Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why Cleaning Saves Money

So, as I said a little earlier I'm trying to get the house in better shape for the New Year. Its my goal to have things Ship Shape by January 6th. I stayed up late (for me, I work overnights, remember?) and made the trek down to Ikea for storage solutions (and got a reading chair for the bedroom), with the hubby's help.

In the process of "out with the old" I was cleaning out the closet under the stairs.  Its amazing how much junk accumulates there over the years. One of the things I found was an old film SLR that a friend of mine gave during one of her episodes of cleaning too.  Unfortunately, it needs work done and the lenses didn't work on my DSLR. However, I discovered it has a flash attachment that I can use on my DSLR. If you've been following me for a while you know I've been trying to improve my photography. Anyone serious about craft/sewing blogging knows this for a fact. Snug Bug went over that some time ago here.

So, I decided to compare it to the difference. I'm still working on my Sencha out of blue silk. I decided to do a bias binding on the neck instead of a facing. I'm doing a hand slip-stitch to finish off the back.  I took a photo using the standard one-directional flash and the newly re-discovered multi-directional flash.  See the difference, its kinda amazing. Of course, none of this will be very surprising to any of my hobby/professional photographers friends/acquaintances.

You can see where I have the binding pinned to death. That is the closest I've seen to what the blue looks like since I've tried to take photos of it. I'm stoked, really. This just saved me about $70 in equipment, which means I can go spend more on fabric. Right? Or shoes. Shoes are good too.

I was going to take photos of Simon in the Betsy Johnson pajama shirt but the poor thing is sick. He's pretty miserable at the moment. Aside from that, what does everyone else have "planned" for the New Year?

Monday, December 26, 2011

In The Spirit

Despite the bittersweet of not having Mom this Christmas it was a great weekend. The kids made out like bandits.  We have a lot of work to finish up on the house and I've decided to document that. Its going to take place of sewing for a while but it will be worth it in the end for or more organized space.

In the meantime, Happy Boxing Day!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The UFO Robe - Done!

From her bedroom window, I took this from the front porch.

So I started making this robe over a year ago.  I think I cut it out about the same time I did Felicity's pajamas.  Its McCall's 4646. The thing I realized after cutting out the robe is that it is HUGE. She has more than enough room to grow.  Originally I had planned on putting piping on the pockets but I didn't feel like fiddling with it at the time.  After getting it mostly stitched up, though, the pockets were near invisible.

Near invisible pockets.

So, after looking at it for a while I decided to do a blanket stitch around them with silk buttonhole thread out of the huge box of vintage thread Mom gave me a few months before everything imploded. When Felicity saw me doing this she gave me a big hug and said "I love you!". I kinda melted.

Stitching in progress.
As you can see, the one on the left was the second and much neater attempt.

 Now noticeable pockets!
Felicity picked out probably the gaudiest of buttons, which is good because anything else would have been completely lost on this print. In going through all the photos I realize this was the case cause the only picture you really notice them on is this one:

Super Pout, and buttons.
 The robe is definitely long enough. I have an inch or so for the arms and the length of the robe before she'll be too big for it. So hopefully a couple years of love.  I did "faux French seams" on the inside and of course the yoke is completely enclosed. The only thing I didn't d this on is the armhole seams but I'm going to cover those with bias tape once I get her out of the thing.

After doing this little "photo shoot" with her I've decided I need to invest in a few reflectors and a slave-flash that I can bounce off the wall for extra light.  Still, after some super cropping and some playing in photoshop I got this one photo that made me go "WOW" and want to buy a shotgun.

70's Glamour

So that's it really. Don't expect much more out of me until after the New Year. Hope you had a Happy Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and whatever else I might have missed!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


My camera is working again! All it cost me was a new battery. The old two were giving me "charged" green light but they were lying. *hugs camera* I'm a camera hugger.

My son is a tree hugger:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Label

Hello Dear Readers! I know a while back I mentioned I might do a bit more photography that is not quite sewing related. And more technology histories. And a few political essays when they cross over into the sewing room. And I assure you that scattered across my house are various bits of paper with ideas scribbled on them, but since I live in a barely controlled state of chaos, getting it together and putting it here is problematic. And my camera is at the camera doctor.

