“Un verre d’eau” and other Paris sights

Paris building front

Bonjour de Paris!  I’m writing from the City of Light, which actually gets dark pretty early thanks to its northern position. We arrived Saturday morning and took the RER into the city. We’re staying in the Nord Marais district on the right bank, near the République station. Our AirBnb is very small, but our host is so considerate–he left us two bottles of wine to enjoy during our stay. (Ha…)

After arriving, we walked around waiting for our AirBnb and found some lunch. After a long trans-Atlantic flight, I was not, shall we say, on my A-game with the French language, and I ended up ordering some mystery soup…as in, I have no idea what was in it. I’m guessing leeks and artichokes. Anyway, it was delicious, especially when paired with crusty hunks of baguette. Oh man, Paris and your baguettes…just the best.
Mystery soup

We also got a prepaid nano-SIM card for my iPhone so we can have data for Google maps and whatnot. In case anyone is curious, we ended up getting a Lebara mobile nano-SIM card for 1€ at the Tabac around the corner. Once activated (you can do it online), you get a a mobile number and if you do a 20€ top-up, you get 1 GB of data. It’s really great to have my phone in France! I can make calls for restaurant reservations, and if we get lost, I can pull out my phone instead of a huge, conspicuous map. Plus, it’s nice to be able to post photos as I snap them. The convenience is well worth the price, in my opinion!

In the evening, we wandered around to some famous sites, namely l’Hôtel de Ville:

Hôtel de Ville, Paris

…and this “classy lady” with her flying buttresses.

Notre Dame, Paris

I feel like writing about the beauty of Paris is sa-hooo overdone, and I don’t want to be one of those French majors who just is like “OMG j’aDORE la France! C’est très, trèeeeees belle!” But, really, Paris is painfully beautiful. Everywhere you’re turn, you’re just like, “Oh hey, amazing building.” If just one of these buildings with curling ironwork and elaborate carvings in the doorway were in San Francisco, it would be a real landmark. Here’s just, like, where normal Parisians live.

That being said, it’s not all shimmering lights and architectural grandesse here. There are normal things: dog poop, dirty public trasit, homeless people, buying groceries (Parisians! They’re just like us!). We went to Monoprix to get some breakfast staples and managed to break not one, but two of the self-checkout registers.

"American sandwich" bread at Monoprix

We apologetically asked for help, and the employee exasperatedly kept punching the touchscreen (as if we hadn’t tried that), and saying, “C’EST BLOQUEE!” Apparently, Chase Sapphire cards, despite having Euro-style chips, do not work at self-checkout registers. Whoops. Sorry, Monoprix. I’m trying my best with French and trying to take exasperated Parisians in stride. As Bastien, my French conversation partner says, “ils sont tous stressés” (‘They’re all stressed.’).

Today (Sunday), we woke up later than intended (Oh, jet lag!) and immediately left for a day of walking around the city. We lunched in the Jardin de Luxembourg with baguette sandwiches we picked up along the way while watching little Parisians floating their sailboats in the fountain.

sandwich in Jardin du Luxembourg

For anyone who watched French in Action, I insisted on this photo sur un banc dans le jardin de Luxembourg. It has changed really very little since the ’80’s, haha.

Mica in the Jardin du Luxembourg

 

The Jardin du Luxembourg is really neat to walk around. We found the “Insect House,” which was a little underwhelming.

Maison des Insectes

What was interesting was watching all the Sunday afternoon pétanque games going on in the park. Some of the players were pretty serious.

pétanque dans le Jardin du Luxembourg

I’ve never been to Paris in the fall, so it was neat to see all of the department stores decorated for the holidays. Le Bon Marché had window dressings with reindeer working out and sorting mail.

Bon Marché window display

There were boxes where you could drop in letters to Santa on the street, but as you would guess, some contained things other than requests to Father Christmas. This one, for example, held the wrapper of a panty liner. Gross.Père Noël box, Le Bon Marché

The rest of our walk took us down some famous sites: by the Place de la Concorde and down the Champs Elysées, where there was a horrible holiday market:

holiday market on the Champs Elysées

The rest of Les Champs wasn’t much better: crowded, full of chain stores, and packed to the gills with tourists. We hiked up it as quickly as possible to get a view of l’Arc de Triomphe as the sun was setting.

