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Mar 17, 2020

Sewing-related (and non-sewing related) UPDATES


Friends, it's hard to believe our MPB Winter Frolic was only nine days ago--New York City already feels like a very different place.

Depending on where you live, you may be experiencing some of what we are here.  Restaurants are closed except for those providing take-out meals, along with many stores.  Gyms are closed (though we're still able to go running outside, which I understand is no longer permitted in much of France and Italy).  There have been sporadic shortages of hand sanitizer, face masks, and toilet paper.  (At least with regard to the last item, our local Whole Foods had 24-roll packs available again so that's some good news I guess).  Schools have also closed and many workplaces have asked their employees to work from home.  That said, I still know many people are going to work, at least right now.  That all might change within days.

Michael is fortunate that a great deal of his voice teaching is already done online (via Zoom) in private and group classes.  He also teaches in a program called Total Vocal Freedom that is offering a series of free classes, primarily for singers and singing teachers. If you're interested take a look.

My Mom, who you may recall lives with us, is taking the situation in stride.  At 90 (in May) she has lived through the Great Depression, WWII, the McCarthy era, and more.  Naturally we want to keep her safe and frankly, she's happy to have an excuse to stay indoors when the weather isn't warm.  She recently had a skin graft on her forehead which is why she's wearing a gauze pad.  It's healing nicely.


The dogs, Freddy (brown) and Willy (white, up top with the toilet paper), both have their health issues but, like my mom, they're rolling with it as dogs are wont to do.


My brother, who's an attending in the ER at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, was actually asked to self-quarantine last week but he seems to be fine so far.  Naturally healthcare workers are in the front lines.  Little kids seem to be immune (thankfully, since he has 3 1/2 yo twins), but apparently they can pass it on to others.  They might not see grandma for a while.

Last week, when life still seemed relatively normal, I managed to do a little fabric shopping since I wasn't able to concentrate on buying anything for myself on MPB Day.  I've also picked up a few vintage patterns online, all ladies suit patterns.



I've been curious about Modes Royale patterns for a while.  They were a small American company that was active primarily in the 1940's and 50's, issuing designs similar to those of Vogue Paris Originals and Spadea Patterns, based on French fashion designs.  I think this slouchy suit is kind of fun and easier to wear than the popular wasp-waist styles of the period.

Last week, I hightailed it to B&J to get a look at their remainder bin.  I found some lovely well-priced striped cotton shirting I'll probably make something with this month.



I was thinking of whipping up something like this tunic by the Swiss fashion house Akris.  This poly-rayon blend sells for about $800 at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf's -- ouch!


Of course B&J also has a splendid selection of Liberty of London fabrics, particularly the Tana Lawns (below).  You can purchase from B&J online, by the way, something I learned only recently.  I really need to shop there more often as they have exquisite things.



At Metro Textiles I found a lovely floral poly jacquard with a heavy drape for just $8/yd. I thought I might use it to make that Vogue Repro 1940's suit above.  I love the somewhat muted colors which to me have a very vintage feel.


A fabric I considered but didn't purchase was this green and black poly brocade at It's a Material World.  I wasn't sure how easy it would be to deal with those oversized motifs.


They also had wool Melton in colors very reminiscent of the wonderful coat Lilian wore to the Winter Frolic.



In short, I have a lot to keep me busy and I'm grateful to be healthy. A few sewing-related projects that involve travel look like they're likely to be postponed.  As for MPB Day in August, we'll just have to wait and see.

I do hope that everyone is now, and continues to be okay.  A global pandemic is not something most of us have ever experienced before but we sewers are a resilient bunch.  If you care to share what's going on in your corner of the States (or points beyond), I'd love to hear from you and I know others would as well.

Hang in there, everybody!

37 comments:

  1. Hello from Barcelona. Isolated with my son and my dogs from friday, I am happy to be able to telework and to sew. In fact, I am happy to have an "inside" life, and dogs too, because they allow me to go to the street three times a day. I guess we are scared, because nobody knows what will come afterwards. I feel strange because I have never had "time" available!

    I am sure it will be good, we will have to change a lot of things of our life, but it will be good. Crossing fingers.

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    1. I like your attitude, Bego. Here's hoping things turn out okay.

