Pattern Giveaway! Cashmerette’s Turner Dress

Greetings, fellow sewing enthusiasts! Tomorrow is supposed to be yet another 6-8 inches of snow here in the Boston area. Sigh. Then typical of a Boston winter, the temperature will rise to about 50° F this weekend. We get winter weather whiplash around here, so we are used to it. The good news about snow days is that they lend themselves to staying in and sewing.

I’ve been working on a muslin of the Style Arc Janet Dress this week. I got it all fitted, and I transferred all the changes to the lining pieces so I can Make the Lining First. I’m making the dress from a fabulous stretch rayon sateen from Gorgeous Fabrics. It has a fair amount of stretch to it, so I will use a stretch lining. I went to my trusty stash and…

All dressed up and nowhere to go

Nada. I have tons of linings, but nothing stretch. I do have some tricot, but I don’t want to use that with this fabric. I asked DH to take me to the local JoAnn, and ugh – the only stretch lining they have is 97% polyester and 3% Lycra. That’s not the issue. The issue is it is stiff as a board and feels awful. Fortunately, I’m going to New York this weekend where I’ll catch up with some sewing friends, and on Saturday I’ll pick up some decent stretch lining while I’m there.

But Who Cares About That – What About This Giveaway???

As you probably are aware, I did a class for Craftsy – Sewing Knits Without a Serger. As part of the prep for this class I made up several commercially available patterns. I originally planned to use Cashmerette’s Turner Dress as a sample, but I ran out of time. So I have a brand new, never-cut version that I’ll send to one reader!

Free to a good home!

Just leave a comment on this post before January 22nd. I’ll draw one name randomly from the comments next Monday and I’ll notify the lucky winner so I can get their address. I’ll send the pattern to the winner by USPS first class mail.  I haven’t sewn it, but it gets great reviews, so go for it. 😊

This giveaway is limited to US addresses only. This is not a sponsored post, and it has nothing to do with Cashmerette or Craftsy. I bought this pattern with my own money but I never used it and I’d rather see it used and loved by one of my readers.

Health-wise…

Things are progressing! I got the go-ahead from the neurologist and PT to start working out 3x weekly, so I’ve been going to the gym. Yay! I’ve gained back 6 of the 15 lbs I lost when I was sick. I’m still weak – who would ever think that 3-5 lb weights could feel so heavy?? Here’s a super-sucky selfie from the end of my workout yesterday.

Still have double vision, hence the patch.

Small victories eventually add up. I can’t wait for my double-vision to resolve. I can’t drive, and that really hampers me. But I’m continuing to improve every day. Thanks again for all the well-wishes!

Tip for Working with Tricky Knit Fabrics, and Simplicity 8265 Skirt

Hey there! Did I tell you I can’t drive? Double vision will do that. It is slowly getting better and I expect I’ll be back on the Boston roads terrorizing other drivers soon enough. But for now that leaves me in the house most days, which means I have time on my hands and no place to go, so I’m just a sewing ‘machine’ recently. That’s a good thing – my energy is up, my sewing mojo is up, and my blogging/teaching mojo is up. So today’s lesson is about…

Working with tricksy knits!

Have you ever run into a fabric that you absolutely adore, but like an operatic diva is impossible to work with? Not that I would know about that sort of thing personally. 🙄😆

Well, I have. The fabric for my Simplicity 8265, that luscious, beefy rayon double knit, LOVES my serger, but hates my sewing machine. Actually it hates both of my sewing machines (my trusty Pfaff and my Skippy-the-Emergency-Backup-Bernina). It makes them skip stitches like crazy, which they don’t normally do. Let me show you what I mean. I ran a line of stitches on my Pfaff. Settings for all the samples you will see in this post are straight stitch, 3mm long, Schmetz Jersey/Ballpoint needle size 80/12. Now mind you, this is the needle that gives the best result in my machines, and I tried all of them, but there are still problems. Here you can see the result:

I used white thread in the needle so you can see it clearly

In cases like this I’ve found, through experimentation and comparing results with folks who know more than me (yes – there are one or two…) that there is an easy, inexpensive and consistent answer – pattern paper!

A strip of excess paper from your pattern can work wonders…

Just put it under your stitching line, between the fabric and the feed dogs, run your stitches, and to quote BravoTV, “watch what happens!”

