Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New sewing project = new clothes!

As someone with a large waist to hip ratio, I love my shape even as I work on overall downsizing. The frustrating part of having an exaggerated "hourglass" figure is that clothes often gape at the waist if they fit in the hip, or are too tight in hip when they fit at the waist... tailoring is the answer, but it can be difficult for a novice seamstress to get good results when altering a waist by 2 sizes. With Fall around the corner and my dislike for most of my wardrobe, I decided to try making a few of my own pieces.

I bought some patterns on Etsy, and I'm starting with this one from VintageCorePatterns:

I'm planning on making the brown skirt (pictured fig 2) and was hoping to find a mustard colored blended wool but there wasn't a huge selection at the local fabric store (choice of store is surprisingly limited in the Boston area, especially when you don't have a car!). I ended up picking this material (if you can see it, I think it looks better in person), along with some new tools so I can do this right:

(with flash)

(ambient light, no flash)

I'm hoping to get started soon, and I've invited my friend Seana to work on a skirt of her own from this pattern. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Random thoughts - part 2 - pumpkins

We're still in the throes of nearly unbearable summer heat and humidity here in Cambridge (the weekend was nice tho!) and I just can't help thinking about Fall. It's so close!

If you know me, you know Halloween is my favorite holiday (Christmas is a close 2nd, but Halloween just doesn't have all of the stress associated with family holidays - no offense family!). It's not just Halloween though (costume pics to come)- I love Fall and the changing colors, the crisp cool air and the crunch of leaves under your footsteps, the first sweater you put on to go outside, boots, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, jack-o'lanterns, seeds... pumpkins! Everything pumpkin!

About a month ago, I spotted a cute little terra cotta pot in Christmas Tree Shops - a grow your own pumpkin (like the one pictured here (on the left))

Within days, it produced 5 rapidly growing seedlings. 2 I transferred to a larger pot and the rest went to my friend Krystle for her back yard garden (with a promise of a pumpkin if hers succeed and mine don't). Now, 5 weeks later, I am down to 1 plant that seems to be growing a little slower (it's still alive - that's a feat for me!) and due to some zealous watering and organic potting soil 2 lovely little mushrooms (which also popped out almost overnight!):

I know it's a long shot, but hopefully the pumpkin will follow suit and take off!

random thoughts - part 1 - new camera

Happy Sunday! I'm way overdue for a post and since I'm still shaking off sleep (thanks cloudy sky) this is a perfect time... I actually have a few things to blog about today, but I might use it as procrastination technique and do it in parts.

I finally got a new camera since the old one died without too much warning. It took AA batteries and no matter how fresh or freshly charged the batteries were, the camera wouldn't take more than one picture without telling me the batteries needed to be replaced. Ughh! So frustrating. It's sad too- I'm one of those people who thinks things are supposed to last if you take care of them. Apparently, 4 years is long enough for a small, budget friendly point and shoot camera. Figuring repairs would cost more than buying a new one, I decided to go ahead. After all, you can't blog very well without a decent camera.

I stuck with the same brand, and it's a newer model of the same line although I'm not sure why when the 1st one turned out the way it did. This model uses a rechargeable battery - not sure if that will make a difference. It definitely has a sleeker look and a lighter weight. I'm happy with it so far, but I haven't had a chance to use it much in the past couple of days (the few pics I took so far will be in the next post). A visit to the family this weekend should cure that! Hopefully I'll get a chance to really put it to use.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Curious Cabinet Cards

I've been interested in old photographs for awhile now - especially turn of the century or earlier photos of actresses. Not too long ago, I found this cabinet card in an antique shop:

I was instantly struck by her pose and her defiant look under the jaunty derby hat, cigarette poised. This woman has nerve! After some quick research I found out she was Belle Archer, born 1858, died 1900. Belle was a renowned stage actress and from the look of this photo, she had attitude.

I also learned that this type of photo is referred to as a "cabinet card" because of the way it's mounted and meant to be displayed easily without framing. Once I started looking into cabinet cards, I found lots of awesome images -



cross-dressing vaudeville: which brings me to my next find - an exhibit at Ohio State on Burlesque called Loose Women in Tights, and a piece of that exhibit entitled Cross Dressing and Gender Performance in Burlesque on vaudevillian actresses who dressed as men. This phenomenon was the inspiration for the name of my shop, Maxine in Trousers. It's great to see burlesque in an academic setting as the focus of a University exhibit. This site offers a quick yet in-depth look (pictures included - nothing too risque) at burlesque from beginning to end (it's not about neo-burlesque). Very cool!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Public Garden Pics

thanks ladies!

Seana and Nicole - thanks for your help with this impromptu shoot in the Public Garden today.

The weather was gorgeous - a perfect summer day in Boston and the Garden is always beautiful (especially after walking through the Common - sorry Common). Although it was fast, I had a lot of fun - in the middle of everything I was distracted by a beautiful Mexican bride who had made her own gorgeous wedding dress - I wish I got a picture of the back!

Here's one pic (I'm really not glowing bronze in real life) of all 3 of us - thanks to the friendly Frenchman who took it:

Monday, August 9, 2010


I'm a procrastinator - always have been. Without a deadline, I don't see the need to hustle. Progress is slow but steady as I work on more hats for my friend Emmy's fashion show next month. Since I've been teaching myself millinery (from books, websites, experimentation, etc.), it's been especially slow, but also extremely gratifying. The color scheme for this particular line is deep and dark and the fabrics are wool - nubbly and textured as well as wool felt. It's August outside, but it's cold and snowy on my work table.

Hopefully I'll have lots more to show you soon, but here's some of what I have so far (the bases are just the beginning - feathers and other adornments to be added):

Lots more to come in the next few days! Surrounded by all of these feathers, I'm feeling inspired.

mmmmm... blueberry scones

I'm not a morning person, and that includes eating breakfast. I love breakfast foods, but I'm usually not ready for a meal until I've been up for a few hours. I've learned that this is bad for an already slow metabolism, so in an effort to make something quick to grab for breakfast I've been trying out healthy muffin and quickbread recipes. Last week I made banana bran muffins and pineapple bran wholewheat quickbread (yay, fiber!) - sorry no pics. Those turned out so well, I decided to try scones today. Although this recipe wasn't as healthy (hey - it still had some wheat flour instead of just white, and fresh blueberries) as the previous ones, I made smaller portions to cut back on the calories. I love scones, but you never know what you're going to get when you buy them (even though I never buy them pre-packaged/processed - only at yummy places like Danish Pastry House (outpost at the City Hall Farmer's Market)).

Quite easy to make (I substituted fresh blueberries for frozen) - here they are 1/2 way through baking:

I added 5 minutes to the cooking time (they weren't quite done at 20 minutes) and put them on a wire rack to cool.
Of course I couldn't wait to try one, especially since I already had a nice hot cup of coffee waiting:
Fresh out of the oven, these scones were light and delicious. I'm sure they'll taste different once I've given them a chance to cool, and next time I might omit the cream cheese, but this recipe makes a perfect scone!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

it's about time...

Time seems to be a constant theme in this blog, especially lack of time. Today I'm turning over a new leaf (again) to create a blog that's fun and entertaining for me and my potential readers.

I've spent some time looking at other blogs and I know what I find engaging but when it comes to blogging, it seems to me either it comes naturally or it doesn't. From now on, I'm just going to write about whatever interests me - not that I don't care about an audience, but blogging is such an egoistic venture that maybe I have to stop worrying about being perceived that way, and just go for it. So, here goes... thanks to everyone.