Canada to Catskills

I liked this Canada cookie so much I bit off the stem of the maple leaf before I thought to take a photo of it. No Regrets.

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It’s been over a week since I’ve been back from Montreal and Ottawa. It took me a little longer to post than usual. And, in exchange you get a super long travelouge. Exciting, isn’t it?  Before I made it back home to Baltimore from Canada, I had a detour to a fishing camp in the Catskills.

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My friend and pro photographer picked me up during my Philly layover so I could be her photo assistant at a western New York wedding for the 4th of July. I was more than happy to help as it kind of extended my vacation and let me feel like I knew what I was doing with a camera.

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The wedding was also pretty incredible.  I cried during the vows and toasts and I don’t even know these people!!

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The wedding cake was rainbow layers. Something I’ve seen pop up on Pinterest and Instagram and I was DYING to actually try one. It was just as delicious as it looked. When my friend posts photos from the wedding online, I’ll link back so you can see. It was a gorgeous riverside ceremony with a party that went until 1:30 a.m.

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Our very old school motel had a minty green bathroom and Gideon Bibles in the bedside table. I swear I haven’t seen those in 20 years. These were published in ’73. And, I for sure haven’t ever seen a Book of Mormon in a hotel.

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Once back from ten days of not being at home (or work) I just needed a bit to get myself (and laundry washed) together.


CANADA

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We took the train to Canada from Baltimore at an unbearably early hour. But, as I’m a champion sleeper in moving vehicles, it didn’t bother me. The train is four times as long as flying but 1,000 times more comfortable and scenic.

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Our first stop was Montreal which I FREAKING LOVE.  As per usual, we took a bike tour through the city.20150628-USER2198 photo 20150628-USER2198_zps5rz5nk5m.jpg

We used the same company that Trena and I used five years ago, Fitz & Folwell. And, let me say this, the owner Shay stay fine (apparently I referred to him as ‘smoking’ the first time).

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I was much more food touristy on this program with visits for both Montreal bagel standards. I was all set to ignore the bagels but glad I complied with Instagram suggestions. They actually are different than NY bagels. And super good hot and fresh from the oven. But, I have to give it to St Viatauer for the win.

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I generally don’t believe in waiting in line for food. But, we did for Schwartz’s smoked meat and again, phenomenal. We also took a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter organized by the Montreal Jewish Museum. Totally fascinating.

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And, I as promised, I had the poutine I’d dreamed of. It may be a heart attack on a plate, but it was heavenly. Is poutine like pizza? Even when it’s bad it’s good?

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We wrapped up Montreal with two little sewing meet up. The first, below, was right after my bike tour which explains my cycle dress and thin film of sweat.  Veronik, Alexandra, Heather and Vicki all came out. Some asides that show how weirdly connected you can be.

  1. Veronik is a knitwear designer. I don’t really knit (yet) so her name didn’t immediately ring a bell. Until I went on my Ravelry yesterday and saw that one of my two actual projects was hers!! It’s a hand knit sweater vest from Interweave back in 2007. I had a serious knitting friend back then and bought all the supplies to make it and never did.
  2. Alexandra and I met at PR Weekend Montreal five years ago. Since then, she’s had babies! How is it that people grow people when you’re still trying to remember to get dressed in the morning?
  3. Heather, everyone knows. I have the Ginger jeans pattern all printed, traced and ready to muslin. But, more importantly, she knew way more about US politics that I about Canadian. Thankful, because political chatter kept Jordan entertained longer than I would have expected.
  4. Vicki and Heather both saw Prince the week after he performed in Baltimore. We relived our middle and high school years talking about that show.

After a few hours of wine and chatter, Heather offered to make dinner for all of us. So, pressure cooker + friends and it was an instant dinner party! And instant dinner party in which Jordan listened to four hours of sewing and I had a ball.20150628-USER2233 photo 20150628-USER2233_zpsapkrehrj.jpg

My second meet up was with Jill. She met Jordan and I at a bakery in her neighborhood and we at ALL THE BREAD. No more Costco croissants. I swear they bake bread with a sprinkle of  crack in Montreal.