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  2. Bonjour from France. From yesterday, if we venture outside, we have to take a paper with us which states what we are doing. Going to work (if you can't work from home), buying food and medicine, checking on vulnerable family members and personal exercise (i.e. dog walking, jogging, cycling) which must be done alone and within the vicinity of your home are the only acceptable reasons. My sister is in Spain and they are using drones to check that people are sticking to similar rules. We are lucky in that we have a lot of outside space so the dogs can be exercised freely and I have a large stash of yarn, fabric and books to keep myself sane. My husband got stuck here rather than in the U.K. where he usually commutes to so my only regret is my two daughters are in England but at least they have each other.
    Keep safe and keep sewing. x

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    1. That's probably what's next for us, too, I fear. Things are going to be very different from what we're used to for an indefinite period.

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  3. In Victoria Australia there are progressive closures of public gatherings and measures to protect vulnerable groups such as restricting visits to people in aged care. My tap teacher is gearing up to deliver online tap dance sessions. But the sewing class is still on and we are all hoping it can continue. My daughter in another town is in isolation with the virus and I am (nearly) coping by sewing a denim shirt with double rows of top stitching and not using the twin needle

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    1. Yes, this is a great time to take on some sewing challenges we might otherwise not have time for. Good luck, Helen!

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  4. Most restaurants here in Alabama are carryout only (drive-thru even if the place doesn't have an official drive-thru) Our local public library has gone drive thru also. There are no group meetings. The play I was cast in has been put on indefinite hold - including rehearsals.
    There is a toilet paper mfg. plant in Alabama, but I haven't seen any in the stores I have been in. I have a few rolls and a backup plan.

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    1. I can't quite picture a drive-thru library but I'm sure it's better than no library at all. Ours are closed indefinitely.

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  5. Thanks for the update. I didn't realize B&J sold online -- any others you'd recommend? I've been looking at Mood a lot.

    Here in MA, the # of cases are escalating pretty quickly -- but nothing where we are, as far as I can tell. I work from home, and am looking at trying out an advanced (!) Vogue pattern -- I guess now's the time.

    Take care.

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    1. A lot of stores sell online these days (including Metro Textiles) plus there are the many small independents like Emma One Sock, Gorgeous Fabrics, and Elliott Berman Textiles.

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  6. Thank you so much for this post and all that you do. I love the McCalls 6839! That is a suit that is "suitable" for business needs and the style is comfortable too. Here in Oregon, we are closing down day by day. Our economy is mostly small business for tourists, eateries and breweries are now closed except for take out or pick up. The farmers are looking to more labor shortages. But as far as I'm concerned, I thank my lucky stars that it isn't Syria. Do take good care of you and each other.

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen. I love McCall's 6839 too. The illustrations from that period were beautiful.

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  7. Bonjour from Paris...we're hunkered down for the duration, whatever that is. For those not [yet] in lockdown, my advice is to gather supplies for a truly epic sewing or other project. My best wishes to everyone, especially those fighting this pandemic on the front lines.

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    1. I haven't chosen my epic project yet, but I'm thinking about it!

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  8. SONIA! My day is now brighter!
    Freddie - always great to see him.

    I've never known a single garment to elevate an unknown person to the magnitude of celebrity the Selfish Seamstress had in her hay day, but Lillian's coat, and Lillian herself, are now recently known quantities of whom we want to see, and learn, more of. Perhaps Lillian should be mentioned in every post for an indefinite time?

    Visited B & J Fabrics during MPB Day in 2018; been drooling over their website ever since. That you can go there, browse, scrounge, and purchase your way to superior fabric choices is enviable (not that I have a jealous bone in my body).

    Meanwhile, Ohio is closed (no primary election - I voted early, thinking I'd be out of the state).

    I just cancelled a SoCal vacation (and glad to have done so), so I am having a "stay-cation in isolation". Grocery store etiquette, or just plain behavior, is now odd; the "active distancing dance" must be intuitive. Saw someone shopping in exam gloves. Some aisles are barren, others have signs showing the limit of how much you can buy of certain items (if there is any left).

    Now is a time to be productive by engaging in creative pursuits, housekeeping, and de-cluttering (in that order!).

    Hope the rest of you stay well, and write already! This is an "e-village", and being a resident affords us the benefit of kindred connections unimaginable before the Internet came into existence. Stay connected!

    Testy

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    1. Great to hear from you, Testy, even if it didn't rhyme this time. Stay healthy!

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  9. Thanks for a great MPB day! Great to see all of the me-mades, loved the color blocked coat! PSA: I developed an eye infection recently, my dr said everyone should be washing their faces really well after being out, in addition to hands, to reduce the chance of contagion. Stay safe out there.

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  10. Just looking at the vintage patterns puts a smile on my face! They actually predate me, but I do recall my grandmother wearing such fashions in old photos. They are so classy and really beautiful. Thank you for posting!

