled-up way. While my nightmares are scary, and my dreams (good or bad) disrupt my sleep, I am kind of glad I have them.  They are interesting to reflect upon, and try to make sense of.  Some of them also make hilarious stories.

So... any other adults out there still have nightmares?

What I've been up to...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I felt caught up before I went on vacation, then I came home, and remembered that I would have to play catch up again, after taking a week off! Well... I worked my butt of the last two weeks.  Now, I'm starting to feel ok again.  I think this is called "running your own business."

I finished up a fairly large wholesale order last week.  It was a lot of repetitive sewing, which is difficult for a girl like me. I have a hard time sewing the same thing back to back.  But, I persevered, and I got it done! 

I also worked on a couple of custom ruffle bloomers.  I haven't sewn ruffle bloomers in a long time.  I had sewed so many at one point, that I just couldn't sew another.  But, it was a fun project and they turned out lovely.

Last week we had a terrible heatwave.  We had a couple of days that felt in the low 40's Celsius.  Dan and I bought an air conditioner for our bedroom, but my itty-bitty studio remained insanely hot.  I had a hard time staying in there for more than a couple hours at a time. Considering it was cold enough to be snowing just in April, it's hard for the body to adjust. 

Yesterday, my dad came out and ran some wiring outside.  Our older house didn't have any exterior outlets, which is a problem because we want to put in a little pond in the garden and we need to hook up a small pump.  So, we got that done yesterday, and we also have an outlet by back porch which will be helpful. 

Last night, Dan and I watched The Bay, which I thought was really fantastic.  I love "outbreak" type movies, and this one was just a little different.  It got a lot of bad reviews... but I still thought it was really good.  The environmental issues it raised, as well as the different found-footage perspectives were interesting.  But I like low-budget films & I  generally like found footage.  People complained that the science was junk, but is'a movie, it's not a documentary.  In my opinion, it was presented in a way to be believable, and still far out enough to be an enjoyable horror movie. I am eagerly anticipating Bobcat Goldthwait's Willow Creek.  It's another found-footage movie, and it is all about my favourite cryptid, Sasquatch! 

I really love horror movies, but there are certain types of horror I hate.  Gore-fests are out.  I don't have the stomach for it.  I saw half of Saw and that was enough for me.  Its not even really scary, just gross.  I also hate horror movies that are based around home invasions and torture (like Vacancy or Hostel).  They tend to be a little too 'plausible' for me.  I like a movie that is just enough out there that my imagination can run wild with it.  It scares me, but I don't think it's actually going to happen.  For example, Paranormal Activity was a really fun movie.  It made me jump, scream, made my heart race, and when It was done I felt a great sigh of relief and went about my day.  I am a rational person who likes to pretend that ghosts exists, but when the movie is over, it doesn't stick with me.  A movie about a home invasion and a couple being terrorized by some crazed killer is a little too real, and is just not fun to watch... I don't really get those movies.

Today I am headed upstairs to my studio to sew. I worked through the last couple of weekends, and am hoping that next week I can take it a little easier once I get a few things finished up.  I have also just ordered all my fall fabrics, which I am very excited about! After the heatwave we experienced last week, I'm over summer!


A Bit about Body Image (and I'm having a Sale).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I am having a sale through the entire month of July.  Take 15% off your entire purchase - excluding custom orders - with coupon code ShowOff2013.

I am running this sale in conjuncture with Kristen from Sew Classic and Ashley at Craft Sanctuary, who are running the "Show off your skivvies challenge." They are creating a body-snark-free venue for sewing-enthusiasts to post their handmade lingerie and swimsuits, talk about fit adjustments and issues, and sewing in general.  The fun part for sewing-bloggers is showing off a finished piece, but if what you've sewn is something more intimate, showing off can be scary.  Let's face it, the world (and especially the internet) is a highly critical place.  No matter what your size, shape, or figure, it is impossible to not be effected by the way and tone in which we speak about each others bodies. So, please feel free to use the coupon code ShowOff2013 to purchase any pattern from my shop and join in the fun. As someone who has proudly shown their perfectly-imperfect derriere on the Front Page of Etsy, I whole heatedly support this challenge! 