Arc de Triomphe

Not to be outdone by its Left Bank competitor, Printemps was also decked out for the holidays:

Au Printemps, Paris

And here are some pretzel (“bretzel”) men and their fallen compatriots in a window….

bretzel men

 

I’m pleased that my French hasn’t completely deteriorated and that I’m able to complete business transactions in French. However, we ran into an awkward situation this afternoon. We stopped for a chocolat chaud and a crêpe on the way back to the AirBnb. I had always heard (from French people!) to order eau de robinet for tap water (as opposed to fancy bottled water). The waiter at the Café Cordial, however, was having none of that. He rolled his eyes so hard when Hus-friend asked politely for eau de robinet, and then upon his return with said water, he brusquely said in French, “Hey, we say un verre d’eau, okay?!?” We apologized and thanked him profusely, but the damage was done. When he took our check, he yelled, “THANKS!” sarcastically. We left quickly. Who even knows. I guess un verre/une carafe d’eau is safer. Ugh, even after so many years of French, I still make embarrassing tourist mistakes!

We walked a lot today (34,500 steps!), and I ended the day with a bloody sock from sharp toenails. Whoops. Now, we’re drinking rosé (timidly, on my part) and watching French TV before climbing to the small sleeping loft and hitting the sack. More Paris adventures to come!

Serious things

Yesterday, I read this very troubling Rolling Stone article about rape “culture” at the University of Virginia. If you haven’t read it, be forewarned that it is a pretty long and brutal read and not something to be embarked on lightly.

My experience at UVA was markedly different from the portrait that the article’s author paints (I did not go to football games, and I only visited Rugby Road to run.), but I was probably not the norm. I feel sick to think that I could have been sitting in class with both victims and perpetrators of sexual assault and that the university may have taken real complaints casually, not offering appropriate help and courses of action.

As Jordan pointed out, the article often takes a sensationalist tone, and that, I think makes it possible for people to sweep these kind of atrocities under the rug as “a UVA thing.” If you take the time to read the article, I hope you leave not only with a sense of anger and disgust, but more importantly, the knowledge that sexual assault is a real thing that needs to addressed everywhere, in universities all across the country. Reading it was eye-opening as someone who has lived a somewhat sheltered life, and I hope it sparks a lot of discussion and actual action.


 

In slightly better news, did you hear about Barbie’s I can be a Computer Engineer book? This went around Twitter this week, but as I am kind of in a tech-centric bubble, I’m not sure how far it got out. Basically, Mattel published a picture book starring everyone’s [least] favorite buxom blonde Barbie who is a computer engineer. And that’s totally great! Yeah! Women engineers! Except ohgodohgodohgod, this book is just the worst. (Worse even than no-show socks!)

I don’t want to give away the deets, but you should read Pamela Ribon’s brilliant review of it here. Come back when you’re done!

So you’re back? Are you so angry about it? I was! Stomping around, wringing my hands, and yelling, “UGH THIS IS THE WORST!!” Okay, I think it’s awesome that someone at Mattel floated the idea of writing a picture book about Barbie being a computer engineer. But just how (HOW?!?!) did someone along the way not say, “Oh, hey, everyone…the idea is right, but you’ve just fucked this one up SO BADLY.”?!? How did no one catch this egregious sexist writing?

Fortunately, the Internet, for a little while, stopped being a dark pit of the worst parts of humanity, and people jumped in to re-work the book to reflect a more positive message for women (and uh, people in general). Casey Fiesler re-wrote the text to match the images but with a much better story and realistic portrayal of how software engineering works (Hint: It’s not infecting your computer with viruses on a flash drive.). Here’s a link to the PDF version.

Also, Mattel apologized limply and pulled the book off of Amazon.

So now, I’ve dumped a lot of links on you when my blog is normally pretty fluffy. I hope the material is thought- and discussion-provoking as you go into the weekend.

Is there any bigger lie than no-show socks?

Recently (as in, two days ago), I decided to get some nice non-sneaker shoes for work and maybe for walking around Paris stylishly. Shopping for shoes has made me cognizant of a distressing style trend: WHERE THE HELL ARE SOCKS?

