30 January 2012

Lacquer Lundi

I noticed something the other day.  I stick out my tongue (like a focused four year old) when I am carefully applying nail polish.  I do not carry this practice into any other activity in my life, just painting my nails.  This leads me to believe that polish application must be the most brain-frying procedure that I carry out in my daily life.  Huh.

On to the pretties...

Sally Hansen Nail Prisms - Emerald Amethyst
- purchased at The Bargain!Shop (chain deep discount store) for $1.08 CDN

Colour: A gorgeous light purple and green duochrome.  A duochrome is a polish that appears two different colours, depending on the angle from which it is viewed (see the video for a demo of this colour change trick). 

Number of Coats for Opacity:  Two 

FormulaReally good - not too thin, not too thick. Slides on so smoothly - really a dream to use.

Wear: Excellent - only tip wear after three days.

Comments:  I am not too shy to profess my love for these older polishes.  Man, oh man, did Sally Hansen ever get it right with this one.  The colour is simply stunning, the formula is excellent and the wear is great.  Awesome sauce!

video



Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear - Blue Me Away!
- purchased at Zellers (chain store) for $2.99 CDN

Colour: A bright blue creme.

Number of Coats for OpacityTwo. 

FormulaReally good - not too thin, not too thick. 

Wear: Great - only tip wear after three days.

Comments: I have gushed about this particular brand of polish in the past - amazing stuff for the price.  Oh, and I love, love, love the wider brush.


Joe Fresh Style - Coral
- purchased at Zehrs (chain grocery store) for $3.33 CDN

Colour: A coral creme, just like the name implies.  This one is for the polish colour traditionalists in the crowd.

Number of Coats for Opacity:  Two, although a third coat would have evened out a few streaks.  I just didn't have drying time for a third coat.

FormulaGood - perhaps a smidgen on the thin side.

Wear: Great - only tip wear after two days filled with hand intensive activities.

Comments:  Joe Fresh Style is a brand known by any Canadian that lives near a Zehrs or Superstore.  I love this line of polishes - they are a truly great value.

29 January 2012

The Taming of the Arse - Week 4

Ahh, the dreaded "P" word.  "What word is that?", you might ask.  It's the word that strikes fear into the heart of every person trying to shed a few pounds.  The word that makes grown women cry and large men gnash their teeth in horror.  The "P" word, my dear friends, is plateau.

Yes, I am stalled on a plateau.  For ten days now.  Just sitting static at one number on the scale.  Unmoving.  Immobile.

At first, I was very philosophical about the whole thing.

"Every dieter hits plateaus.  They are inevitable.  No need for alarm," I'd say in a flippant tone with a wave of my hand.

Five days later, "Huh, so I seem to be firmly entrenched in this plateau.  Wow, this is disconcerting.  I sure hope it gives up it's strangle hold on me soon." 

This morning, as I stepped off the scale, I believe my exact words were, "What the f#@k!"

I think I may be getting less zen about the whole thing.

Admittedly, my bad attitude this morning might also be due to the aching in my sad little muscles.  Two days ago, I added some strength training into the mix.  Up until now, I had been doing cardio (treadmill, walks with the dog) and stretching/balance work (yoga). I figured tossing in some weight training might help break the plateau.*

Unfortunately, our weight machine is still in pieces from the move - we hope to have it set back up in the spring.  So, I turned on my XBox and loaded up Yourself!Fitness.  It is one of the first exercise related games that came on to the market (way back in 2004 for the XBox - that's like the stone age for technology by today's standards, but I still like it).  There is a animated instructor, Maya, that leads you through aerobics, strength training and yoga routines. For each workout (which can be 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes long), you choose a main focus:  weight loss, cardio, upper body strength, core body strength, lower body strength or flexibility.  You can also choose to use had weights or a step bench during the sessions.  If you don't want an actual workout, you can spend 20 minutes in the "Meditation Garden" doing yoga.