On the right is the first stitching line. On the left is the stitching line sewn over the pattern paper

Nice results, wouldn’t you say? Here’s the back side of the stitching

All you need to do is tear the paper away and ta daa!

Pattern Review-ish of Simplicity 8265 View B Skirt

This doesn’t really warrant a full review because I used the same fabric, machines and settings as my review of the Duster from This Same Pattern. But I’ll note a couple of things. First, this pattern is really easy! I started cutting it out at 2 and I was finished by 5, and that was with some time off to give my back a break (can I tell you how much I hate being afflicted with Miller-Fisher?). I made a size 12.

Second, it is very well drafted and goes together beautifully. I pegged it a bit, though the photos look a little like it flares out at the bottom. Not sure why. I haven’t tried it on to check it. I’ll do that later. The front is flat, the back has two small darts. Here are pictures:

Front
Back. The darts are kind of hard to see

Third it takes little fabric, so it’s a great way to use up extra (like mine). Here’s a side view

I used my new coverstitch machine to hem it

I LOVE this machine, and the man who gave it to me – after I showed him where to buy it. Still, love him!

So, another garment complete! I know it is simple, but it’s progress, and I’m so happy to be sewing again!!!

Does Happy Sewing sound redundant? Because I am!

Battle of the Seams – Sleeve Edition!

(In my best WWF announcer voice)

That’s rrrrright, ladies and gentlemen! Tonight’s matchup is a battle for dominance of the sleeve seam! Will champion ready-to-wear method Flat Set come out on top, or will challenger In The Round win the big one? Staaaaay tuned and find out!

And now a message from our sponsor –

Kidding!

My Review of Simplicity 8265 (and my grousing about the order of sleeve construction) elicited much commentary, both in favor of flat-set sleeve construction and of in-the-round construction. Well, I’m perfectly happy to be converted, so I decided to try it out myself!

Here are the ground rules I followed. I made a very simple mockup of a tee shirt using 4-way stretch knit in nude from Gorgeous Fabrics (I was originally going to do a full garment with some fabric I picked up from the red tag section at JoAnn, but it was so crappy I couldn’t deal and put it in the recycle bin). I used my Juki 4-thread MO-654DE serger on all seams, using a ¼ inch seam allowance. I pressed all seams flat and then towards the sleeve, and I was agnostic about each side – I didn’t try to make any side look better or worse. I used the same temperature, pressure, and steam on both sides. So here are the results:

First up, let’s look at the basic construction. The flat-set sleeve is sewn into the armscye before sewing the side seam/underarm seam.

This is looking at the flat-set sleeve in progress.

Now here is the in-the-round sleeve. The side and underarm seams are both sewn before inserting the sleeve into the resulting armhole.

Ready to sew the sleeve into the armhole

Here’s the front view of the finished mockup.

Honestly, can you see a difference? I can’t

After sewing the side/arm continuous seam, here’s a picture of the flat-set sleeve on Shelley.

Flat set sleeve: the top does not fit Shelley, so ignore any bustline wrinkles

The other side is the in-the-round construction

In-the-round

One Big Gotcha (for me, not you):

After reviewing these two pictures, I ran upstairs to check the right-side/wrong-side. I had used a symmetrical sleeve pattern, and guess what, they are opposite on each sleeve. In other words, one sleeve has the right side of the fabric facing out, the other has the right side facing in. It’s a stupid mistake that I shouldn’t have made, but in my defense, this is one of those knits that is the same on both sides and I promised this post yesterday so I was rushing – sorry. So if the draping of the sleeve at the shoulder looks reversed, that’s why. In point of fact, the drape is exactly the same, just inside-out.

Here are views of the seams from the inside.

Flat-set sleeve from the inside – notice it looks exactly like the in-the round from the outside.
Same sleeve looking at the underarm seam (nice matching, if I do say so!)
In-the-round view of the inside
And the underarm seam. Not quite as perfect, sorry…

Here are back views of each side on Shelley.

Flat-set sleeve from the back
In-the-round back

Conclusions:

So, is flat-set better, or is in-the-round construction better? My opinion, for what it’s worth, is there isn’t a significant difference when you are working with a jersey or lightweight knit fabric. I’m not sure there’s a difference when working with a mid-weight knit like a double knit. But I think there may be a difference with a heavy knit fabric, and I definitely use in-the-round construction on most wovens. But hey – try it for yourself and see which you prefer. After all – a big part of sewing is deciding which methods work best for each of us!

