Modern Day Pilgrims

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jacket 1 is DONE!

I finished the Oliver + S School Days Jacket today and I am so excited!  This is probably the hardest thing I've ever sewn and it turned out really well.  The directions were quite clear, which didn't hurt!  For having to choose fabric from my stash to make this jacket, I think it turned out rather cute!  I got the toile fabric online from Hancock's thinking it was going to be a quilting-type cotton - not a thick, duck cotton!  When I got the box from Hancock's and saw the fabric, I had no clue what I was going to use it for and now I'm glad I got it (accidentally).  The lining fabric is from India.  My friend Jhancy, who comes once a week to help clean our house, brought it back with her when she visited her family over Christmas.

Now on to the trench coat for myself....   :-)

Here are some pictures of the completed jacket.  It's still a little big for Little Bit since I made a 3T so I had to roll up the sleeves for the picture.  Excuse the's not greasy; it's wet.  Chris had just given her a bath.

Bahrain Protests

For our friends and family who don't have facebook or didn't see my note about the protests that occurred last night:

"I wanted to let everyone know we're just fine here in Bahrain. If you've been following the news, then you know there was a violent protest last night (while we were in bed) that left 25 injured and 1 dead. Bahraini's (particularly the Shia's) love protesting and look for any excuse to do so, but they are usually non-violent and don't go further than burning tires. Last night was obviously an exception, but the police were tipped off about these protests weeks before and had been on their guard to stop any protests before they really even started.  I want you to know that the news media is fabricating or over exaggerating some of the events (like that Internet is blacked out), which will probably just make things worse in the end since it will encourage protestors to continue protesting against a government they see as oppressive and unfair. From my perspective, the king is mostly good, fair, and wants the best for his people. Not perfect, but good.  In fact, if you just look into Bahrain, you'll come to the conclusion that it is probably the most tolerant and "liberal" Middle Eastern country there is. Unfortunately, since it's in a Shia's nature to protest, I don't think they'll ever be happy with the king (especially since he's a Sunni) and will always protest something. The media has all too often sided with the Shia side, which I think is where the real unfairness lies. My hubby (who is obviously very much in the know) is not too worried at this point and doesn't think things will continue to get any worse. However, I think if the media doesn't stop trying to create another Egypt, it could encourage the Bahraini's to continue protesting over nothing. The Navy's 5th fleet is located here and where we go to church, so we are definitely in safe hands should anything worse happen (not that I'm worried it will).  Thanks for your prayers!  I'll keep you updated if anything else happens!"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Jacket's Coming Along

I started the Oliver + S School Days Jacket two days ago, and I'm quite happy with the progress and how the jacket is turning out so far.  I was a little hesitant to even try this jacket.  Oliver + S gave it three scissors, meaning it's intermediate and "for the experienced sewer who has made a wider variety of items and feels comfortable with a new challenge."  I guess I have made a wide variety of items and am always up for a new challenge, but maybe my wide variety of items have all been one or two scissors and perhaps the three scissors would be out of my skill range!  This is the first Oliver + S pattern I've tried, and I am so impressed.  The directions are very detailed and clear.  Sometimes I get stuck on a pattern because I can't figure out what it wants me to do.  I haven't had that problem at all with this pattern and that seems to be what everyone says about Oliver + S.  Since I'm borrowing the School Days Jacket pattern from a friend and don't yet personally own an Oliver + S pattern, I'm convinced after trying this one that their super cute patterns are worth the $14.95 they charge.  I hope to buy just about all of their dress patterns sometime in the future!

Anyway, enough about my plug for Oliver + S.  Back to the jacket...I've basically made the outer part of the jacket.  I decided to buy some fusible fleece interlining to make the jacket warmer and thicker.  I won't be able to start the lining portions of the jacket or piece it all together until the fleece gets here.  It shipped yesterday so hopefully it will be here in a week!  I also ordered some buttons that will *hopefully* match the blue in the jacket.  I'm a little concerned that the toile pattern and the jacket design looks a little too kimono right now, though.  I'm hoping that's because I'm not finished.  None of the finished jackets in this flickr pool appear kimono-like.  Not that there's anything wrong with kimonos...the Japanese style is super cute; it's just not what I'm going for here.

Here's some pictures of what I've done so far and my cute little model.  I'm making a size 3 and it seems to be swimming on Charlotte, so she should get a lot of wear out of this assuming I don't thoroughly mess up the lining part....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Our Expensive Purchases, Unintentionally

Well after a month long break from blogging, I am back.  Thank you for being patient with me.  The past month and a half has seen my brother come to Bahrain for a visit along with my husband's birthday.  My brother's trip was so much fun and I wish he could have stayed longer.  Chris's birthday was also a success and he got spoiled rotten.  We spent his actual birthday here at home.  Terry and Jill came over and I cooked up some ribs, homemade mac and cheese, biscuits, spinach, asparagus, and a french silk pie with a chocolate cookie crust.  I guess you'd think we were southern, huh?  I guess if you trace back our family roots enough, we are!  Anyway, my brother's trip and Chris's birthday is not the subject of this particular post.