So. I've decided to give you another, somewhat spontaneous, occasional thing called "Sh*t My Family Says". Family here being a somewhat loose term to include people I interact with on a regular basis. Often I post these things to Facebook. Honestly though, some of them just need to be shared to spread the pain. And funny.  Pain is funny, right?  Like the other night:

Me: I don't hear any teeth brushing going on!
Son: I had to take my pants off!

And there you have it.

In other news, the trash guys hauled off  my porch decoration. And Friday I should be able to get pictures of Felicity in her robe. But not the Pebbles Dress. That turned into an un-mitigated disaster. I'll probably just turn it into a loincloth and call it a a day.

Here's a photo of Moran Freeman with a kitty on his head. 


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Broke Camera, Throne on the Porch, and Oona Hair Impersonation

So this thing happened at work. It made me angry. Like, super red-headed-fly-off-the-handle angry. I'm sure the fact that my DSLR decided to just QUIT WORKING this past Saturday didn't help. Until I figure out if I can fix it or I have to buy a new camera body there will be a lot of phone photos. Which isn't terrible considering is has better resolution than my first digital ever did.

But back to this anger-inducing thing. In order to save my co-workers from the Perils of Red-Headed Anger I called my husband and was like "Get. Online. NOW.".  I need someone to talk me down.  So he gets online and I start typing furiously my rage and I suddenly get a message back  "So, we have a new toilet in the master bathroom".

"Buh? What? Why?" I asked.

"Well, I was trying to tighten the bolts on the old one and they just disintegrated and so I went and got a replacement and I'm taking a break before I go back and finish cleaning up the mess. Oh, and just so you know, the old one is on the front porch with the box over it as best I could."  He types to me.


*blink blink*

I'm staring at the screen in disbelief.  I can't decide if I'm even angrier or proud cause my geek man managed to fix the toilet all by himself. So I relay the story to my friend Janel. Sorta. I said "So... hubby broke the toilet. And then fixed it".  She comes back with a "Man, I've had some epic sh*ts in my life but I've never broken the toilet".   I love that woman. She has the best lines.

At this point I totally lose it and start laughing hysterically. I don't care if my coworkers are looking at me funny. They have no idea the fate they were just saved from. Besides, they should be used to my maniacal laughter by now.

Later in the week I had decided to put my hair up in the headband wrap so it would be curly the next day. Except I put it up while wet and then left it in longer than I had before. I took it out and looked in the mirror. OMG! My hair is impersonating Oona! AWESOME!

FYI: this is why I wear mascara even if I put no other makeup on. 

In sewing news. All I have to do for Felicity's robe is buttons and hemming. And I'm making her a Pebbles Dress.  Not intentionally though. The girl officially has more leopard print in her wardrobe than I do.

So that was my week. How was yours?  Sewing anything for Christmas?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Totally Made Pants!

I'm leh tired.
Ok, I managed to salvage these babies.  Also, this is the knit blouse I made several weeks back that is a bit large.  But comfy! Its warm and as long as I wear a camisole underneath I can wear it to work. And taking photos of yourself with a self-timer is totally a pain in the butt.  The ones that are in focus and I like I ended up cutting off my head. So the top photo is so you know that I'm not going headless on ya'll. Seriously.

Oh yeah, did I mention I went dark red again?  Here's some photos of the pattern adjustments I made on the pants.  In case you're just jumping in these are the Clover Pants from Colette's fall line of patterns.

Pencil line is where I changed the crotch depth, the two parallel lines are the height I'll be removing in the next pair.

Here the yellow chalk is what i took out on the sides. You can also see where I did a full derriere adjustment.
Ok, so what did I do to the pants?  Well, first off I took in almost an 3/4 inch on the hips. And then I took the center back in about 1/4 of an inch (For a total of half an inch? Make sense?).  I also had to do some adjustments on the front crotch. On my next pair I'll be taking about almost an inch in height for the front because I keep getting that sag that makes you want to yank your pants up. Its annoying but not devastatingly so. This is why I'm dubbing them my wearable muslin.