On Friday I did a 60 minute upper body strength session, followed by a 60 minute core strength workout on Saturday.  Today, I plan on moving as little as possible since I might have overdone it a wee bit.  Okay, so descending a flight of stairs is excruciating and trying to sit down is tortuous, so yeah, I believe I let my enthusiasm get the better of me.  But nothing is irreparably damaged, so hopefully once the pain subsides, my new routine will blast me out of the Plateau Zone (cue eerie music).

How about everybody else?  Still going strong?  Tell me all about it.



* Strength training is excellent for women.  It staves off osteoporosis, which is always a concern as we women age.  Not to mention, studies show that muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells, so increasing the body's muscle mass is always a good idea when you're trying to lose weight.

23 January 2012

Lacquer Lundi

Straight to the pretties...

Quo - Flirt
- purchased at Shoppers (chain drug store) for $10 CDN

Colour: A sheerish purple with teal and pink flashes.

Number of Coats for Opacity: Three.  I was trying to get it as opaque as possible.

FormulaReally good - not too thin, not too thick.  I realize it's meant to be a sheerish polish, but I would have loved it with more pigment.

Wear: Tip wear and one small chip after two days.

Comments:  This is a nice enough polish, but it didn't blow my socks off.  Great colour, but too sheer for my  taste.  Also, the shape of the bottle is cute on the shelf, but a PITA to use.  The square handle (which holds the brush) is difficult to manipulate when applying the polish.




Avon Nailwear Pro -Splendid Blue
- purchased at Avon.ca for $2.99 CDN

Colour: A dark navy blue with silver shimmer. 

Number of Coats for Opacity: Two - plenty of pigment in this one.  If I had been more careful I may have gotten away with one coat. 

FormulaReally good - not too thin, not too thick.

Wear: A bit of tip wear after two days.

Comments:  I love this polish - the colour, the formula, the wear - everything.

22 January 2012

The Taming of the Arse - Week 3

Week three is all wrapped up and all I can say is that I'm glad it's over!

I started the week by over-eating, due to the monthly surge of hormones.  Is anyone else completely unable to say no to chocolate for around two days a month?  Please tell me it's not just me.

Also, there has been a stomach flu going around school lately and usually I am immune to those nasty little buggers.  Usually.  Not this time though.  By the end of the week, I had it.  Apparently Mother Nature felt strongly that I should do a cleanse.  So, I had to go with the flow (snarf!  flu humour - hilarious!). 

And the timing on this sickness could not have been worse. This is the end of the semester, so I'm finishing up classes and putting together final exams.  Busy, busy, busy.  No time time for this crap (again, with the flu humour!).

All this meant that I was only able to exercise  two days this week.  However, I did eat healthy most of the days (except for the days I didn't really eat).

So, when it was all averaged out, I actually came out ahead...or behind - I guess it depends on how you look at it.  Regardless, I am down another pound (for a grand total of five pounds lost in 2012).  Yay, me!

So, fess up folks.  How did your week pan out?  Down a pound?  Up a pound?  Still working out?  Sitting on the couch with a bag of Fritos?  C'mon, tell me all about it.

16 January 2012

Lacquer Lundi

Straight to the pretties...

Wet n Wild Craze - Undercover Graffitti
- purchased at The Bargain Shop! (chain deep discount store) for $2.99

Colour: A bright green creme.  It reminds me a bit of Kermit the Frog. 

Number of Coats for Opacity: Two, but if I had been more careful (or used a slightly thicker coat), I could have gotten away with one.

FormulaReally good - perhaps a teenie, weenie, tiny bit thick, but not annoyingly so.

Wear: Only slight tip wear after two days.

Comments:  I have never had much luck with Wet n Wild in the past - either the formula was off or the wear was awful.  This polish, however, is excellent.





Wet n Wild Craze - Tagger
- purchased at The Bargain Shop! (chain deep discount store) for $2.99

Colour: A bright blue creme.  It reminds me a bit of Grover.

