Thursday, 30 May 2013

DIY: Craft a New Gusset for a Vintage Bikini

You've found an awesome bikini at the thrift store/garage sale/dumpster, and you feel awesome in it... or you would, if it weren't for the nagging knowledge of this bikini's former life.  
When I picked up this amazing 1960's bikini at the Toronto Film Costume Sale last weekend (for $5!!! what up!) I could immediately hear my Mother making gagging noises in my head, just over the thought of wearing someone else's... well, underwear, basically! And yeah, it's true, that is pretty gross.  So I said to Ephraim all excitedly that I was going to replace the gusset and this would be the best bathing suit ever!!
He said something to the effect of "Awesome! That all sounds great! But I don't know what a gusset is"
"It's the crotch.  Well, the crotch lining.  It's the clothing housing to lady bits, and should only really house one's lady bits.  Soooo I'll make my own!"

So today, we're gonna sew a new gusset into our new(old) bikinis, and start anew! This project takes under an hour, can be completed by hand or machine, and is simple enough for any skill level.  So, let's get to it, because temperatures are rising!

1//  mark with a pin how high you want the rise of your gusset onto the bikini bottoms.  It may be helpful to compare with a pair of panties that fit you well!
2//  lay your bottoms on top of the fabric you will be using for the gusset.  I used some lycra I had in my stash box.  Pin the new fabric and bottoms together, and mark the new fabric along the leg holes, up to the rise you decided upon in step 1.  
3//  Carefully cut out the new fabric along your guides, and straight across the marked rise points at the front and back.  I kept everything pinned together, because I couldn't easily see my marks on my dark fabric! Be careful not to nick the suit with your scissors, and go slowly!
4// Isolate your new gusset material, and trim up the curved sides.  This is a good time to try to get the cut edge nice and smooth, but don't worry too much; this is all about function and way less form!
5// lay the new gusset into your suit bottoms.  As you can see here, I trimmed my sides just enough to stop them from overlapping the edge of the suit, but tried to stay around where the suit was already sewn.  It's not perfect, but that's okay!
6// Pin it within an inch of its life! The suit and in my case the gusset material as well were very slippery, and wanted to move around a lot.  To avoid bunching and shifting as you sew, pin pin pin away.  You will only sew the gusset in around the legs, and not across the tops.
7// Sew the gusset into your suit with a short and narrow zig-zag stitch.  You can also sew it in by hand with an angled top stitch, to allow the fabric a little give.  Try and contain the edge of the fabric within your zig zag, to hold it down neatly. Optional: Hand tack the rise of the gusset in to the lining of the suit.  It should lay nice and flat on its own, but you may want a more "clean" look. 
This is what your suit will look like after you've sewn the new gusset in.  I used a contrasting bottom thread, because I liked the look of it.  Or maybe it's because I didn't feel like loading a new bobbin.  You'll never know (and I can guarantee you, nobody is going to notice!! Just keep it relatively close)

Now put that gorgeous suit on and get outside! Because it's really hot out, and so are you.


Monday, 27 May 2013

Zaida's Toolbox

A few months ago, I inherited two toolboxes that had belonged to my Zaida (grandfather), after my Bubba (grandmother) passed away.  It's been a bit busy around these parts, so I only last week got a chance to sit down and sort through them and decide what I wanted to keep, and what I could pass along.  I thought I'd sit down with my camera for the process, as it felt a bit like opening a time capsule.  I doubt that anyone has looked in the toolboxes much in the nearly 10 years since he passed away, and they were certainly filled nearly beyond capacity with stuff.  It took a bit of negotiating to get everything to fit back in there!  My Zaida was a very, very handy man, and so his toolboxes are an extension of what I remember most about him. 

It's funny, the things you can learn by going through someone's belongings that they never expected anyone else to pay attention to or even to ever see.  How they keep things organized (or not).  The things they can't see fit to throw away, even if a use for them doesn't seem apparent.  That someone kept dropping Bubba's nice dishes, enough to justify 3 tubes of china-weld.  Little scraps of paper, pencils sharpened with a knife, and more loose screws than One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.  I like to think that I'll have a piece of him with me on all the future projects I use these tools for. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

On the Bus, to a Plane, to a UFO and to Outer Space Baby!

