on choosing the light

by Nicole on October 27, 2014

Over the weekend, Darius and I walked to the local taco place to get breakfast tacos and juices. I was wearing yoga capris, a loose striped Plantain, and tennis shoes. I actually documented it for you:


While we were there, the table next to us (consisting of a girl and two guys) was talking at length about the types of clothes people shouldn’t wear because they look bad and just aren’t flattering (a.k.a. you don’t look SKINNY in them). The list included yoga pants (because “leave something to the imagination”) and horizontal stripes (because “they make you look soooo much bigger”). As Darius and I stood up to leave, their entire table got quiet and turned around to stare at me as we left. The look they gave is probably best described as a “see what I’m talking about?” type of look.

Now, I have no idea if they saw me all along, and were hoping I’d hear their comments, feel bad about myself, and resolve to change my ways or something. Or maybe they didn’t even notice me until I stood up, but then my presence confirmed everything they had been discussing. But either way, their looks and comments seemed to reaffirm for themselves and to each other that I was not something desirable, that I was the opposite of them and what they stand for.

I so, so, so, badly thought about turning around and walking back to their table to tell them that yes, I heard their exhaustive list of what not to wear to avoid looking fat (which obviously meant gross/undesirable to them), and that yes, I realize I was wearing things on the aforementioned list. But also that I did not care that I didn’t look my skinniest, and that it was fucking sad that they think I should be so concerned with such a thing.

But I knew it wouldn’t matter. I highly, highly doubt that they’d be all like, “Oh shit, you’re right, I’m so sorry we were judging you!” I’d guess they would say something like, “What?!? Noooo, we didn’t even notice you! If you’re upset, it says more about you feeling bad about yourself than about us being mean!” But the thing is–their comments didn’t make me feel bad about myself at all. I don’t think I’m “good” or “bad” because of how fat or skinny I look that day. I know that what makes me “good” or “bad” is how I choose to treat others. Overall, it just made me sad that it’s often easiest for us to treat others badly in order to feel good (nonsensically, even when we know that it feels even better to treat others well in order to feel good). Because even I wanted to make them feel bad for being mean.

To be honest, I’m not even entirely sure why I’m writing this post. I’m not looking for anyone to look at my picture and tell me, “No, you don’t look big in those clothes! No worries!” I do know I look bigger in clothes like that, but I shouldn’t be made to feel bad about that. I’m also not looking for anyone to vilify those people. I’m sure they are generally nice people.

But I think the situation this weekend is a good jumping-off point for a larger discussion. I think we can examine ourselves and see that we could have been sitting at that table too, so justified in our ways of thinking that we don’t care if those ways of thinking make others feel bad. Why do we try so hard to avoid what we think is undesirable? Why do we feel like we get to set the rules for others? Why do we seek to judge instead of understand? Why do we place ourselves in opposition to others, instead of realizing our interconnectedness? Why do we insist that we are so different, when we are really all remarkably similar?

Perhaps it’s naivety, but I feel that the real reason is that a lot of us feel ugly inside. We deny the things that cause us pain; we deny that we’re sometimes stupid and petty and ugly and untalented and bitter and mean and everything else that makes us hurt. We don’t want to feel the discomfort of knowing we screw up too. We place ourselves in opposition to others. We insist that we are good and noble and smart and pretty and worth loving. But my personal belief is that when we stop resisting the uncomfortable things, when we realize that sometimes we are all the bad things we see in others, that only then can we truly accept and love ourselves.

I’ve been that person staring at others and judging them. I’ve said mean things behind my friends’ backs. I’ve said mean things to myself, that I’m ugly or stupid or should have gotten it right on the first try. I’ve tricked myself into thinking I’m better than other people because of my IQ, or because I’m responsible with money, or because I know how to cook. I’ve been short with others because I don’t deem them worthy of my time. I’ve purposely made others feel bad because they made me feel bad first. I’ve been all these things and much worse. And it’s important to realize that I still have all these things inside me. It’s not so simple; I’m not either a good person or a bad person. It’s all inside all of us. But we have a choice. We can paint ourselves in opposition to the rest of the world, to do the ugly things to feel like we’re pretty people. Or we can embrace that we have the capacity for ugly, cruel destruction, but instead make the choice to be kind and loving and accepting and gracious and understanding.

Let’s not judge others for their “weaknesses” or missteps. Let’s not judge ourselves for our “weaknesses” or missteps. Let’s realize we’re all humans, all fallible, but also capable of immense beauty. We can’t be the light, because we are both good and bad. But we can choose the light.

life lately–10.22.14

by Nicole on October 22, 2014

This picture has nothing to do with the post, but we found this teensy guy outside our house recently! So cute, right?!? I wish I could have added him to my miniatures collection (and yes, I truly do have a miniatures collection).


I first learned about the Headspace app on this blog. I’ve always been somewhat interested in meditation, but thought it was only for the spiritual or the “woo-woo”. Well, I’m on day 18, I’ve purchased a year’s subscription, and I have to say I CANNOT IMAGINE LIFE WITHOUT IT NOW. For a while I was doing it during my lunch break, then before bed, but now I’m doing it when I wake up in the morning. It’s so hard to explain how awesome it feels, so why don’t you just go ahead and sign up for the free 10-day trial (you can also check your smartphone’s app store). (BTW–this is not sponsored by Headspace in any way; I just really really like the peace and clarity the app has brought me.)


I’m currently working on my fourth and fifth iterations of the Plantain t-shirt. In stripes! I’d say five plantains officially makes the pattern a TNT for me.