Every ad these days is all just bare ankles. Naked ankles as far as the eye can see, just poking out of skinny, rolled-up cuffs or purposefully short pant legs. Where the hell did socks go? Have socks been uncool this entire time (like, my whole life?)?!?

Actually, I have seen people wearing “stylish” (fun) socks with rolled-up pants, but I’m not quite sure what the rules governing sock coolness are.

I did a lot of googling, queries like “Shoes without socks how” and “stylish ankle sock rules.” I’ve basically determined that sock-less is the way to go.

Boden suede brogues

 

Continuing on my pursuit of style, I bought some penny loafers [and bemoaned the fact that this signals my adulthood] and tried them with bare ankles:

Bass Casell loafers
(Bare ankles. No socks.)

Except, okay, you can’t go around just baring your ankles and not wearing socks because your feet sweat (Don’t even pretend they don’t.) and make the inside of your shoes disgusting. I brought my loafers to work today, packed in my bag with a pair of “no-show sock liners”–the kind with the little rubber grippy on the back.

And here is what I want to say: NO-SHOW, GRIPPY SOCK LINERS ARE THE BIGGEST LIE. JUST THE WORST. A of all, they DO show. THEY SHOW because no sock liner is perfectly matched to the shape of your shoe. My loafers were outlined by this conspicuous pink line where the liner was poking out over the top of my foot (Also, sock liner? Why are you pink? You’re a liner. Just be flesh-colored, okay?). And, even worse, the grippy part on the heel doesn’t grip anything at all! It just get bunched up when you’re trying to get your foot in your shoe, so you have this weird, roll of sock gummed up around your heel. Not to mention…that totally contradicts the “no-show” name. Rolled-up, gummy wads of grippy bits counts as SHOWING, you stupid liner.

In the event that you can stuff the stupid roll of grippy bit back down into your shoe, it IMMEDIATELY falls down and bunches up under the heel of your foot.

…And even worse, why are these tiny sock liners way more expensive than an entire PACK OF SOCKS? $14 for three pieces of elasticized fabric that do nothing but cause me endless rage?!? I just cannot. What.

I give up. Fashion is confusing. I went to the mall on my lunch break and bought some “fun” (polka dots! stripes!) to wear with my loafers. I can’t go on like this. Socks all the way. Screw you, bare ankles.

[P.S. I also bought ankle booties. Who knows how I will wear them, but probably incorrectly. Whatever.]

Speaking of socks, I knit this one! 50% done with the pair….

Knit sock

Tell me you have a hard time with no-show socks too. Or maybe I just have freakish feet…

How much water do you drink?

Recently, I’ve been trying to up my intake of water throughout the day because, well, peer pressure to be healthy. A lot of my friends (Stella, notably) drink a lot of water, and I feel like they are just soooo healthy, full of hydration with clear skin, lubricated and rapidly firing neurons, and boundless energy. I don’t actually know if water is that good for you, but barring drinking to total excess, it can’t be bad, right?

However, I’m not sure how much water I’m supposed to be drinking to get these miraculous effects. I’ve heard the standard eight 8-oz glasses is kind of a myth, and I know a lot of people who drink even more than that. But then I remember all the times I’ve been abroad and completely baffled that people drink water out of vessels the size of Dixie cups and seem just fine.

Korean water bottle
Remember when Tarita bought this water in Korea? I do.

Gone are the hot, sweaty runs when I’d come back covered in crusty salt deposits from my own dried perspiration. Since it’s not actually ever hot here, I don’t feel compelled to drink a lot of water. Not to mention, my office is almost always freezing, so the idea of drinking a tall glass of cold water isn’t so appealing.

Still, I’m trying to get better. I’ve been working on anchoring my hydration to different actions, typically meals: a 16-oz glass after I run, another two cups with my breakfast at work, water during lunch, and another glass in the afternoon. To be quite honest, I feel about the same, but I have to pee, like, a billion times more often. That may be a bit of an exaggeration.

So yes, peer pressure me into drinking more water. How much water do you drink every day? Do you even notice?

I guess I’ll keep going this way for now. Yes, that means I’ll be schlepping around Paris with a tourist-y water bottle. Parisians, don’t judge me!