From Montreal we went on to Ottawa. We took VIA Rail from Montreal (selfie stick represent). Is the train ever not elegant?

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While we were rained out for Canada Day we still managed tours of the gorgeous art deco Canadian Supreme Court (obviously not my idea), walking the grounds of Parliament Hill, exploring Chinatown and taking a Thai cooking class at the Ottawa Chinese Cooking School.

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PLUS!!!! We had a lovely pizza dinner with the Sewing Lawyer Kay and her husband.  We ditched Jordan at a bar and went to her house and checked out her Passap and knitting machine collection (no photos. I have no photos of this. How do I have NO PHOTOS??) I felt so good leaving her because despite both owning multiple knitting machines, we both have regular online searches going for new ones. These things seem to breed like rabbits itellyouwhat.

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And, now, I am back in town. Jordan started his firm job last week. Hello 12 hour work days and billable hours. What a change from two years of clerking! We had company over the weekend (which meant I spent all week cleaning) and more company this week when Jordan gets sworn into the Federal Bar. Exciting times. I do have new tunic top to show you (previewed on Instagram) and an update on Machine Knitting Lesson 2 from Saturday.

Whew.

Montreal Bound. Let’s Have Drinks.

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We’re getting ready to leave for Montreal via Amtrak. And, by getting ready I mean trying to sew a new tee shirt to take with me, doing laundry, waxing my eyebrows and generally going crazy. Jordan on the other hand had decided he’s staying up all night and not stressed. I thought a train through the US into Canada would be so romantic and continental. Except, our train out of Baltimore departs at 4 am. So, I’m just feeling tired and very American.

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I was last in Montreal in 2010 with my mom, Aunt Judy and Trena for PR Weekend. It was like a family vacation. My mom was always game for a trip. Also, looking through my photos from last time, I think I actually sewed most of my fabric from the trip!!! And by most I mean some. Don’t judge.

So, if you’re in Montreal and interested in getting cocktails Monday the 29th, leave a message here or send me an email. I’ve poked and prodded Vicki (Another Sewing Scientist) and Heather (Closet Case Files) to take me out. I think the plan is have a little somethin’ somethin’ at Huis Clos on St. Denis. I’m not sure of the time, but likely after work hours.

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Finally, Here’s a list of all the things I will eat next week.

  1. Poutine. Daily.
  2. Maple syrup on all the things
  3. Fresh strawberries from the market with glasses of champagne
  4. Croissant with coffee every day
  5. Baugettes perched delicately in my bicycle basket

San Antonio, Texas

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We are back from beautiful, warm and gracious San Antonio, Texas! My parents lived in the San Antonio area (Garden Ridge) some 15 years ago and I remember visiting them many times. But, somehow, I never got a real feel for the area. After spending the long holiday weekend there, I can tell you I love it. First, it was warm an sunny our first day. Second, I can’t remember the last American city I’ve been to that had so much diversity. We kept remarking at different sites at how many times we saw people of different ethnicities socializing together. There was such great American history and culture in San Antonio. We stayed at a fantastic inn in the King William / Southtown neighborhood and were walking distance from the Riverwalk and all the major attractions.

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But, my biggest personal draw to San Antonio was the chance to meet Amanda from Amanda’s Sewing Adventures. She was kind enough to introduce us to real Texas BBQ on our first full day in town. I say ‘introduce’ because there really was a lot to learn :-) Like, did you know brisket can come ‘wet’? Until this trip, I thought brisket was boring and I didn’t know what the big deal was. After this trip, brisket is my jam. Also, from now on, I might try and meet sewing bloggers over local food instead of fabric.

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It’s possible I plan trips around what other sewing bloggers I can meet. If I’m being honest, when we start talking about places to go, I do run through a mental list of ‘Who do I know…’ Sadly, Amanda didn’t bring her recent pink coat so I could take it back to Baltimore with me.