And in Non-Sewing News…

I went to the neurologist yesterday, and I got some good news! I still have double vision, but I am cleared to start working and, even better, working out again. I also put on full makeup today for the first time since I got sick. Yah!!!!

Every little bit helps! #smallvictories

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: Simplicity 8265 Duster


Pattern Description: From the website, “Misses’ and Miss Petite long sleeve tunic, pull-on skirt and pants sized for stretch knits only, and an unlined coat or vest with side slits suitable for ponte or woven fabrics such as boucle, Jacquards, tweed, wool types or stretch woven”

To add a little descriptive info, this is a long sleeved duster jacket that is semi-fitted, with neckline darts.

Sizing: 6-24. I made a 12.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Beefy Rayon Jersey in Deep Teal from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Machines and Tools Used: Skippy my emergency backup sewing machine (a Bernina), Juki MO654DE Serger, Juki MC-1500 Coverstitch (new from DH for Christmas!)

I did a huge cleaning job on my sewing room for this little gem! Thank you, DH!!

Reliable iron/board, shoulder stand, sleeve board, silk organza press cloth, sleeve roll, point presser

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11, Pro Tricot Fusible Interfacing fron Fashion Sewing Supply, Japanese hand-sewing needles and pins, Thread Heaven and beeswax, and probably some other things that I’ll remember later.

Tips Used during Construction: Of course anything by The Pressinatrix, How to Flat Set a Sleeve

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

Fitting Adjustments that I made None. For once I sewed a garment for me straight out of the envelope. What a nice treat!

How were the instructions? They were good. I didn’t really use them, because this is pretty straightforward, but I checked them and they are more than adequate. But I did grouse on my IG feed about Simplicity’s, and indeed, all the ‘big 4′ pattern companies’, outdated instructions for sleeve insertion.

Maybe I should term it “A Difference in Basic Philosophies”

I believe that the best way to insert sleeves in knit garments (not woven garments, just those whose fabrics have a fair degree of stretch) is to sew the sleeve in flat, then sew the the side seams and finish the hems. It’s the way it’s done in RTW factories, and it’s efficient. One of my IG readers countered that she finds that sewing the side seam of the garment, then inserting the sleeve in the round makes the sleeve seam the ‘dominant’ seam. That’s an interesting hypothesis! I’m going to try that. I want to do it in a knit garment where one side is done with flat-sleeve, and the other with in-the-round construction. I’ll let you know what I think!

Construction Notes: The garment went together very easily. I serged the seams,

They have you attach a ribbon (in this case I used rayon petersham between the pocket and the facing to keep the pockets from flopping around.

I used the Bernina (my trusty Pfaff needs to get the timing serviced) for under stitching and for the darts

and I used my new coverstitch for the hems. YAY!!!!

Testing it out earlier today
Garment hem with the coverstitch
Back of the coverstitch
The sleeve hem

Likes/Dislikes: This is a very well constructed pattern, and it’s a classic line with good bones. It’s a straightforward pattern that will work for lots of different fabric types. There’s nothing I dislike about it. It goes together without any difficulty.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I might do it again. I’ll certainly do other garments from this pattern (I have enough fabric left over for the skirt, and I have some black fabric that would work nicely for the pants.

Conclusion: This entire pattern is a good wardrobe builder, and this jacket will be a cornerstone in my winter-to-spring rotation. Here are pictures on Shelley:

Front
Back
Side

One Thing Leads to Another

Snow Day!

In case you haven’t heard, and I don’t think anyone in the US or Western Europe hasn’t heard, much of the East Coast of the US has been blanketed with stormy weather. Here in New England we have borne the brunt of the storm’s fury. I’m sure my Southern friends would disagree, but this storm actually had people hunkered down here in Massachusetts, where our usual reaction to snowstorms is:

The snow had just started when I poured coffee at about 8 this morning. Here are a few pictures as the storm progressed.

By 10:30 we had several inches.
By noon-ish we had several more inches.

In our house, snowstorms are harbingers of two things: a cozy fire and me baking bread.

Mmmmmm, nice and warm!
The bread dough before the first rising

The great news? I’m able to bake bread, and kneading by hand is actually really good exercise, both for upper body workout and for balance!

