Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I thought I'd always have to count calories. I struggled so much with weight loss and maintaining, I thought it would be impossible to live life without a calorie counter.
I haven't counted a single calorie in a couple of weeks. I've maintained pretty well, I'm still losing weight, albeit at a slower rate. Most of the slow down is due to being fairly sedentary. I need to get back to regular exercise.
However, I am still losing. And I have not gained.
It still somewhat blows my mind. 4 freaking years, I calculated, planned, weighed, and painstakingly counted calories with marginal result. Now it is almost effortless.
I feel almost guilty. Almost. I think 4 years of struggling, I more than paid my dues.
People I know ask "What is your secret? How did you do it?" When I tell them, they get this look of disbelief.
"But saturated fats cause heart attacks."
Yes, because losing bodyfat and fitting into pants better is a well known precursor to an impending heart attack. ;)
"I can't live without pasta."
I don't live without pasta. I just don't eat it 3 times a week anymore. Maybe once a month.
I've moved past my evangelical stage. At first, I was so excited because I FINALLY got this weight loss thing figured out, I wanted to share it with everyone. I'd argue and tell them everything we thought we knew was wrong.
Now, I don't bother. They asked what I did, and I tell them. They tend to think I'm some kind of strange anomaly because it shouldn't be working, according to them. It couldn't possibly work for them too. Then they usually segue into how difficult weight loss is. They try and try, and nothing seems to work. Not for very long anyway.
I just nod in silence. I tell them to keep trying.
How many calories do I eat? I honestly don't know. I eat when I am hungry. If I'm not hungry, I don't eat. This probably means I am eating less than the standard recommendation some days. More on others. But it all seems to be working out just fine. I know what I should avoid eating (breads, pastas, sugars). After that, everything else just falls into place. I eat meats, cheeses, yogurt, vegetables, and fruit all day long.
When I get hungry, I nibble on a piece of cheese and fruit. If I'm still hungry, I nibble a little more. Since I am no longer ravenously hungry all the time, I don't scarf down everything in front of me.
I never imagined this would be me. I haven't put my calorie counter book in my purse in months.
Monday, July 25, 2011
I was going to write this as a comment in my last blog, but decided to make a separate blog for it.
Here is what I had in mind for my wedding dress. It is a Vogue pattern with an asymmetrical twist. I really like asymmetrical styles, and this appealed to me.
I'm not sure yet which fabrics I want to use. Brocade? Satin? Silk? Jacquard? After I get the mockup finished, I was going to photoshop different mask patterns to play with different options.
I was going to make a lace/sheer bolero/shrug to go over it. Pattern "B" is what I had in mind to go with the above dress. I was intending a sheer fabric with lace trim. I really want to highlight the twist on the dress as the focal point, so I wanted a light jacket that doesn't cover too much of the dress.
Pattern "C" is the shrug I'm making to go on vacation next month.
This is my mockup for the vest on Pattern "C" so far. I hope to get the sleeves added tonight. I plan to make the final version with lace with a sheer lining that will show through underneath the lace. I'm having a hard time working today! I want to be sewing!
Couple of question for the experienced seamstresses out there:
1) The Vogue dress pattern is marked as "Advanced". It has boning through the strapless top for support. I'm guessing the asymmetrical twist gathering is more challenging than it seems. Is there something else I'm missing? Is this more deceptively difficult than it seems?
2) The dress pattern adds cup padding to the dress, but I was considering getting a bustier or corset to wear underneath for bust support. Should I skip adding the padding for that reason? Can I skip it, or will it alter the form of the dress too much?
3) I am going to have to do quite a bit of trimming off the length. I am petite. Will I be able to trim the length off without adversely affecting the folds? I have a suspicion it's not going to be as straight forward as just hemming the bottom length, but I'm not sure.
4) I was planning on making the mockup relatively soon so I know whether I am biting off more than I can chew - lol. I am still losing weight. My wedding isn't until May. My plan was to make the mockup and test alterations. If it works out, set aside until February, adjust alterations, then assemble with the real materials. Will take extensive notes so I don't forget details! Sound good?