Finished: Holiday stockings

This will be my first Christmas where I’m not working towards something big (semester finals, finishing Hackbright, getting a job, etc.). I’m really looking forward to easing into the holiday season without a depressing cloud of stress overshadowing everything. Since Hus-friend and I don’t want to deal with the hassle of a tree before going back to Virginia, I’ve decided to channel my enthusiasm and infinite tolerance for Christmassy things into decorating our apartment in other ways. First up: stockings!

I was going to knit stockings, but let’s be honest, at the rate I knit, they wouldn’t have been done until…two Christmases from now. Sewing is much easier and more satisfying on a deadline!

When my parents were visiting, I went to Pincushion Sew & Craft to take advantage of their 50%-off fabric sale. They have a large selection of really adorable printed quilting cottons, so I picked up all the essentials to make stockings. For myself, I got this blue elf and pine tree print. (I like that the elf with outstretched arms has two creepy dagger-teeth. Um, what?)

elf print fabric

 

I debated getting some “cute” reindeer print for the Hus-friend, but it seemed too delicate for a stocking that will obviously be filled with a hammer and lots of tacks (See what I did there?!?). I ended up finding some Peanuts print because a) He loves the dirty PigPen character and b) I love Vince Guaraldi Christmas music sa-hooooo much.

Peanuts print fabric

(We realized that neither of us has seen A Charlie Brown Christmas in a very long time, and our recollection of the plot is limited to hand-waving and gross assumptions. I know what I’m doing when we get back from France after Thanksgiving!)

I also picked up the necessary materials for the cuff, lining, batting, and hanging loop, but those were less exciting.

After attempting garment sewing, constructions stockings was a breeze. For one, I didn’t have to worry about fabric grain! I cut out all the pieces (batting, lining, exterior, cuff) on Saturday before heading out to Just Dance party at Siena and Andy’s.

Just Dance party

On Sunday morning, I got to work stitching up the stockings, which came together really quickly. Since the cuff and lining are identical, I was able to knock those out in batches, which made it even easier. It’s really true that most of sewing is not time spent at the machine: It was mostly tracing, measuring, cutting, and pressing. I actually don’t mind the seam-pressing step because it makes things look so nice, kind of like smoothing the frosting on a cake.

I’m really pleased with how these turned out! Even though I normally disdain printed fabrics with popular media characters (Betty Boop prints make my cringe.), I think the green background makes this stocking look pretty festive and not super tacky. Also, it’s a stocking. Who cares.

Charlie Brown stocking

I’m even more pleased with how mine turned out. I really, really love this fabric and saved all the scraps. Maybe I’ll make some little bunting flags or something.stocking with elf print

With the 50%-off fabric, the total for all the materials came to about $24. I just checked online where I saw some individual stockings for that amount. It’s nice to spend a little less on something that is used only once a year. Plus, I have the satisfaction of having made them myself! (This was also the perfect pick-me-up after the disastrous sweater.)

Now, we just have to figure out where to hang them and what to put in them. I kept saying, “I’m making these stockings, so it’s your job to fill them!” to the Hus-friend.

homemade holiday stockings

Details

Pattern: Used this one that I found on Pinterest.

Size: One size….for a huge, two-dimensional foot.

Materials: Quilting cottons, Warm & White batting, ribbon purchased from Pincushion Sew & Craft in San Francisco

Alterations: None.

(People keep asking if I’m going to make Bodger a stocking. I have a bunch of scrap material from other projects, so I’m going to make him a smaller version at some point. I’m not in a rush though. He’s a dog and doesn’t know that Christmas is different from any other day!)

I made my first sweater. It sucks.

It took me a few months, but I finally finished my first sweater. The tl;dr version of this story is that it sucks, and I wasted a lot of money on the yarn and won’t ever wear it. Boo.

Sweater glimpse with a cookie from HOT COOKIE in the Castro
Sweater glimpse with a cookie from HOT COOKIE in the Castro

I purchased the “Coco Sailor Sweater” pattern at Pincushion Sew & Craft, which is this adorable store in the Marina. It seemed like a good beginner pattern, and I loved the loose fit and nautical stripes in the photos I saw online. I tried finding cheaper yarn, but as this was my first time knitting a sweater, I ultimately decided it would be better to purchase the recommended yarn from the same company that made the pattern: Wool & the Gang.