View my Shop HERE

I have been wanting to talk about body image for a while, but to be honest, have not know how to go about it.  I am a petite woman.  In my early to mid twenties I was very, very thin.  In my late twenties to now, I have gained a good amount of weight and now have what I like to call an "ample bosom" and hips, but am still a relatively small person.  I also am short (5'1").  Having never been a plus size person, I can't talk about that side of the body-image story with any experience.  I can say I am glad to see the fashion industry starting to include more variety in body size.  Just yesterday, Etsy posted this great article about Plus-Size Clothing. Still, there is definitely an under-representation.  I understand that.  I wish I could cater more to larger sizes, though being an independent designer with no training in plus-sizes, it is something I rarely delve in to... That is something truly amazing about the human body - it comes in so many shapes and sizes.  A real challenge for designers, especially little guys like me. But, that's another blog post entirely.

So, I'm just going to talk about what I know. 

What I wanted to say is, no matter what your size is or your weight or appearance, you are always open to body-criticism.  I think that the body-image discussion often becomes a "you against me" debate - just look at all of those images circulating the internet with phrases like "Only Dogs Like Bones" referring to thin women, and that kind of thing.  I get where these images are coming from, but there are far more constructive ways to feel better about yourself than to put others down. The body-image discussion effects everyone, no matter what you size, figure, gender, age, and it is something we should talk about together, without judging one another.


(As an aside, it also bothers me what this image implies about men.  The men in my life love me for who I am, not for how I look. The men in your life probably feel the same about you).

When I was very thin,  I was no more confident that I am now.  When I was very thin, I was still open to criticism - "Go eat a hamburger," that kind of thing. Those comments are uncalled for, and just plain rude. 

Now that I am a heavier weight, I don't get any outward remarks.  I do, however, feel it more from the media.  My tummy pokes out a bit, in a way it never did at 21. I definitely would never make it on a "Best Bikini Body" List.  But having seen my body change, I realized something really important: no matter what my size or weight, it doesn't influence my happiness. Happiness is determined by something else entirely. My body doesn't change who I am.  No matter what my weight, or body type, I will still have to put up with the same societal bullshit.  It's nothing wrong with me, it's something wrong with us, and the way we treat each other and speak about each others bodies.

A few years ago, I found this amazing trick that helped me have great body-confidence.  I cut off my cable TV.  I stopped reading fashion magazines.  I didn't visit fashion or celebrity gossip websites that made me feel bad about the way I look.  In no time at all, I felt great about my body and how I looked. Without ads pointing out my barely-there crows feet, and hardly noticeable cellulite, and that one acne scar that won't fade, without being bombarded with images of perfectly sculpted (by scalpel or personal trainer) celebrity "bikini bodies," I felt pretty darn good about myself.  Now, on the rare occasion that I watch TV with commercials, they are almost comical, the "scientific" jargon, the unrealistic expectations... But back in the day, I know they really had an impact on me. You are never going to live up to the expectations placed before you in an ad. If you did, they would have nothing to sell you.  These days, it gets a little harder with Pinterest and Tumblr, and that kind of thing.  But to be honest, when I see something I don't like or that gives me that twinge of body-insecurity, I just un-follow it, block it, scroll past, hide it, or turn off the computer. You can control a great deal of what you see online.  Problem Solved.

Being a lingerie designer, has made things a little more tricky.  You look at lot of bodies throughout the day, trying to stay current on trends, etc. Something else I have learned that is very important is that you can't judge yourself against a picture. I wonder why we do that...?  Pictures and models are manipulated, they are wearing a lot of make up, there's photoshop, lighting, etc. We all know that. It's a models job to be beautiful. Plus, she may be beautiful, but can she create some really pretty lingerie, or talk to you at length about Bigfoot, or cook a mean vegetarian shepherds pie? She isn't all of those amazing, unique, quirky things that make you, you.  Judging yourself against a picture is ridiculous.  You know nothing about that person, other than what they look like.  And there is so much more to life than just looking good. I have so many other things to do than to obsess about how I look. 