We got rained out of our bike tour of the city and missions on our second day. So, we made up for it by going back out for more BBQ. The Big Bib opened at noon and I kid you not, there was a line 30 people deep when they opened the door.

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My dad was also in San Antonio for the weekend and we got to spend a little time with him before heading back home. It’s good to see him smiling again.

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I naturally took the opportunity of being in Texas to dress like an American Flag.

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Heh.

My last funny about TX is I reserved a hybrid or sub-compact car while we were in San Antonio. When we arrived, they gave us a Toyota 4Runner as it was the smallest car they had available. I guess everything really is bigger in Texas.

But, for real. From now own, President’s Day weekend gets spent in a warmer climate. We came back home to 8 degrees (-13 in Celsius) and snow. I also really like that in the last year I’ve done more traveling in the continental US. Growing up an Army brat we were always taking trips overseas. But, I’ve really come to appreciate all the great places there are in the States you can visit.

Belgium – Holland 2014

Now that I’ve got some of the sewing related stuff out. Here’s a final post on how the rest of the trip went.

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Before we started the bike and barge portion, we spent a day on a bike tour in Brussels. I’ve done bicycle tours in Minneapolis, Montreal and Shanghai. They really are a great way to cover a ton of ground and get an overview of the city.

Royal Palace in Brussels

Royal Palace in Brussels

The Royal Palace was open for about three weeks for tours for the year. But, we could not seem to get organized around things shutting down around 4 p.m. Thus, I missed my chance to tour the palace. A theme which continued on in the Netherlands.

The Liege waffle might be the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

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I’ll also just tell you now. We had a lot of frites. I’m not that in to chocolate. I don’t think we even bought any on this trip. But, I ate waffles and fries like they were being discontinued. They say the Liege waffle has sugar in the middle. I decided it’s not sugar. It’s crack inside of them. They were that additive.

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After a day in Brussels, we headed to Bruges. It’s SO BEAUTIFUL. All I really knew about Bruges was from the movie, In Bruges. Guess what? There’s a Bernina store there! If you think the prices are high for Berninas here, the feet there would cost me 30 percent more because of the exchange rate. Ouch.

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Right-o. The bike trip began in Bruges. Our barge would sail during the day while we biked and we’d get back on board in the evening. The crew was great and the food was awesome.

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The biking was fun! I wasn’t at all prepared for it training wise, but you didn’t really need to be. That said, it was a lot harder for me now than three years ago. Jordan on the other hand thought it was easy peasy.

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We  saw castles and windmills and ate lots of cheese.

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We also visited a working dairy farm and bought more cheese than a cardiologist would approve of.

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I gasped in this room. We brought back three Gouda cheeses. We have 1.5 left…

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When we got on board our guide immediately knew our names. I asked how he knew it was us. And he said, ‘Easy. You’re the youngest people on the tour.’ Isn’t that awesome? The next person in age to me was 20 years older and they rode hard. Do you see why I can’t moan about being out of shape?? This guy below is from Australia. He’s 75. Jordan is the same age as his oldest grandson. And, he kicked our butts going up hills. He’s got the legs of a 35 year old. He’s in a bike club in Australia and has two hip replacements.. He was awesome. I tried to hook him up with Jordan’s grandmother but I suspect the distance between Melbourne and Maryland is too far.

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Along the tour we stopped in Utrecht and Antwerp before getting in to Amsterdam. Once the bike and barge portion ended in Amsterdam, we rented a flat for a few days in the Jordaan neighborhood. I got a total kick out of the name. Jordan didn’t think it was as funny as I did. I never did find him a tee shirt that said Jordaan…

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Our first day in Amsterdam we took a really fun food tour of Jordaan, the neighborhood we were staying in. We sampled all kinds of Dutch specialties including herring, Surinamese food, Dutch food (bitterballen), licorice, and Dutch apple pie.