In Sewing News

Last night, in preparation for the snowstorm, I asked DH to take me to the local JoAnn so I could buy thread for my new Juki MCS-1500 that he gave me for Christmas (LOVE that man!). Today, I wanted to set it up and hem my Simplicity duster. But when I walked into my sewing room while the bread was rising, it was a huge needle scratch moment.

Since October, my sewing room has been a mess. Actually, to be truthful, it’s been way longer than that. DS the Elder had moved home while he looked for a job, which meant that I had to take all the fabrics and interfacings that I had stored in his bureau and put them in bins under my cutting table. On top of that, I moved a bunch of things that I had stored at the office, since I used to have both an office and a studio, and I plopped them on whatever horizontal surface was available. And on top of that, I had to rush out a bunch of garments for my Craftsy class, so I had cut and sewn things, and left the cleanup for when I got back. But then I went to Paris. And I closed Gorgeous Fabrics. Then I got sick.

So my sewing room looked like a bomb went off in it. It’s a tiny room to begin with, and if I let it go, it goes – really fast.

I did not take any before pictures because I don’t want you to know what a slob I am. Because I’m not, really. Mostly. Sometimes.

But today, I must be feeling better, because I started cleaning. I moved all the fabrics and interfacings out from under the cutting table and back into drawers in the now-spare bedroom. I had boxes of notions that I put into cabinets where they are easily searchable, and I gathered lots of scraps and headers from Gorgeous Fabrics to donate to the textile recycling program at my local high school. It took several hours (fortunately the bread required 3 risings). I’m not done yet – I need to tackle my sewing table, but it’s probably 2/3 complete, and I can now walk into my sewing room without feeling totally stressed out!

OMG, I can see the floor!
I still have work to do, but it’s a start!

I’m pretty exhausted now – I can tell you, you don’t realize how much you use your core muscles for just moving around and picking things up and putting them down. The great news is that this was probably the longest period of physical activity I’ve had since I got sick, and I did it! I could use a serious epsom salt soak right now, but I did it!

But you know what was the best thing that happened today? I got a call from my old friend, Ryan, the Associate Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and my old choir director. It was so wonderful to talk to him!!! He doesn’t get on Facebook very often, but he was today, and he saw my posts about my adventures with Miller-Fisher. We spent an hour just catching up, and he’s convinced me to start singing again. And I promised that next year, we’d come out to Salt Lake City to visit and go skiing. While I never wish to have bad things happen to anyone, it’s lovely to realize how many people you love are there for you.

So tomorrow I don’t have anything planned other than to hem my Simplicity duster with my new coverstitch. It’s supposed to be c-c-cold around here, so if you are in the path of the frigid temps, please be safe and warm.

Parting Shot: Hoover loves to just go out and lie in the snow!

He also loves coming in and getting toweled off.

Happy sewing!

2017 Year in Review

The year of… This

To quote Dickens, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Ya got that right, Chuck. As I bid a (semi-)fond farewell to 2017, I realize that this has been a year of wild swings for me. I don’t usually do year end posts, and I rarely talk about year-end stuff that isn’t sewing related, but I feel the need to remind myself that 2017 was not the major bust that it has seemed since early November. To whit, here are the highlights by month, with some sewing projects thrown in…

January

How better to start the year than on a boat in Sydney Harbor, watching fireworks? My family and I took a bucket list trip to Australia, where we visited dear friends Dave & Renee (my Sister from Around the Planet). Our sons came with us. This was the trip we have planned and saved for since we got married 32 years ago, and it was everything we hoped.

We spent New Years on Sydney Harbor

 

Where they do fireworks RIGHT
My Sister by Another Mother, and my DH
Brother-in-Law-by-Another-Mother Dave, making Prawn Étouffée with me consulting (we gave them Paul Prudhomme’s cookbook)
Left: the harbor at Port Douglas. Right: Truly the Best Day Ever
Clockwise from top left: Me, DH, DS the Younger, DS the Elder

Sewing-Wise
Yeah, I did nothing. I shut down Gorgeous Fabrics for the time I was gone, and when I got back, well, let’s just say things didn’t go as planned so the site was down for a lot longer than I intended. That was, in effect, the beginning of… we’ll continue that conversation later.

February 

No vacations in February. But I did sew a bunch. I made a fave-rave McCalls M6559 Bolero, which several people have asked me about because I wore it in my Craftsy Class. (More on that later.)

 

I also made the PHENOMENAL Paco Peralta for Vogue Patterns V1527 Blouse.

