Springtime Life at Apartment Farm

The plants are officially taking over. So much so, that they are actually becoming problematic in the household. There are four tomato plants, three pea plants, one pepper plant (and I’m hoping that at least one more of the others I have started germinates so I can have a pair), a bay tree, a rosemary bush (yes, it’s nearly that large), some fresh garlic fronds, three miniature African violets and the problem de resistance – 16 corn plants planted in an earth box and currently living on the floor next to the television.

I’ve told myself I can’t possibly start kale or coffee (yes, coffee) seeds this year. Every inch of windowsill and furniture in front of windows is taken over with green plant life and it looks delightfully cluttered. Note that I’m using the word delightfully quite loosely here. But on the plus side, the violets really brighten the bedroom. Nothing beats fresh bay in soups and fresh rosemary on everything. And tomatoes in July in salads, grilled on kabobs, or just eaten out of hand – that’s a moment worth looking forward to. But the corn – it’s going to be incredible if I can grow sweet corn in an apartment. Or it’s going to be my downfall. So I’ll keep you posted on that…

Sewing has been the other consuming hobby of note lately, but my strawberry skirt is still only half done. I, like ninety-nine percent of all other humans, am not exactly on a pattern size. First and foremost, it makes me wonder who designs these things, secondly it makes me wonder how in the hell I’m to interpret it so that I can have a skirt that fits all of the widely varying parts of my person. I’m one pattern size in the waist and another in the hips. Patterns fail to tell you how to breach this gap and even the class I took recently failed to adequately explain it. I think it’s because really, no one actually knows. So I’ve got a close approximation of a skirt that I need to hem and add elastic to the waistline to. And once these pieces of the puzzle are complete, I’m still going to have to surgically insert darts (which I don’t really know how to do at this point) in the damned thing to get a perfect fit. C’est la vie – one of these days I’ll have a skirt. But it’s a hell of a lot easier to sew an apron. Or a square pillow. I really like sewing those square pillows. This harkens dangerously to the days of square crocheted potholders and rectangular knitted scarves – still the only two items I can successfully create in those crafts.

The other item of note in Apartment Farm living these days is that I spent an absurd amount of money on a pair of shoes. My typical shoe purchase is in the $20-$25 range, of the Payless variety. Even that’s a high price, because I really favor buying up one of the pairs of whatever they have lying around at the end of a season for an incredibly reduced five or seven bucks. I really do like to pay less. But those shoes give out absurdly fast – I’m a hard walker, so the heels are usually trashed in about a month. Two tops, and only if I don’t wear them every single a day. Doing that level of math – oh, let’s just say a dollar a day for a pair of shoes that I have to replace every other month added up to an unpleasant figure. So I went on a mission to find a pair of shoes that would last me not months, but years and be comfortable, since the secondary problem to cheap shoes is foot and knee pain. Note the knee pain – lately that’s been bothering me, and I’m not bragging about my youth, but I’m far too young to be dealing with that. They also had to look classic and preferably be red. That’s how I found myself staring down a pair of dark red leather Dansko clogs, of the professional line – the ones the cooks and nurses and whomever else that stands all day every day wears. They were $105.00, plus about five different types of sales tax (remember, this is Chicago). The salesman was sharp. I was in a old-school shoe store – the kind where the salesman holds your hand, measures your foot, puts the shoe on you, and not-quite audibly prays for the commission. He was good too, complimenting how stylish yet practical they looked on my feet, and encouraging me to take a walking tour of the entire store in order to feel if they were the right shoes for my esteemed feet. But he was also talking up the features, something I never really thought a shoe had. And while I fell hook, line and sinker for the features talk (these things supposedly mold to your foot for a customized fit that maximize comfort, the soles never wear down or knick, the leather is impeccable and needs no care whatsoever, etc.) I took it with a grain of salt. Walking out the store, I had a tinge of buyer’s remorse. Three digits are too many digits for a pair of shoes, and while we’re not in economic dire straights (both still employed, insured, housed, etc.) we are feeling economic discomfort, just like everyone else. I could think of nearly a hundred other ways to spend a hundred dollars, all of them deserving. But you know what? Those features my sales guy worked so hard to sell me on? Every one of them has proved true so far. The second day I put the shoes on my feet, I could feel how they were molding to my foot. And my knees didn’t hurt. After months of knee pain, two days of wearing Dansko clogs made it go away. So yeah, here I am waxing poetic about a pair of pricey shoes – but if you’re on your feet even a little and need some workhorse everyday shoes – skip the sneakers and go with the clogs. Your feet and your knees will thank you.

And that, my friends, is what’s going on at Apartment Farm lately.

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One thought on “Springtime Life at Apartment Farm

  1. Making a simple skirt is not really all that much trouble. I think that sometimes the details described in pattersn make it seem more difficult than it really is; just think practicially. It sounds like you are making a skirt with an elastic waist or possibly darts. I sew quite a bit, but the way they sew in elastic always sounds confusing, but even when I know what they are talking about, I can never get it to turn out right because the elastic stretches waaaaay out and can’t recover. I always just make a casing (a hem wide enough for your chosen width of elastic to pass freely through), then, attaching a large safety pin to the elastic, pull the elastic through. I should mention that in order to not have twisted elastic, it’s a handy trick to mate the ends BEFORE YOU START and mark their correct attachment with a dot from a permanent marker on each end. When you’ve got the ends correctly mated, stitch them in place. Adjust the gathers the way you want, i.e. not too many in one section, spacing the fullness out to flatter your particular figure issues 🙂 then you stitch through all thicknesses so that it stays just that way.
    Darts are not surgical, they are an easy way to get a really professional looking fit. Just think of taking up a pair of pants or skirt with a safety pin and that extra fabric that you are pinning. Instead of pining it, you’re going to stitch it in place. The wide end of the dart is where you start, taping down to a nothing point. The secret to getting them to look right is gradually tapering down to that nothing point. You can even lay your piece down and draw a line (on the wrong side of the fabric) with a ruler so that you can see the gradual taper. If your angle is more than 15 degrees, your fit will be bumpy, it will dip in sharply and then flair out and create more of a bump than a smooth fit.
    But you are doing the right thing by not rushing and sewing when you are not in the right state of mind; that’s a sure way of messing up a project. Take your time and with any luck, your project will turn out very nicely!
    Good luck

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