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Sunday we hit the Van Gogh Museum and the Jewish Quarter. In the Jewish Quarter we stopped by the Portuguese Synagogue and the Jewish History Museum. We didn’t have enough time for my favorite museum, the Dutch Resistance Museum.

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Sunday night we saw an English language improv show with all American actors at Boom Chicago. Isn’t that amazing? American comedy in Amsterdam. And, the place was full!

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When you walk around Amsterdam, you can see in almost everyone’s window.

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Imagine how tickled I was when I saw a dress form on a canal house boat and a woman working away on her sewing machine!

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And of course, I still can’t get over ALL THE BICYCLES.IMGP1223

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It was a tremendous vacation. We chose our honeymoon in the middle of what I can only describe as the most surreal time of my life. Traveling, especially in Europe, reminds me of my mom in all the best ways. She always took us on trips and suggested places to go. Traveling was really her passion. This trip felt like closing the chapter on an emotionally complicated period and opening a door to the next phase.  The last year I’ve literally felt like the walking wounded. I didn’t realize  just how much was weighing on me.  I knew I was sad. I didn’t know I was crippled. I am honestly starting to feel like me again.

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International Internet Friends: Brussels & Holland Edition

So much of our trip’s success relied on the kindness of Internet friends!

First, sweet Katherine in Brussels offered to let us stay at her home outside of Brussels for a few nights before we headed in to Bruges to start our trip.  Imagine our car-centric surprise when she arrived with a bicycle and two adorable children to carry our luggage to her house!

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** Jordan’s not in the Army. But, he’s using my mom’s old US Army duffle which I used to use to travel all over the world. After this trip, we are so not going to travel with it overseas. Oy.

Can I tell you that these kids are the greatest?!? Like Linus, they liked Jordan better than me. He managed to do two different arts and crafts projects with them at the same time. Katherine and I were busy talking sewing machines.

IMGP0254Also, when you speak to these cuties in English, they respond in French. IT WAS SO STINKING CUTE. We’d say, ‘I don’t speak French. Anglais? Anglais?’ and they’d look at us like we were simpletons, sigh politely and and say like three words in English. Their mom speaks to them in English, but she understands their French when they respond.   You know how they say ‘Hello, Kitty’? ‘Hallo Keeety!” I wanted to die of cute overload.

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Katherine also took some time to show me how to make vegetarian dolsot bibimbap from Korea. Mmmmm. We’ve been talking about this for years!

From Katherine’s, we headed to Bruges to start our week of biking and barging from Belgium into Holland. At some point I may get myself together to actually talk about the non sewing related parts of the trip!

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After our week of biking, our clothes were so so terribly smelly. And, being American, we expected the laundromat in Amsterdam to be open all night long. Not only did the laundromat by our rented flat in close at 3:00 pm on Saturday, it wasn’t even open on Sunday. Jordan was literally out of clothes (I was washing mine as we went along. He… wasn’t). I emailed Valerie who lived in the neighborhood for suggestions of other places to try. Since we were staying in her neighborhood,  she cheerfully suggested we do it at her house. First, she saved us like 25 Euros. But, second, we got to drink wine while the laundry was running and talk to she and her husband all about Amsterdam, the neighborhood, the politics of the city and country. We’re policy geeks so loved getting to hear the un PC version of what was going on in Holland.

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The next day, she also escorted us to meet up with Hilde (on the left and Valerie on the right) and tour the Monday fabric market in Amsterdam. Did you hear that? OUT DOOR FABRIC MARKET.

Hilde came bearing gifts: A men’s issue of Knip Mode and some beautiful lace in her stash for lingerie sewing! (I thought I took a photo…)  Do you see Jordan stretching a little to improve his height? He spent a lot of trip noting women he could look in the eye and men he had to look up to. The Dutch are tall!

