Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sewing the Vogue Pattern 8689

Vogue pattern 8689
I finally finished the linen shirt I started a couple of weeks ago. I used Vogue Pattern 8689 as a starting point for the project.

This pattern calls for flat felled seams, but I opted for mock French seams and then hand top stitched everything, which is partially what took so long.

Vintage pearl buttons in two sizes set off this extra front shirt band detail in brown linen with hand topstitchingI took advantage of the homespun texture of the linen and cut the yoke front and back with the bias cut option.

Rustic brown linen shirt with vintage mother of pearl buttons in two sizes and hand topstitchingI also added this extra flap and button detail on the front that makes good use of some vintage buttons I had. Overall, I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

The Vogue pattern is a really nice one as well. It has ABCD cup options [the greatest thing to happen to home sewing patterns since multi-size patterns], so the fit is excellent. I know I will be making a number of shirts from this pattern.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Long Grey Hair Styles on Pinterest

Long grey hair in a French braidWhile in the past I have had micro short haircuts, the majority of my life has been with long hair. Now that it is mostly white, I'm kind of liking long again.

I hadn't really thought about growing it out this time, it just sort of happened while I was otherwise engaged in life.

Long gray hair in a french braidI enjoy making elaborate braids, although it's hard with my shoulder being a little laid up. However, years of braiding behind my head have not been forgotten.

I started a Pinterest board for long grey hair styles inspiration, should you need a reason to ditch the bottle.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

How to Use a Mock French Seam for Finishing

A professional seam finish inside and out

Today's creativity is back at the sewing machine. I'm sewing two shirts that are semi-identical. I have had these two pieces of linen for a very long time, so I decided to try out a new shirt pattern with them. One piece is solid brown, and the other is brown with a darker brown pinstripe.

I want to have the option of wearing them open over a tank top or t-shirt, so I decided to finish the inside body seams with mock French seams.

This is a finish I use quite a lot. To me, it is about as easy as finishing the raw edges with a zigzag stitch, only neater, more professional, and not nearly as boring. [no lack of opinion here]  If you have never used this seam finish, you might want to give it a try.

Start by sewing your seam. This is a 5/8ths inch seam, the standard for most commercial patterns in the US.

Take the seam allowances, and fold them in on themselves and pin. Some people iron the seam open and then iron over each seam allowance to the center and fold it all back up together, but you can do it any way you want. The mock French police won't come to arrest you.

Then just stitch the two seam allowances together close to the folded edges.
This gives you a very clean seam on the inside with no loose threads. It looks great whether you wear your shirt open or not.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Immersing Yourself in Youthful Creativity

Visiting a First Robotics Competition

Sometimes you do something creative, and sometimes it's fun just to experience the creativity of others. Today, I immersed myself in the crazy creative world of a First Robotics competition.

First Robotics Competition in McLeansville, NCI was heavily involved with First with my daughter. Working as the adult mentor for the marketing department, we did flags and banners and costumes and signs and mascots. Oh, and pins. Lots and lots of pins. It was great fun, but she grew up and went to college, and my involvement with First ended. 

Then this past week, one of her old mentors mentioned to me that there was going to be a First competition at the high school right across the street from my house. I couldn't miss it!

Her old team was there - 1533 Triple Strange - along with a host of other, equally creative teams. Looking at the infinite variety of robots, all built by teenagers trying to solve the same problem, is fascinating. People are chanting and cheering, doing the macarena in between bouts, a whirlwind of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I was totally inspired.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

#ootd February 21, 2016

Bright yellow Ankara fabric in a circle design pattern
 I found this great fabric on eBay from the seller texturesintime. They sell, among other things, a wide variety of African Ankara fabrics. I love the bright colors and bold textures, but was unsure if I could pull off the scale.
#ootd Bright yellow Ankara print skirt in circle pattern print
I decided to order this yellow fabric. I didn't have anything in my entire wardrobe in yellow, so it was a risk, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

The fabric was very bright, with a crisp texture. The colors and texture remained that way even after washing, so I decided a skirt would be the best option.

I made a simple, straight skirt from a commercial pattern, and toned down the look a little bit with black tights and a sweater.

My friend Warren asked me, "Who dresses you?!"

I must be doing something right.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Learning to Write With My Non-Dominant Hand

Saving my brain or losing my mind?

Drawing of my mother's hand, by Natalie Schorr
I have been doing a lot of reading into the subject of neuroplasticity recently, particularly as related to handwriting and its effect on memory. In looking at this, I have also looked through some articles about using your non-dominant hand. Some articles say it will help grow and strengthen your brain, a pleasant thought, while other articles seem to say it will confuse your brain and cause all sorts of issues.

My tendency has been to believe that writing with my non-dominant hand would be like doing crunches with my brain, but like most people with exercising, I hadn't really done much with it.