I worry that our obsession with bodies is making us forget what is really important in life.  It's who you were, the things you did, the way you treated people that will be remembered when your body is gone.  It's highly unlikely that you will be remembered for how smokin' hot you looked in that bikini during the summer of 2013, but you probably will be remembered for being a kind, helpful friend, for sharing of yourself, for contributing to the world, for being an amazing mother, a great father, the best aunt or uncle, a caring daughter, a teacher, an artist, a volunteer, a great intellect, a wonderful sense of humour...  I think in a world where our outer shell is placed in such high regard, it is important to take perspective like that.

I don't know when we decided it was ok to start judging people's bodies, or how that became socially acceptable.  Especially now on the internet, we have a whole new venue to anonymously judge each others appearance, which is incredibly shameful of us. We should all be so grateful for our bodies, especially our healthy bodies (and healthy bodies come in many shapes and sizes). Bodies provide us with a vehicle to navigate us through this wonderful, beautiful, at times painful life.  Bodies can be so much fun when you feel good about them, and you have no reason not to.  

Grace + Jasmine Bikini!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Before I went on my mini-vacation, I made myself a couple bikinis.  Bikini tops have always been a hard fit for me.  I have a petite band - about 28", and a comparatively large bust, about 36".  Ready to Wear tops never fit tightly under the bust, nor do they provide adequate coverage.  So, using the Jasmine Bra Pattern and the Grace Panties Pattern I whipped up a couple bikinis with some minor alterations.

The Jasmine Bra is really easy to alter.  First, it is cut in stretch fabrics so the fit is forgiving.  Second, there is really only one seam to alter - the side front princess seam.  To fit me, I adjust the height and the curve of the cup. Here is an example of how I would adjust the Side Front Pieces to accommodate a large bust:band ratio.  For myself, I only added about 1/2" to the total height of the bra, and about 1/2" to the bust apex (the fullest part of the bust).  I then blended those extensions into the existing lines.  I then did the same to the adjacent Center Front princess seam. Depending on your size, and stretch to the fabric you are using, you might want to add more or less.  I wanted a tight fit across the bust to prevent any slipping and to take some weight off the halter ties.

The second alteration I made was to the band.  I wanted to use a 1/2" wide hook to fasten the back of my bikini top, so I had to reduce the width of the CB band, as well as add a small extension.  To do this, marked on my CB line the width of the hook opening, which was 1/2". I then added Seam Allowance to the top and bottom, and ended up with  a band that tapered to 1.5" wide.  I also extended the band by 1/2" so I could thread the band through the hook and create a loop on the other side.

I did a few things differently when I sewed the garment.  First, I lined the entire thing, including the band with knit lining, which is important for a bikini top - it provides a little more support and prevents the suit from clinging. I also added some gentle ruching to the CF seam.  To do this, I flat lined the CF pieces (but do not baste these pieces together!), pressed the Seam Allowance (SA) open, and using pinking shears, trimmed the SA back. Using a wide Zig Zag Stitch, I tacked down a length of elastic, then pulling the elastic, continued applying it over the center front seam, on the inside.  The tension of the elastic should create gentle ruching.  If you want more exaggerated gathers, run two rows of baste stitches along either side of the seam, pull to gather, then apply the elastic over top of that (not applying tension to the elastic).

Flatline your CF Pieces, and press your seam open.  

Add soft ruching with elastic down the CF.

I wanted a bikini that I wouldn't have to worry about folding over or slipping, so I decided to add plastic boning to the Side Front and Side Seams.  This does not really support the bust, but gives the top shape and prevents it from folding down. I stitched the Side Front Seams of my exterior fabric, so that the seam allowance was on the inside (just like you normally would). The lining should be left loose at this point - only attached at the CF.

I had some un-covered plastic bones in my stash.  I cut 1.25" strips of swim lining, to use as casings.  I wanted to use a casing that would allow my suit to keep stretching.  Layering two strips, I stitched the casings on to the inside of the Self (fashion fabric), overtop of the princess seams creating a 1/2" channel, then using pinking shears, trimmed back any excess.  I then cut my bones approximately 1" shorter than the length of my opening, maybe even slightly shorter.  I rounded the ends with scissors, and inserted  it into the casing, between the 1st and 2nd layers of lining. In the photo below, you can see a sample I sewed where I also boned the CF seam.  Do not bone the CF seam if you are adding ruching.