After touching all the fabric at the market (and buying something I didn’t take a photo of), Hilde came along with us to Rotterdam where Marta was there to give us an insiders tour. Rotterdam is a Baltimore’s Sister City. But, the city is also known for it’s modern architecture and I thought Jordan would get a kick out of it. Can you believe Marta took time off work to show us around??

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Marta was an excellent guide. She showed us all her favorite spots and sites that Rotterdam is known for.

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I think Jordan’s finally gotten used to meeting my ‘internet friends’ when we travel. I’m just really glad we had enough time and people were so generous with theirs! To be honest, I totally added an extra day to our trip just to make sure I could get my fix.

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No Store Like It: Kantje Boord

When we were trying to figure out where to honeymoon, I suggested a bike trip in France. Jordan was worried that the food portions would be too small for his American appetite and he suggested the Netherlands. He thought I might not want to go back since I’d been there three years before. But, with memories of Kantje Boord in my mind I was ALL OVER IT. We made a deposit on our trip that night and before he could change his mind.

I have to thank Sigrid for taking the time to meet with me on a work day and Valerie for offering to give me a ride to Kantje Boord. It was my second time meeting Sigrid and my first introduction to Valerie. It’s always a pleasure to meet people you have an online relationship with. YAY for the internets!

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And, let me tell you, Kantje Boord is all that I remember and more. First, it’s expanded. Second, I didn’t hyperventilate from indecision. But, I may have hugged the fabric. For those who might not know, Kantje Boord is a lingerie  focused sewing shop in Amsterdam. What makes it unique for lingerie sewing is the sheer volume of options. There are hundreds and hundreds of laces to select from.

 

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They have ALL the notions ALL in one place. You go to different walls for the strapping, for the lycra, for the little cute ribbons, for the elastics.

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When you go to the counter, the lovely shop clerk (who I totally remembered from three years ago) pulls the best tulle, lining, channeling and metal sliders for you. She makes it impossible for you to forget something. I really love making bras. But, for me it’s totally frustrating to ‘gather’ the supplies. I’m not a fabric dyer so I don’t want to be bothered with that either. The first time I went to Kantje Boord, I was totally overwhelmed. I just bought little pieces of lace and ordered the rest of the kits online. This time. I went in to buy everything I needed to sew a complete bra (minus the underwire).

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And, thank goodness for Valerie and Sigrid! I was still overwhelmed in the shop and couldn’t think straight about how much of what I needed to buy. They were the best at helping me winnow down my original stack of 12 laces to a reasonable amount.

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I weep from the beauty of it all. And, if Jordan hadn’t taken money out of my purse for his day out on his own, I would have squeezed two more kits in to here.  Considering my last three RTW bras that I bought last month were in the $60+ range, I really consider this an investment.

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I won’t be sewing these up anytime soon though. I need to work on my new bra size and order the right underwires that I now need. Plus, I’d like to clone one of my RTW bras to have a new pattern. Luckily, Jordan loved Amsterdam too. I’m thinking we’re grounded to North America for travel the next few years. But, here’s hoping for long Amsterdam layovers the next time we travel!

 

Fabric Heaven and Minneapolis

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Wearing Vogue 1224 an unblogged Tracy Reese knit dress.

We had a great time in Minneapolis over the long Memorial Day holiday. I was going to bore you twice with two posts about our trip. But, I will just compress it into one. I’m also burying the lede here and telling you that SR Harris Fabric Outlet in Minnesota is the greatest fabric store on earth. Bar. None.

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But, let’s start with the trip. First, I’m embarrassed to admit that All I knew about Minneapolis is that Prince was from there. We went because J.’s law school roommate lives there with his wife and daughter. My only condition when asked if we could go was to not go in winter. For serious.

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Knowing my trepidation, J. pretty much planned the entire trip from the Mall of America visit and Guthrie Theater production to our road trip into Wisconsin and attending a Twins game.

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Above: Vogue 1086 blogged here.  Minneapolis is beautiful!!! It’s incredibly diverse. The food scene is amazing. The biking infrastructure is PHENOMENAL. There really are 10,000 lakes!