Number of Coats for Opacity: Three coats.

FormulaThe formula on this one was not as pigmented as I would like, but it still applied nicely.

Wear: Not stellar - I had tip wear after one day and a few large chips.  Since I can't stand chipped nail polish, I took it off immediately.

Comments: I am not as impressed with Tagger as I was with Undercover Graffitti.






Wet n Wild Craze - Art Crime
- purchased at The Bargain Shop! (chain deep discount store) for $2.99

Colour: A bright yellow creme.  It reminds me a bit of Big Bird.

Number of Coats for Opacity: Three coats and I still had streaks (which is pretty typical with yellow polishes).

FormulaGood - not too thick, not too thin.  However, more pigment would be nice (but, this is always a problem with yellow polishes in general, so I can't fault Wet n Wild for this).

Wear: Okay - tip wear and a couple small chips after one day.

Comments:  I have other yellows in my collection that wear better than this one, but I do quite like the crazy bright colour of Art Crime.





Wet n Wild Craze - Scratchiti
- purchased at The Bargain Shop! (chain deep discount store) for $2.99

Colour: A bright orange creme.  It reminds me a bit of ... um, no one.

Number of Coats for Opacity: Three coats.

FormulaGood - could use a bit more pigment in order to cover in just two coats instead of three.

Wear: Okay- I had tip wear after one day and a couple of tiny chips.

Comments: Good polish, but Wet n Wild still needs to work on the lasting power of their polish.  Only Undercover Graffitti gave me great wear.

15 January 2012

The Taming of the Arse - Week 2

Week two is done and I'm feelin' fine.  Still exercising regularly and eating healthy homemade meals.

This week, besides walking on the treadmill, I tossed in some yoga and stair climbing.

I forgot how helpful yoga can be in easing my lower back pain (ah, sciatica, you lovely little creature!).  All of that controlled stretching is just wonderful, so I will be adding more yoga to my future work out schedule.

As for the stair climbing, on Friday I got into work early and decided to walk and climb the stairs for 20 minutes.  It's a really great work out - talk about burning butt and thigh muscles the next day!

Besides feeling stronger and healthier due to all of the above, it also added up to some weight loss.  I have now lost a total of four pounds since January 1st.  I truly cannot believe how well I am doing.  I never lose weight this fast, but I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth. 

I think I am doing well because I have amazing support at home, at work and here online.  It is always easier to do something difficult if you have a cheering section!  And in conjunction with this outside encouragement, I have instituted another form of motivation.  If I stay on track, I get positive reinforcement in the form of cold, hard cash:
  • For every hour I spend exercising (walking on the treadmill, taking a walk with Hartley, lifting weights, stretching, doing yoga, climbing stairs, etc), I earn $10.00.  
  •  For every healthy meal I prepare at home, I earn $1.00.  
  •  For every pound I lose and keep off, I earn $20.00.
I have really been enjoying watching the dollars adding up every time I log some exercise or a home-cooked meal.  I'm thinking I will eventually buy myself a new Babylock serger with my windfall.  I can almost smell the automatic threading already...

13 January 2012

Keeping Track of My Fabric

Last time we spoke, I shared how I organize my fabric shelves by folding my fabric neatly.  Today, we discuss how I organize it all electronically.

Keeping Track 
At last count, I had one and a quarter kilometers of fabric (that's about three-quarters of a mile for my metric challenged friends).  That's a lot of fabric to track and manage.  Although, I probably could list out a good portion of my fabric off the top of my head, I figured I'd go a bit more high tech with the actual cataloging.  I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of it all.

Here is a screen capture of a section of my actual spreadsheet:


The headings for each column (from left to right) read Fashion Fabric - Shannon, Content, W("), L(m), O(m), R(m), Use, Pattern, Fr, Cost, Cost, Cost, Date.

Let me explain the headings:

Fashion Fabric - Shannon
This is a list of all the fabrics in my stash that can be used for me (I have another spreadsheet for fabrics that I use for my hubby).  It is a visual description of the fabric (colour, pattern, etc).