Not sure what’s next… I just got the entire Deer & Doe collection for my birthday (which isn’t actually until 11/9). Their patterns are my absolute favorite and are exactly how I picture my future handmade wardrobe.

Also, have you seen the sneak peek of the Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans? HOT HOT HOT. Jeans are probably beyond my current skill level, but I’ll definitely have to try them when the pattern is released.

I’m also loving Colette’s new Dahlia dress. But I don’t really see myself in it? A lot of their clothes feel too elegant/sophisticated to me, and I’m more of an “everyday dress” type of girl. Any ideas on how to make the Dahlia feel more casual? I might still end up buying the pattern anyway, because it would be great for board meetings.


Just got Sean Brock’s cookbook, Heritage. We haven’t been doing a lot of “real” cooking lately (hello, rice, beans, eggs, tacos, & smoothies), but that hasn’t stopped me from reading cookbooks like novels. Watching Sean on season 2 of Mind of a Chef completely changed my perception about Southern cooking. I pre-ordered his book immediately afterward!

Alllllmost done with Dreams and Shadows, my first foray into “urban fantasy/sci-fi”. I love the world the author created, and while I really liked the plot of the first half, the second half has been a bit slow to me.

Sped through Where’d You Go, Bernadette? in one weekend. Really fun read, and a really unique way of telling the story.

On my to-read list: graphic novels Habibi and Seconds (Darius just read both), Lena Dunham’s book, a memoir by a former NFL player (half-way through), Confessions of an Atheist Buddhist, and a true crime book about Ted Bundy. And probably like ten others things I’ve sent as samples to my Kindle that I just can’t remember off the top of my head.


Heard this song on the local public radio station and fell in love. Sadly, I don’t love the other songs from the band, just this one, but to say I’ve had it on repeat is almost an understatement.


What are you guys up to lately?

badass babes cambie a.k.a. the boobs on boobs dress

by Nicole on October 12, 2014


This is my first Cambie, and I made it to wear to the opening night of a film festival we go to every year called Fantastic Fest. The festival focuses on all kinds of genre film, and this fabric seems very “B-movie” to me, so it seemed perfect. Except I actually didn’t finish it in time, sooooo it will have to wait for next year. The fabric is a little bit outrageous, so I definitely can’t wear it to work, but I’m sure I’ll end up wearing it on the weekend a lot.

The local sewing bloggers were teasing me during a recent meet-up about how hilarious it is that I don’t wear my tap shorts often because I feel like everyone’s staring at me in them and I sometimes don’t feel “cool enough” for the shorts, but then I wear stuff like this in public and it doesn’t even occur to me that people would stare at me for this.  Doesn’t make sense to me either!


They also loved the pattern placement of the front bodice–Jenny commended me for the boobs on boobs and Dixie named it the “Cambie of Amazeovaries”! Doesn’t get classier than that! Anyway, I think these ladies are total badasses.

But anyway, this dress is about more than crazy fabric! It’s also about….friendship. *Cue corny music*

I made up my first muslin in a size 16 with a 3″ FBA (followed the Emery FBA tutorial, which I think is really clear and helpful). Normally, I do all my fitting on my own, asking my husband to pin here and there in the places I can’t reach. But with only a week to make my dress, I decided to just take the bodice of my muslin to sewing club for help. In less than five minutes, the two Susans had my muslin marked up and the fit looked really, really good! The darts on my first muslin were pretty “nipple-y”, so they suggested I lower both the front and side darts (side dart was created by my FBA). That one was at least pretty easy for me to tell, and I would have made the same changes had I done the fitting on my own. But then the back was still all sorts of gapey/wrinkly, plus it dipped down too low. My solution would have been to take a deeper seam allowance at the top of the zipper, and to chop off the bottom of the bodice. But the two Susans were way smarter than I was! They said the problem was actually excess length in the back because my shoulder seam was sitting too far back. They pinned out some of the front sleeve (which explains why I always have excess fabric above the bust), and then they added some darts along the back neckline. This got rid of all the wrinkles and gaping, and then the back bodice was sitting at exactly the right spot! I’m so glad to have had their help, because I think it will really help me with future solo fittings.


After making up my final version and attaching the skirt (which is quite heavy because of all the gathering) , I did notice that the back waistline is dipping a little low still. Any tips from anyone on the best way to fix this in future versions? I guess I could just chop off the bottom of the back bodice, but not sure if there’s a more proper way to do this.


Oh, and obviously I omitted the waistband from this version, purely because the dress is already so busy that I thought the waistband might make it look even busier. I probably should have increased the length of the bodice slightly to account for this, but I still think it looks fine.

Surprise, surprise, I also decided not to line this dress and instead used bias binding for my finish.  I think I just really have a thing against lining (and facings too, for that matter), even though I know it looks way more professional. I hate having to buy extra fabric, plus the concept of what kind of fabric to line with still eludes me most of the time, and to me, an extra layer of fabric is just plain hot.


And check out my first-ever attempted at pattern-matching! Not perfect, but not too bad. It looks better at the top of the bodice, so I guess my fabric was a little crooked when I cut out. To be honest, cutting something perfectly on grain is still a bit of a mystery to me, so that’s probably why it happened.

wpid-20141012_150040.jpgMoral of the story: even if you’re an introvert, GO HANG OUT WITH SEWING PEOPLE ANYWAY. You will become more comfortable in time, you will have a blast hanging out with like-minded people, and you will learn a lot from people who are smarter/have more experience than you! I say it pretty much every meet-up, but I am SO happy to be part of such an awesome community.