 

There are a dozen museums. Public art is everywhere. The streets are so clean. Midwesterners are so very friendly. The antiques are plentiful. And, best of all, I found the fabric shop of dreams.

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Listen folks. I have been to a lot of fabric stores. I have never been gobsmacked over the size and volume. I planned about one hour at SR Harris fabrics and ONLY went because of emails and comments here that I should stop by. I figured I had seen a lot of fabric and I didn’t need more. I mean, how great could this place be? We got there at 8:30 when they opened and I barely emerged two hours later. I ONLY left because J. was sitting in the car waiting and I thought if I spent any more time it would be a bridge too far.

This place is 30,000 square feet. I barely left the knits aisle. Why? I had a list of things to look for (pique for polo shirts, nylon wovens for men’s swim shorts, brocade for neck ties). But, it was so totally overwhelming I decided to just focus on the gobs of Nike dri fit fabric for honeymoon wardrobe sewing (we’re making a bike trip).

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The fabric selection was extensive as were things like trims, elastic, zippers, etc. And, all the fabric was 50 percent off the marked price. The Dri Fit was about $5 a yard. Five. Dollars. A. Yard.

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I’m already plotting how we can go back so I can buy ALL THE LEATHER. Crap. I think that woman is pointing at the piece I want.

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Here’s one more thing that I did find kind of funny. I hate the way Joanns cuts my fabric. Well, can’t complain about that because you cut all your own fabric at SR Harris.

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Here’s a pic of some of the pieces I got. I hope to sew what I got up very very soon. I bought about 10 cuts.  Jordan will get about five new basic tee shirts in technical fabric. I’ll make some wicking dresses for the bike trip and some pajamas too.

To sum up. If you can get anywhere near the SR Harris Fabric Warehouse in Minnesota, run. Don’t walk. And, plan for several hours. Bring water and trail mix. And maybe bread to leave yourself a trail. I got lost twice. Sadly, not kidding.

China Lace Dresses

I had a stack of China related posts ready to write while I was there. But, then things got c-r-a-z-y.  One thing I wanted to talk about were the custom clothes I had made in China. I had two suits, four shirts made, but I was really excited about these lace dresses.

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As you may recall, I spotted these laces while in China at the Silk Bund Spinning Market. I paid about$15 usd a yard for them and was feeling a little taken to the cleaners. But, I felt better after spotting the same lace in white in Xiamen and they were asking double the price before negotiating. I felt especially good after coming back from China and finding these laces at A Fabric Place for $85 to $110 a yard.

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Anywhoo, I decided I wanted to have dresses made rather than sew them myself when I got home. I went online and picked these two styles for inspiration.

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Valentino

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Dolce and Gabbana ($3,500)

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Second view of DG dress

I’ve never really sewn with lace before and wasn’t all that amped to try anytime soon. So, going to a tailor to have them made in China would also be part of the experience. I also decided to wait until Xiamen instead of Shanghai because of the prices. I knew the labor costs would be half since Xiamen isn’t saturated with Westerners having clothes made.

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In Xiamen one of our guides, found a brother, sister and mom  who worked out of their home. I showed them the dresses on my iPad and from the September editions of Vogue magazine. They took my measurements and got to work.

Essentially, there is no pattern. They marked my hip, waist and bust measurements right on the fabric.

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From there, they draft, again, on the fabric.

If you can imagine, they had appliqued the neckline lace. Something, I just would not have the patience to do.

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I went in for about two fittings on the three dresses and here are the results. I had the cream and purple made into the Valentino cap sleeve style. I asked for a side zipper because I didn’t want to ruin the lines of the lace.

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I always knew I wanted to wear the cream dress for our rehearsal / welcome dinner. And, Liz looked so cute in the purple version, that she wore it that night too.

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Now, on me the cream lace dress is about four inches too long. It would be better just above my knee. The purple proportions are fine.