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    1. The old illustrations were gorgeous -- they really sell the patterns!

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  11. SeamsterEast at aolMarch 18, 2020 at 9:29 PM

    There is no food shortage, people aren't eating any more than they did in January. It's just that they bought an 18-month supply in a week and a half. They'll stop that when they have no more space to store the food.

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  12. Here in Hamilton Canada, we are experiencing social distancing, bars, restaurants and theatres are closed,except take out. The library is closed and the Anglican church is no longer worshipping together on Sundays. Online is so much more important now than it was. Thanks for keeping us in the loop. Your mom looks great. Good to hear about the dogs as well.

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  13. Oh my goodness Peter, THANK YOU for the link of what Michael is doing, I woke up my high school senior (it IS 930am after all) and sent her the link - she is missing her mainly music/chorale days at school, and jumped on here to thank you.

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  14. Same here from Montevideo, Uruguay.
    Schools closed, only supermarkets and drugstores open.
    We can still go out, but is only a matter of time..

    I`m staying home with my 9yr old daugther.

    I have a little fabric stash, and a lot more time to spend at home. Not really a bad thing.
    I`m thinking in a big and complicated backpack proyect.

    I would love to assist to mbpday some day...
    Love what you do by the way..

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  15. The McCall's suit is amazing, but the best part is that the original owner wrote her name on it--Dorotha Luboff, which is maybe Polish or Czech; Dorothy Love in English. So evocative, it could be a whole new alter ego!

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  16. Here in Montana things are getting weird. Most all bars and restaurants closed except for take-out and drive through. Grocery stores and pharmacies still open and some stores are still open too, but that probably won't last. I usually keep a pretty well stocked pantry as I live 60 miles from my preferred shopping area, but as luck would have it, my list for my next shopping trip was almost all paper products. I went in Wednesday and lucked out as Costco had just got in a HUGE shipment of TP and paper towels. They were limiting everyone to 1 each (which was all I needed anyway. Libraries and schools all closed. Fortunately I live in a mountainous rural area with no close neighbors, so it is fairly easy for my husband and myself to quarantine ourselves. Stay safe!

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    1. Sounds like Montana would be nice place to sit this out!

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  17. Absolutely wonderful post! Love that your moms with you and I hope you all can have fun and stay safe together. My Mom would've turned 100 this May. She taught me to sew, and she could make ANYTHING. Her mom, born in 1891, took apart her husbands old business suit and cut it down for one for herself during the Depression. When I asked her about that and whether it wasn't really hard, she said "oh thank goodness the pants back then were pretty loose fitting so I have plenty of fabric to work with!" I'm trying to focus on streamlining my stash, but it's hard because I think I'll need EVERYTHING;) love the posts. A real boost!

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    1. I've tried streamlining my stash in the past: definitely hard to do!

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  18. Hello from Australia, we are going into lock down Tuesday March 23rd over here. Schools, restaurants, closed etc, only Supermarkets, chemists, essential services allowed. Being positive I am looking forward to clearing out my sewing den and reading sewing related books that I normally just go to the appropriate section and bypass the rest. We are in autumn heading into winter, maybe I should look at 'spring' sewing. just love old patterns and those suits are lovely. Thankyou.

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  19. Lela S Ontario CanadaApril 20, 2020 at 6:57 PM

    Have to ask if your Mom is keen to get online from time to time to see the sights and shows from other lands, as a change from the usual offerings on TV? After two plus weeks without public computer access to Internet (public library shut down after March 14), I decided to use more than half of my month's month to get a relatively inexpensive laptop and connect to my brother's router for Internet. What a lifesaver (and more reason to check news on Twitter, check out sewing and fabric sites) from the daily pandemic updates on TV (where many anchors often ended segments with "...and you can visit our website for more information."--not what I wanted to hear during my Internetless time in March. I am feeling very sad for the public who don't have Internet access in any form right now.

    Getting back to your fabric store visits-woohoo, there in your second photo of B&J fabrics is a Liberty flower print in a pink/gray-blue colourway, different from the green/gray-blue version used by Burda Style a few years ago for a toddler/baby wardrobe and nursery collection of patterns. Sweet!

    Yes, I am getting Mom to sometimes look at something online because she sometimes finds TV boring. She needs one of her offspring to help her get Netflix on or Youtube app to get a drama series fix for a change of programming. She lives for her once per week errand outings as she otherwise is at home. Good thing the yard is big at home for walks in good weather. If you have a balcony, may your Mom enjoy a sit outside from time to time with a good cup of something to people-watch or enjoy the sunshine!

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