Headless Photos:

Ok, so this one isn't really headless.

Both these pieces of clothing while not on the top of my list for good fit are probably the most well put together. All my seams are finished. The neck binding on the blouse I was super happy with. I used this burdastyle tutorial.  I highly recommend it if you want to venture into knits. When I make this blouse again I'm going down a size and bra cup (its one of those Vogue Custom Fit deals). When the reviews said it had tonnes of ease they weren't kidding. I had to take in the sides by an inch. I also cut apart the top and bottom halves, took about an inch on the top half off, regathered and then sewed it back together using clear elastic. It probably doesn't help its a ribbed double knit and tends to grow.

Probably the most fun I had was using one of the tailor's tools Mom gave me called "Tailor's Clapper". Which kinda sounds like it would give you an STD. Really its an oblong shaped piece of wood that is flat on top/bottom for pounding layers of wool flat after steaming them so you get a really good crease (I don't think that description helped with the snickering, did it? Ya'll got dirty minds).  I'll take more photo details later but I'm just so excited that I finally finished something and it didn't completely suck. I had to share!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Little Encouragement Needed

Hello dear readers.  Once again I am posting with very little to show for my work.  The good news is that my Full Derriere adjustment worked and now the Clover back waist comes up where it should.  The bad news is I botched the pockets and the side seems at the hip are too bulky.  I'm gonna just take out the pockets and make this pair without them. I figure that once I finish and press the seam allowance on the out-seam, that will help.  Then I can take in if necessary.

It just seems like I can't get this right.  I'm frustrated with the results of the last several projects lately AND I've just been tired. So. Very. Tired.  I have a good plan laid (lain? I'm never sure on that one) out but I just can't seem to get over the invisible hurdle of frustration.

The other project I have cut out and want to get to very soon is another Sencha. I modified this one to be a boat neck and its in a pretty blue silk.  I think after this I'm going to make a few skirts and some dresses (with SLEEVES!).  But... again, there's that whole 'little me' black cloud hanging over my head that makes me feel like I just can't do anything well. And mostly I'm voicing it here because I've always felt that once you voice an issue it make it easier to deal with.

Modification in green, a more tapered dart to bring in upper back and let out over the derriere. 

pretty blue silk
Again, I still have to take pictures of the long sleeve knit blouse.  And make some pajama pants for both kids.  My awake-during-day hours have been few.  In other good news, my dear husband finally pushed me out of the house to get my hair and nails done. I hadn't done anything to treat myself like that before Mom died and it really did help. Also helping is the fact that I can work from home now. Not all the time, but like this week when one of cars is in the shop?  Makes a huge difference. It also means an extra hour of sleep and two hours gained at home NOT DRIVING.  Or if we have those incredibly weird snow storms like last year and the entire city gets shut down. Fun times.

Ok, I think I'm done feeling mopey. Time for sleep and then work!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bits from my Camera

Since I have no sewing posts for you at the moment I thought I would share a few of my favorite photos from this summer of the kids.  Hopefully there will be some sewing this weekend. 

Picnic at the Lake

Probably one of the most awesome playgrounds in Atlanta.

With three story slide.


synchronized cartwheels

And icecream after :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankful for Technology

So if my last post was nearly incoherent I would like to apologize. As my friend Janel pointed out, I really should sleep before posting. The twelve hour days I put in leaves my brain fried and when you add the "I just finished the week" drink to that... Well, I'm surprised I make any sense to myself.

Anywho.  How was your Thanksgiving? If you aren't in this country, did you do something anyway to celebrate and be thankful?  We threw together something at the last minute, all my husband's immediate family and my father made an item or two and we did it pot-luck style.  The cousins climbed trees and played Wii, though somehow my son managed to avoid photos.  So did I, for that matter.  We played Raymond's Raving Rabids and Wii Bowling.  Dad wasn't sure what to make of the cow tossing. Oh wait, not that link. This is the cow tossing one.