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I’m not tall (or thin) enough to get away with this middy look.

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I thought about hacking some off the bottom and reapplying the lace. But, I’m not going to do that.

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And, I think it looks prettier with the lace detail (unlike above where it’s turned under). I’m also not going to cut it at the waist, shorten from there, and sew it back. It’s just not in me.

Anywho, Liz wore the purple version that night and looked smashing.

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I haven’t gotten to wear the red one yet. Man, red takes terrible pictures.  We just finalized details for a post-wedding party his parents are hosting. I thought about wearing it then, but it seems a little fancy for a Sunday afternoon gig.

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Overall, I am thrilled with the dresses. They are really beautifully made and I wouldn’t have gotten around to sewing them any time soon. Plus, it was an experience having someone else interpret your idea of a dress. I think being a sewist myself made me super patient with the process. I also knew I needed to give them photos of what I wanted and NOT deviate. Between the language barrier and time, not having a photo is the way to get what you don’t want.

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My interpreter this year, Ashley (below)  was fascinated by the whole process. But, she too could not understand why I would want to get dresses made when there are H&M and other stores all over China. I also got to bore her pants of with wedding details. Weddings are BIG business in China. Since I was always online ordering stuff for the wedding, she was my one woman focus group.

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What is different this year, is she didn’t think I paid too much. Three years ago, my interpreters thought my custom clothes were expensive. But, the economy in China has changed since then and this didn’t seem too high to her.

I’ll post about the suits and shirts another time, I think this post is long enough!

Back From China

Hello Everyone!

First, thank you for all the congratulations on my recent engagement!!! We ended up taking a las minute trip over the Labor Day holiday weekend to see my parents in Florida.

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Pass A Grille Beach in St. Pete, FL

Sitting on the lanai, (thank you Debbie Cooke, I had no idea what that thing was called) by the pool, we read every single comment out loud. There was a lot of squealing of delight on my part :-) It was so fun to hear from long time internet friends, real life friends and from those of you who delurked.  I am sincerely overwhelmed and touched by your outpouring of congratulations. Jordan, for sure, knows there is a whole community rooting for us!

Two weeks week ago (the Tuesday after Labor Day), I left for a two-week business trip to Shanghai and Xiamen in China. My colleagues and I were incredibly busy with work meetings and work meals.

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But, I had to get back to the South Bund Spinning Market while in Shanghai.

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Long time readers may remember that the market is mostly for buying custom made clothing.

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For instance, this dress is a knock off of a dress worn by Kate Middleton. Their price, pre-bargining, custom fit, $100.

This Burberry copy was $80

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But, I was focused on buying laces. My plan was to buy fabric in Shanghai and have it sewn in Xiamen. Prior experience told me construction prices would be half.

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These guipere laces are stunning at stall no 398. They are similar to Prada and Versace. And, after bargaining, $15 a yard. I may have overpaid. But, you lose perspective!

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They’ve been turned into three lace dresses (cream, red, and purple), one of which I will wear for my rehearsal dinner.

Here is the cream lace mid construction

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If I lived in China, I would have everything custom made. Period.

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I also bought several meters of each of these laces to make my wedding veil. For 20 yards I spent about $20. I want a finger tip, one layer veil edged in lace. I saw them going for $300 US. That, is bananas. I’ll use the savings for my shoes. The first and last are my top contenders. I will use the second and third to practice.

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I am now back home after 40 hours of travel from Xiamen to Shanghai, Shanghai to Detroit and Detroit to Baltimore and, incredibly jet lagged (hence my 4:00 a.m. posting)

I’ll get the four shirts, two suits and three dresses I had made on the dressform and post some about that process and the food I ate. Oh, China has changed since I went three years ago and I’ll bore you with my thoughts on that too!