Located conveniently up the street from the Value Village in Niagara Falls is the Flying Saucer Restaurant.  The epitome of kitsch, the flashing lights atop the "UFO" has called to Ephraim and I many times before, but finally after a day of thrifting the stars aligned (haha) and we checked the place out for ourselves!  I'm going to say straight away that this is not a place to go if you're looking for a great meal, especially as a vegetarian.  I had about 3 options available to me on the menu, and they all involved cheese and starch.  I stuck with a grilled cheese sandwich, because I was pretty sure I knew what I'd be getting.  I have to admit, the fries were awesome, but what was really out of this world (oh man I am on a roll!) was the decor.  Here are a somewhat excessive number of photos from our amazingly dated alien abduction, but let's be honest I'm totally never going back unless I'm in the area and craving a milkshake, so these photos are all I have to remember this tinted-mirrored wonder by.
Bonus: somewhat unrelated photos taken at/outside of the restaurant that I just liked and am therefore sharing.
He is too an adult.  His Spiderman watch may have indiglo, but it also has a leather band.  So... it's a wash I guess

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


At the Jordan Harbour, just off the QEW, sits La Grande Hermine, or "The Big Weasel", a rusted old ship I have the pleasure of driving by on my bi-weekly trip to and from Toronto.  The boat is a well-known landmark throughout the area, and until arsonists set it ablaze it in 2003, was a popular location for a bit of nontraditional urban exploration; the kind term for breaking and entering (if you're in the Toronto area, check out the book Access All Areas, from Infiltration
Though the boat is very well known to locals and travelers of the QEW, its history is less common knowledge.  That being said, this boat has been places in the over 80 years it lived before coming to rest at its undoubtedly very permanent resting place in the Jordan Harbour nearly 20 years ago.
La Grande Hermine was built in 1914 in Quebec, as a replica of the largest of 3 ships Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence River from 1535-36 (tragically the boat is a namesake as well.  Seriously).  The boat was originally used as a ferry on the St. Lawrence, before being turned into a cargo ship and later a floating restaurant, even becoming a haunted pirate ship for Halloween to raise money for a hot-lunch program for students.  It came to rest in the Jordan Harbour in 1997, after which the boat's owner passed away before permission could be granted to tow the boat to Niagara Falls to become an offshoot casino facility.  
The rusted ship is quite easily accessed from a service road along the highway, and I was really pleased to have the chance to photograph it before stopping at the nearby Prudhommes Antique Market.  I'd love to photograph the boat on a stormy day at dawn, but until my schedule and my good sense accept this as a smart idea, these early afternoon photos will have to suffice.
Thanks for reading a bit of local history! I had no idea this hilariously named boat had such a bizarre and lengthy lifespan.


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Photo an Hour: April 2013

Freaking finally, I have photos to share from April! Here was a fun and very productive little day out and about in St. Catharines, and around NotL.

11 am// Well rested and ready to roll.  A-table-hunting we shall go!
12 pm// St Catharine's bound
1 pm// Red Velvet pancakes.  Because who's going to stop me?
2 pm// Stopped to take photos of this old wreck.  It was briefly a restaurant/boat.
3 pm// A creepy basement full of cobwebs, dust, and glass bottles at Prudhommes Antique Market
4 pm// A sweet room full of old clocks and radios at Prudhommes Antique Market
5 pm// I bought a table! Took 30 minutes to get it out of the house.  Why do men not listen when a woman says we have to take the legs off?! I mean they had to come off to fit in the car anyway...
6 pm// Prepping the neckline for bias tape
7 pm// Finishing up my sewing for the day
8 pm// Taking some outfit photos
Honestly, it's been so long since this day that I couldn't tell you how we ended the evening! But it probably involved a movie and definitely involved dinner of some kind.  I'm looking at my glorious formica table at Ephraim's right now, and boy oh boy was checking out the Prudhommes Antique Market the best thing to come out of that day! I'm currently working on collecting a few pairs of mismatched but complimentary chairs to go with the table.  Vinyl and formica and chrome, oh my! Our kitchen is going to be so awesome!!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Reading: Archie Hartigan and the Frost Wolf, by Seth Greening, edited by Ephraim Ellis.  Okay, so, this book isn't actually by Seth Greening... or is it? Seth, as you may know, is the titular character of the web series Seth on Survival, portrayed by (my charming and multi-talented) boyfriend, Ephraim Ellis.  As a spin off on Seth on Survival, and it's sequel webseries Your Lupine Life (which is set in the same universe), Ephraim wrote a young adult novel, also tying in with both series'.  The book is available for iPhone, with a deluxe version for iPad (oh, how I wish I had one!) with loads of special content such as video segments and hilarious footnotes! While it claims to be geared toward the 12-15 age range, I'd say the language is suited just fine to those who are, erm, a little above that bracket.  I'm liking it a lot!
Plus, Ephraim put a little bit of me into one of the characters in the book! He mentioned to me earlier that he gave character Nell O'Neil the middle name Frances (just like me!), but it can't be a coincidence that she's also a strawberry blonde, and 1" taller than our hero, Archie.  You are so busted, Ephraim Ellis!!  

Watching: I never watched Friends when it was on TV, but now that I'm the same age as some of the characters, I thought I'd give it a try.  To my surprise, I like it a LOT!  I really see how HIMYM tries to hit on the same notes as Friends (btw, they revealed the mother, finally, sadly 3 years after I stopped caring.  She's Ted with long hair.  Snore), but the little bit of raunch and the acting are all really working for me.  Also, Phoebe.  She's amazing. 