March
No vacations here, either, but some sewing. In March I made Butterick B6446 dress. This is one of the favorite pieces I’ve made in ages, and I wore it to DS the Elder’s college graduation. It’s a wonderful pattern.

April
Clearly, I am not living up to the picture that starts this post. No vacation here either. But I did make a favorite button-down shirt, Butterick B5678. I have to admit, it was a little pull-y when I first made it. For better or worse, it’s loose now. That’s a story for later in this post. Regardless, I do love it.

May
Work work work. No vacations. Damn.
But I did have one Massive Fail. And another successful Paco Peralta for Vogue V1527 Coat, in a pink satin, which I wore with my Butterick B5678 dress to DS the Elder’s college graduation!

June
Oh, thank God, a vacation! DH had to (“Had to”? Whatever – any port in a storm) go to Copenhagen for business, so I went with him, and because we were able to stop over without any penalty, we spent a long weekend in London. Where I dragged him to Saville Row

Tried on a £7.5 Million flawless diamond necklace just for kicks.

It was (almost) better than sex.

AND I got to meet and spend the day with the wonderful Melissa of Fehr Trade Patterns. We went to the Balenciaga Exhibit at the V&A, in the morning, then spent the entire day together.

Love. Huh!

Next I went to Copenhagen, where I spent several days with my dear Maria of Maria Denmark Patterns. OMG, she’s my Sister from This Side of the Planet! We had SUCH a good time!!

Love. Huh!

July
Yes, there was another trip. This was a vacation that we planned and paid for long before Copenhagen/London became a possibility, and it was our anniversary trip. We love the Big Island of Hawai’i and try to go whenever time and money permit.

Panorama view from the restaurant where we had our anniversary dinner.

There was also a little sewing, in fact for this dinner. I made New Look 6557.

August
No travel – needed a break and had to work, but I did make one of my favorite garments of 2017, Paco Peralta for Vogue Patterns V1550 tunic and pants. J’adore!!!

September
No vacations, but some very big decisions. September was when I decided to close Gorgeous Fabrics. I’ll talk more about that later. Maybe.

But it was also a month when my sewing mojo was in full swing. I made lots of things, but my favorite, and the one that gets me stopped by strangers on the street to compliment me is McCalls M7100 Sequined Bomber Jacket.

This was WAY out of my wheelhouse, but I love it.

October
Well, the big thing, of course, was my announcement that Gorgeous Fabrics, as we all have come to know it and love it, was closing. That caused some… consternation. But it was a good decision, and will lead to a new beginning in 2018. That’s all I have to say about it for now. Stay tuned!

From a sewing standpoint, I made Butterick B6494 dress, which I love except for the damned pockets. I’ll be removing those shortly. But I still love that dress. Great pattern, bad pocket placement, but that’s minor. Great pattern.

And as the month closed, I went to Denver to film my Craftsy class, Sewing Knits Without a Serger!


Denver was beautiful, and I got to visit friends in Boulder (where I worked when I was in my 20s).

Then there was…

November and December
As we wound down Gorgeous Fabrics for the time being, I heard the siren call of the Dior Exhibit at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs. It was something I could not resist. My emotions were all over the place, and DH encouraged me to go, so I did. It. Was. Amazing. I went to the exhibit with my friend Joanne, and we met up with Susan Khalje, who was preparing to host her annual tour. The exhibit was nothing less than astounding.

Then there was the rest of the year. As you know if you read this blog or my IG or FB feeds, I got sick. Really sick.

BUT, I am getting better, little by little. I have been sewing, and I will continue to improve. I thank you for sticking with me through this tome, and I really thank you for your love, prayers, thoughts and support over the last month. I wish you and yours a very happy, healthy 2018, and I hope you will continue to create and sew.

Love to you all, and happy sewing!

Ann

Back In the Saddle – er – Sewing Room! Another Ann Tee

Thank you to everyone for the lovely well-wishes and kind thoughts on my recovery. I kid you not when I say that dealing with cancer was much easier than dealing with Miller-Fisher variant of Guillane-Barré. This has been a… journey.