Lots of Little Things

The last time I wrote, I promised I’d have photos of my latest project on me. Well, little did I know it would be a incredibly windy and biting 36 degrees (2.2 celsius) on Sunday when I wore the dress in Michigan. In case you’re wondering, that’s 35 degrees cooler than it was when I left Baltimore. It was just too cold to take pictures outside. I was hopeful that I’d get some pictures inside but, things were so rushed that it just didn’t happen. My occasional photographer didn’t seem all that interested in having a photo shoot for my sewing blog on the day he graduated from law school. The nerve.

I did get one photo in my dress. But….

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The lighting wasn’t good. My flash didn’t go off. I look sort of goofy. My waist (and fabric) were grabbed so tight that I look about three months pregnant in all the pictures!  The darts! They hurt my eyes. Blergh.

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I’ve not attended anyone’s graduation since my own. So, I was feeling super old school at this ceremony. I love this version (my third) of this Burda pattern.  I am obsessed with this seersucker. Karen gave me the remnants of her pieces of it. At this point this seersucker is… five years old? I’ve used it for several projects in the past. If I could get more, I’d buy a bolt and make a whole summer wardrobe just from this seersucker.

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Because it was so fricking cold, I did get to wear this awesome vintage leather coat that was gifted to me by a co-worker. Listen, people. There is something to be said for being known for loving vintage fashion.

This colleague kept telling me she was moving and cleaning out her closets and had some coats to give me and I kept rolling my eyes. I have been the sorry recipent of terrible 80s patterns and ratchet clothing from other people. She dropped them off in a garment bag and it sat in my office for weeks before I took them home or even bothered looking. I finally opened the bag and this and another GORGEOUS  black wool  with a fur collar coat were inside. I rocked the hell outta this jacket over the weekend. This makes me want to save ALL THE VINTAGE in the world. Like, all of it. I want to own it ALL, wear it ALL and be fabulous in ALL OF IT. ME ME ME.

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It only took my third trip to Michigan to have time to sightsee. I’m always here for a few days and running in and out of town on other people’s schedules. But, this time, I finally got to go to Detroit! I’ve always wanted to see Detroit since it’s compared so much to Baltimore as a urban city with a blue collar background (and massive population declines). We were super short on time but I made sure we went to the Motown Museum.

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Oh. Em. Gee. We couldn’t take photos inside.  Let me tell you. I grew up listening to the sounds of Motown and was completely stoked to walk the same halls and be in the recording studio where the likes of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and the Temptations walked and sang.  Especially exciting was their exhibit on girl groups. People, I need you all to be prepared for my style the next few months to be heavily influenced by the 1960 girl groups of Detroit and the Motown sound. I am not playing. Talk about serious black glamour. I’m going to be doing plenty of sheath dresses and empire waists.

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Finally, before I headed out of town, I did get to go to the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo with Robin, which was in Baltimore. I’ve never been to an expo before and my MAIN motivation for going was to check out the Babylock serger with Jet Air Threading and a Juki semi-professional straight stitch only machine. My modern Kenmore’s tension is so wonky that I sewed the above dress on my green vintage Kenmore. I’m in the market for a new machine in a few months.

Well, Brother, Pfaff and Babylock (all sponsors) were there. But, Juki (also a sponsor) wasn’t! I did test out the Babylock Imagine serger and purchased a pre-owned version. I’m picking it up tomorrow (Thursday)!

The fashion piece of the Expo wasn’t nearly where I’d like it to be. I heard Vogue Fabrics attended expos in the past. I like quilting quite a bit and enjoyed that aspect of the show. But, all the bitching and moaning from the vendors about the lack of attendees annoyed me. I mean seriously. I heard at least three stalls complaining about it to either me or to other vendors. I thought it was kind of tacky and a downer on something I’d been looking forward to for months. They thought parking was the reason people didn’t come. They thought crime was the reason people weren’t there. They thought no one likes coming in to a city. Whatever. I’ve never set foot in Chantilly, Va. But, I came downtown to see this. Make of it what you will.

Whew. So, yeah. Lots of little things going on. Just thought I’d get a lot of it said :)