So: fashion victim

This may surprise you but I really don’t like to shop. Part of it stems from preferring to dig in the dirt rather than dig through racks at the mall. Part of it stems from fashion trends like skinny jeans, ultra low rise anything, knit dresses and the bikini which really do not work out well for me no matter how faithful I am to the gym and to a specific calorie count. I’m short but not really petite, curvy, and muscular.

Don’t get me wrong, I like cute clothes. And I love shoes probably because so many fun choices that actually fit my feet. Cowboy boots, mary-janes, all sorts of athletic shoes, platform boots, Chuck Taylors, flip flops, sandals, wedges, pumps, sling backs, peep toes, I love them all. Trying them on is fun especially since Bruce is a certifiable shoe-a-holic and probably has more pairs than I do (he is in a special status in DSW’s rewards program, thanks to his habit) and would never tell me that I already have three pairs of black pumps.

My souvenirs from Barcelona in 2009: SHOES!

My souvenirs from Barcelona in 2009:         shoes from Camper (yes, I still have them)

When it comes to actual clothes, my wardrobe needs refreshing. My loathing of shopping is so deep that I could  count my 2012 visits to a clothing retailer on one hand. In the pants/skirts/other bottoms department, my closet looks respectable, but not in the tops. I need to fix that in the next few weeks since spring is coming in Texas and so are spring client meetings. Ugh.

Most pressing however is something appropriate to wear to a women’s luncheon that I was recently invited to. Recently, as in yesterday. The luncheon is on February 1, which is only two weeks away.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be too stressed about going to a ladies’ luncheon. I have plenty of business appropriate dresses that I can throw on at a moments notice and look just fine. However, one of the requirements of attendees is that red must be worn. Ok, two problems: my wardrobe is mostly black (duh, I am in advertising on the creative side) and two I hate shopping. And although red is an official color of my sorority, I don’t really have anything red anymore. Well, except for my favorite red shoes, but I thought I should go all out  and get into the spirit of the event with a red dress.

My favorite red shoes (also by Camper)

My favorite red shoes (also by Camper)

So what’s a gal to do? Well, not run to the nearest mall because it closes at 9 pm on a weeknight and I knew I’d need more than a couple of hours to go from store to store to store. And this weekend is not available for a shopping adventure since we’re going to visit my twin nieces. One thing I do not do is procrastinate with stuff like this because nothing’s more stressful than a nth hour race through the racks and finding nothing appropriate.

Instead I got out my trusty laptop and headed to a variety of major retailers while parked on the sofa next to a snoring Guinness. Next week, many nice red dresses will arrive at my office. I’ll take them home and try them on. I’ll have a variety of accessories and shoes at my fingertips to help with the decision process. The winner I’ll keep, the others will get returned to their bricks-and-mortar outlets in Dallas.

Why didn’t I just go to the stores in the first place? In addition to the time challenges of the next few weeks, I checked the inventory of these various frocks and guess what, the other ladies attending the luncheon (or perhaps red is just really popular here) have already purchased them! There really wasn’t anything in stock locally. This surprises me since Valentine’s day is next month and red always seems to be popular this time of year.

Don’t worry, I’m actually ok if someone else is wearing exactly the same dress. I’ll congratulate her on her good taste and compliment her shoes which hopefully will be nothing like mine.






Sew: lesson #1

Yesterday was a milestone day in domesticity at the Mortroski Midcentury. After purchasing a fancy sewing machine for Christmas (made possible by pooling multiple  Christmas gift checks, Bruce’s company holiday gift, plus anniversary gifts), we finally learned how to use it.

the sewing machine

the sewing machine (that’s my head behind it)

When you purchase a machine at Joann (a US-based fabric/crafting store), you also can take a few lessons for free. Despite our good intentions, once we picked up the machine on the last day of the holiday sale, we never even turned it on, nor read the manual. At all. Oops. We took it out of the box and put it on the dining room table though.

When we headed towards the class, we heard excited chatter. But then when we arrived, sewing machine in hand, silence. Why? A male entered the sanctity of the intro class! But of course, my sweet husband, the youngest of 4 with three older sisters didn’t even notice and made himself at home right away. Our classmates were all women from 8 years old to their late 40s. Most had been sewing for a while in some capacity, even the kids.

Um, not me. If the machine wasn’t a computerized dream with a screen and switches and plugs similar to every other electronic device in the Mortroski Midcentury, I doubt I would have even known how to turn it on or set it up. As a complete novice, I was a bit intimidated as we went around the room, introducing ourselves, our machines (because they were all different), and explaining what projects necessitated getting a new machine. Most of the women were planning to make clothing. The theatrical teen was planning to make a steampunk wardrobe (good for her), the 8 year old clothes for her dogs, the others were going to make clothes for their kids.

Not me. I was there to tackle a personal demon. A failure to learn how to sew at age 10 when my mother sat me down in front of her Singer. Despite being a professional early-childhood educator, her style of lessons managed to make me never EVER want to learn how to sew. And I didn’t. Until yesterday, I did everything in my power to avoid sewing (and ironing but that’s another post). When we lived in Toronto, we would bring our sewing needs along with us to Bruce’s parents’ house. Marge (Bruce’s mom) has a Singer and Bruce would get on it and fix whatever we needed. Yep, I’m lucky.

However, I didn’t ask him to shorten my pants. At 5’2″, I am no clothing manufacturer’s favorite leg length.Tailors love me and imagine putting their children through college on my tailoring needs when I arrive with my pile of recently purchased pants. Before you suggest trying the petite department, I do not have a “petite” body. The Petroskis come from hearty Russian peasant stock. Even with heels, I’m short. So as you might imagine, the sewing machine promises me much excitement: the ability to hem my own pants/skirts WHENEVER I want. No waiting a week to pick them up. We even learned how to do a blind hem yesterday. Fingers crossed that I will not screw up too many new pants in my attempts to tailor. Perhaps I need to pick up any new pant purchases from TJ Maxx or Marshalls until I get the hang of hemming.

Now, Bruce is very clear in what he wants to accomplish with the machine. To him, it’s just a new power tool to add to his arsenal. He is already planning a plethora of projects: patio door curtains for the “lounge” (what we call the Midcentury’s family room since it has a wet bar and an enormous sectional), all new cushions for our patio furniture since current cushions are looking tired, new covers for the 3G Network’s many beds scattered throughout the house, perhaps some throw pillows for the sectional in the lounge. He has no desire to make his own clothing.

I, on the other hand, was just thrilled to learn how to thread the thing, made much more simple than my mom’s 1970s Singer with the addition of an automatic threader. Who knew such a thing existed? We practiced on some small pieces of cloth and learned about which needles to use for which fabric (who knew?), when to replace needles (after every 6-8 hours of sewing), what kind of thread to use (I had no idea there were different types), different kinds of feet (again, who knew). Now, I feel confident in my ability to turn the machine on and perhaps thread it. I mumbled something about assisting with Bruce’s projects, but I was thinking about hemming my own pants.

On our way out of class, we purchased a number of needles, some thread, a mat and cutter, a couple of yards of fabric to practice with, and some bobbins. We also signed up for new owner class #2 which is next Sunday afternoon. But we’re on our way to curtains, cushions and more. And I’m no longer afraid of sewing. Maybe I’ll start by fixing my pajama bottoms—there’s a seam that’s coming apart.