But as with every journey, small steps combine to make big strides. Or something like that. Anyway, I am healing, and slowly things are returning to their prior state. It’s going slower than I would like, and I lost 15 lbs thanks to this beast. That’s no humble brag. I lost muscle, not something I want. I’m slowly building it back up. At this point I’ve been discharged from the nursing care, occupational therapy and now the in-home physical therapy. Tuesday I’ll start outpatient PT. This is all great stuff. I’m gonna beat this thing back into submission. As I said to my BFF Barb, Miller-Fisher picked the wrong b*tch to go after!

The first symptom to show up, and the thing that sent me to the neurologist in the first place, was double vision. Alas, I still am afflicted with that. I have one side of my glasses patched (you can see that on my FB and IG feeds), and since it’s been almost 6 weeks, my depth perception is non-existent. I’ve been hesitant to go back into the sewing room, since I don’t want to slice myself with a rotary cutter.

BUT.

Sewing is good therapy, and I have really needed it, so back into the sewing room I went this week. Because of my limited vision and lack of depth perception, I decided to stick with a tried and true. Plus I need a new top. So it was my trusty StyleArc Ann Tee Top to the rescue!

Look Ma! I still have all my fingers! #smallvictories

I made no changes to the pattern, but this time I sewed it in a bold printed ITY Jersey for the body, and black ITY jersey for the neckband and sleeves. Both are from Gorgeous Fabrics (stay tuned in 2018 for new developments, and that’s all I’m going to say for now 🙂 ).

It went together beautifully, and I am wearing it now. I’ll get pictures on me at some point, but in the meantime you can see the more-or less finished result on Shelley.

It is hemmed temporarily now – final version after Christmas

I will tell you one bad experience I had, and it has nothing to do with the pattern or fabric. If you recall, earlier this year I did my own unvarnished, un-sponsored review of Coats and Clarks Eloflex Thread. I wasn’t impressed then, but I figured I would try again, so I gave it a go.

Here’s my equally unvarnished opinion after my second go-round. Save your money. It’s not worth it. It didn’t want to wind on the bobbin without some serious help from me (I never have a problem like that with any other threads). When it wasn’t skipping stitches – and I tried every type of needle in different sizes – it would break about every three or four inches. Screw that. I threw it out, ran a narrow overlock and I’ll finish the final hem with the coverstitch that my husband put under the tree.

So, I’m feeling quite accomplished that I managed to make a top without hurting myself or breaking anything! Small steps, but they add up over time. I really want to make a coat, but I don’t feel ready to do anything that complex – yet. But give me time, and I’ll be back and sewing up a storm.

Merry Christmas, love you all, and of course,

Happy sewing!

Welcome to My New Craftsy Class, Sewing Knits Without A Serger

Happy December, peeps! I am slowly but surely recovering. Thank you all for your kind words, well wishes and prayers. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them, and you!

You may have heard, I have a brand new class on Craftsy! I am so excited about this! You all know that I love to sew knits. For me, knits are the true fabrics of our lives. From the soft knit onesies we put on babies, to easy-to-make, easier-to-wear tee shirts, to sleek and sophisticated wrap dresses. These and so many more garments are made so comfortable and wearable thanks to knit fabrics.

And now I get to share my love and knowledge with you! This class is geared towards sewing enthusiasts who have had some experience with sewing wovens, but may be hesitant to work with knits. It’s also great for those of us who want to brush up on some techniques. And you don’t need any specialized machinery – we work with a regular sewing machine.

And right now, you can get Sewing Knits Without a Serger for 25% off, so it’s a perfect gift for yourself or the sewing fan on your list!

Click Here for 25% off my class, Sewing Knits Without a Serger!

Neuro Parlor Games

Or, how I spent my Thanksgiving Vacation.

Not my idea of a good time

Hey peeps! I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! Did you miss me? I’ve missed you. As you might guess, this has not been my favorite Thanksgiving holiday. I spent a week in the hospital after spending two weeks at home feeling extremely sick, and not knowing why.

That was the scary part. The good news is, I’m in Boston, where if you have to get sick, at least you’re in the right place. The other good news is that the syndrome that I have, while very scary, debilitating, and in rare cases potentially life-threatening, usually resolves completely over time. In my case, the treatment involved a week in the hospital, five IV transfusions, and one blood transfusion.

On top of all that, I’m a statistical outlier! This syndrome affects one in 2 million people every year, so I was a celebrity on the neurological floor at Tufts Medical Center. <sarcasm> Forget mundane things like stroke, brain cancer, aneurysm – this one walks in maybe once a year, and on Match Day, no less! </sarcasm>

Seriously, everyone wanted to see me. I think they were drawing straws outside my room to see which medical students would get to come in with the attending. They even wanted me to be the test subject for a Match Day neurological conference headed by one of the top doctors in the field. All I could think of was the medical lecture scene from Young Frankenstein (yeah… no).