If you follow this blog, then you know Chris has had a few suits made at the local souk.  A souk is basically a market with all sorts of shops.  You can find just about anything you need at a souk for good prices...fabric, spices, electronics, jewelry, you name it.  There is an abundance of tailors at the souk, with a few that are used regularly by our friends and by people at the Navy base.  Some good friends of ours go to a different tailor than the one Chris went to for his suits.  They've raved and raved about this place and have been happy with everything they've had made.  One day at the souk, I had my friend show me where their tailor was and I asked him about coats and jackets.  He said he is very good at both and can make them from pictures, so I decided to have him make a coat for me and a jacket for Charlotte.  Why a coat for me?  Well, having a suit made would be kind of pointless but I didn't want to leave Bahrain without have something tailored for me.  It's just one of those things you can't pass up and was on my "bucket list" of things to do before we leave this post.  I thought a coat would be a good substitute for a suit - something I'd eventually wear, even if not here.  I decided on a jacket for Charlotte because we're going to Italy at the beginning of April when it may still be a bit chilly and Charlotte doesn't have much that is warm.  I asked them to make it a bit bigger than her measurements so that she can grow into it.

So a few days later after I searched online for the style of coat and jacket I wanted for each of us, I went back to the tailor with fabric from my stash that I thought would make a cute jacket for Charlotte.  I chose the wool at the tailors for my coat since I didn't have anything in my stash that would work, plus the gray wool they had looked beautiful.  He said it would just take a week to finish the two items, so I said thank you and left the tailor with a skip in my step.  I was pretty stinkin' excited that I was finally getting something tailored to fit myself perfectly.  My fatal mistake: I did not ask about the price.  For Chris to pick out fabric at the tailor and to get an entire suit made (jacket, shirt, pants, and tie), it cost $120.  I figured  my coat wouldn't be near this expensive since it's basically just the jacket portion of a suit.  Charlotte's would have to be dirt cheap since I gave them the fabric to make it and since it's not an adult-sized jacket.  Boy was I wrong....

We went back to the souq a week later, and long story short, they charged us 100 dinar.  60 dinar for my coat and 40 for Charlotte's.  What is that in US dollars?  My coat cost $160 and Charlotte's cost $107.  I can't believe we didn't complain or just leave them and walk out.  I think we're both too polite to do that, and at least for me, I don't think the conversion of 100 dinar kicked in until we were to our car.  I really don't understand why Charlotte's was $107 when I gave them the fabric to make it.  The jacket from Nordstroms that Charlotte's jacket is based from would've only cost me $42 to just buy it from their website.  My coat that I based from a J.Crew coat is still cheaper than if I had bought the one from J.Crew, but it doesn't even have the toggle buttons I wanted, nor is the cording the right color.  For the most part, they are very well made (mine more so than Charlotte's), but bottom line: they charged way too much.  This is in no way our friends fault.  Many people from the Navy base use this tailor and are happy.  I just think, that for some reason, he charges more for coats and more for women's clothing.  It's my fault I didn't ask for a price before arranging to have him make us the coat and jacket.  

After seeing their work, I decided that I wanted to take on the challenge and see if I could just make a jacket and coat for us myself.  Maybe this is just wrong and prideful, but I really think I could do a good job even if I'm not good enough to make a coat or jacket from a picture.  You see, I was going to have them make a trench coat for me and even bought the fabric already, but after seeing how much they charge, I'm getting a McCall's trench coat pattern and will do my best to make it and make it right.  If I'm successful, the coat will only cost $50.  I'm also going to try and make another jacket for Charlotte from an Oliver + S pattern I'm borrowing from a neighbor.  I have some yellow and blue canvas tulle fabric that will work for it, and while it may not have been my first choice of fabric for the jacket, it will at the very least be a good run-through of the pattern to see if I can do it, and hopefully it will turn out cuter than I envision.  That jacket will only cost about $30 to make if I'm successful.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the whole expensive ordeal:
This is the jacket I found on Nordstroms that I thought was really cute.  I gave this picture to the tailor to base Charlotte's jacket from.  Below are pictures of her completed jacket.  The tailor messed up on the lining (which you can't see when she wears it) and it fits just right.  They didn't leave room for much growth, unless Charlotte somehow manages to lose her baby belly.  It's cute; I just don't think it's worth $107.


Here's the coat I picked out from J.Crew for myself.  Gorgeous!

This is the tailors take on the J.Crew coat.  I'm not sure what he did for the toggle part.  It looks awful to me, and I'm not sure what he was thinking using ivory cording instead of black.  Luckily, I think that will be an easy change I can do myself once I can get my hands on some black cording and black toggle buttons.

 The back side of the coat.

And finally, here are two pictures of the coats I'm going to try and make myself for Charlotte and I:

The lesson in all of this, which really is an obvious one, is that you should always, always ASK ABOUT THE PRICE BEFORE YOU COMMIT TO PURCHASING SOMETHING!  :-)