Thursday, May 27, 2010

Inspirational Quotes ... Habits

“First we form habits then they form us. Conquer your bad habits, or they’ll eventually conquer you.”

Dr. Rob Gilbert

Okay, that was more a warning but one that is good to keep in mind. Try this one ...

"Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow."

Doug Firebaugh

I think this one may be the best theme for the 100 Day Challenge.

We can do it!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Simplicity Sewing Patterns - 40% Off Sale

I just found on another sewing blog a notice of a 40% off sale on Simplicity Patterns - thank you, Diary of a Sewing Fanatic. The sale is only until Friday, May 28th and doesn't include It's Sew Easy and New Look.

The promo code is: BLOGPS40. Enter it when you check out.

You can use this link to Simplicity or just go to the site yourself to shop.

Happy shopping and sewing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

100 Days Challenge ... Making Changes for Good

I hope some of you in cyberspace will join me in this challenge. Like many of you, I have been trying to change my life for more than half my life. Determination, "don't try, do it," the "light bulb" moment, Monday, to save my life, fill in the blank __________; I've tried and done so many things to change my life for the better. I have made some changes but not enough to really set myself on the path I want to be on in my life.

I have my month of May goals and I am still working on those. However, I've been reading a lot of about changing habits, making new habits and dropping bad habits and I realized that most of my efforts have not taken into account the way the mind works beyond the concept of "willpower."

I'm sure many of you have seen articles on changing or adopting habits. Recently, 21 days seems to be the magic number in the "how to change a habit" craze. That made no sense to me because I can and have followed many programs and dropped many bad habits for at least 21 days. So, I kept reading. And I found that, yes, you can change or adopt some habits in 21 days

but ...

and this is a big one ... what if you are trying to change a habit or replace a habit that you have been practicing for years? Well, I came to understand that habits can become ingrained in the mind and their triggers can as well. You may change a habit and feel you've overcome and still, days, weeks, or years later, you experience some trigger and it is as if you'd never made the change. Well, it turns out that, like most of our muscles, the brain has muscle memory, which is great when it is a good habit but not so great when it is a bad habit.

I encountered this during the past week and a half. I was doing very well, maintaining and practicing good habits. I was ready for whatever came next ... I thought. A sudden out of town trip, a family event and a small crisis at work were enough to derail me. Now what?

The 100 Days Challenge

Starting today through September 1, 2010, I want to do something to not only adopt new habits but also to thwart some of the triggers, which have derailed me in the past.

My Personal 100 Days Challenge -

For the next 100 days, I will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes of the day on me, doing a sequence of exercises and stretches to start my day off right. Even if I wake up late or if there are other things tugging at my time, I will spend these first minutes of the day changing old patterns and adopting new habits. If, and only if, I firmly establish this habit, will I add a new challenge, a new habit to adopt, break, or change.

My hope is that by changing the way I enter my day, I will avoid and suppress some of the triggers which have proved my undoing in the past. I know it may seem like a small thing but I wanted something I felt confident in committing to for the next one hundred days.

Okay, that's my personal 100 Days Challenge! What's yours?

It doesn't matter how small or how large. It doesn't matter what day you start. It doesn't matter what kind of change you make, as long as it is about making your life better: Health, Diet, Sewing, Family, Career, Beading, whatever you want to do. Just make a decision about what you want to change or what to want to add to you life and commit. This is about improving life and breaking habits that sabotage that goal. And, PLEASE, post a comment to let us know what you are doing and how you are doing as the time goes by.

I can do it! You can do it! We can do it!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sewing Tutorials Online ... Pattern Alterations, Techniques, Fabric, etc.

Sew Tutorials is a great resource and will save you from spending too much time searching the web for how to sites. The last entry on this blog was March 11, 2009, which is unfortunate. However, the blog is still up and contains organized links to many tutorials on the web.

Here are some of the topics and links:

General Sewing
Pattern Alterations
Fabrics - How to Determine - Use - Prepare
Use of Special Sewing Feet
Using Serger and Coverstitch
Buttons - Buttonholes - Button Loops

Sense & Sensibility Patterns has a very good tutorial as well titled "How to Resize a Pattern."

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Inspirational Quote by Danielle Fotopoulis

Goals ...

"Even if I don't reach all my goals, I've gone higher than I would have if I hadn't set any."

-- Danielle Fotopoulis

Sunday, May 9, 2010

An Update on My Goals for May and My History of Diets Continued

My Goals - the 1st Week of May: I give myself a grade of C for the week. My biggest challenges were to walk enough (goal - 10 miles per week) and to learn a new recipe. I realize that I need to plan my week. I also was not under my 1800 calories per day goal every day but I kept the Food Diary and that helped to remind me about my choices. There were things I wanted to eat or times I wanted to eat more of a tasty dish but just thinking about having to write it down helped me to make better choices.

Weight Loss 1st Week: 7lbs. (I know, crazy right?)