Anticipating: Another packed weekend! Though my birthday was this past weekend, being stuck in NotL didn't make for very exciting celebrations.  I'm going to celebrating with my family, and then my friends, this long weekend! Also, it's "May 2-4" weekend, which is a big deal up here in Canada.  We go nuts for our long weekends, and this one has always been seen as the gateway to summer.  It's barbeque season, even if you have to grill in a hoodie for the next couple weeks.  Summer approacheth!

Laughing about:   Umm... I'm struggling to find anything to go here.  It hasn't been a particularly funny couple weeks! We just finished tech for Lady Windermere's Fan, which involved some 13-15 hour days, and then opened a bunch of shows, and frankly I'm just super burnt out from it all, even still.  Things are starting to feel "normal" again, but I'm not there yet.  My sense of humor is expected to return any day now...

Listening to: Big Shiny Tunes 2.  Back in the day, Canadian Music Station Much Music used to put out a mixtape every year called big shiny tunes.  My car only has a cassette player, so I've amassed a little collection of hilarious old tapes (some genuinely awesome ones, obviously) and a cassette adapter for my iPod for car trips.  I have Semi-Charmed life completely memorized, and laugh about how oblivious I was as a child that it's about smoking meth.  I seriously remember singing along to the chorus during swim time as summer camp as a wee kid (same summer I learned how to braid, and spent hours digging clay out of the beach.  Loved nature camp!).

Eating:  Recently I've been cooking a lot of the PC Brand "world's greatest meatless chicken breast" with a sauce made of dijon mustard, honey, and minced garlic.  I've been trying to make sure I'm getting plenty of protein to build muscle as I continue trying to push my weight lifting (which I've admittedly slacked on lately.  Cursed tech week!)

Working on: I spent 2 hours hand hemming that dress I designed (it's so close to being done! Going to wear it to the abundance of birthday celebrations this weekend), and only got half way through it.  Why did I decide it had to be a blind hem?! Stupid circle skirts are like 3m around, it's taking forever to hand stitch.  Luckily I have netflix to keep me company.

Wishing:  I got to see my friends more regularly.  It feels super weird to make some big hullabaloo about your birthday, but really I just want them all in the same room.  That's a sappy wish.  I also wish that I had a puppy.  Something fierce.  I miss having a dog around!

"Currently" is a recurring post using categories borrowed from Dani Hampton of Sometimes Sweet.  

Monday, 13 May 2013

Springtime at the Beach

Niagara on the Lake isn't exactly known for its beaches.  We don't have big white sandy expanses, no real spot to sunbathe to speak of, and people don't tend to get into the water.  Yet, this town has a few small, rocky beaches that are frequented by dog walkers and bonfire makers.  It can be a nice quiet spot to get away - if you can get far enough from the tourists.  The beach I went to one day after work last week was devoid of anyone who was just passing through.  For an hour or so I walked along, listened to seagulls, dug in the sand, and took pictures of the blossoms on this amazing tree.  It wasn't much of a beach experience, I suppose, but it was tranquil and regenerative all the same.  Plus, I got some of my best flower photos yet! One of these pictures might already be my computer desktop background... the white on the bright blue sky just makes me so happy.  I hope I can capture the blossoms on a few other trees around town before they're all gone!
I really love that I can walk down to the shoreline in NotL and see Toronto, across lake Ontario.  I grew up in Toronto, and working in NotL has been the longest time I've ever been away!  It still feels like home, though, and I'm so glad I get to visit as frequently as I do.
This trip to the beach had me looking for some beach glass for the first time, after seeing the impressively large and shockingly beautiful collection of sea glass found by Kaylah of The Dainty Squid.  I only found brown and green glass, but did a lot better than I expected to, and having a "mission" while at the beach was really pleasant.  I can be a bit of a magpie, so I tended to spot larger bits of shells before I'd come across a piece of glass.  I have some nice jars laying around at home, and I think it'll look quite sweet to have a jar filled up from beach treasures I continue to collect from NotL's beaches! There's a long summer ahead, after all. 
I don't normally alter the colour of photos so much, but it looked like a cherry tree all warmed up.  So delicate.
Thank you everyone for your birthday wishes! Yesterday was a lovely, low-key day. I hit up all the thrift spots in St. Catharines, and found some really great stuff, including a tin cup for my milkshake maker (FINALLY! All the milkshakes shall be mine, this summer!) and a Hawaiian muumuu in fluorescent colours. I also went to see the new Iron Man movie, and loved it! I think this year is going to be a good one, as strange as it seems to say that I am in my "mid-twenties".  It's going to be a big year for change, so I think an ever-so-popular blogger-style goals list is in order.  That, and a deep, deep breath.