Thanks so much for all your help and suggestions so far!
Sunday, July 24, 2011
In my last blog, I commented that I was going to try an experiment this weekend. I was going to try and see if it was within the realm of possibility for me to make my own wedding dress.
This is pretty ambitious, to be sure. This is a huge project.
I have dabbled with making various bags, but I haven't had a whole lot of success with making clothes. So to make the leap to a wedding dress is kinda crazy! The dress I want to make is labeled "Advanced", but I didn't think it's anything too crazy. More modern elegance rather than fairy tale princess. We will see how I feel after making the mockup - lol.
I've learned a couple of things this weekend.
1) The cut makes the garment. I tried making a dress last year with rather disastrous results. I haven't sewn with a pattern since high school, and I've forgotten a number of details. I've since relearned that the cut is what makes the garment. There is a reason for the saying "measure twice, cut once." I can't remember if it is attributed to tailoring or carpentry, but it applies to both. I didn't do a very good job with my cutting the dress I attempted to make a year ago, and it showed. Since then, I've learned how to be much more precise with rotary cutters. Most of my time spent this weekend wasn't on sewing, but on transferring patterns, cutting, and alterations. If the cut is crooked cut, the item will not look professional. If I have a straight cut, it is easier to sew a straight line.
2) Go slow. With my dress disaster, I think I went too fast because the package said "Very Easy". I think if I was more experienced (or had a better sewing machine), I probably could sew faster. I don't sew very fast. I have to use the handwheel for precision, especially when nearing a corner pivot, going around a curve, or near the end of a seam.
3) Mockups. I didn't make a mockup of the dress I tried to make last year. As a programmer, I make all kinds of tests for my code. Why I skipped making a test run for a dress is beyond me. I know better. Test, test, test! I make mockups of all my bags before using the good materials like silk. I bought a bolt of inexpensive muslin cloth in order to make mockups of my wedding dress. I need a mockup to make alterations to before using the real materials.
4) During my time dabbling with making handbags, I have actually inadvertently learned a few important skills for dressmaking. I buy remnants from the fabric store, which are usually discounted 50% or more. Because I make small bags and purses, I usually don't need more than a yard, which makes remnants perfect. I can buy normally very expensive and inaccessible materials for cheap. I already know how to work with very delicate and wonky materials like silk, brocade, organza, and chiffon - typical bridal material. I've made silk lined brocade bags - not very easy or forgiving materials to handle.
5) With my weekend experiment, I was surprised to learn how my bag making hobby transferred to clothing making. I know how to add a zipper. Adding boning to a dress isn't too unlike adding cording or embedding a magnet in a bag liner! I was attempting to make a shrug. I thought the pattern instructions for adding a lining to be very difficult to follow. So, using knowledge from my bag making, I just attached the lining directly to the fabric pieces and sealed it up with french seams. I was happy with the result, even on the test fabric. This came out much better than the dress from last year.
However, I made a mistake. I thought all the sizes were in the pattern package, but the manufacturer split the sizes into different groups, and I bought the wrong one. Also compounding the problem is I discovered I have very non standard body proportions. I got an unexpected learning experience in scaling a pattern and alterations!
I was relieved that I transferred the patterns onto craft paper, instead of cutting the original. I was able to scale and make the alterations on the transferred paper.
I didn't get to finish, but here is what I was able to do so far. This is just the test fabric, and I haven't added the sleeves yet. The "real" jacket will be a lace shrug with a sheer lining. I plan to take it as an evening coverup for a dress when I go on vacation next month.
Tomorrow I'm going back to the fabric store to get the right sided pattern! This was exhausting, but I am excited. I bought a dress pattern for what I have in mind for a wedding dress (the right size - I checked!). I am eager to try it!