Bone casings are added to the inside of the Self Fabric.  Use a double layer of lining to prevent your bones from working through. Do not bone the CF seam if you are adding ruching.
Insert your bone into the casing, between the two layers.

Now that the Side Front Seams are boned, I sewed on the Side Front Lining to the Center Front Lining piece, so that the seam allowance would turn towards the inside and would be completely incased.  Once the entire front of the garment was sewn and lined, I stitched on the band at the side seam, treating the self and lining as one. I finished the side seam and then top stitched it down, 1/2" away from the SA, to create a side seam bone casing.  I then added a small bone to each side seam. I did not stitch on an interior casing here, because you will already have a lot of bulk, between the Self + Lining of the band, and Self+Lining of the Side Front.

After that, the constructing is pretty straight forward.  I added elastic along the top and bottom, stitched on my back hook, and added long, thin halter ties.  You could easily add straps, or a wider ties, whatever your heart desires. 

Below you can see how nicely this method works... you end up with a boned top that also has fully encased seams.

 The bottoms are much more straight forward.  I cut a size medium for myself. I fully lined the Center Front and Center Back pieces with knit swim lining.  I also added elastic around the leg to prevent it from"creeping" while in the water.

Here it is at the beach!

A very merry birthday...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My 30th Birthday ended up being amazing.  The night before Dan surprised me with one GIGANTIC firecracker.  We brought it out to my parents house, had a BBQ, bonfire, then lit the 'Grave Digger.' According to the package it was to shoot 15 fireballs 60 meters into the air, and was complete with something called 'Time Rain.' Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.  It was an awesome birthday gift.  The memory of my dad and Dan venturing off into and empty field to light this gigantic bomb, followed by a few minutes of what I think was 'Time Rain', then as it promised, 15 amazing, glorious fire-balls shot into the sky.  Afterwards we watched fireflies, and Dan and I headed home.

We hit the road around 10 on the 1st - Canada Day - and headed a few hours north to Restoule.  I can't say enough how beautiful this part of the country is.  I just love the dramatic landscape of the Canadian Shield. It is glorious.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate Canada Day.  

Our Expertly packed CR-V.
Not all photos are flattering... me devouring left over birthday cake! No make-up, and camping hair.

Our camp set-up is getting more elaborate.
 The first day, we didn't do much other than set-up camp, which is more involved now that we have a dining tent in addition to our sleeping tent...  Dan decided he wanted to try his hand at a bow drill to make fire, so he scavanged some twigs and sticks from the bush, and was able to make lots of smoke, but not so much fire.  Luckily, we also brought a lighter to start a fire!

Bow Drill... made smoke, no fire.
 We did two hikes - the fire tower trail which is a 2.5 hour long hike up a large rocky hill.  The photo below shows the fire tower, which is the halfway point of the trail.  It's a pretty steep incline, but the lookout point is awesome and well worth the work!

On the third day we did a much smaller trail which is on the opposite side of the lake as the fire tower trail.  It was pretty nice, with a rocky swimming area.  We also came across a large snake, which was both cool and icky.

There is a snake hiding in that grass!

We had many animal visitors including deer, a Raven (I think it was a raven, not a crow) who knocked my scissors off the picnic table and dunked his head in my coffee cup, two snakes - one swimming and one sunbathing, a raccoon, and a chipmunk with a weird scar on it's head (fell out of a tree maybe?).  We had one afternoon of rain, which was ok.  I read then napped.  In fact, I had an afternoon nap all three days.

Hello, deer.

Sunset on our final night.

 Before our vacation, I made Dan and I both swimsuits. For myself, I converted the Jasmine Bra and Grace Panties into a really cute bikini that I will share tomorrow.  I added boning for a little support and shaping. I was glad to finally have a bikini top that fit and bottoms that are flattering!

So, our vacation was great.  Just what I needed. I am looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow, and am glad to be home with my dog... Anyone else doing any summertime travels this year?

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