I have often thought of adding photos of the fabric (which I keep in a separate folder on my hard drive) to the spreadsheet, but I have never actually needed more that just the written description to trigger my memory of a fabric.  So, to date, I haven't bothered with this extra step.

Content
I list fiber content here (silk, cotton, linen, wool, etc) if I know what it is.  If I am unsure of fiber content, I either leave it blank or take a guess (all my guesses are followed by "?" so in the future I remember that I was unsure).

W(")
Fabric width in inches.

L(m)
Fabric length in metres. This serves as an indicator of how much fabric is brought into my stash.

O(m)
Fabric out is how much of a certain piece of fabric gets used.  

R(m)
Fabric Remaining.  If I use the whole piece of fabric, the description of that fabric gets grayed out.  Also the font used to list the fabric remaining turns from black to red in colour when the value falls to zero.

Use
This tells me what type of garment was made from the fabric (pants, dress, skirt, etc).

Pattern
This tells me what pattern(s) I used for a certain fabric.  I find this invaluable for future reference.  Often, when a favourite garment gets worn out and I want to recreate it, I can't remember what pattern was used.  This column allows me to go back in time and find out.

Fr
From whom did I purchase this fabric (Fabric Mart, Fabricland, Fabric.com)?

Cost, Cost, Cost
Cost of the fabric per length.  (for example, $16.99/m)
Cost of fabric per piece.  (two metres @ $16.99/m = $33.98)
Cost of fabric piece with taxes and shipping worked in.  (include Ontario HST of 13% = $38.40)

Date
The date the fabric was purchased (listed as month-date, so 3-11 would be march 2011).  I just started including this information last year.  I wish I had done this right from the start, as sometimes it's fun to see how long it a piece of fabric has mellowed in the stash.

I love this spreadsheet.  It is so helpful when I need to find 2.0 m of a 45" fabric for a project.  I can sort the info by both these criteria and narrow down my choices.  Then, it's just a matter of pulling the fabric off the shelf and sewing.

Ahh, organization...my precious...

11 January 2012

Fabric Folding Tutorial

After my last sewing room post, I have had few inquiries as to how I fold my fabric so it looks neat and presentable on my shelves.  Since I love organizing* and encouraging others to organize, so I am more than happy to share my method (and my madness) with you today.  In a future post, I'll talk about how I keep track of it all.

Folding Fabric
First, I sort my fabric by width - 45" (anything with a width up to 50") and 60" (anything over 50").  Then the folding begins:

This is the way we fold our fabric, fold our fabric, fold our fabric...c'mon sing with me...

Many people like to roll their fabric to place on shelves.  I am not a fan of this for many reasons.  I find that the fabric can get pulled off grain.  Larger lengths of fabric (of which I have many) are difficult for me to roll neatly.  When fabric is removed from the middle of a pile on the shelf, there is a hole that remains until the other fabrics eventually collapse into it, making a mess.  And, most importantly for me, I don't find it aesthetically pleasing to look at a shelf of rolled fabric.

Granted, stacks of folded fabrics have their own issues.  Removing a single piece from the middle of a stack can be tricky/messy if the stack contains many pieces.  Also, placing fabric back in its starting spot requires removing the whole stack from the shelf to relocate the piece to its original home.  This is one of the reasons why I store my fabric by wardrobe groupings.  Each grouping contains fabrics that are complementary in colour and season.  So, I don't need to place any removed fabric back into its original location within the stack, I can just add it to the top of the stack.  This way, I still have a grouping of related fabrics, just in a slightly different order than before, which is fine by me.

So, there you have it.  Stay tuned for how I keep track of it all.


* If I had to change careers and become something new, I would open my own business as an organizational expert.  I cannot think of a better way to spend an afternoon than cleaning up and organizing a cupboard, closet, room, etc.  My friends think I'm nuts when I ask if I can come over and help clean up their closets or rearrange the contents of their kitchen cupboards!