Then last week, at my already boring day job, I was assigned a task so mind-numbingly banal that I could actually hear my brain cells weeping and failing, much like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz when she gets doused with a bucket of water. It seemed like fate had thrown a challenge at me. Wonder if I can do this job with my non-dominant hand?

In the Beginning Was the Word

Too bad no one could read it

In this unimaginative project, I had to go through about 1500 profiles, double checking for the correctness and completeness of an array of uninspiring informational items, from the person’s name, to their addresses, other children, pets, etc.

I decided I would write my notes to myself with my non-dominant left hand, as well as use the mouse, which is NOT a left handed mouse I might add, in order to get the profiles in order and the information on these people encoded. It did not start out very well.
First attempt to write with my left hand

My handwriting was barely legible, and I had a very hard time with it. My body tensed up as I tried to write, pen held in a death grip by my left hand. It’s a good thing no one would ever read it but me.

Really Heavy Brains

First studies of neuroplasticity

Radio Head #5, a contemporary portrait drawing in blue pencils by Natalie SchorrIn the early 1960′s, Mark Rosenzweig, a professor of physiological psychology at the University of California at Berkeley discovered that rats that were raised in stimulating environments had brains that were heavier, had more neurotransmitters, and had a better blood supply than the brains of rats raised in non-stimulating environments.

His work showed that the brain could be modified, and that learning potential did not cease in childhood. That is great news for all of us at any age. Being a dedicated lifelong learner, maybe my brain would not deteriorate as I grew old.

One Week Later

Seven tiny little days

As you can see, I have come along nicely with my writing skills.
After one week of practice,writing with my left hand

At first, I had a great deal of trouble figuring out the mouse. I would hold my body very stiff again as I tried to make the mouse go where I wanted it to go, and to make my lettering clear enough to be legible. It took a long time to get the mouse click sides right.

Now, just a week later, I am able to use the mouse almost equally well, although I am still somewhat faster using my dominant right hand.

Is my brain feeling any heavier yet? Hmmm… maybe.

Things to Do With Your Non-Dominant Hand

Give it a try

According to an article by Jeff Rose at goodfinancialcents.com , the brain needs constant mental stimulation in order to grow, with a sort of “use it or lose it” idea. He suggests trying an array of typical activities using your non-dominant hand such as:

Brushing your teeth – Hot tip: move your hand and not your head!
Using the TV remote
Pouring drinks
Eating – especially with chopsticks

Most of these things I am doing well with, except the chopsticks. It might be a good way to diet, as it may take forever for me to get the food to my mouth.

Confusing Your Brain While Unleashing Your Creativity

Will using your non-dominant hand make you more creative?

Upscale #5, a surrealist colored pencil drawing by Natalie SchorrIn an article by Kim Ranegar at nwi.com, she points out that brain mapping shows creativity to be a right brain activity. If you are right handed, then using your left hand may cause you to tap into previously unexplored creativity. Be careful, though, as unleashing all that creative potential could be scary. You might find yourself mixing stripes with plaids, or ordering unfamiliar foods just for the fun of it.

Reorganizing the Brain As We Age

A lot of stuff is happening in there

There is evidence to suggest that the brain can restructure itself in response to weaknesses that develop as we age. Research by Roberto Cabeza at Duke University suggests that prefrontal activities that took place in just one hemisphere in our youth may take place in both as we become older.

Other research performed by Melanie Springer and Cheryl Grady of the University of Toronto also shows that as we age, we tend to perform cognitive activities in different lobes of the brain from when we were young. This pattern was also more pronounced in people who were more educated.

The shifting of brain activities from one lobe to another is indicative of plasticity, although we do not yet know for sure why it happens. Perhaps working with a non-dominant hand would be more successful or easier to accomplish as we age, because we would be using both sides of our brain naturally already.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sketchy Saturday Spent Defacing Ex-Library Books

Library People #134, a graphite pencil portrait drawwing by Natalie Schorr
I am enjoying a day of solitude, something that's been pretty rare for me over the last 20 years, so I've taken advantage of that to do some art therapy by adding to my repeating Library People series.

Yesterday, I put my husband and kids on planes to the west coast for a family wedding while I stayed home to hold down the fort. Then I went on a whirlwind tour of the used bookstores in the area and got some awesome books on which to do some more drawings.

I love the stains on this one that were left by an ill considered application of cellophane tape a decade or two ago. I decided to play up the stain pattern with this very distinctive profile of a man.

When I put this piece up on my Facebook page, my friend Kelley said her parents met at a social at the College Park Baptist Church from which this book came. This is not her father.

Library People #137, a contemporary portrait drawing by Natalie SchorrI got 4 pieces done, which is actually a lot of drawing for one day. I was particularly happy with this one, which features Date Due stamps dating back to 1930. I haven't found an ex-library book this old before, so I was super excited to find this one yesterday. I decided to put the man above the date due stamps rather than on top of them because they are so cool.

These two, along with 2 more will be up for sale on eBay beginning tomorrow night.