I have more than 9 months until the wedding. In case it doesn't work out, I have plenty of time to get one from the store - lol.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
A couple of my hobbies are sewing and jewelry making. My German grandmother was a master seamstress. My dad had a few work shirts that she made that would rival anything Armani. Her lines were perfect, cutting and edges crisp and neat. And she did it with a sewing machine far less capable than some of the modern ones. I wish I had taken more of an interest in sewing when she was still alive. I'm sure she had tips and secrets that are now long gone.
I'm not a very good seamstress, but I can sew a straight line. I can't do anything too complex - I don't have any illusions about making my wedding dress. That's a big project, and I don't have the skill. Hemming pants and skirts are a necessity, since I am shorter than average, but I don't make a lot of my own clothes. The main sewing projects I like to do are making handbags, wallets, and purses!
I made this book bag last summer. I made the embellishment clasp by beading around a magnet. I used an old bottle cap that is embedded inside the lining that the magnet sticks to so the clasp stays in place when I walk.
I also made a couple of brocade fabric handbags. I made the Chinese knot handles on the blue brocade bag. Looks complex, but it's very easy!
As you can tell from my gallery pictures, we like to travel. Sometimes it's an impromptu weekend out of towner, where we grab a travel bag and hit the road.
One of the things I have trouble with is keeping my various toiletries and makeup organized. I end up stuffing them in pockets in my overnight bag, but it isn't very organized. I decided to sew makeup and brush rolls to help make travel easier.
I first sketched out a rough idea on how I wanted it to work. I don't think 'women's' crafts like sewing and jewelry making get much credit they deserve. Designing a bag or jewelry from scratch takes some thought that requires higher level IQ, like being able to think spatially. To make the brush roll, I had to think about how the liner and outer fabric would fold together, how to make the seams fit together, how to space the pockets so the brushes would fit and fold over, and how to make it look nice. It is designing function and art.
I then made test patterns using cheap muslin cloth. Lots of test patterns, as I tweaked the design. My earlier test patterns were much simplier, but gave me ideas on how I wanted the final product to look. I originally designed this with the intention of using a brocade fabric, and I wanted as much brocade to be highlighted as possible. I decided that I wanted the outer fabric to fold over the pocketed liner so the outer fabric looks continuous when rolled over. At another stage in the design, I wanted a flap that folds over the top of the brushes.
Once I had a product design I was happy with, I used an inexpensive fat quarter used by quilters to test how it would look with a patterned design. Yes, I made lots and lots of test patterns! Not a process for the impatient!
Happy with the test design, I made another using higher quality linen and a patterned liner to see how it would look.
I was intending to make this with a pretty brocade pattern, but I'm so happy with how the red one turned out, I might just keep it. I'm now designing a similar roll for my powdered makeups.
One of the design considerations I'm taking into account is carry on liquids. I am making sure that my makeup rolls contain only powders and solids. My liquid makeup like mascara and foundation go into a quart sized bag. I am intending to make a bag that will fit the carry on liquids, makeup brush roll, and powdered makeup roll.
A lot of DIY projects save money. Because the US doesn't really make a lot of textiles in the country anymore (and fewer people sew) fabrics really aren't that cheap. I could go to a Walmart and buy a makeup bag for far, far less than it is costing me to design and sew these myself. It is not the cheapest method, but it IS the cheapest for the quality. The least expensive makeup carriers I could buy would be at Walmart. A higher quality makeup bag bought at Sephora would cost more than doing it from scratch. So, DIY is more cost effective for better quality materials. And I totally get to customize it. The red makeup roll matches my carry on travel bag beautifully!
Mostly, I do it for the challenge of learning something, and getting something unique and personalized for me!
One of the ways I save money on fabrics is buying the remnants from bolts that have gone low. Because I don't need lots of material for purses and bags, I get all kinds of beautiful materials like silks, linens and brocade for cheap. My red brush roll was made from high quality cotton linen that I bought as a fabric remnant for 50% off. I think I paid about $1.50 for a yard. I have enough material leftover to make the powdered makeup roll, but I will have to get a little more in order to make a container to house them all.
What are your crafts and hobbies?
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