9 January 2012

Lacquer Lundi

I haven't done a Lacquer Lundi post in ages.  I stopped doing my nails when we first adopted Hartley.  He was still a puppy then and he demanded attention (which I was more than willing to provide) every five minutes.  So, drying time for polish was in very short supply.  Well, now he's all grown up, so I have more time to lay on the lacquer.  I have a drawer full of untrieds, so I will be hopping back onto the mani bandwagon.

However, I will be using a new method to review the polishes.  I'll be using less words than before, so the new format is short and sweet (kinda like me!).  Besides, everybody pretty much just looks at the pictures anyhow, right?  :)

On to the pretties...


Sally Hansen Insta-Dri - Blazing Blue
- purchased at Zehrs (chain grocery store) for $5.99

Colour: A dark navy blue with subtle silvery shimmer.  Intense and moody.

Number of Coats for Opacity: After one coat, most nails were fine, only a few needed a slight touch up with a thin second coat.  So, shall we sahll 1.5 coats did the trick?

Formula: Excellent - not too thick, not too thin.

Wear: Great.  Two days with only minor tip wear.

Comments:  I have always loved these Insta-Dri polishes.  The wide brush is one of my favourites!



Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure - Sea And Be Seen
- purchased at Zehrs (chain grocery store) for $4.99

SH Sea And Be Seen in a well-lit room
SH Sea And Be Seen in direct sunlight

Colour: Light blue, frosty with silver shimmer.  In the bottle, a pink/mauve cast can be seen, but not so much on the nail.  The shimmer, however, is very apparent on the nail when in direct sunlight - it's very pretty!  I have included two pictures - one in direct sunlight and one in a well-lit room.

Number of Coats for Opacity: Even after three coats, I still had a bit of visible nail line.  However, I don't fault the polish, as I believe the intention was for a sheerish application.

Formula: Excellent - not too thick, not too thin.

Wear: Great.  Two days with only minor tip wear.

Comments:  The SH Complete Salon Manicure line is excellent.  Great colours. Great formula and application.  Great wide brush.  Love 'em!



****************************************************************

Finally, just before I go, let me do a public service announcement.  Denise (who is a real sweetie pie), over at Blue Gardenia, has asked me to tell you about a sale she is having.  And, since she says it better than I could, here's what she had to say:

Take the left turn at ABQ and save, save, save on lovely patterns!

You're wondering— I know you are — about our annual end-of-year sale. The bad news: We didn't have it. We were in Prescott packing. We were. Box after box.
But.
There is good news: The Blue Gardenia is having a Take the Left Turn at Albuquerque sale instead. So here's the scoop:
Buy 3 or more patterns, get 35% off your total sale!
Sale prices good now through
11:59 p.m. PST Sunday, January 15, 2012
Payment must be received by Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Shop Early for Best Selection!
Happy New Year!

8 January 2012

The Taming of the Arse - Week 1

Time for an update folks.

It has been exactly one week since I decided to make a change in my health habits.  I vowed to start exercising more and making better food choices.  Tired of being fat and lazy, I announced to the world that I was going to make a change - for the betterment of both my health and my vanity.

Although I didn't post this at the time, I had hoped to exercise four days this week and eat healthy food 80% of the time.

Well, it didn't quite work out as I had planned.


I didn't quite do what I had hoped.


But, I won't feel bad about not following the plan I had in my head, because...




I DID BETTER!


I walked on the treadmill every! single! day! for an hour each time.  I ate healthy meals, full of veggies, whole grains and lean meats.  I had a chocolate treat (my true weakness) each day, but I was able to do it without eating the entire box.

One of my downfalls is going out to eat when I don't feel like cooking.  This typically leads to poor food choices.  Not this week though.  I made every meal we ate (with the exception of one lunch date with a friend - but, I made a healthy choice - broiled chicken sandwich and salad, dontcha know).  So, not only am I eating better but I'm saving money too.  Bonus!