I have a blouse and a pair of pants cut out. Both of them Colette patterns.  I ran off and left my thumb drive at home so I don't have any sewing photos for you.  I do, however, have  a photo of my son completely mesmerized by the new washing machine that was delivered Sunday morning.

Can I wash clothes, Mom?  After you take a shower!
Amazing, isn't it?  I get a matching dryer in two weeks.  I broke my "no shopping on Black Friday" rule to get them half price after my old one died on me for a third time in two years. We've come a long way from this:

Could you imagine? They were amazing for their time.

and this:

Cause this sucked even more.

P.S. For those of you interested, more info on the new toy here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bi-Polar Weather

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the weather in this neck of the woods.  But to give you an idea we have a saying here in Atlanta  "If you don't like the weather, wait an hour".

Last week we had our first major frost. Due to the nature of the wonderful building codes of the '80s, my house has a permanent draft. Kinda like a castle but not nearly as defensible. However, thanks to the trees that fell on my house a couple years ago (and gave me a new roof and septic system), I now have an over abundance of firewood. Only half of which is in fireplace sizes because the huge pile is half buried under a pile of dirt thanks to the flooding of 2009. (My personal favorite photo of that here)  I'd like to add that the trees and the flood happened in the same year.  The year before I had a tree randomly fall on my car. In my driveway.

Seriously, I can't make this shit up.

More photos here

So anyway, for about a week my fireplace was like this:

But then another weather front came through and it warmed up. And guess what we got? FOG!  In fact, it was such a grand fog that after I got home from work yesterday morning I ran out in a t-shirt and underwear to take pictures.  My neighbors LOVE me.
My land actually ends at that yellow tree. The rest is "overflow control" for lake Allatoona.

Poor abandoned club house. Soon, its on the long list of "things to fix".

So after my somewhat indecent exposure I decided to go to bed.  But in sewing news, I think my mojo is starting to return.  The kids have been complaining about lack of sleep wear. Felicity has been sleeping in her  jeans and I'm like NO!  So I'm probably going to do some stash busting of old knits and make the kids several pairs.  In the meantime I pulled a UFO out of the "box of shame".  I cut this robe out with the intention of making it LAST Christmas. Its a size eight and  its HUGE. Turns out Felicity is inbetween a six and seven and I have to lengthen it just a bit.  This is the robe off of McCall's 4646.

I love this fabric.

Simon has this irritating habit (which I think he got from his father) to run around the house in his underwear and then complain about being cold.  I went looking for robe patterns, asked him if he wanted one and he said "A warlock robe? That would be cool!".  I said no, like the one you have and he gave me a disappointed "Oh.".  So I asked if he would actually wear the robe around the house if I made one like that and got a resounding YES!

*sighs*  Maybe I'll make myself a Morticia like dress/robe and my husband a smoking jacket. My roommate could be the butler and then all I need is "Thing".

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I seem to be unable to find my sewing mojo. And every time I say mojo, I think of the "Power Puff Girls".  I really am a geek for pop culture.  But really what this post is about is to say that I'm trying to get my will to sew back. I have lots of lists, and plans, and good intentions.  But instead I have insomnia, bouts of grief induced crying, and frustration.  It probably doesn't help that my mail-order pharmacy fubared the shipping of my anxiety meds AFTER I paid extra to have them overnight them. But they sent me my anti-inflammatory instead. The one I DON'T NEED.

And that just made me do this:

I did manage to make a blouse. If I can get some sleep and not look like a zombie I'll see about getting picks up.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Finding Inspiration

So after my last failure I've felt a bit melancholy. Then I got my shiny new Colette Sewing Handbook in the mail.  I confess I ordered it so I could get my hands on the patterns, in particular the Truffle.  I think my favorite chapter of the book is "A Thoughtful Plan".  It ties into Colette's wardrobe challenges in really think about how to make things that work together. And knowing what works for your lifestyle and your body type. Which brought me back to what I was thinking about last post. Don't try to stick my square peg self in a round hole (or round peg in square hole? eh, whatever, you get what I mean).

