New Vain post: Me, My Mom, and Color Me Beautiful

I wrote a mother’s day tribute to my mom about our family’s obsession with the classic 80s “color system”, Color Me Beautiful. You know, the one that divided everyone into seasons and winters got to wear all the best colors? My mom and I used to disagree on colours all the time, and it was totally this book’s fault.


I don’t think I really captured the drama of our fights in this post, but I didn’t want to write something that would hurt my mom’s feelings. (My family is very waspy and repressed, and I’m a sensitive snowflake, so I really do remember these disagreements as actual fights. Being made to wear colours I didn’t like really, really bothered me. Which is how you know I had a very stable and secure childhood, because wearing salmon was the worst thing I had to complain about.)

I like the xoVain commenters a lot, and I think one of them is an angel from heaven because she commented with this video.

I HAD NO IDEA THIS EXISTED. I’m so sad I didn’t include it in the post! There are so many good parts, like:

  1.  This terrible song
  2. Susy is so into this blush. She doesn’t care that you don’t like it.
  3. Fashion quiz! What’s your clothing personality? I hope you’re not the classic type because  she’s “medium everything” and it sounds like waking death
  4. Remember when Dave Foley would dress up like a woman on Kids in the Hall? This woman really reminds me of that

Crush of the week: Geodesic Sweater

I am totally in love with the Geodesic pattern from Blueprints for Sewing.


via the Textillia newsletter

It’s a sweatshirt with seam lines that mimic a geodesic dome!

I’m a little obsessed with one dome in particular. Every day, I walk past Science World, a big tinfoil golf ball that contains a children’s science centre. When I moved to Vancouver in 2000, I thought Science World was ridiculous and shabby.  But after years of looking at it, Science World has grown on me and now I love it. I love it so much, I had wedding photos taken in a grimy parking lot because I liked this Science World mural.

Kat Siddle & Curtis Woloschuk's wedding

WHO’S SHABBY NOW?! (Btw, this mural was painted over a week after the wedding).

So, obviously, I’m need to make a sweater in the cool silvery tones of my local geodesic dome.

All the patterns by Blueprints for Sewing are inspired by architecture. This is a pretty great concept, and it’s bolstered by some impressively creative branding. As a one-person company, BfS probably doesn’t have a ton of resources. But the website looks great, and I felt like I understood the brand’s aesthetic almost instantly.

The woman behind BfS refers to herself only as “the pattern maker.” Her resume sounds impressive–she teaches sewing, lectures and facilitates workshops on sewing, fashion, and activism, and has “worked with students at Harvard University, Boston University, Wellesley College, and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts.” Who is this mystery woman? I want to know more!


Seamwork article: Sashiko Embroidery

I love sashiko embroidery, so I jumped at the chance to write my first full-length Seamwork article on it.

“To me, sashiko is a technique of transformation that honors the impulse to re-use waste and use materials efficiently. A long, sharp sashiko needle is a magic wand, a tool of salvage that produces style as well as economy. Its beauty demands the question: why just “mend and make do” when you can mend with gorgeous graphic patterns?”


I  added this simple sashiko yoke to a black linen shirt I found at the Salvation Army.

Do your makeup like a show dog

New xoVain post: how to do your makeup like the CJ, the winner of the Westminster Kennel Club’s Fancy Dog Beauty Pageant.

CJ is a very pretty dog with lots of spots, so I did a look with chocolate eyeshadow and drawn-on freckles. Remember, people, I’m not a makeup artist. I’m a librarian with a lot of makeup, an internet connection and a little too much free time.


This is not CJ. This is a dog that I forced to model for me in a parking lot in Palm Springs. He snuffled all over my fancy Charlotte Tilbury palette and now I’m afraid to use it.


So lately I’ve been on a real decluttering kick. I don’t like to throw useful things away, so I’ve been selling, donating, and giving things away. I’m also committed to using up my consumable goods.

In the last year, my skincare and makeup collection exploded. It’s what happens when you start being a beauty writer. Storage was becoming an issue, so in November, I inventoried all my skincare products and created a routine that would help me use them up. It was deeply nerdy and I enjoyed every second of it.

Here’s a very pleasing pile of empty bottles and jars that have resulted from this project:


Since November, I used up

  • one daily moisturizer with SPF
  • one daily moisturizer without SPF (which smelled deliciously like orange rind)
  • one night cream
  • one eye cream
  • one body butter
  • one foaming face wash with AHA
  • one serum

The Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum is highly recommended by Sali Hughes. I second this recommendation and would happily buy more, except that I have two Korean serum-type products stockpiled already.  (If you can prove that an essence is different than a serum, I’ll give you a dollar).

In fact, I don’t need to buy anything despite using up seven products. That’s how I know I have too many products.

This project has multiple goals. I want to

  1. Stop the skincare sprawl and reclaim precious storage space in my apartment
  2. Tame the collection so I pretty much know what I own (and what I lack)
  3. Use up products before they lose potency
  4. Save a bit of money

Thinking about these goals made me decide that I need to lose my Sephora VIB status in 2016. You have to spend $350/year at Sephora to maintain your VIB status, and that doesn’t seem compatible with these goals!

Welcome to the Colette Book Club


I’m really excited–and teeny bit nervous–to share a new project with you.

I’m curating a new sewing & fashion book club for Colette Patterns (one of my favourite sewing pattern companies and the publisher of Seamwork Magazine) . The Colette Book Club is a free, online book club where we’ll read any (good) book that enhances our understanding of sewing. Fiction and non-fiction, from historical novels to fashion philosophy.

It’s kind of an experiment, and we’re still working out the little details! But here’s the gist:

How it works

  1. Go to the Colette blog and read the Book Club post. Say hi to your fellow book clubbers in the comments if you want.
  2. Find a copy of our current book, “The Forgotten Seamstress” by Liz Trenow.
  3. Read the book.  If you want to chat about it while you’re reading, use the hashtag #colettebookclub on Twitter.
  4. Come back to the Colette blog on Feb 15 to talk about the book and learn which book is next.

What are we reading?



The first book is  The Forgotten Seamstress, a lovely novel by Liz Trenow that will delight mystery lovers, textile nerds and fans of Downton Abbey. You can read more about it (and why I chose it) on the Colette Blog.

How to find the book

You can find The Forgotten Seamstress at bookstores or at your local library. It’s also available in most e-reader formats and as an audiobook. There’s even a free Kindle preview so you can try the first four chapters for free.