I must say I am pretty proud of myself.  I also lost one pound.  It's not a lot, but it is a start.  Besides, in the past when I lost a substantial amount of weight, I was actually happy to lose one pound every two to three weeks.  My body loves to hang on to its fat stores - it's tenacious.  So, to lose one pound in one week makes me very happy indeed.

For those that have been playing along with me, how'd you do?  Still all fired up and ready to go?

If not, have you thought about why you faltered?  And are you ready to recommit?

4 January 2012

Evolution of a Sewing Room - Part 7

As per Vicki's request in a comment to my last sewing room post (which was approximately 1000 years ago - I'm obedient, but really slow), let's check out the fabric closet.

So, c'mon in, the door's open...




FABRIC
I have two large shelving units that hold most of my fabrics.  The metal unit contains all the wovens, while the wooden unit holds the knits, flannels, fleeces and home dec textiles.

Metal Unit
I organize the fabric on this unit a few different ways.  By season, by fabric type/fiber content and in wardrobe groupings. 

Sometimes if a group of fabrics looks right together, I will kept them near one another on the shelf in a wardrobe collection.  Then, when I am sewing a SWAP-style group of garments, I already have pre-made collections of fabric.



Wooden Unit
I organize this unit completely by fabric type.  You can see stacks of knits, ordered by fiber content (cotton, bamboo, polyester, etc).  I also keep flannels, fleeces, home dec and corduroy here.  Beside this unit, I line up some of my linings on bolts.


But, wait...there's more...

Guest Bedroom Closet
I have too much fabric to fit in the sewing room fabric closet, so the guest bedroom closet houses the overflow.  Arranged on hangers, I have the slippery silks, laces and all the fabrics that don't take well to folding (faux suede and laminated fabrics for instance).



MAGAZINES & PATTERN ENVELOPES
I have a large collection of Threads magazines (top shelf).  I have almost every copy of the magazine ever sold, but I am missing a few of the earlier ones.  I can't decide if it's worth stalking eBay for the few issues I need to complete my collection or if I should just buy the Threads Archive DVDs.  Decisions, decisions.


I have quite a few issues of Vogue pattern magazine and to a lesser extent, the now defunct Butterick pattern magazines, mainly from the last few years (bottom shelf).  I could kick my self for tossing out all the copies I had from the 1980s and 1990s.

I have a number of issues of Australian Stitches (also, bottom shelf).  I used to love the wardrobing (SWAP) articles.  Alas, the steep price and finding that I wasn't as interested in the other articles combined to force me to let my subscription lapse two years ago.

I store all envelope patterns in a similar fashion.  The guts (tissue and instructions) are placed in large manilla envelopes, which are kept in my cutting table (the patterns can be seen in their drawers in this post) .  The pattern covers are placed inside page protectors and organized in three-ring binders (middle shelf) by category (active wear, dresses, skirts, tops, jackets, wardrobe patterns, etc) and then by pattern company.  This makes it easy to browse through my patterns without having to root through the pattern drawers.  If I grab a cup of tea and a binder and I can spend many a happy hour dreaming and plotting my next big sewing adventure.


THREAD
I love this cabinet and it's serendipitous acquisition.  I was lucky enough to be in the right place, at the right time.  A few years ago, the librarian at my school was disposing of this metal film cabinet (moving forward with the times, I guess) and I happened to walk by.  I asked if I could have it and he said yes.  The poor man even single-handedly loaded it into the bed of my truck for me.  Chivalry is most certainly not dead! (I just realized something - he has been off for the last month recovering from a major hernia operation - oh man, I think my sewing obsession may have finally injured someone.  Yikes!)


The cabinet has several shallow drawers that have dividers in them.  The dividers have round holes that were meant to hold projector film canisters.  Now, however, they are perfectly designed for spools of thread.  All my Guterman thread is organized by number in the same order as can be found on the thread sample chart.  This way, it's easy to reorder any thread that I am low on, not to mention that it looks really pretty when I open the drawer!