Wool & The Gang sweater + Converses

But, like, okay. I had to go online to the Wool & The Gang site to buy the yarn, and it’s SO expensive to buy this weird designer yarn. And even worse, once the yarn arrived, I was annoyed to see that my credit card had charged me an international purchase fee because the company is based in the United Kingdom. I should have just purchased the yarn at the store.

Knitting the sweater itself was pretty easy. It was two identical pieces for the body and two for the sleeves. Sewing the pieces together and weaving in all the ends was really un-fun and took me probably three hours. Not a fan.

The final product is…less than stellar. For one, this is a “one size fits all sweater.” I’m the first to love big, chunky knits, but the “Coco Sailor Sweater” isn’t cute or drape-y. It’s made with thick 100% cotton yarn and very large needles, so the stitches are huge and start to pull funny just from the weight of the sweater itself. Also, the pattern assumes a certain arm length, I guess, which is definitively not my arm length.

The sizing on this sweater is completely crazy. I made several gauge swatches for this pattern to ensure that I wasn’t going to make something too big. After six tries of casting on, knitting, and counting, I finally managed to get the horizontal gauge correct (12 stitches/4″), but the vertical tension (16 ROWS/4″) was impossible. The closest I got was 11.5 rows per 4″. UM WHAT. I think there may be a misprint. I tend to knit pretty tight anyway, and the sweater is HUGE. Not to mention, the pattern recommends six balls of yarn, and I still have entire unused ball that I didn’t need. That’s, like, $15 of yarn right there. Dumb.

Also, the official pattern does NOT produce the same sweater that is shown in the finished product photos.  Let’s compare. Here’s the photo advertised online and included with the pattern:

Photo from WATG website: http://www.woolandthegang.com/shop/items/coco-sailor-sweater-women/knit-your-own
Photo from WATG website: http://www.woolandthegang.com/shop/items/coco-sailor-sweater-women/knit-your-own

Note that the sweater in the above photo has seven vertical stripes and a lot of space between the top stripe and the neckline. Here is the sweater that I produced, having followed the pattern EXACTLY:

Finished (Terrible) Coco Sailor Sweater

Oh, hey, is this sweater made for GORILLA?!? Who has arms that long? And how many stripes are there? Six on the torso and inexplicably, only four on the sleeves?!? And the stripes come almost up to the neckline and get all weird and M-shaped because of the way it drapes. This sweater totally sucks.

In addition for being made for ape arms, the sleeves are weirdly huge, such that they resemble bat wings…or the belled sleeves on a man’s flamenco costume. Just. What. I. Cannot.

WATG sweater

Here’s the sweater again. No amount of beautiful San Francisco Sunday in Duboce Triangle can make this garment look flattering:WATG sweater

I want to support Wool and the Gang because they seem like a cool company, but I don’t have any plans to purchase their products in the future. I’m guessing that their pattern was drafted and printed without any editing or testing. Why else would the final product look SO DIFFERENT from the advertised photo? And also, this yarn was crazy expensive, so I essentially dropped close to $100 for a sweater that I don’t plan on wearing ever. It has kind of put me off of sweater-knitting! Why waste all that time, effort, and money for something that might not turn out great?

Annoyed. I’m going back to knitting accessories.

My Parents Descend on SF

My parents came to visit us in San Francisco last week. Yep, all four of them descended upon the city at once, which I realize sounds crazy! It worked out perfectly though: they were able to bum around en masse while still staying in separate parts of the city. Dad and Pat were in a hotel near Union Square, while Mom and Steve stayed in an AirBnb in NoPa.

Steve & Mom

 

I’m so proud of my parents for seeing and doing so much while they were here! They walked all over the city with and without me, took a bus tour around the different neighborhoods, hiked in Muir Woods, saw our apartment, visited my office, and, of course, ate a lot of good food.

On Friday, we walked the Land’s End coastal trail, which has beautiful views of the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge when it’s not foggy. It was very, very foggy when we were there, so no bridge views for us.

Mica & Dad

Most surprisingly, my parents all loved the Haight(-Ashbury), while it’s probably at the bottom of my list of cool SF neighborhoods. Dad kept saying he liked how eclectic it is, and he was also amused at all the stoners traipsing around Haight Street.