My History of Diets

The diet I am going to talk about today is both very restrictive and considered by many to be a fad diet. It is also a fasting diet. Please remember that I am sharing my personal experience of the diets I write about. Do not take any of this as a recommendation for or against a particular diet. I just hope my information will be informative to people making choices about how they are going to lose weight and get healthier.

I have done the Master Cleanse about four times. The first two times I followed it for only four days and I will admit that I stopped because of how I felt. I had an awful headache and my energy was so low that I just wanted to stay in bed. I had written the Master Cleanse as something that was not good for me personally and moved on to whatever was next on my list of diets. About three years after the last attempt, I came accross a website on the Master Cleanse and read many of the entries from people who had tried it. I found that many people seemed to have a bad day or two somewhere between the third and fifth days of the cleanse. Many people also describe feeling much better in the subsequent days, more energetic and clear headed. Well, I thought, maybe I needed to give it one more try.

The next time I tried the Master Cleanse, I committed to ten days. I scheduled it during a lull in my life and made sure that the third and fourth day fell on a weekend that I had few commitments. The first three days went as usual. I was hungry most of the time and had cravings but it was not unbearable. Late on the fourth day I felt very emotional with low energy and a headache that just would not stop. This lasted on and off for more than 24 hours and, yes, I considered quitting at this point once again. I kept reminding myself that I just needed to try to get past this point, that I was almost half way through. When I woke up on the morning of the sixth day, I felt better than I had in months. I had a lot to do that day, including teaching, but I had energy to spare. I also felt very optimistic. I had no cravings. These feeling lasted through the end of the fast. On the eleventh day, I was ready but not anxious about ending the fast. I took four days to add solid food to my diet and tried to follow the guidelines for doing this. The most recent time I tried this, I had an almost identical experience.

Though I would not try this for 40 days, as some people do, I believe I would do it again. The biggest challenge for me is finding a time when it will not interfere with my schedule. However, overall, the Master Cleanse has some positive results that lasted for almost three months. I had fewer headaches and more energy, made better food choices, and found myself less likely to give in to emotional eating. All-in-all, it was a beneficial experience for me.

From my first review of my diet history, I determined that:

1) I need a diet that allows me to snack throughout the day.
2) I need a diet that does not cause cravings, one with limited refined carbohydrates.

What have I discovered from my experience with the Master Cleanse?

3) Periodically doing a very simple and restrictive program can be helpful to me.

Hmmm, I'm not sure where this list is leading but it is an interesting journey.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More on Slopers and Muslins

This is just a quick note to let you know about another link I found on slopers. This on is on the Threads Magazine webiste. The article is called "Drape a Skirt Sloper." This is a very clear and detailed tutorial.

Another tutorial on this site, which looks invaluable for creating a good custom fit is "Get the Right Armhole, Fit the Bodice." Not only does it offer good tips on fitting for your body type - with illustrations, it also walks you through applying these tips to making a well-fitting bodice muslin.

I hope these help.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How to Make a Sloper ... Vintage Sewing

Last night was a long one for me. Since sleep was allusive, I decided to check out some of the sewing blogs I like and I found a great entry on Sew Craftful's blog titled "How to Make a Sloper." Callie, who is Sew Craftful, offers a lot of great advice and instructions.

I agree with Callie that making a sloper is essential for getting a great fit with vintage patterns. However, I also believe this holds true for sewing with contemporary patterns as well. Though a time consuming project, initially, I believe it is worth it. I'm not sure I will make a sloper as my first project, but I will make it one of my early projects ... maybe third or fourth. The only reason for waiting is that I believe my first two or three projects may be simpler garments then the sloper will be.

Here are some additional entries on the Sew Craftful site, which should be helpful to the beginning or returning sewer/seamstress:

How to Take Body Measurements
How to Take Measurements Hints and Suggestions
How to Make a Basic Pattern
How to Make a Pattern from an Original Garment
How to Pick a Starter Vintage Sewing Pattern -- These guidelines may be helpful those who want to start with a contemporary pattern as well.
How to Compare a Basic to a Commercial Pattern
The Benefits of Working with a Muslin Mock Up or Test Pattern

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Bed Sheet By Any Other Name ... A Muslin

I was inspired by Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing and her entries on muslins - start with "What's Your Muslin Strategy?" and check out some of the comments as well. I decided that, even though I plan to choose a simple pattern for my first project, I should do a muslin. It's about getting back to basics and working on my skills from the beginning.

Well, it is a busy time for me and I know I won't get to a fabric store soon but I felt a need to make progress towards my first sewing project. There's a bedding store in my neighborhood that's open until 8:00 pm. Coming home I saw they had queen size flat sheets for $9.99. I bought one to use as a muslin. Flat queen size sheets are 81" x 96" which translates to 4.25 yards of 44" wide muslin, making allowance for the hems and finished borders. That's less then $2.50 per yard and I didn't have to spend extra money on public transportation or gas to get to the store.