I have tried to move my eyes, wiggle my toes, hold my hands up, stick my tongue out, and other fun things that test my central neurological system so many times, I’ve lost count. We took to calling them Neuro Parlor Games, hence the title of this post. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to the staff and especially the nurses that took such great care of me. And after two weeks of not knowing what was happening and why, it was a great relief to have a diagnosis and prognosis put to my condition.

And as you know from when I was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago, I tend to make fun of things that scare me, which held me in good stead while I was in the hospital. The nurses and I had lots of fun, if you can believe it. Eevery time I’d get up to move around in my hospital johnny, I’d say to the nurse “Oh, you’re getting to see the better side of me!” Or threatening to do walker marathons around the floor. Or telling my nurse, when he said he was going straight to hell, that I’d save him a seat at the bar. And hey – I lost 11 lbs. thanks to this, so I have running room for the holidays! Look for the positives, right?

In all earnestness, the greatest gift through this entire ordeal was my husband and my family. Larry was there for me at every step and I can’t ever express my gratitude enough to him. I know this was even more frightening for him than it was for me. He brought me the stuffed bear, Belle, that my father gave to me when I was a teenager to cuddle with.

My hospital companion, Belle (thanks, Dad!)

Needless to say, I haven’t been able to do any sewing for the past several weeks. Once my vision resolves (double vision was my fist symptom), I hope to get back into the sewing room and start working on a jacket from the bouclé that I bought in Paris.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. Sorry to have gone off grid for so long. But I will get back to normal! And I will be sewing soon. There’s lots of exciting stuff that’s happening right now outside of all of my adventures. I’ll fill you in on that in the next blog post. In the meantime…

Happy sewing!

Yes, I Went to Paris to See Dior

Wow, I say. Just wow.

I spet a whirlwind 3 days in Paris, to attend the “Christian Dior: Couturier of Dreams” exhibition at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs.

It. Was. SPECTACTULAR

I can’t even describe how filled my heart is from attending it. It was the tonic I needed. The Elves said, “Go!” My husband said, “Go!”, so I packed a bag and found a decent flight on Aer Lingus (now rivaling JAL for my favorite international airline). I left on Halloween night, arriving the morning of November 1st. I was pretty exhausted, but I tried to stay awake. Best way to do that, in my experience, is to get out and walk around, which I did. And this is the view I had walking from my little flat in the 4th Arr. toward Forum des Halles.

The back end of Notre Dame – not a bad view!

I met up with my friend Joanne the next day and we went to the exhibit. To say it was a bucket-list activity would be vastly understating it. The exhibit had over 300 garments, all from the Christian Dior archive. Think about that – that’s amazing. Dior didn’t (need to) ask clients to loan them garments for the exhibition. Dior keeps an archive of all (I think? Certainly almost all) haute couture garments, and they pulled the exhibition from those archives.

How much would I LOVE to spend time in those archives???? Sigh…. Well, I could go on and on, and at some point I might, but let me just load up the pictures and let you swoon over the pretty. I’ll sprinkle a few comments here and there, but otherwise, enjoy!

Petale

This was a muslin of a silk chiffon dress, done in a cotton chiffon

This fabric was silk organza with feather embroidery, making it look like mohair, but light as, well, a feather!

My absolute favorite, a strapless gown from the 80s by Gianfranco Ferré

 

That’s me, under the shadows cast by a bajillion beautiful paper leaf sculptures hanging from the ceilings.

Loved Galliano’s looks, but to my eye, they were the most dated.

MUSLINS!!!!!

Maria Grazia Chiuri – LOVE this design…

 

Bar – the look that started it all…

If you get the chance to go – GO! Don’t think about it, don’t analyze it, just freaking GO!!! The exhibit goes through January 7, 2018. It’s not expensive to get into it, but order your tickets in advance. As of last week, they were selling a week out, and as the exhibit gets closer to ending, the tickets will become scarce. But this is a blockbuster exhibit, and you really MUST go if you can!

I’ll do another post about my fun at Janssens & Janssens later. In the meantime, happy sewing and couture dreaming!