(I didn’t get a good picture of Pat the whole time. She’s blinking in both of these. Sorry, Pat!)
IMG_3674

We tried to take them to a bunch of different restaurants, and I think they got a good sampling of the many delicious eats that SF has to offer. One of my favorites, even though it’s on “sleazy 6th Street,” is Tu Lan. The menu has a picture of Julia Child on the front. Apparently, she ate there a lot.

with the family at Tu Lan

Phew, three consecutive weekends of showing family around the city was really fun and wore us out. We’ve got one low-key (I hope!) weekend coming up, and then we’re off to Paris. Mais ouiiiiiiii!

Ameri-cakes & Pies: Oregon Chocolate Cake with Nutella Frosting

Choo-choo! Back on the cake train this time. And this is a very long story about cake, only nominally connected to Oregon.

Chocolate Cake with Nutella frosting

Oregon might be a bit of a stretch, but according to Wikipedia, the state nut is the hazelnut or filbert. (Who calls them  filberts? Oregonians? Oh wait, apparently, a filbert is a kind of hazelnut.) I could have made some kind of pear cake or pie, buuuuuut…

…a few weeks ago, they announced at work that there would be a Halloween bake-off (except the day before Halloween to ensure maximum attendance). The categories were as follows: pumpkin, chocolate, gluten free, savory, and best overall. As this activity involved competition and the potential for winning, I was ALL.OVER.THAT.SHIT.

I agonized over what I was going to bake. At one point, I considered baking one thing in every category (Yes, even gluten-free.) because I am ambitious and love winning. [For those of you who know me in real life, are you, like, even surprised at all? No. You are not.] Plus, people kept asking me, “What are you going to make for the baking contest?” and as one of the most prolific engineer-bakers, I had a baking precedent to uphold.

Finally, I emailed Jessica, who did two great things 1) encouraged me to make something that was challenging and 2) reminded me of Sweetapolita where I found this chocolate cake with Nutella frosting. It totally fit with the fall theme and with three layers, it seemed sufficiently challenging. (Thanks, Jessica, for always forcing me out of my comfort zone, whether in running or baking)

Plus, Nutella has hazelnuts in it, and hazelnuts are the state nut of Oregon. Bingo. Done and done.

Hilariously, Rosie of Sweetapolita was like, “Oh this is an easy cake to whip up.” For me, it took a lot of planning and preparation: I had to buy three 8″ cake pans and then figure out the timing of baking all three layers plus making a metric ton of frosting. I ended up baking the cake layers and turning them out on racks before work on Wednesday.

Oh, speaking of work, most of that day was taken up by an engineering team-building offsite where we went to a super-fun ropes course.

Work offsite

I skipped the associated Happy Hour and went home to start softening butter for the frosting. And it made a ton! I’d never made frosting with a food processor before, and even with its nine-cup capacity, my trusty Cuisinart was in danger of overflowing, filled to the brim with sour cream, butter, melted chocolate, vanilla, Nutella, and so much powdered sugar. Seriously, I was batting away clouds of powdered sugar while trying to pulse all that into submission.

But anyway. After assembling all three layers, I did a crumb coat because I was in it to win. (Normally, I skip crumb coats and just assume people will ignore the crumbs.) Then I did not one, but TWO more layers of frosting, both of which I smoothed with a bench scraper. I was serious about this cake.

After the Hus-friend had gone to bed, I got out my pastry set and made shit look fancy. As you may recall, Kayla and I took a cake decorating class our last year in grad school. While it may have been basically a giant Wilton advertisement, I did take away that it’s easier than it looks to make borders. (Kayla, piping those little shells made me miss you a looooot!)

shell border on chocolate cake with Nutella frosting
(See how smooth the sides are? Wheee!)

Into the cake box it went because, yes, I got a cake box for transporting this cake to work. Oh, and I also made a foil covered cake board for it to sit on because I wanted this to look as professional as possible. Amateurs need not apply. Ha.

Chocolate cake with Nutella frosting

This morning, the cake felt like it weighed twenty pounds, which coincided with sore arms from scrambling around in the trees the day before. I somehow managed to get it to work without crushing the frosting borders.