The other drawers hold more thread (like embroidery thread and the serger thread shown below), as well as dyes.


At the bottom, is a cabinet with a swinging door.  Inside, there are vertical dividers that are just perfect for organizing my interfacings. 


So, there you have it.  The HZC Fabric Closet of Joy & Wonder.  Feel free to stand back and bask in its warm glow.

2 January 2012

Shannon Tested, Zombie Approved: Dior

I have always been drawn to the fashions of the 1950s.  The feminine silhouette of a tight bodice and full flared skirt has consistently been a draw for me.  I especially love the work of couturiers of the era - I find it all very romantic and intriguing.

That said, I enjoy researching fashion giants of the era and basking in their legendary works.  For that reason, I bought a wonderful book earlier this year and I am simply awestruck by it.  Dior is breathtaking for many reasons.

First, its sheer size is amazing, 37.1 cm x 30.5 cm x 5.1 cm (14.6" x 12" x 2"). This is a coffee table book in the most literal sense - it is the size of a table top and it weighs about as much. I cannot sit for long periods of time and look at this book while it's in my lap - it's just too darn heavy. I have to place on a table in front of me to comfortably browse through it.

Second, the photographs are exquisite. From full length shots of the garments to eye-popping close-ups.  If you don't have the opportunity to see the garments in person, this is certainly the next best thing.

The flow of the book is ordered chronologically.  The first chapter, of course, focuses on Christian Dior himself.  There is a brief history of his life prior to launching his sensational couture collection of 1947.  We are then lead through each important collection that was to follow, up until Dior's sudden death in 1957.
Bar Suit, Spring/Summer 1947 collection

We are invited into the atelier and given insight into what it was like to be a client.  There is also a section on high society and celebrity fans and clients, including Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly and Lauren Bacall.
Famous clients in attendance at Dior shows throughout the 1940s & 1950s.


From there, the book takes us through the highlights of the each subsequent designer to lead the couture house, beginning with Yves Saint Laurent.  Saint Laurent, in his role as assistant, was said to have been groomed by Dior himself as an eventual successor.  And, what a an excellent successor he was.  Although he only reigned for six seasons (he was called up to do military service), he made an indelible impression upon the fashion world.
The iconic photograph of the model Dovima in a Dior dress designed by YSL

Marc Bohan took over as artistic director of Dior haute couture from 1961 to 1989.  Unfortunately, despite the length of time Bohan spent at the reins of Dior, his work has not made a lasting impression.  There are, however, still some exquisite garments from this period.
Evening dress, Spring/Summer 1972

Next up in the historical record is Gianfranco Ferre, who headed the house from 1989 to 1996.  He was to create collections imbued with sophistication and elegance, with an emphasis on the architectural approach to garment design.
Koh-I-Noor gown, Fall/Winter 1996 collection

Finally, the book closes out with a look at the work of John Galliano, who presented his first Dior haute couture collection in 1997.  At the publication date of the book (2007), Galliano had not yet been dismissed due to his anti-semetic tirade. 
promotion published in Harper's Bazaar in January 2007 to mark Galliano's ten years as artistic director at Dior

The most exquisite part of the book is the exceptional photographs that showcase the garments to their full potential.  The backdrops are subtle, yet complementary and add to the aura of wonder surrounding each piece.

Fidelite wedding dress, Fall/Winter 1949 collection

My favourites photos are those of the garments, inside & out.  It is a seamstress' dream to sneak a peak at the interior of a true couture garment.  It is astonishing to see the hand finishing up close and personal. 
Mugeut dance dress, Spring/Summer 1957 collection

I cannot recommend Dior highly enough.  It is a glorious gathering of luscious garments that inspire and amaze.

1 January 2012

New Year, New Beginning

I have put off writing this post for ages.  So, let's just jump in, shall we?

I AM FAT

There, I said it.