And honestly, that got me to day dreaming. And poking around on Pinterest, which I'm sure everyone here has heard about right now. I stumbled up on this dress.

dress found here
Which, honestly, I was like OOO!  I love the black and white houndstooth with a pop of red.  Originally I had planned to use the below August 2011 Burda Style dress, but the sizing and instructions made reticent. Not to mention I wanted more sleeve and less... neck thing.
Please excuse blurry photo. 
wool/rayon houndstooth
 So I went looking for an alternative and found the following Vogue V8413 and the perfect rayon/wool blend houdstooth.  Match made in heaven!

Vogue 8413 View C
Now I have one thing to think about.  The other place inspiration has struck is in the form of impulsive fabric purchase.  But I don't feel one iota of guilt. This fabric screams NERD, but is posh at the same time. Pixalated charmeuse print  with random beading anyone?

I made the photo big because it totally deserves it. I've got a Laura Ashley pattern in my stash already that will be perfect for this. Its basically a lined princess seam sheath dress. 

Both of these will take a little time and a few muslins to get the fit right.  So to start I'm going to do a few knit-wear pieces that i know fit, just to feel some satisfaction. First will be this Vogue top:

Vogue 8649

In a slate blue bamboo knit.  And the second will be a pair of yoga pants out of some black sweatshirt knit my Mom left me that has tiny white high heals all over them. 

So... that's what I've been musing over when not contemplating all the crazy news going on here and abroad. Tell me, what has inspired you recently?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Living in Wadder-rita-ville

Wader-rita-ville is like Margarittaville* except there's more vodka and less tropical beaches.  And a lot of wadders sitting in the corner as everything I seem to be attempting to undertake for me lately has turned into a frustrating waste of fabric.  So, Lesson number I've-lost-count-at-this-point:  I have curves and no matter how hard I try to make it fit, garments like this one will look like over-sized sacks made out of pretty fabric. I seriously didn't even want to take pictures with it on, it was just that sad.  Non-poly fabric won't help any.  I need more 'shaping' in my garments, and that's that.   Here's some photos of some of the mods I made:

Hastily snapped photo
As you can see, there is a significant y-bust alteration that added a dart.  I also added a quarter inches to all the seems.  I FORGOT to cut it out with seam allowance so it was tight through the shoulders. something I could fix.  What I could NOT fix is the fact is that its suppose to be a slip-on blouse. I might have been able to "tuck it in" and make it wearable. But to make it not pool up over my backside would have required widening at the hips an amount that was just absurd. And then take a sway back adjustment.  In other words.. too much damn work for a style I shouldn't be wearing anyway.  So back to plan A.  Wait for another Vogue Pattern sale and get this one:

Vogue 8722
OH HEY THEY ARE ON SALE!  I tried to get this one at JoAnn's during the last 3.99 sale but they were out in my size.  This is what happens when you don't descend upon them as they  open of the first day of the sale.  POOOP.

So after this rather disappointing failure, despite the fact I managed to churn out a halfway decent looking project, I sewed up  a bat-wing blouse from this free burdastyle member pattern out of some gauze knit i got at for some absurdly stupid cheap price.  As a side note, don't stick rayon gauze knit in the dryer.  It shrinks, but only on one side and its... weird.  Lets just say to get "on grain" i had to cut it at a 45 degree angle and I had given up hope before I started.  Wouldn't you know I kinda love it and now I want a bunch of them to lounge around in with my yoga pants. 

Sooo.... yeah. I'm feeling kinda discouraged on the "things I can actually wear out of the house" front. I'm sure I'll pick up again and move on. So in the meantime, I give you the most awesome heaping pile of bizarre I've seen in a while.
You can buy her hat here.
You're welcome.

*As a funny side story, I am allergic to Tequila. It sort of took a while for two and two to connect as I thought it was just the mix of alcohols in a Long Island that made our designated driver stop the car so me and my best friend could hurl over the side of the I-75 overpass.  (Another side note, the propensity of goths to wear corsets to dance in makes vomiting physically problematic.)  AHHHH... the days of misspent youth.    In any case, it wasn't until later when I started breaking out into a rash every time it was time to do shots well... that ended that.  Then Dad happens to mention he has the same problem, and oh yeah, don't eat any guava products.