At the bake-off, I was so, so, so proud of this cake and just wanted to stare at how nice that silly border was. Too bad though because I had to cut it into very small pieces, and then the masses of employees descended upon the bake-off table like a hoard of locusts. Seriously, within minutes, the cake looked like a city after an apocalypse, devoid of architectural dignity and structural integrity.

Everyone seemed impressed though, and many people told me how delicious it was. Hilariously, I only got about two bites of my own cake because I was too busy running around, but I did sample some of the other entries in the bake-off.

After the votes were tallied, I won in the Chocolate category. Hooray! It was nice to have all my hard work pay off.

Mica with chocolate cake

I’d like to end by saying that I’d not really as competitive as this post makes me sound and that I did this all in the spirit of good fun. Which I did. Because baking large cakes is fun. But I also love winning. The end.

cake_convo

Finished: the Everyday Skirt

I made another skirt! I haven’t gotten up the courage to make complicated pieces of clothing yet, so I went a-huntin’ for an easy, nice-looking pattern and ended up with Oliver + S’s Everyday Skirt pattern. I’m not actually sure how I found this one since Oliver + S seems to sell mostly patterns for kids’ clothing, and we all know I’m not sewing for children…Imma’ sew for myself right now!

After my fancy lined pencil skirt with an invisible zipper, I thought the Everyday skirt would be pretty easy. I mean, it is unlined, and you can finish the seams however you want. I decided to forego a toile (rough draft) and was like, “Yep, I’ll do French seams. It’ll be easy.” I bought some teal chambray and got to work.

Except oh geeeez, pockets are way more complicated than I thought. Like, way more complicated. Plus, chambray is double-sided, so I had to mark the wrong side with chalk. And pockets are hard to make with French seams when you can’t even picture how they’re going to come together in the first place. Then I second-guessed myself about which side was which and…yeah. About halfway through, I realized that things weren’t going right AT ALL but kept going just to practice.

Messed up pocket

One pocket is oriented correctly, but the wrong side is facing out. The other pocket is a disasterbox: I accidentally sewed it to itself so you actually have to curl your fingers around to get your hand in the pocket.

Bottom line: Do a toile and don’t try to do French seams on the first try.

I went back to the Fabric Outlet and this time got some lavender chambray with a tiny herringbone pattern. With my disastrous first attempt behind me, I knew how to avoid some of my earlier mistakes. I finished the seams by stitching them 1/4″ from the raw edge and using pinking shears. Sure, it doesn’t look professional, but it has a kind of rustic charm.

I haven’t gotten to the point of being able to do alterations or changes to the pattern, but this one is so simple that I didn’t really need any. The skirt has a flat front waistband and side panels, and there’s a small bit of elastic in the back, so it fits snugly (though it does ride up a bit if I tuck my shirt in. #smallWaistProblems).

After I finished it, I wore it to work for Fancy Friday! I really like the herringbone print, which you can see in this photo.

Edge of Everyday Skirt

I made good on Hus-friend’s offer to be my finished garment photographer because, let’s be honest, mirror selfies are no good. Here’s the skirt outside on a sunny San Francisco Sunday morning.

There are legit pockets in this skirt. You have to believe me…or you can just imagine that I don’t have hands.

Mica in Everyday Skirt

Here’s the side view. Not sure what’s going on with my posture here.

Everyday skirt, side view

“It’s poofing out funny,” said the Hus-friend.

Everyday skirt, side view

So I turned to the other side. You can see a hint of the elastic waistband in the back.

Everyday skirt, side view

I’m really happy with how this one turned out. I typically think that a lot of beginner-friendly garment patterns look, well, homemade, but I’m looking forward to wearing this one out and about. I’ll probably make another one with a more fall/winter-appropriate fabric…not that you can’t wear chambray all year round in San Francisco. I’m looking forward to making this one again, and maybe the assembly will be even smoother this time!

Everyday skirt, front view

Details:

Pattern: Oliver + S Everyday Skirt [Digital pattern–I printed, cut, and assembled the tiles, then I traced the size onto interfacing and cut that out.]

Size: Small

Materials: Lavender herringbone chambray from the Fabric Outlet

Alterations: None [but I cut the bottom a bit before hemming so it would hit just above the knee.]