Over the last two years, I have gained 22 pounds and I am now firmly in the overweight category.  I am very unhappy that I have allowed myself to get to this point.  Of course, I have many excuses for my predicament, but none of them really hold any water.  What it comes down to is a lack of caring and effort on my part.  It's easier to grab a quick meal of garbage food and then sit on my ever-expanding arse.  Much easier than say, eating well, logging my calories and exercising.  

I don't feel good - inside or out.  My knees (one of which has always given me trouble since I dislocated it years ago) are stiff and creaky, my left hip is sore and (ready for TMI?) my monthly cramps are becoming very painful.  All of these maladies are non-existent when I'm at a proper weight.  

On a more vain note, most of my clothing no longer fits - all the beautiful garments that have I sewed over the years sit idle in my closet.  And my desire to sew new outfits has dwindled to almost nothing.  Also, when I look in the mirror, I no longer see the vibrant woman that exists in my mind's eye.  I see an overweight, tired, middle aged woman that has given up.  It ain't pretty.

So, it's time for a change.  

Please don't tell me that I need to love myself more.  Trust me, I love myself - I think I'm pretty darned awesome.  And one of the reasons, I like myself so much is that I have put effort into it.  I have an excellent education that took long hours of sacrifice and study.  I'm great at my job, which takes hard work.  I am a good family member and friend, all of which takes effort.  I am an excellent seamstress and it took years of honing my craft to get to this point.  I love to learn new things and I will leave no stone unturned to develop a new skill.  Do you see the pattern?  All the things I like about my inner self are the result of work, time and effort. 

Also, please leave the "you need to embrace your body as it is" mentality out of this.  I realize that there is a real movement these days to encourage women to love themselves, no matter what size they may be.  And, although the root of the message is empowering, I think it has gone too far.  In fact, the mere suggestion that someone would want to lose weight is often regarded with disdain.  Some people I know even go so far as to inappropriately exclaim that a thin woman "really needs to eat a sandwich."  For some, it has become a fat pack mentality - it's okay for me to be fat, as long as other people are fat too.  Believe me, I have fallen prey to this as well.  Over the past year I have often put off getting back in shape because I would reason that I'm thinner than most people, so I must be doing okay.  What a cop out on my part.
 
Please understand that I have no problems with folks choosing to be fat, nor do I have issues with them loving the body that they have.  My aggravation occurs because of the intimation by some that a desire to lose weight (through healthy eating and exercise) is letting down all of woman kind.  Recently, when discussing my need to lose weight, I was actually told that I shouldn't mention my goal to my students or I could "turn" some of them anorexic.  Um, yeah.

I will not let this daunt me though.  I continuously work hard on my inner self (it's always a work in progress), so it's time start working on my outer self again.  I have a goal, I have a plan and I have the means.  So, it's time to start the hard work.

I wasn't sure whether or not to share this on my blog.  It is deeply personal and I may be opening up myself to comments that will annoy, sadden or anger me.  But, I am more likely to stick to my plan if I put it out into the universe.

And just to keep myself honest, here I am today, heading down to walk on the treadmill in my basement.  I cannot believe I am actually going to share this picture with the world.  But, I am.  Please be gentle.

I am wearing no make up and I haven't fixed my bed-flattened hair. I have not sucked in my stomach or turned to a flattering angle.  I am not wearing clothing designed to camouflage my "trouble spots" and I haven't cropped out the bits I don't like.  This is me, as I am, right now.  A friend told me I was brave to post this photo for the world to see.  (I'm thinking that there is a thin line between bravery and insanity.)  But, I figure if I have a record of where I started, I can stay motivated and encouraged as I watch my progress unfold pictorially over the next few months. 

It's a brand new year, with brand new possibilities.  I refuse to let 2012 go by without at least trying to create a brand new physical version of me. If anyone would like to join me on my journey, I welcome the camaraderie and support.

So, here's to a new year, a new beginning .... and less ass fat.