I'm feeling good about this. I believe I can finish my first project before the end of May.

I hope all of your projects are happy and successful!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sewing ... Preparing to Sew

I started sewing when I was about seven. My Grandmother taught me on her 1923 Singer ... just a straight stitch, not even a back stitch or zig zag. I loved it from the start. I was a kid who bounced off walls when I wasn't hanging upside down in trees or spinning on my head on the living room floor. The concept of me being able to sit quietly in front of a sewing machine for hours was pretty farfetched ... but I did.

In middle school I started sewing in the high school's costume shop and by the time I was in college I was being paid to work in the iniversity's costume shop. I also made various pieces of clothing for my personal wardrobe, including a prom dress and two other gowns. The last thing I worked on was a gown for a Moliere play. Then life quicked in: I got an internship and a job to support it, began working on my career, and so on ... It's been more than fifteen years since I've sewn a thing.

I've been thinking about returning to sewing for a long while but there have always been barriers ... not enough space in my apartment, not enough time, no sewing machine ...

Now, fate/luck/coincidence is at work and pushing me towards what I want to be doing. As I was standing on my front stoop talking to a neighbor, a man from the building next door put a sewing machine out for trash pick-up. I asked him if it worked. He said it did but he didn't sew and didn't know anything about it. Turns out it's a vintage Singer Dressmaker 2402 with all metal parts and very heavy. There were a few presser feet and bobbins in the case but no cams or manuals. It's in decent condition and I now have a recent sewing machine.

Next, I found some fabric in my mom's attic while looking for the Christmas ornaments. It's fabric I bought a long while ago but never got to use. And, I still like it.

More recently, another neighbor was moving and had a piece of 2'x4.5' 1/4" plywood that she was going to throw out. Eureka, I had found a cutting board which can be covered in paper or cloth easily as needed.

I've been collecting patterns over the last few years so what's stopping me? Just me.

Goals for the week:
1) Create a sewing and crafting space in my apartment.
2) Choose a pattern for my first project.

I'm actually getting exited about this.

Some of the blogs and sites that are motivating and inspiring me:

Amanda's Adventures in Sewing - great how-to advice
Diary of a Sewing Fanatic
Lower Your Presser Foot
Sew Retro
The Fashionable Past - Vintage Photos, Patterns, How-To & more
Zip Zip's Vintage Sewing - great how-to advice

I hope all of your projects are happy and successful!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

New Month, New Goals ... Health and Fitness

My Health and Fitness Goals for May

Before I list my goals for the month, I just want to explain that I decided to keep it very real. I want to set myself up for success. So, this month is about setting goals that are challenging but that are manageable with my life and my schedule. Also, I have limited myself to five goals plus my weight loss goal.

1) Stay Hydrated - (8 - 12 glasses of water per day)
2) Get sufficient Fiber - (25gm - 30gm per day)
3) Eat in Moderation - (1800 calories or less per day)
4) Get Moving - (Walk at least 10 miles per week)
5) CIY - Cook It Yourself - (Learn at least two healthy recipes.)
6) Take off the Weight - (Lose 2.5 lbs per week - 10 lbs in May)

Of course, there are many other things I should be doing to get healthy and fit: eat more fruits and vegetables, weights training, plan healthy meals, stretch, clean out the kitchen, deep breathing, cut the fat, etc. I would love to work on all of these things and more but I believe that if I take on too much, I may get overwhelmed and discouraged. So, I will try to do as much as I can but my focus will be on the above six goals.

Calorie Counting - Food Diary - You may notice that my daily calorie intake maximum is a bit high. Well, I have quite a bit of weight to lose so my calorie needs are a bit higher than someone who is closer to their ideal weight. Also, I kept a food diary for almost four weeks when I was eating in my usual fashion and not trying to count calories, fat or carbohydrates. I consistently ate around 2,600 calories per day -- so much more than I thought I was eating. I did not gain weight during this period and wasn't exercising much due to a problem with my knee. At 1800 calories per day I will be eating approximately 800 calories per day less than I usually do. We'll see what happens.

More on keeping a Food Diary - I hate it. I really do. However, I do believe it is an important tool in successful weight loss. Weather you are counting calories, units, fat, carbohydrates or protein, the Food Diary is a reality check. I honestly did not think I was eating as much as I was. I felt sorry for myself and my slow metabolism. While I still believe I have a slow metabolism, I also know that I overeat and the Food Diary is proof. Though I haven't put it down as a goal for the month, it is an important tool in tracking and achieving my calorie intake goal.

I use Spark People to keep my Food Diary. It is a free site that offers many of the same options the paid websites offer. I've also noticed that they have improved the site over the last year that I've been a member. For those on a tight budget, this may be a great alternative to paid websites. If you have internet access, you have no excuse. Check it out and let me know what you think.

I wish you all the best with you goals for the month ... the year ... your life.

Have a great May!